Hobie Mirage Adventure 16
Length 15' 7" (4.75 m), Width 24.5" (62 cm), Weight 51 lbs (23 kg).
Maximum weight capacity 397 lbs (180 kg) depending on water conditions.
The Hobie Mirage Adventure has been on AnglersAfloat's test wish list for some time, it's long slender outline combined with the intriguing Mirage Drive system make it a very interesting kayak, so when Sea Swan Products asked us if we would like to test one for a few months we were on the phone very quickly to say "yes please".
The Mirage Adventure is supplied as a complete package, kayak, Mirage Drive, rudder system, seat with detachable gear bag (fanny pack) and a pair of drink bottles, paddle and trolley for transporting to the beach, Swann Systems also supplied one of their bags to store and protect the Mirage Drive (standard issue when bought through them). All you need to supply to get on the water is a PFD.
The Hobie has been designed with a lot of thought for the peddler, his/her comfort has been well taken care of both on the water and whilst loading and carrying to the waters edge, at 16ft long the Mirage Adventure is a big kayak, by that I don't mean heavy or cumbersome, once off the roof rack she is very easy to carry, either with a mate using the large comfortable handles at the bow and stern, or by yourself with the integrated handles in the gunwale. If your launch is a little further from the car park, slip the stainless steel shafts of the trolley into the rear scupper holes and wheel the Hobie to the water.
The Mirage Adventure has an enormous tankwell, should you require more storage there is access to the hull via two eight inch hinged hatches with twist lock latches, one hatch is situated behind the tankwell the other in the cockpit forward of the seat which conveniently opens towards the bow, alternatively there is a large forward hatch giving access to the bow section, the hatch cover is attached to the hull with a quick release clip so that it can be removed if required, The cover is secured in place by a pair of crossing bungee. Smaller items can be stored close to hand in the pair of mesh covered pockets either side of the cockpit.
Before the launch it's necessary to fit the seat, unlike other manufacturers the Hobie seat only requires one set of straps, these clip to a pair of plastic eyes either side of the cockpit just below the gunwale, to relinquish the need for the rear straps Hobie have fitted a pair of studs to bottom of the seat pad which drop into a pair of holes in the cockpit, designed to stop the seat slipping. Although a clever idea, these didn't work that well with our kayak, and tended to move when you climbed onboard for the first time and required a little effort to get the studs to drop in place, without them located the seat would slide around a bit.
Fitting the Mirage drive is a simple affair, the pedals need to be together so that the fins are both pointing down, slide the fins into the hole in the footwell, made easier by laying the kayak on it's side, the hard edge of the fins needs to be facing towards the bow, ensure the stainless steel pins on either side of the drive system slip into the grooves on the locking nuts and turn the nuts to lock, push the pedals apart so that the fins lay flat against the hull and your ready to launch, but don't forget to pack the supplied paddle, it will be required later.
With fly rod in the tankwell it was almost time to launch, a quick check of the drain plug and removing the transport strap from the rudder we could get on the water. I had already adjusted the length of the Mirage Drive arms to accommodate my short legs, but this could easily be done on the water and once set no further adjustment was needed.
The Mirage Drive requires 50 cm of water before it can be operated fully but the Adventure can be paddled in less, as the Mirage Drive only adds 3.5 cm to the draft of the hull.
Pedalling away from the beach the Mirage Adventure felt surprisingly good, my hands fell naturally on the rudder controls, a twist of the right hand and the rudder was deployed, off the water I had my concerns about the length of the rudder and how effective it would be, shouldn't have worried a gentle twist of the controls with my left hand and the hull immediately responded, once travelling at speed I found myself leaning into turns and the Hobie turned sharply with ease, well sharply for a kayak of this length.
The peddling action of the Mirage Drive is very similar to an exercise step machine, 500 yards into my first journey and my thighs were burning, this pedalling lark wasn't as easy as I first thought. Once at the first mark my legs soon recovered and fishing with the Mirage Drive was a very pleasant experience for the rest of the day, that was until the return journey when my legs were soon to tire peddling the mile back to the beach. At this stage I used the Mirage Drive Lock which ensures that the fins are locked in the up position close to the hull, handy when approaching the beach, and had a little paddle in way of a rest, not for long though.
With legs up and sat in a semi reclined position the Hobie is a picture of stability, even when on the drift and routing in the tankwell there was a feeling of security.
We had chosen to fish a new mark on our first trip, this involved fishing in and around a moored boats and jetties, this wasn't easy with the Mirage Drive, the system only allows forward motion, the reason for carrying a paddle now became apparent as it's the only way to slow and stop, problem is you forget you need it, until you need it!
With a large hole in the cockpit where the mirage drive is situated and the low gunwales I was prepared for a wet ride and a damp backside, but what a pleasant surprise, this had to be the driest kayak I've fished from, the seat was still dry when I returned to shore, several hours later.
Should all this pedalling be too much for you, there is a sail kit available turning the Hobie into a sailing craft complete with daggerboard to stop sideward slippage.
For the fisherman, that's us, there are a pair of integrated rod holders either side of the tankwell within easy reach from the cockpit, they are perfectly angled for trolling lures, something the Mirage Adventure excels at, your speed can be kept in check by consulting the speedometer a plastic tube mounted at the front of the Mirage Drive, simple but effective.
Where ever you travel with the Hobie Adventure you are guaranteed to attract attention from passers-by, it soon became apparent that boat users were steering towards me to get a better look at the strange craft that I was peddling and once off the water the attention continued with intrigued day trippers.
The Mirage Drive doesn't need a lot of maintenance, a good rinsing off with freshwater after use and the occasional light greasing of the drive cables.
Hobie Mirage Drive.
Thoughtful design details, such as the paddle rest on gunwale stops the paddle twisting when secured.