My mission, should I choose to accept it, would be to fly out to San Diego and spend a day on the Pacific fishing on a new kayak from Hobie. That was the call I received from Hobie HQ a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, my phone did not self-destruct 30 seconds after the communication. But it left me mighty intrigued, since Hobie wanted to fly me across the country without even a hint at what would be separating my butt from the mighty Pacific.
Now I know, and so will the world: an all-new Outback.
I just spent a day with some of the guys from Hobie, all fishing brand-new, hot-out-of-the-molds Outbacks off La Jolla, Southern California. As you scroll through this gallery, you can see both the new kayak in action and enjoy a taste of the great kayak fishery the Pacific offers offshore, here.
To non-kayak anglers, a new Outback might mean little, but those within the large, growing and enthusiastic fraternity of kayak anglers are likely to realize this actually is something of a big deal when the largest fishing-yak manufacturer redesigns its most popular model (which it claims is the single most popular fishing kayak in the world) after a decade.
I fished from one of the early Outback models and, in the 20 years since its introduction, have seen upgrades, generally incrementally but particularly about 10 years ago with some major improvements.
But the new Outback, while still “feeling” like an Outback, is a different animal, starting with a totally redesigned hull. That means it’s one inch wider, making the exceedingly stable model even more so (and now boasting a purpose-designed casting platform.
And it’s 8 inches longer (now 12 feet, 9 inches) which translates into better tracking (reducing the need for frequent course corrections while underway) and easier gliding. Lower gunwales put the angler even more in touch with the water around him or her and offer less wind resistance.
Another aspect of the new hull design: It’s quiet. Those who have stalked prey from their Outback in shallow waters know that a bit of chop translates into audible hull slap. The new hull is designed to be nearly silent in such conditions. While stealth wasn’t a concern during my day offshore, the slop into which we pedaled really showed me how quiet this new hull is — and also how easily it slices through the waves. Plus it’s quick: Hobie maintains the new hull is faster (and the Turbo fins, now standard, sure don’t hurt).
Among other improvements are an even wider seat and dual steering. Large recessed steering knobs are right there where your hands naturally rest, for either right or left hand to turn as needed. There’s more storage, especially for clear plastic tackle boxes, and H-Track Deluxe rails allow great customization for rod holders, GoPro extensions, Ram Mounts or similar systems.
The new Outback benefits from a Kick-Up Rudder, same as Pro Angler owners have enjoyed, so it no longer extends from the stern, but is tucked well under the hull where it won’t tangle lines and where its automatic retraction prevents obstacles or a beach from damaging it. Ditto for the Mirage Drive pedal system which now benefits from a recessed area under the hull for added protection and better super-shallow-water performance.
Finally, there’s Hobie’s new Guardian, an ingeniously retractable fits-all (manufacturers) transducer mount that drops down to allow sidescan sonar to work and retracting for safety when not in use.
Hobie believes the new Outback is better than ever (which is saying something). My experience so far is a single day, but that was a 12-hour day in seas that became fairly heavy, giving me a chance to attest to its comfortabilty and stability, where its improvements really shone.