Hobie Pro Angler 12 Kayak Review:
The Hobie Pro Angler 12 is the best fishing kayak for big water and huge adventures.
Do you want the convenience of a human-powered boat with the range of a small fishing boat? Are you looking for a kayak that can go anywhere and carry all your fishing gear? Do you have sites set on tournament victories and trophy fish? Then you’ll need a full-size, fully-featured pedal fishing kayak like the Hobie PA 12. Born from 20 years of pedal fishing kayak innovation, the Hobie Pro Angler 12 with Mirage Drive 180 Kick Up Fins is a proven design with a long list of awards and accolades, making it one of the best fishing kayaks out there. If you’re looking for a kayak to take you to the limits, then you’ll want to consider the Hobie Mirage Drive Pro Angler 12.
Hobie Pro Angler 12 Kayak Specs:
- Weight: 128.5 pounds with pedals
- Length: 12 feet
- Width: 36 inches
- Capacity: 500 pounds
- Hull: Rotomolded Plastic
- Drive type: MirageDrive 180 Turbo with Kick Up Fins and ARC cranks
- Price: $3,899
What Kind of Kayak Is the Hobie Pro Angler 12?
Hobie fishing kayaks have a reputation for quality construction and the Pro Angler line is their best fishing kayak yet. The Pro Angler line is one of the top choices for tournament and big game anglers. The PA12 is designed to cover miles of open water and tackle any species of fish.
That said, the full-size pedal fishing kayak is not the best for river fishing or accessing a hard-to-reach fishing hole. The PA12 requires a pickup truck or trailer to transport due to its weight. Car topping is not really an option with this kayak. The boat’s size gives it an unlimited horizon, but the length and weight do limit convenience. The hull is stable, and the fishing features are innovative, solidifying the boat’s position as the best fishing kayak for serious anglers.
Key Features of the Hobie Pro Angler 12 Fishing Kayak
As a top-of-the-line Hobie fishing kayak, the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 has all the standard hatches, rod holders, bungees, and gear tracks you’d expect in a sit-on-top fishing kayak. But Hobie saved their premier features for this luxury model.
Most notable, Hobie went entirely outside the box with their H-Rail accessory system. A kayak has limited space, so I love it when designers can squeeze two functions out of one feature. Running down each side of the cockpit, a railing doubles as a sturdy handle and a base for mounting fishing accessories. The tubing has 12-sides to secure Hobie’s matching accessory bases, allowing you to move accessories forward and back and then tighten it at any angle. Hobie offers a dozen bases to add everything from a rod holder to a cup holder. I’ve added a fish finder display to one side and a rod holder on the other. For tournament anglers, the horizontal rod holders are standard equipment.
Adding electronics is the first step in setting up a kayak. Hobie makes it easy on the PA12. First, they added through-deck plugs to allow transducer and power cables to be routed below inside the kayak. A scupper leads to a recessed pocket in the hull. A side-scan transducer should hang below the kayak for a clear view of each side of the boat. To avoid damage, the Guardian Sonar Shield retracts when the transducer strikes an object. The transducer can also be retracted with a pull cord to transport the kayak. This is the type of high-end feature I expect on a top-of-the-line fishing kayak.
Another nice touch you won’t find on other boats is the below-deck gear storage. A hatch in front of the seat hides two tackle trays and storage for other small items. Not only does the hatch free up space above the deck, but it protects my most precious lures and rigs.
The icing on the cake is Hobie’s most comfortable Vantage ST seat. The elevated frame seat is covered in padded mesh to dry fast and stay firm. The lumbar support uses a Boa fit system to dial in lower-back pressure.
Below the waterline, the PA 12 has a wide tunnel hull with high sides to ride over waves and carry a ton of fishing gear. A large retractable rudder easily turns the boat, and a drop-down keel keeps the 12-foot kayak on course.
To take the PA 12 to the next level, the boat can be rigged with a sail for effortless down-wind propulsion. The Pro Angler can even be equipped with a Bimini top to keep the angler out of the sun. And that’s just Hobie’s accessories. The Pro Angler is also ripe with open space and gear tracks to add bases and mounts from other companies.
Test Driving the Mirage Drive 180 with Kick Up Fins
The Pro Angler comes in two versions: Mirage Drive 180 and Mirage Drive 360. The 360 drive is Hobie kayak’s most advanced pedal system on earth. It goes forward, backward, and side to side.
But the Mirage Drive 180 in the Pro Angler 12 has advantages, too. The MD180 is lighter and smaller than the MD360. It’s also less complicated. To switch the drive into reverse, pull a cable, and the fins spin 180-degrees. Although it’s not instant reverse, like a propeller drive, the flippers don’t lose efficiency when going backward.
My favorite thing about the MirageDrive is the instant shallow-water mode. Whereas a propeller drive has to be lifted to go into shallow water or land the kayak, the Hobie pedal kayak fins go zero drafts by pushing one pedal forward and flattening the fins against the bottom of the boat. This allows me to spend more time pedaling than paddling and less time lifting and lowering the drive. For an added level of safety, the fins on the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 will kick up if they hit an underwater object. Striking a tree limb or rock is the number one way to destroy a pedal drive. The Kick-Up Fins on the MD180 absorb the abuse and keep on going.
How We Tested the Hobie Pro Angler 12: Backwater Excursions and Open Water Fishing
In addition to all the features and details, the Pro Angler’s biggest asset is its pedigree. After over a decade on the water, the Hobie Pro Angler 12 with Mirage Drive has been tested in the toughest conditions. Enter the words Hobie Pro Angler 12 in Google, and images of anglers fishing the open ocean and the tightest backwater pop up on the screen. This kayak (and her 14-foot sister) is probably responsible for more tournament wins and trophy catches than any other kayak. Hobie’s headquarters are in San Diego, California, and the Pro Angler was designed and tested in the legendary big lakes and wild blue Pacific. When the fishing hole is far away, and the target species requires everything and the kitchen sink, I grab the PA 12.
This boat does not blush at covering miles of open water or all-day fishing. The boat works well in the backwaters, but is also a great ocean kayak. With all the features and fishing accessories, I know I have the resources to tackle any fishing challenge. One day I fished the Pro Angler 12 in skinny backwaters of Mexico Beach, Florida, and the next day I took the boat off Panama Beach to target red snapper and king mackerel. In the shallows, the PA12 was an easy stand-up fishing kayak. The only time I sat down was to pedal from one spot to the next. To make stand-up fishing easier, I used a paddleboard paddle. On the open water, the PA12 covered miles with ease and handled the afternoon wind chop. The only place the boat was sketchy was in the surf. But with some practice, I could manage the breakers. This boat will go almost anywhere. When Hobie set out to design the best fishing kayak, the Pro Angler 12 was the result.
Hobie Pro Angler 12: Speed, Tracking, and Maneuverability
All the talk about features and design comes down to one thing: confidence. When I pedal the Hobie Pro Angler 12, I feel confident to face any sea conditions and go the distance.
The powerful Mirage Drive 180 and Kick Up Fins, along with the large rudder and drop-down skeg, allow the boat to cover distance while high sides and a wide deck keep water out of the cockpit.
For confident stand-up fishing, the boat has a tunnel hull with solid stability, while the rounded chine (where the hull meets the sides of the boat) allows the kayak to roll over waves.
On the other hand, this is a big boat, with a 500-pound capacity, that sits high off the water to catch the wind and current. However, the MD180 drive works with the drop-down skeg and rudder to cage the bear on long open water paddles.
For shallow water fishing, the Mirage Drive offers the advantage of instant zero-draft. However, when it gets really tight, like a weed-choked farm pond or a muddy tidal flat, the ProAngler only comes with a canoe paddle to move the big boat in skinny water.
The advantage of a pedal-powered full-size fishing kayak is the extended range and unlimited fishability it offers. The disadvantage is transporting and storing the boat. As one of the biggest and heaviest 12-foot kayaks, the PA 12 requires a trailer or pickup truck to haul. I recommend a heavy-duty cart to move the boat to the water.
My favorite feature of Hobie fishing kayaks is the quality of construction. The Pro Angler uses the best plastic, and the components are built to last a lifetime. The MD180 drive does suffer breakdowns, like any pedal system, but repairs are usually easy. The Kick-Up fins avoid the worst damage, and the MD 180 has undergone hours of testing and design to beef it up.
Confidence is why so many anglers choose the Hobie Pro Angler 12 for their kayak fishing adventures. The big boat with all the features is a reliable rig to achieve even the most difficult kayak fishing goals.
What this Fishing Kayak Does Best: Big Water and Big Adventure
The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is a full-size, full-featured fishing kayak. It is the perfect match for open water, long runs, and full-on fishing. The Mirage Drive 180, coupled with a large rudder and drop-down keel, allows the boat to haul ass. A 500-pound capacity means it can carry all of your gear, too. The seat has a 350-pound capacity with plenty of room to get comfortable. This capable boat combines stability with open-water performance and a pedal drive to go the distance. If you’re thinking about this big boat, then you should be thinking about a big fishing adventure.
What this Fishing Kayak Does Worst: Hard to Transport and Store
Many people get into kayak fishing for convenience. A fishing kayak is lighter, smaller, cheaper, and easier to own than a motorboat. While the Pro Angler 12 checks all of these boxes compared to a gas-powered boat, it is not the most convenient kayak. Installing a pedal system always adds a layer of complexity to kayak fishing. The moving parts, maintenance, and inevitable breakdowns are all part of owning a pedal drive. Without the drive, the PA12 is a 100-pound chunk of plastic. The boat is one of the heaviest and largest kayaks on the market. The Pro Angler 12 saves two feet and 15 pounds off the big sister Pro Angler 14, but this doesn’t make the 12-foot kayak a grab-and-go boat. And the elephant in the room is the Pro Angler’s price, which is at the top end of the market, even for a pedal kayak. If you’re into a lightweight, easy-to-store fishing kayak, this is not your boat. But, if you want a bass boat or flats fishing boat without the motor and maintenance, then the Pro Angler is for you.
Does the Hobie Pro Angler 12 Deliver on Its Mission?
The Hobie Pro Angler’s best advertisement is its ubiquity—I see them everywhere. Whether I’m fishing the ocean or my local trout hole, someone pedals past me in a Hobie Pro Angler. There’s a reason so many people are in Pro Anglers—the boats are one of the best full-service, full-featured pedal kayaks on the water. Quality build, a powerful drive, solid stability, and reliable performance make the big-boy boat the best platform for all types of kayak fishing. It has a wide tunnel hull for stability in the shallows and a high freeboard and wide bow to take on waves. If you are serious about kayak fishing, Hobie’s top-of-the-line Pro Angler 12 with Mirage Drive 180 and Kick Up Fins will take you to the next level.
Related: Best Sit on Top Kayak for Fishing