Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback

A long day fishing the Pacific off La Jolla, California, offered the chance to really try out Hobie’s newly redesigned Outback fishing kayak.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
Ginormous black sea bass release.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

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.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
At first light under a slate-grey sky, I watch as Howie Strech (middle) and Morgan Promnitz, with Hobie, prepare for launching their Outbacks through the surf.Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie

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.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
Small “greenback” mackerel like this proved a hot ticket for larger calico (kelp) bass as well as a few yellowtail we managed to catch.Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
Hey! Quit your laughing. Yeah, that vermilion rockfish wasn’t a monster, but it was first blood for the day, after it grabbed a Shimano Flat Fall jig. (The livewell, bristling with vertical rod holders, just behind me kept small mackerel in great shape all day.)Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie

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.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
Right away, that showoff, Promnitz, had to hook something a tiny bit larger than my vermilion rockfish. Here, he struggles to raise a behemoth on heavy braid. The next image shows what he had hooked.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

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.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
As if demonstrating the great stability of the new Outback, Promnitz kneels in the front while holding 150 to 200 pounds of black sea bass, preparing to release it.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
Powerful black sea bass, protected by law, remain in good supply; this is by no means the first that Promnitz has caught and released in these waters.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

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.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
Promnitz trolls a livey; the longer hull of the new Outback slices easily through the water.Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie

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.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
Strech’s yellow Outback with its new hull design seen from water level.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

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).

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
A decent yellowtail makes Strech smile (you just can’t see it!). Note the convenient gunwale tackle-box storage on each side of the new Outback.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
About to release a yellowtail, Strech stands easily. The longer, wide kayak is ultra-stable so experienced kayakers can stand even offshore.Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie

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.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
The swell began to build as the afternoon went on.Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie

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.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
Late in the day, I feed line to whatever had taken a liking to my mackerel.Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie

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.

Kayak Fishing the Pacific from Hobie’s New Outback
Like Promnitz, we all caught a number of calico bass during the course of the day.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

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.