Here’s a fun fact: Hobie, the California-based company best known for its Sunfish and catamaran sailboats, has spent the past two decades or so seeing 15 percent to 25 percent growth year after year in demand for fishing kayaks, according to Morgan Promnitz, Hobie’s senior fishing brand manager. During the past five years, he says, kayak-fishing has gone mainstream, with manufacturers of rods, tackle systems and more making gear for anglers who plan to kayak to the fish stealthily, instead of cruising there in a tender with an outboard engine that scares the catch away.
“It’s probably been the fastest-growing segment of the fishing industry in the past six years,” he says of kayak-fishing.
The fact that so many novices want to try the sport is why Hobie just launched its Mirage Passport 10.5 kayak. At $1,299, it’s not intended to compete with the company’s $3,500 tricked-out models for hardcore anglers. Instead, the Mirage Passport 10.5 is an all-purpose kayak for exploring and shoreline fun, but with just enough standard features and removable options that die-hard fishermen also will be happy when they’re the ones heading out.
“The Passports have a track system on either side of the cockpit, on the gunwales, so you can use any accessory that fits into the track: a camera mount, extra rod holders, tool holders, a fish-finder mount, flags, lighting systems—we sell all of them,” Promnitz says. He adds that everything can be removed for safekeeping when the fishing is done and the kids want to play on the kayak.
Key accessories for yachtsmen who want to fish, he says, include Hobie’s H-Crate, which fits in the back of the kayak with tackle stowage, as well as four rod holders and a way to clamp on accessories. “We also make a livewell, which actually has a battery and a pump in it with three rod holders on the back,” he says. “It plugs into the rear scupper holds. If you want to fish with live bait, you can put it in this livewell and take it with you.”
For owners who offer their yachts for charter, the kayak is not only versatile, but also built to take a beating. Unlike Hobie’s roto-molded kayaks, the Mirage Passport 10.5 is made with thermo-forming technology, which means a machine heats the plastic to create two polyethylene pieces that are welded together. The process lets Hobie offer the kayak at a lower price while maintaining strength.
“It’s a plastic that is very, very durable,” Promnitz says. “You can bang it into rocks or drag it over boat ramps, and it’s going to hold up for a long time.”