Pro Angler 12 and Pro Angler 14 Test Drive Comparison August 2012

29 Aug 2012

When the Hobie Pro Angler 14 was released in 2009, Hobie raised the bar in what kayak fisherman would expect in comfort, stability, maneuverability and tackle management systems of their kayak.  Hobie introduced accessories to enhance the fishing experience, the H-Bar to assist the angler when standing to battle bigger fish, cradles to effectively transport the PA 14 on car-top or trailer, and coming this Spring, a larger wheeled Beach Cart for the low tide beach launch.

The PA 14 has comfortable above hull adjustable seating, large in-hull storage hatch with liner for your catch,6 horizontal rod storage tubes, easy access tackle box storage with bait board and a massive 272 kg payload capacity. There is ample room to stand. You can cast with confidence with the superior stability. The recessed rudder allows for a tight turning circle and kicks up in shallow water.

And all powered by the Hobie Mirage Drive pedal system. Hands free….awesome, just add fish!

With all these features and more, the Pro Angler 14 is the most desired fishing kayak.

With the recent release of the Hobie Pro Angler 12, Hobie have added to the range, a lighter and more versatile kayak packed full of “must have” features that kayak anglers expect. Front hatch with removable liner, flat rectangular hatch with pivoting tackle management system, fully adjustable Vantage seating, integrated dual steering controls for left or right hand operation, 4 horizontal rod storage tubes and a 227 kg payload capacity.

Being anchor trolley and Lowrance ready, makes for easy installation.

The obvious differences are: The PA 12 is

  • 51 cm shorter
  • 6 cm narrower
  • 5.4kg lighter fitted, and
  • 8.2 kg lighter rigged

So James from our Inverloch Store and I took both the Pro Anglers to the Anderson Inlet. Our aim was to compare the merits of each kayak and to answer some of the questions we have been asked and some you may have.

James used the PA 14 and I was first to test the PA 12.

Transporting from Car to Water…We both used the Trax 2 Beach Cart and it handled the very soft sand with ease. The PA 14 has forward and rear scuppers to insert the cart. The PA 12 has central and rear scuppers to position the cart. In the central location the PA 12 has a more balanced feel when fully loaded (especially if using a Hobie Livewell).

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Launching…The width of the PA 14 requires you to use a T-Bar handle on a half paddle to launch through the shallows. With the higher position of the Vantage seat and being 6 cm narrower, paddling is as comfortable with the full length paddle as with the half paddle.

Comfort.. Having spent 5 years fishing out of a Revolution 13, when the opportunity arises, I always enjoy and feel comfortable sitting above the hull in the PA 14. James, being 6’3” and having a niggling back complaint, is blown away by the comfort of the PA 14 seat. Having no arm rests, he was able to ease in and out of the seat. Now being in the PA 12, the ability to adjust the height, the back incline and the lumbar support ensures your comfort to the maximum. Being a scrawny 75 kg, I gave a big tick to the Vantage seat. After spending time in the PA 12, James still gave the PA 14 seat the thumbs up.  He believed it suited his size and weight. James also believes your selection of life jacket is critical to your comfort in the Vantage seat.

Speed…The tide was running in at about 6 knots with a 15 knot north westerly behind it. We pedaled into it for about 45 minutes and both believed the PA 12 with the seat set down to be a marginally quicker kayak. The extra height (5 inches) did slow the kayak down in transit but gives you a great advantage when sight fishing.

Stability…Both of us standing in the wind was definitely an endorsement for each of the kayaks. When both pedals are in the central position, the Turbo Fins are pointing down adding additional stability.  

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Maneuverability…We both felt the PA 12 had a marginally tighter turning circle than the PA 14 but did not believe there to be any downside if your preference was the PA 14. I am looking forward to testing the PA 12 in the tighter waterways of Screw Creek chasing some Estuary Perch.

Fish-Ability and Fitting Out…Hobie set the standard for kayak fishing with the Mirage Drive Pedal system to be hands free. Now the Pro Angler series provides the ability to stand up and fish with ease. The main difference between the 12 and the 14 is in the internal design of the cockpit. In the PA 14, there is a raised storage hatch with bait board and a gear bucket below with tackle boxes. In my observations, this definitely a big advantage to bait anglers. Whereas the PA 12 has a flat twist and seal hatch with a two tackle box pivoting system. This allows a larger area to stand and move about for lure casting. There is also room under the seat for two more tackle boxes. Each kayak has ample rod storage, the PA 14 has 6 horizontal rod tubes and the PA 12 has 4. Both have two storage holders behind the seat for nets and gaffs and are livewell compatible. Each has replaceable mounting boards for fitting rod holders. On the PA12, you will also need to fit your sounder on the forward mounting board. But on the PA 14, the rails extend far enough forward to accommodate your sounder using a Ram Mount “U-bolt” bracket. The front hatch with liner is significantly bigger in the PA14 but this is one of the compromises in saving 20” in length.

The PA 14 has the rudder control permanently fixed to the left hand side of the boat whereas the PA 12 has an integrated dual control system. This allows you to position the rudder control on the rail on either side, whether you are right or left handed. James is left-handed, and his automatic choice is for the steering to be situated on the right hand side.

The major difference is in hull design. The PA 12 is Lowrance and Anchor Trolley Ready. Installing a sounder requires no drilling into the kayak hull and no internal transducer fitting. This means the most advanced Lowrance sounders (i.e. DSI, structure scan, temperature etc) will operate through a covered transducer port on under-side of the kayak.  Also, the anchor trolley pulley mounts are installed on each side of the kayak. And after fitting out in excess of 200 kayaks, this is a major breakthrough. Not only do you save on the cost of install kits but the ease of installation for anglers who chose to fit out their own kayak.

As impressed as I was with PA 14 when it was released in 2009, I am equally impressed with the PA 12 in 2012. But for each angler, they will place a different emphasis on the points I have discussed. So if you believe you may wish to upgrade to a PA 12 from an Outback or Revolution 13 or downsize to it from a PA 14, definitely take it for a test drive and let the newest addition to the Hobie Fleet do the talking.

If you need any further information on the Pro Angler 12 or would like to book a Test Drive, call James on 03 56743322.


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