New Hobie Kayak’s: No Paddles, but Have Forward and Reverse!

-Mechanism is Lightweight, Innovative

-Paddling with Legs: Good for Healthy Body Circulation

-Perfect for the Weekend Fisherman or Recreational Boater


By Forrest Fisher

My first introduction to Hobie Kayak’s was five years ago and resulted in just one simple word of expression – that word was “WOW!”  In our first use, my granddaughter and I could reach more than 10 miles per hour in a kayak!  That was without trying very hard, we were both thrilled and feeling “strong.”

Of course, with a little effort and a little wax, I think a much higher speed can be attained, but kayak paddling is not about speed.  It is more about joining nature on the waterways, communicating with fishable water where no other types of boats might be able to go, it is about developing unimaginable capacity understanding nature, about exploring, finding new adventure and all the while, keeping safe on board a very durable watercraft.  Safe, even when lakes and rivers and seas can turn voraciously mean!

The paddling with your legs idea is distinctly innovative.  I like the whole idea because it is easier than paddling with a hand-held paddle.  The Hobie Kayak units have steering too.  Since I’m a fisherman, this allows me to waste less time getting there and it also means getting there with more energy than other kayakers in other brand kayak craft.  Of course, the Hobie Kayaks are still provided with a conventional paddle too, so if you are a workout buff, you can have the best of both worlds.

The one issue I had when I initially propelled a Hobie was position control.  If I was in a southern creek or river, a big fish might pull me under an overhanging tree or two – a place where I did not want to go.

Me and cottonmouth friends have distinctly different viewpoints on symbiotic embrace.  With a reverse gear now, we can back out under MirageDrive reverse propulsion using feet for power and hands on the rod and net for landing the fish without any potential greeting from an overhanging contradiction to my simple fun of catching fish.for-sto-10182016-new-products-picture-2of3

The Hobie bio-engineered MirageDrive propulsion system for kayaks was revolutionary when first introduced in 1997
and the company has been evolving improvements ever since.  Now comes the biggest evolution – so far, the patent-pending Hobie MirageDrive 180 forward-reverse propulsion system that will be integrated into all 2017 model year Mirage kayaks.  All Hobie users are excited about this.

Weighing in at under eight pounds, the MirageDrive 180 produces full power in both directions and offers unprecedented maneuverability. The user can pull one of two shift cables to direct propulsion 180 degrees almost instantly from forward to reverse and back again.

Imagine the possibilities: backing fish out of cover; safely fishing closer to obstructions; or fishing downstream while holding in current. Hands-free propulsion in any direction means better control to cast, present baits and to concentrate on landing bigger fish. And then pictures can be snapped or cold beverage enjoyed on the way back in without ever stopping.

There are two shifters, one marked in green for forward and a longer one in red for reverse, making them easy to identify.  Pulling the appropriate cable pivots both MirageDrive fins 180 degrees, reversing the direction of the power output.

Although the forward-reverse capability is the most noticeable improvement to this new generation of the time-tested MirageDrive, it’s not the only significant advancement.  The new fins are even more durable, with high strength nylon on the leading and trailing edges.  Adjusting fin resistance has also been improved via an easy-access knob.  The fin shape, altered to allow the fins to rotate from forward to reverse, provides the same efficient power as past models of ST Fins and ST Turbo fins respectively.

Can the MirageDrive 180 go shallow? Absolutely. Use partial pedal strokes to “flutter” the fins or push one crank arm forward so that both fins automatically fold up flat against the bottom of the hull.  This same wing-like action excels for dodging obstacles, shedding weeds and gliding through the water with minimal resistance. It also facilitates landing on the beach or at the boat ramp.  The MirageDrive 180 installs in seconds thanks to the Click and Go Mounting System, which also makes removing a snap.

The MirageDrive 180’s cranks adjust to comfortably fit the user’s height, from tall to child-size. Cleaning and maintenance is simple.  A quick rinse at the end of the day and an occasional spray with Hobie Multi-Lube is all it takes.

I recently fished with Hobie Fishing Product Manager, Morgan Promnitz, and can add that this hard worker is more than just a factory fixture, he knows how to catch big fish wherever he goes, and he goes to many places educating users and store owners, insuring the outreach efforts of Hobie are best utilized around the world.

Promnitz took the MirageDrive 180 to the remotely located, an area of dangerous ocean currents and demanding kayak skills near Cedros Island in Baja, Mexico.  He managed a crew that performed intensive testing on the new drive.  “The shifters really shine. I found myself using them constantly,” Promnitz says.

Promnitz fished nose-in to a breakwall for powerful grouper.  Every time he hooked up, he’d throw the MirageDrive 180 into reverse and back the fish out of the rocks.  He also used the shifters while taking photos of friends connected with big fish, to get just close enough, backing away if the fish ran.  Another functional new use for anglers was trolling in reverse with live bait in front of him, where he could watch every potential deflection of his rod tip.

“A bonito school came up chasing the live mackerel I had on for bait. I subtly guided it towards them to entice a bite. It was cool watching the action go down,” he says.

The uses of the shifters are endless.  The two shift cables are composed of braided Spectra line connected to high strength, snag-free nylon handles. They tuck into a Bungee® retainer when not needed.

The MirageDrive 180 will be standard with all 2017 model year Mirage kayaks, including the legendary Outback and award-winning Pro Anglers. 2017 model year kayaks are slated to begin shipping in October 2016.

The MirageDrive 180 is retrofitable to existing MirageDrive kayaks and is expected to be available as a stand-alone accessory by mid-year 2017.  The Hobie’s are lightweight, functional, safe, durable, handsome, and are backed up by a terrific warranty.  These are among just a few reasons why I like ‘em.