Many people are turning to pedal drives when choosing a fishing kayak. They make a lot of sense. Having your hands free to fish means much more time fishing and less time juggling a paddle and your fishing rods.
There are two basic options when looking for a pedal drive system, the Hobie Mirage Drive and propeller drive systems used by all of the other kayak manufacturers. The drive system is just one consideration when choosing your fishing kayak. Both are excellent systems, but there are some differences that might give one the edge over the other for your purposes.
Hobie Mirage Drive Native Watercraft Propel Drive
Both drives are very durable and require very little maintenance.
Reports have been that the Mirage Drive forward and reverse cables can snap, but it looks like Hobie has addressed that with the 2018’s and the retrofit is very easy. If the fins get damaged somehow, that is also an incredibly easy fix. But they are designed so they should be able to tuck out of the way of obstacles and stay safe.
The Hobie Mirage Drive seems to be the consensus for the quietest ride.
While there is a slight noise from the drive system, propeller systems have a constant hum from the vibration of the water against the hull that is more audible than the Mirage.
In shallow waters, it’s nice to be able to pull the fins up making the draught approximately 6”. Couple that with the ability to use small, fluttering motions and you can venture to some very shallow waters. You don’t have that flexibility with propeller systems. You would have to pull the prop up and paddle.
Hobie fins are much less attractive to weeds than a propeller. So if you are going to be spending a lot of time in shallow, weedy waters, this is an important consideration. With propellers, you don’t always know how weedy things are until your prop has wound those weeds up nice and tight.
Hands-free reverse is a big issue for some people depending on how and where you fish.
Being able to change directions with just your feet while wrangling a fish is huge. Pausing, taking a hand off of your rod, and reaching down to pull a cable is a significant distraction. If you are standing up, with the prop, you can lean over and move the pedals with your hand to make small adjustments. The Mirage Drive requires you to sit down to pull the cable then pedal. All of that up and down can get tiring in addition to being cumbersome.
The Mirage Drive is very compact and easy to store and transport. Hobie even offers a carrying bag if that’s up your alley. Prop drives are a bit more cumbersome and not as easy to throw in your back seat to keep it secure between outings while you are on the road.
Feel Free Overdrive Propeller and case
The drive system is just one important consideration when choosing a fishing kayak.
Other issues such as comfort, stability, speed, smoothness in the water, how much storage the boat has, and the ability/ease to outfit it the way you want are all elements to consider when choosing your boat.