The Ultimate Dinghy for Fishing/Cruisers
When it comes to marine products, cruisers and sport fishers are often thought of as two different worlds. But a Venn diagram of these two water-loving groups has plenty of overlap. There are plenty of people who enjoy a little fishing to go along with their cruising lifestyle, whether for the freshest seafood dinner or the sport of it while sitting at anchor. Neither the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler nor the Lowrance Elite TI systems are brand new to the market, but with Lowrance’s recent release of the Elite TI in both 9- and 12-inch displays in late 2016, this combination just got a whole lot cooler.
Recently I tested both—the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12-foot kayak equipped with both the latest Hobie Mirage drive and a 12-inch Elite TI display. I wasn’t in the kayak more than ten minutes before I realized how great this combo would be for those cruisers who like to wet a line. The kayak itself is 129.5 lbs fully loaded, and comes with Hrail, a long and durable accessory rail on each gunwale. With Hrail, it is easy to imagine how easy this kayak would be to lift on and off the deck of your boat. The Hrail system also offers a variety of additional attachments to allow for everything from rod and cup holders, all the way up to the Hbar, which creates the perfect leaning bar for standing and sight fishing from the kayak.
Standing in a kayak you ask? Well, yes. The stability of this boat amazed me, from either a standing or sitting position, I rocked the boat as hard as I could and it easily stayed upright. It felt natural to stand up and move around the kayak as if I were on a much larger fishing platform. Our guide joked that I’d fall out of the boat way before the kayak tipped.
An additional feature on the Mirage Pro Angler is its unique mirage drive system. As someone who has spent years in a more traditional kayak touring lakes in upstate New York, the first time I saw a Mirage drive—a pedal-driven system that propels the boat in forward and reverse with the same motion—I scoffed at it. On the water, though, Mirage is amazing, providing great propulsion as you pedal along. I could easily crank the boat up to over 6 knots for a sustained period of time and cruised along comfortably at about 4 knots as well. As mentioned, the Mirage drive 180 features the unique ability to pedal both forwards and backwards due to gearing that allows for the mirage flippers to be reversed. This is a great feature for bank fishing and backing out from bramble, mud banks, or for positioning the kayak alongside another boat.
While the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler itself is a great platform, the addition of a Lowrance Elite TI MFD makes this the perfect fishing kayak. The Elite TI’s range (including 5, 7, 9, and 12-inches) not only provides great chart plotting data, it also includes a high performance sidescan sonar unit. The “TotalScan all-in-one Skimmer” transducer is designed to easily mount into the available transducer plate of the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler. The Totalscan transducer provides CHIRP and StructureScan HD with SideScan and DownScan Imaging. The 9-inch unit starts at $849.
I was amazed by the high resolution Solarmax display that allowed me to easily read and navigate the screen in broad sunshine, even while wearing my polarized sunglasses. The MFD allows for incredible graphics rendering, creating a highly detailed 3D view of the water beneath you, highlighting both the structure—where you might find fish—as well as holding or groups of fish. Structurescan allows for wide-angle side-scanning with a maximum range of 300-feet. Additionally, the Elite TI MFDs remember your data which allows you to track back where you fished earlier, remembering both your GPS track as well as the structural scan. This allows you to review your days of fishing so you can mark and remember the sweet spots of where you caught fish, as well as allowing you to track back to a fish-rich location. When you combine these features with Lowrance’s intuitive user interface and sunglass-friendly display, it is easy to see this combination’s merits as the perfect fishing platform.
Since the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler kayaks come in both 12- and 14-foot lengths (there is a 17-foot tandem option as well), they will store easily onboard most cruising boats with any amount of deck space for dinghies. The modular design of the boats also make for easy breakdown and storage for accessories allowing you to put your fishing platform to sleep when you aren’t out cruising.
For those who straddle the worlds of cruising and sport fishing and are always trying to find ways to include both, the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler outfitted with the Lowrance Elite TI MFD makes a sweet combination. Additionally, those who are looking to add fishing capabilities to their existing dinghy arrangements should consider the Lowrance Elite TI models as they provide great ease-of-use, powerful scanning abilities, and a reasonable price point.