Hobie Revolution 16 with Mirage Drive 180
Fishing Kayak Review
At the start of 2017 I choose to get a Hobie Revolution 16 for my kayak fishing. Hobie are well-known for their Mirage Drive kayak range of pedal drive kayaks. Since their release they have proven popular with kayak anglers – with the kayak propelled through the water using your feet, your hands are left free to fish with! This brings a number of advantages to the kayak angler. This post will take a closer look at my chosen kayak, the Hobie Revolution 16, and look at what makes this, in my opinion, one of the top saltwater fishing kayaks on the market.
Hobie Mirage Drive Kayaks
The Hobie Mirage Kayaks have been around for a little while now. First released in 1997, this new way of kayaking gradually picked up more and more followers as more people found that the drive system was an efficient and fun way to go kayaking! The Mirage Drive system is based on the action of a Penguin propelling itself through the water using its wings. The clever guys at Hobie did much chin scratching and in a feat of biomimicry came up with a way to translate this propulsion onto a kayak hull. The drive system uses the forwards and backwards motion of two foot pedals to power two fins side-to-side beneath the hull! Over the years the drive system has undergone a number of improvements and developments to the Mirage Drive found on the latest Hobie Kayaks.
In late 2016, Hobie made a big announcement... the release of the Mirage Drive 180 with an all-new feature.... full power reverse! Yes, this drive system allows you to pedal the hull in reverse! This is a clever reverse drive though – you don’t have to back pedal like other systems, which can be slow and awkward, with the Mirage Drive 180 you simply pull a toggle on the drive, this flips the fins around beneath the kayak and you can carry on pedalling as normal but now you go backwards! Very, very cool!
Mirage Drive Kayaks
There are a number of models produced by Hobie that make use of the Mirage Drive. The standard Mirage range includes the wide and stable Outback, and the sportier Revolution series. The Hobie range also includes the Pro Anglers – super stable fishing platforms with lots of deck space and fishing features, and the Island series – trimaran hulls with a full sailing rig!
As standard, Mirage Kayaks are very well kitted out with features including a very comfortable and fully adjustable frame-based Vantage CT seat, a Twist-N-Stow rudder system, various storage hatches, a sail mount, a two-piece fibreglass paddle, mesh storage pockets and a Lowrance-Ready system for easy fish finder installation. These kayaks are very well made with extensive user research and customer feedback put into the design and placement of every feature found on the hull. They are also very versatile and can be pedalled or paddled. Add the optional Hobie Sail Kit and they can be sailed, or add the optional Hobie eVolve electric motor system to cruise under power! These are top-end kayaks in the kayak fishing world but fishing from a Hobie Kayak certainly offers a number of advantages over a traditional paddled kayak.
With the hull propelled through the water with your feet, yours hands are left free to hold a fishing rod. This is a game changer, especially for lure fishing. Troll a lure whilst holding the rod, move the kayak whilst fighting a fish, hold position against the tide or river current and much more. For bottom bait fishing, you can even use the Mirage Drive to force drift your baits when there is little tide/current/wind to move the baits for you! Not only does the Mirage Drive offer advantages whilst fishing, it also makes life easier when getting to and from your fishing mark. In the case of most people, your leg muscles have more strength and stamina than your arm muscles. With a Mirage Drive kayak being powered by your legs you are able to go further and faster than you would if paddling, or put in another way, you can do the same but with less effort. Sounds like a winner to me! These are just some of the reasons why Mirage Drive kayaks have become increasingly popular amongst kayak anglers.
After fishing alongside many friends who use Hobie kayaks, the advantages soon became obvious. Simply put, in many situations a Hobie Kayak puts you with a better chance of catching fish. Seeing as the reason I go kayak fishing is to catch fish, it would be mad not to put myself with a better chance of catching! It was just a case of deciding which model to go for. There was only really model for me…. The Revolution 16. The Revo 16 is the longest and fastest single seat Mirage kayak in the range and I have a need for speed! I mainly fish on open coastlines and occasionally offshore down here in Cornwall. The sea here is well known for being lively and unpredictable so I need a kayak that will take on open sea conditions and get me home through messy seas if needed. The Revolution 16 was the kayak for me.
Hobie Revolution 16 – A Kayak Built for Speed
The Revo 16 has a 16ft hull length and a width of 27.5in, with a long sharp entry bow and smooth hull surface. This all means that the Revo 16 cuts through the water like a hot knife through butter!
The rounded sides of the kayak will provide good amounts of secondary stability that will allow the hull to remain stable in messy conditions. The hull has little rocker (longitudinal curvature) which would usually mean the kayak is hard to turn if paddled, but this isn’t an issue as the kayak has a rudder fitted as standard. It does mean that the waterline length of the kayak is practically the full length of the hull, and the longer the waterline, the faster the kayak will be.
Hobie use some of the best HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastic available for their kayak hulls so stiffness and durability is excellent too. Overall this hull is design to be fast and efficient through the water. Perfect for long distance kayak fishing trips. The hull is great, but so are the features that come as standard with this kayak. Let’s take a look…
Hobie Revolution 16 Features
All Hobie Kayaks come very well kitted out with high quality features and fittings, each designed and placed with much thought and based on years of user feedback. It makes for a kayak that feels just right from the second you sit in it and use the kayak. The guys at Hobie have made their kayaks so that very few extras are needed to get you on the water and the kayak is essentially water-ready straight from the bag! They have also taken note that us kayak anglers love to customise our craft to be suited to our own fishing styles. As a result features are included to make customising that little bit easier and Hobie also offer a huge range of equipment and accessories for rigging up a fishing kayak.
The features on this kayak include:
- Mirage Drive 180
- Vantage CT Seat
- Twist and Stow Rudder System
- Lowrance-Ready System
- Two-piece Fibreglass Paddle
- Bow Hatch
- Centre and Stern 8" Twist and Seal Hatches
- Side Storage Pockets
- Bow/Stern Toggle Handles
- Solid Side Carry Handles
- Moulded-In Rod Holders
- Reinforced Scupper Holes
- Sail Mount
Let’s take a look over some of the main features.
Mirage Drive 180
The Mirage Drive 180 is the driving force of all 2017+ Hobies. This is a very clever piece of kit. By stepping alternately on each pedal, you drive the two rubber fins side to side beneath the kayak propelling the hull forwards with incredible efficiency! Pull the reverse toggle and this flips the fins around 180° beneath the kayak - you continue pedalling forwards but the kayak now goes in reverse!
A lot of development has gone into the Mirage Drive 180 and there are many components involved. Maintenance is fairly minimal though - wash down with fresh water after each trip and put a drop of oil and grease on pivoting components every so often to keep things running smoothly. Spare components are available if needed and Cornwall Canoes stocks all common spare parts for Hobie Kayaks.
The drive slots into the kayak through a moulded hole in the front of the footwell, and secures into two Click-N-Go ports, locking the drive into the hull for use.
The drive can be used by various height users from short to tall, simply by adjusting the pedal crank arms. This is easy to do, simply push a lever on the crank arm, this dis-engages the arm from the drum and allows you to slide the arm along a numbered scale. Higher numbers for taller users, lower numbers for shorter users. I'm 6ft 2in and setting number 5 works well for me. You want the drive set up so you can pedal comfortably without bottoming out your legs or feeling to cramped up. It takes a couple of minutes on the water to suss out which number to be on.
The Revolution 16 comes with a drive casette to blank off the mirage drive well, for transport/storage or for when you want to go for a paddle instead of a pedal.
Vantage CT Seat
The Revolution 16 comes complete with Hobie's Vantage CT Seating system. This is a very comfortable seat! The seat is constructed from a ligthweight plastic frame with mesh covering. It secures onto the kayak by attaching to a cross bar, and for extra security, clips to a small leash behind the seat.
The seat has plenty of adjustment so that you can get into a comfortable pedalling position. Behind the seat on the right hand side there is a lever which adjusts the tilt of the seat. There is also a Boa Lumbar Support adjustment wheel. Turning this tensions the material in the lower back area to provide lower back support. Pull the wheel outwards to slacken it off. Below the front of the seat there is an adjustment lever which adjusts the height of the front of the seat - pull the lever and apply pressure backwards on the backrest to raise the front, or apply pressure down onto the seat to lower it. There is also a 'Kickstand' toggle. Pulling this deploys two short legs at the rear of the seat to raise the back of the seat base. The legs can be either deployed onto the deck or onto two small ledges at the back of the seat-well for the highest setting.
I find the kayak most comfortable when the kickstand is not deployed, and the front of the seat base is raised slightly to support the underlegs whilst pedalling. I tend to have the seat tilted right back too and find this comfortable for long distance pedalling. I don't like using the chair in the higher height settings as it makes the hull more unstable. On the lowest setting you have a lower centre of gravity and i find the hull behaves much better in rougher waters in this position.
The seat can also be removed and used as a beach/camp chair! There are 4 short legs stowed against the frame, which can be unclipped and popped into retainers. A handy little feature and great for multi-day trips when you are camping!
This has to be the most comfortable kayak seat i have ever used.... it is just brilliant! The fact that you are raised off the deck slightly makes for a much drier ride too. I have sat in this seat for up to 12 hours at a time and still get off the water without a bad back. The mesh means that the seat is easy to wash down at the end of the day too. There really is nothing bad to say about this seat!
Twist-N-Stow Rudder System
Hobie Mirage Kayaks come complete with a Twist-N-Stow rudder system. When stowed, the rudder blade lays flat on the stern deck and for transport and storage can be secured in place using the fitted bungee cord.
The rudder controls are all located within easy reach from the seat.
To deploy the rudder, firmly pull the Down toggle in front of the right hand storage pocket in the foot well. The rudder can be locked into it's down position by jamming the down cord into the cleat fitted to the storage pocket frame.
To haul the rudder, firmly pull the Up toggle in front of the left hand storage pocket in the foot well until the rudder blade is back on the stern deck.
The steering control is all off the steering handle located just beside the seat on the left. This can be controlled using just your fingertips making control very easy.
The rudder housing is held to the hull using a plastic rudder pin. This is designed to be a sacrificial weak-point in the rudder assembly - if you strike an object hard with the rudder blade the pin will break rather than the rudder. A spare rudder pin is found in the stern hatch.
The Revolution 16 comes complete with the Lowrance-Ready System. This system is designed to make fish finder installation much easier and comprises of a large transducer scupper recess with protective cover, along with several 3-way Thru Hull deck seals for fish finder wiring.
Remove the protective cover, located under the front of the tank well, and you reveal a large moulded recess. This is designed to fit transducers from Lowrance including the 83/200 kHz (Medium/High CHIRP) transducer and the smaller 83/200 kHz broadband skimmer transducer. I have also found that transducers from the Raymarine Dragonfly series, Garmin Striker series and the Humminbird DownScan transducer to also fit. The Revolution 16 comes with fittings to attach compatible Lowrance transdcuers, however a little bit of DIY and other transducer can be made to fit.
The cover protects the transducer from damage and does not effect transducer readings, and with the transducer in direct contact with the water you get a very clear reading. The transducer cable is passed up through the moulded scupper to the tank-well above. Here we find a 3-Way Thru Hull deck seal at the bow end of the tank-well. The transducer cable can be routed inside the hull through this, and the kayak comes with a number of rubber inserts for the deck seal to suit various cable sizes. The battery and excess cabling can be stored inside the hull, and the fish finder unit connector passed back out to the deck through either deck seal located in each side storage pocket.
The fish finder head unit can then be mounted wherever is preferred on the gunwales of the kayak. I choose to use slide tracks to fit mine, this is discussed further on in this review.
Storage space is plentiful on the Revolution 16. A large bow hatch is held over via cross bungees and will easily store a fold-up trolley such as the Railblaza C-Tug, with still plenty of room for more. You could easily fit enough gear in here for a weekend camp. The hatch features a soft rubber seal on the rim, giving a good waterproof fit. The hatch lid is also leashed to the kayak which is always a nice touch.
There is an 8" Twist-N-Seal hatch located in front of the seat and on the stern deck. These have a strong waterproof seal and open/close by twisting the T-Handle which sits in a recess in the hatch lid when not in use. The centre hatch comes complete with a Hobie Gear Bucket for tackle storage. This can be removed to access further storage space within the hull. The stern hatch features a spare rudder pin fitted into the hatch lid. Hobie also produce a number of other hatch buckets that fit these hatches, including a deep gear bucket for more storage.
There are two storage pockets with mesh covers located in front of the seating area, along with two moulded-in cup holders. These are handy for keeping small items of tackle close to hand during a session.
There is a massive rear tank-well behind the seat and this is perfect for storing a crate to keep the bulk of your fishing gear in. The area will fit the Hobie H-Crate and the Hobie Livewell. Cross bungees keep items here secured to the hull.
Hobie Kayaks come complete with a two-piece fibreglass shaft paddle, with simple push-button adjustment. The blades are a general touring shape and constructed from fibre-reinforced nylon. It is very much supplied as a back-up for the drive, should you experience failure on the water. It is also handly for paddling the first hundred yards or so from the launch until the water is deep enough to use the drive. You can also use it if you fancy going for a paddle instead of a pedal! The paddle sits in a bungee holder on the right hand side of the hull.
Sail Mount & Daggerboard Slot
Hobie Mirage Kayaks come fitted with a sail mount for the optional Hobie Sail Kit. This is located at the bow end of the footwell and the mast tube sits beneath a rubber cap. The Revolution 16 also features a moulded-in daggerboard slot for the optional daggerboard. The daggerboard improves performance at sail by reducing lateral slippage.
The Revolution 16 also comes with 4 carry handles - two toggle handles at bow/stern and two soft-touch solid side handles. The side handles are well-placed at the mid-point of the kayak, and the bare hull is balanced with picked up by these for car topping.
The tank well features two reinforced scupper holes, designed to drain the tank well but can also be used with the Hobie through-scupper style trolleys. Personally I use a C-Tug as it cradles the weight of a heavy-laden fishing kayak much better.
Two drain bungs are located at the stern - a small one on the keel line, and a larger one on the deck side.
Adding Accessories for Fishing
Us kayak anglers love to customise our craft to make them into more efficient and comfortable fishing vessels. There were a number of additions I made to the Revolution 16 before I was ready to do some serious fishing.
First up was a Fish Finder and GPS Chartplotter combo unit. I have been using a Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro for the last few years. The Lowrance-Ready system on the Revo made installation easy. The Dragonfly transducer is quite long but it just wedges into the scupper recess. It is a tight fit and it takes a little persuasion to bolt the cover plate back on but it works. The transducer wire then runs up through the scupper and into the 3-Way Thru-Hull plug in the tankwell.
I installed Yak Attack GearTrac GTTL90's either side of the foot well and the main unit is mounted onto this using a Ram 1" Quick-Release track mount, a Ram Double Socket Arm and a Ram 1" Tough Ball with M6 threaded bolt. The M6 bolt ball screws directly into the back of the unit. Using the Ram Mount system gives plenty of angle adjustment with the ball and socket design. The power/transducer cables with connector pass up to the unit via the 3-Way Thru-Hull plug located in the side pocket. The battery is stored inside the hull along with the excess cabling.
I often fish at anchor so a full anchoring system was an essential addition to the kayak. An anchor trolley is essential for safe anchoring and allows you to shuttle the anchor line to the stern or bow, as the ends of the kayak are the safest place to anchor a kayak from. The anchor trolley installation involved mounting two Hobie Chrome Pad Eyes bolted at the bow and stern on the left hand side of the of the Revolution 16. I'd have liked to put it on the right hand side but the paddle is kept on this side and would interfere with the anchor trolley if mounted to that side.
Micro Harken Pulleys were attached to the pad eyes using Stainless Steel Karabiners, and a short section of bungee used at the bow to offer some buffering into the system and to keep the trolley taut to the hull. A length of cord then runs between the pulleys and is joined by a karabiner. This is what you pass the anchor line through at the seating position and then use the trolley to shuttle it forwards or more commonly backwards. A zig-zag cleat was bolted beside the seat to allow me to lock off the anchor trolley and anchor line.
I like to keep my anchoring system simple, and use a homemade anchor reel with 2mm anchor line and a 1.5kg grapnel with a length of 6mm chain. I can now anchor the kayak safely using this system.
Upgraded Rubber Side Pockets
The Revolution 16 comes with fabric mesh side pockets as standard. Hobie produce a neat little upgrade to these in the form of rubber mesh pocket covers. These are great for kayak fisherman as hooks do not get caught up in the rubber, whereas getting a hook caught up in fabric mesh causes problems often resulting in cutting the mesh! This upgrade is inexpensive and very worthwhile. Installation is very easy and just involves undoing a few screws and replacing the fabric mesh with the rubber mesh inside the pocket frame.
A few years ago i installed a rod rest on the bow of my kayak and haven't looked back since. It is really handy for resting the rods on whilst setting up, baiting up or whilst fishing at anchor or on the drift. I concocted from a RAM Mount Pole and a ripple rod rest and a few other components. I won't go into the details of constructing one here so Click Here for full details on making a rod rest if you are interested.
I utilised the sail mast tube on the bow of the Revo 16 to attach the rod rest to using a Ram Mount 1.5" Wedge Mount for Hobie Mast Tubes. It works perfectly!
MD180 ST Turbo Fins
The Mirage Drive 180 comes with ST fins as standard but Hobie also produce a Turbo Fin upgrade kit. The turbo fins are longer and have more surface area than the standard ST fins. This means they produce more thrust and speed! Seeing as I had the fastest single seat kayak in the Hobie Kayak range, it seemed silly not to upgrade to the faster Turbo fins!
The Hobie H-Crate offers a really neat storage solution for the rear cargo area in Hobie Kayaks. It will also fit many other fishing kayaks. It has a super strong and rigid design and features 4 integrated rod holders, one in each corner of the crate with bulit-in bungee rod leashes. There is also the option to add more to the grid walls of the crate. The crate also features sections of H-Rail which double up as handles and an accessory mounting rail. A number of H-Rail Mounts can easily be fitted to these to attach accessories to the crate. I have fitted a Ram Mount 1.5" ball to the H-Rail to attach a camera pole too.
The H-Crate will easily hold all my fishing tackle boxes, anchoring equipment and supplies for a day on the water. It comes with 4 straps to secure the crate down to the tank well on the kayak, and once fitted the crate is rock solid!
My Revolution 16 was now ready for battle and rigged just how I wanted it with a fish finder/GPS chartplotter, a full anchoring system, faster turbo fins, a solid & spacious storage crate, a rod rest and upgraded 'hookless' pockets. Time to go fishing!
A Year on the Water... From Paddler to Pedaler
Testing the Revolution 16 for the first time
The Revo 16 first tasted the saltwater deep in West Cornwall. The sun was shining and i was joined on the water by Andrew of Cornwall Canoes on his Revolution 13, and Cornwall Canoes customer and good friend Adam who also had a shiny new Revolution 16 to take out for the first time. It would very much be a day of familiarising ourselves with the kayaks and getting used to the feel of pedalling rather than paddling.
Launching takes a little more thought with the Mirage Drive. You can put the drive in place and retain one pedal arm back with the bungee hook to hold the fins flat to the hull, but i didn't like how the sprockets below the kayak would be exposed to sand/pebbles upon launching. I opted to remove the drive (which was kept leashed to the hull) and leave this in the footwell, then paddle out a hundred yards or so before dropping the drive into place and pedalling off. This worked well but may be a little more tricky if launching and landing through surf.
I soon had the seat and pedals adjusted so that pedalling was comfortable. The first major differance was the feeling of not having a paddle in your hand to brace with. It completely changes the feeling of the craft as you have to use your body weight to brace with. It didn't take long to get used too it, but was certainly a different feel to paddling. We were soon pushing the Mirage Drives hard to see how fast we could go!
It is surprising how quick you can pick up speed with the drive system. Pedalling at 3 knots is effortless. Cruising with a view to getting somewhere and 4-5 knots is comfortable. Push harder and 5-6 knots can be achieved. The drive will take the kayak above 6 knots but it does become more tiring. Going full whack i managed to get the Revo 16 moving at over 8 knots but this was only doable for a few moments before lactic acid started to build up in the legs! You really don't need to go full whack though and speeds between 4 and 5.5 knots are comfortable over long distances.
Those of you with faster fishing kayaks may notice that this is not too dissimilar to paddling. I can certainly achieve these speeds paddling in my RTM Tempo and RTM Rytmo, and kayaks such as the Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro, Trident 15 and Viking ProFish Reload are capable of this too. But there is a noticeable differance. These speeds require much less effort with a Hobie, and you can maintain such speed over greater distances as a result. Most people have much more power and stamina in their leg muscles than in their arms and upper body. I know I certainly do, so for me, the Revolution is a revelation!
It was also noticeable how well the hull glides through the water. The sharp bow and smooth hull was cutting through the small chop as if it wasn't there at all! It moves incredibly efficiently through the water and to be honest I expected nothing less after first seeing the hull design.
I was a little apprehensive about how stable the Revo 16 would be, with the Vantage Seat raised slightly off the hull. I am used to paddling the RTM Tempo and the RTM Rytmo which have their seating positions lower in the hull. Initially I felt higher on the hull in the Revo but after 5 minutes of pedalling I was used to the feeling of it. It was actually much more stable than the Tempo and the Rytmo! When on the move, the fins of the drive grip the water incredibly well and I felt that this increases the stability further.
The steering also took a little time to get used too, not so much in the operation but in getting used to the Revo 16's turning circle. Relying on just the rudder, the Revo 16 takes a little longer to turn around than a paddle kayak. Not so much of a problem on the big open sea, but when you need to turn tightly or maneovure in close to another kayak then you may need some assistance from the paddle.... or the Mirage Drive 180! Ah yes, we almost forgot that the drive can go in reverse! This makes close quarter maneovuring a little easier as you can make fine adjustments by switching between forwards and reverse.
The reverse mode actually proved to be quite handy. It is simple to switch between forwards and reverse - simply put the fins in the vertically down position, and then pull the required toggle on the drive. One thing to note when going in reverse is that rudders do not like to go backwards! At low speeds there is no problem but ramp up the pace and the rudder will want to kick one way or the other. A strong hand on the steering handle will allow you to get up to a couple of knots or so in reverse but much faster and the rudder will force to one side. Not too much of an issue as I can't really think of a situation when I would need to be going fast in reverse. Whilst drift fishing bottom baits the reverse mode also proved advantageous. I could rest my rods on my rod rest, put the drive in reverse, gently pedal and force drift my baits over the bottom and steer my desired course as I go! This will be a game changer when there is little tide or wind to assist a drift.
The fishing was fairly slow but we had a few Mackerel and Pollack between us, and I managed to winkle out a small Plaice on the bottom. The wind picked up later in the day as we were heading back. We faced a mile pedal back against a gusty 15-20mph headwind and this is when the Revolutions came alive!! We were making 4.5-5 knots straight into the wind without excessive effort.... wow! If we were paddling we all agreed that we would be struggling to make 3.5 knots and would soon tire. The Revo's just laughed in the face of the wind and kept going! This is where these kayaks really prove their worth. I reckon it is the way the fins grip the water and lack of swinging a paddle through the air that gives this kayak such an edge in the wind. We were soon back at the launch site in no less time than it took us to paddle out to the mark.
A successful day in terms of testing out our new kayaks, but the fishing was farily poor. We had launched from a particularly tricky spot which involves a very steep slipway back to the car. It was here we found one downside to the Hobie Kayaks... they are not the lightest kayak around! To be fair, the bare hull of a Revo 16 is 34kg, which is no different to many other 14ft+ fishing kayaks such as the Thresher 140/155 and Viking Profish Reload, but by the time you add on the weight of the drive and seat they weigh around 42kg, but then that's no different to a Trident 15. The C-Tug trolley copes with this fine and on flat ground it's not really a problem, but when faced with a steep slipway, it is a two man job. With the hull stripped down i am just able to car top the Revo 16 on my own, but it is just as easy to slide the kayak onto the roof rack from the rear of my car.
I was now more familiar with the feeling of pedalling and fishing from a Hobie so it was time to see what it could really do....
Going Further and Faster...
The Revo 16 certainly offers more performance over paddling so it was time to push the boundaries of what I had previously been comfortable fishing in and take the Revo to new waters. One session involved fishing the fast tidal races off Lands End. Here, there are many shallow reefs surrounded by deeper water and even on neap tides the flood and ebb can see water moving at 2-4+ knots, and more on spring tides. Even from the Hobie fishing here has to be timed over the slack water to coincide with minimal flow.
It was a fairly calm day so heading to the mark was fairly effortless. We drift fished over the reefs working soft plastic lures to tempt Pollack. Even at the bottom of the tide the water was boiling over the reefs and at times i was drifting at 2 knots but heading back uptide to start a new drift was not a problem with the Revo. It was also great to be able to point the kayak into the tide and gently pedal to hold ground. This certainly brought me more bites than just drifting with the tide over some areas. The fishing happened to be great and I smashed my PB Pollack with a fine fish of 13lb 5oz! What a fight that was!
At one point during the session we felt the wrath of the Lands End tides and battled head on into 3-4 knots of flooding tide at a rocky outcrop. It took a bit of effort but the Hobie powered steadily past the fast shallow water and into the sanctuary of slower deeper a few hundred yards ahead. I would usually stay well away from such tidal flows but it is nice to know that headway can be made in such conditions on the Revo 16 if i ever got caught out. On that note i will also mention that the hull paddles well too, and 4+ knots was more than achievable with the Mirage Drive taken out and the blank casette plug put in it's place. It requires more effort than using the drive, but it is comforting to know the hull will paddle well if ever the drive system failed for any reason whilst on the water. It also makes a nice change every now and then to paddle out to a mark to give the arms a workout.
The Revo 16 bug had caught on with more and more kayak anglers seeing the benefits of fishing from a Hobie. I travel to fish a few of the big kayak fishing competitions each year and at each one there was an increasing number of Revo 16's.... all in the favoured Ivory Dune colour!
This was great to see. The Revo 16's certainly had the advantage off the start line at the competitions. At the Swanage Classic in May, Cornwall Canoes Kayak Fishing Team member Kyle and myself were racing out into a windy and messy Swanage Bay at a steady 6 knots! Less time travelling, more time fishing. Likewise we were both leading the rest of the field out to the Plymouth Breakwater at the Ocean Kayak Classic in June. Plymouth Breakwater is situated approx. 2 miles offshore in the Plymouth Sound and we reached the mark in just under 25 minutes, averaging around 5.5 knots without stopping once. In fact we both had fish on our species count whilst others were still arriving.... these kayaks were proving their worth.
Whilst at the Swanage competition, good friend Ben and myself enjoyed some Ray fishing from our Revo 16's. It is probably a good time to bring up the Vantage seat here. I can quite often be on the water for 8+ hours, particularly in the summer months. The Vantage seat is incredibly comfortable, even when seated for many hours. I don't really have a bad thing to say about it, it does everything it needs to do! No bad back, no numb bum and no sitting in water! When sat fishing for several hours without moving, such as when we fish for rays, this is exactly what you need. That particular day we enjoyed some good sport with Small Eyed Rays and Undulate Rays into double figures.
It was particularly windy and choppy during the few days I spent at Swanage Bay for the competition. No problem for the Revo though as it just eats up the windy conditions and powers on through. Amongst the Revo 16 owners, these kayak are known as 'Wind Cheaters'! Pedal one in windy conditions and you'll see why.
It was now early summer and i was fishing whenever the weather allowed. It was also time to target some bigger fish.... Tope! These small sharks fight incredibly well and really pull the kayak around. They are also a handful once on the kayak, so it would be interesting to see how stable and comfortable the Revo was whilst catching these fish. As expected it handled the task admirably. The Revo 16 was plenty stable enough to fight and land bigger fish from.
We often fish for the Tope at anchor in faster tidal flows. The Revolution 16 sits well at anchor with little swaying. I think the fins of the drive help to catch the water and keep the kayak straight.
A little later in the summer i was joined by my Revo 16 partners in crime, Ben and Kyle, for 5 solid days of kayak fishing for the Penzance Kayak Fishing Meet, which i hold each August in West Cornwall. The forecast was something from a dream - no wind, no swell and lots of sun.
Given such incredible weather conditions we decided to push the boundaries and took a trip offshore. Now this is not something that is taken lightly and we go well prepared with safety and navigation equipment. If something goes wrong several miles offshore you need to be prepared. Lots of preparation and trip planning takes place prior to an offshore trip to ensure we are as prepared as we can be. Luckily we had the perfect craft to take us over long distances. On a mirror calm sea we launched at dawn and headed out to sea. 90% of my fishing takes place within 2 miles of the shore, but we were seeing what these kayaks were capable of today. At one point we ended up 7 miles from the coast! Now this is not something that you can do everyday on a kayak. In fact we had been quietly waiting for such perfect conditions for months.
We spent 12 hours on the water and covered 20 miles. We caught plenty of fish too! That day proved how capable these kayaks are, and when you can cruise at over 5 knots for over an hour of pedalling such distances are certainly achieveable....on the right day.
On flat water these kayaks are phenomenal for covering distance fast. I managed to take some footage on the calm waters of a local estuary showing how well these kayaks move on flat water...
The Penzance Kayak Fishing Meet came and went with some awesome fishing and a lovely pasty. For those of us who fished off Lands End we yet again felt the wrath of the tides and the Revo 16 certainly proved itself as top against other kayaks when it came to getting back to shore first against the tide.
Summer soon turned into Autumn and with it stormy weather and swell started to arrive. It is the best time of the year for fishing in Cornwall but it can be frustrating when there isn't a break in the weather. Weeks can go by without a session as it's just too rough and windy. When the weather did break i had some great days on the water. One such session saw some fine Blonde Rays come to the kayak with several double figure fish topped off with a beauty of 20lb 8oz. I like catching fishing that are longer than the kayak is wide, in fact some of the rays are wider than the kayak too!
Even if the water is rough, the Revo 16 is more than capable of handling it. I love fishing and kayaking in rough conditions. It really puts you on the edge and gives a great sense of excitement. Big swell is especially fun but pedalling along with swells and a following sea is a very different feeling to paddling along with it. With no paddle to brace with, you have to be quite alert as swell picks you up and the kayak starts to pick up speed. Likewise, a firm hand is needed on the rudder to maintain a straight course. Once used to the feeling of running with swells it becomes very fun!
Calm water, rough water, windy weather, sunny weather, the Revolution 16 has proved itself as a very capable coastal and offshore fishing kayak.
Hobie Revolution 16 Review Summary
I have used my Revolution 16 for at least 30 sessions over the last year ranging from calm estuary fishing to open coastal fishing and distance offshore fishing. I have fished on flat calm water, choppy water, in big swells and in fast tides. I have caught many fish, including several new PBs this year and have fished places that i would not have previously.
I have come to the conclusion that the Hobie Revolution 16 is possibly the perfect coastal and offshore pedal-driven fishing kayak! Now this may seem like a wide sweeping and bold statement but this is coming from someone who resisted owning a Hobie for a few years because simply put, i enjoyed paddling. After fishing alongside many friends using Hobie Kayaks i eventually saw the benefits and whilst apprehensive, i can now say after a year of using and fishing from my Revolution 16 that it will be very difficult to go back to fishing from a paddle kayak. In fact i have two paddle fishing kayaks that i haven't touched since getting the Hobie. I took up kayak fishing as an angler, and catching fish is the reason i go kayak fishing. I'd be stupid not to fish from a craft which in my mind offers a number of game changing advantages over a paddled kayak.
The ability to cover ground quickly without excessive effort is fantastic. The Vantage seat offers excellent comfort for long sessions. Being able to hold ground in the tide whilst lure fishing is brilliant. Using the drive to make fine adjustments to the position of the kayak whilst fishing is also useful. Moving the kayak whilst fighting a fish is also handy in some situations, especially when close to rocks or the shore in swell. Using the drive to force drift baits on the bottom is also great. The Revo 16 also paddles well too when you fancy stretching your arms.
I am very impressed with the whole kayak and have loved every minute i have used it. The quality of this craft is superb and a year of saltwater abuse has not caused any issues. Sure, i've put the usual light scratches on the hull through use but in terms of the fixtures and fixings, nothing has shown signs of failing. The drive is still in near perfect condition and maintenance has involved nothing more than a rinse down with fresh water and wipe over after each trip. I've also kept the chains greased up with Corrosion Block marine grease, and gave a squirt of Corrosion Block spray into pivoting components such as the idler puller, drum shaft and sprockets to keep everything running smoothly.
I really don't have too much bad to say about the kayak, other than perhaps that it is heavy once loaded up. It's not noticeable on the water but takes a little extra effort than my previous kayaks when trolleying around. There are certainly a few things I'd tweak with the design to make this kayak even better. It would be nice to see slide tracks installed as standard alongside the footwell and each side of the tank well. I'd also do away with the drain bung at the stern on the keel line. I don't like that this is under the water line and forgetting to put the drain bung in before launching could cause problems.
The Revolution 16 has proven it's worth to me and I can't see me fishing off any other kayaks for the forseeable future. Like many other regular kayak anglers, the Revo 16 has become my fishing kayak of choice and I look forward to pushing my kayak fishing adventures further with this kayak!
- It is fast - 5 knots is comfortable to maintain
- It is efficient over long distances
- It performs very well in windy conditions
- It performs well in choppy waters
- You can hold a rod whilst on the move!
- The Vantage CT seat is very comfortable for long sessions
- It sits well at anchor
- The reverse mode on the drive is very handy
- The build quality is excellent
- The features are well placed
- It is not the lightest kayak when kitted up
- No slide tracks as standard
Liam (Cornish Kayak Angler)
- Mirage Drive 180
- Vantage CT Seat
- Twist and Stow Rudder System
- Lowrance-Ready System
- Two-piece Fibreglass Paddle
- Bow Hatch
- Centre and Stern 8" Twist and Seal Hatches
- Side Storage Pockets
- Bow/Stern Toggle Handles
- Solid Side Carry Handles
- Moulded-In Rod Holders
- Reinforced Scupper Holes
- Sail Mount
- 3 x Three-Way Thru Hull Deck Seals
Length: 16" / 488cm
Width: 27.5" / 70 cm
Fitted Hull Weight: 75.5 lbs / 35 kg
Fully Rigged Weight: 92lbs / 42kg
Capacity: 350 lbs / 159 kg