Pro Staff: Eric “Slappy” Harrison
I have been kayak fishing for about ten years now and have tried a number of different kayak models—sit ins, sit on tops, paddle, and pedal kayaks have all been in my fleet. After owning a half dozen fishing kayaks and trying a bunch of others, the kayak that I recommend most highly is the Hobie Mirage Revolution 13, this kayak is built to fish.
- Crew: 1
- Length: 13′ 5″ / 4.09 m
- Width: 28.5″ / .72 m
- Capacity: 350 lbs / 159 kg
- Fitted Hull Weight: 69.5 lbs / 31.52 kg
- Fully Rigged Weight: 82.8 lbs / 37.56 kg
- Hull Construction: Rotomolded Polyethylene
Choosing a fishing kayak can be daunting, there are so many different models and types to choose from. Ultimately you need to choose a kayak that fits your style of fishing and excels on the types of water that you fish. Matching the kayak to your fishing style will increase your effectiveness on the water and make your fishing experience more enjoyable.
Let me walk you through the calculus of my kayak choice and give you some things to think about when making your kayak decision.
I do very little bait fishing, my preference is to throw lures for stripers, usually big Hogys, and I spend most of my time casting, not trolling. I fish both salt and fresh, but I primarily fish the salt focusing on rips and boulder fields for striped bass; when I fish freshwater, I usually fish large lakes and occasionally fish smaller ponds and rivers. Living in Massachusetts, it seems that everywhere I go fishing the wind is blowing hard!
My primary fishing grounds are Boston Harbor which means I regularly face rough conditions with wind, boat wakes, and current. Not only that, most of my saltwater fishing is done at night. I need a kayak that can feel safe in when the conditions are not perfect. I need a kayak that handles well around rocky areas with current where stripers like to hang.
The waters that I usually fish on are big, with productive spots that may be a couple miles apart, so having a kayak that is relatively fast in rough conditions is important.
Because I’m throwing lures I don’t do much rigging, I want somewhere to store my tackle, but I don’t have a bunch of rod holders or other rigging in front of me, everything I need fits in my milk crate with rod holders attached. I don’t need a kayak with too much rigging space, but I do need a spot for my milk crate.
- Twist and Stow Rudder
- Adjustable High Back Padded Seat w/ Inflatable Lumbar Support
- Two-Piece Paddle w/ On-Hull Storage
- Large Covered Bow Hatch
- Sail Mount
- Two Molded-In Rod Holders
- Rear Cargo Area w/ Bungee® Tie Downs
- Two 8” Twist and Seal Hatches w/ Gear Bucket
- Two Mesh-Covered Stowage Pockets
Based on my needs I can quickly narrow down my choices. I want a sit on top, not a sit in—I don’t know how to do an eskimo roll and I don’t want to do one with my fishing stuff on board. A sit on top kayak is like fishing on a raft, if you flip, you turn it back over and keep going, no bailing needed. I want pedals versus a paddle. Since I’m fishing in current, I need to be able to position my boat and cast at the same time—can’t do that with a paddle kayak. I also hate having to balance a paddle on my lap while I’m fishing!
Because I often cover distances on the water, I want a relatively fast kayak. Longer narrow kayaks tend to be faster but less stable, so a narrower recreational kayak is appropriate.
These choices led me to the Hobie Mirage Revolution 13 kayak. I have been fishing this model since 2007 and it has been such an effective platform, I have no plans to change. Hobie’s Mirage drive literally flies through the water. As a runner I can keep up a light jogging pace and stay in the 4.5 to 5 miles per hour range for a couple miles even in wind. The pedal system allows me to effectively fish rips that move at 2 mph and fish as if I was using a trolling motor. The hands free aspect of the Hobie allows me to position the boat while I’m fishing. I chose the Revolution 13 over the smaller Revolution 11 because the bigger boat can better handle the big water that I fish.
Sit on top kayaks are self-bailing and when fishing in rips and rough conditions I have often had waves break over the bow or side and fill the cockpit with water. The Revolution is a stable boat and I’m comfortable in it in choppy conditions. As a kayaker you need to know your limitations and use your judgement on when it is safe to go out. The Revolution gives me more fishing days because I can fish when it is windy and choppy; I have never flipped it while fishing (but I have in practice!).
The tank well area in the back is large enough to fit my milk crate and I have enough room in front of my pedal drive to mount my fishfinder. I do have a rod holder that I can use for trolling or drift fishing; it is a Ram holder than can easily be connected or disconnected, I rarely mount the rod holder unless I’m bait fishing or trolling multiple lines. Even when trolling I rarely use a rod holder—my theory is that by holding the rod while I’m trolling, I will out fish the rod holder.
There are small storage areas in the cockpit of the revolution that I use to store a couple extra Hogys while I fish. Most of my tackle is kept in a milk crate in the tank well, but I keep a few spare plastics in the storage areas so I can quickly change lures.
The Revolution is a stealthy boat, I have taken it into skinny water while freshwater fishing and not spooked fish and I have had stripes bang into the side of the boat when lifting my Hogy out of the water.
If you haven’t tried a pedal kayak, you really should. Pedaling is considerably easier than paddling; it is a fast and fun way to kayak. The kayak is steered with a rudder lever that is very comfortable to use.
Hobie has a wide array of rigging options for their kayaks. You can add sails, sunshades, bait tanks, or just about anything else you need. Or you can keep it simple like I do with a fish finder and an optional rod holder. The rigging options allow you to customize your fishing experience to match the way you fish.
Hobie has other options that also allow hands free kayaking. The Outback is a wider boat that is a good choice for heavier anglers; the Adventure is a longer boat that is great for covering distances; and the Pro Angler is a big boat for those looking for more room.
Think through what you want on a kayak and what you want your experience on the water to be. Some people prefer to paddle and there are plenty of paddle options available. Use the examples that I presented and think about the kayak options that would be useful to you, then look for a boat with those options.