Hobie has just announced that their patented ‘Mirage Drive’ is getting a makeover for their 2017 fishing kayaks <drum roll> they are getting a reverse gear. In previous reviews of Hobie kayaks we wrote about all the good and the bad aspects of these pioneering boats. The primary bad thing, apart from some durability issues, was the lack of a reverse gear. This means that no fishing session is free of those pesky kayak gymnastics to hand-paddle out of tight situations when the current, wind or momentum puts you too close to something hard and immovable. Easy in theory, but more difficult when you add multiple rods and overhead branches just waiting to break your favourite bream or bass rod. Hobie has fixed this fairly fundamental issue with the new Mirage Drive 180. Now with a quick pull of a chord the fins underneath swivel 180 degrees, powering the unit forwards or backwards with the same efficiency. Here is some Hobie propaganda to demonstrate …
Being able to go backwards offers numerous advantages such as being able to carefully maneuver around snags, jetties and pylons and pull fish out of structure when hooked. One use I hadn’t considered previously was trolling in reverse to watch the action of lures and live baits and those bites that often go unnoticed when trolling with the line behind you. I wonder if Hobie will offer a rear-view mirror to avoid running into things? Whatever the outcome, the ability to cruise around all day without having to pull out the long paddle is pretty darn appealing.
The timing of the Mirage Drive 180’s release is interesting, especially given the rise of Hobie’s competitors such as the cycle drive units used in the Native Watercraft kayaks. Largely unchallenged in the hands-free kayak market since the launch of the Mirage Drive in 1997, it is good to see the benefits of some competition in the industry.
The new Mirage Drive 180 will fit all previous kayak models with the Mirage Drive mounts, but if the rumours are true, the stand-alone unit will retail for $800-900. That’s a big investment to retrofit your current boat. That said, for serious fisherman, these units are going to be gold and I predict a big influx of the old Mirage Drives for sale in the coming months and years – possibly including mine!
See you on the flats