No two ways about it, Hobie’s Mirage Pro Angler 12 is an impressive new entry in the kayak fishing market. Little brother to the popular Pro Angler 14, which has been available for several years and remains a well-liked fishing platform amongst kayak fans, the Pro Angler 12 is just as solidly constructed and even better thought-out with several new features plus some simple refinements that make it shine.

For me, at least, the feature that really “pops” is the new and exceedingly simple to use Vantage seating arrangement, which goes a long way toward improving the sit-on-top comfort factor with four-way adjustability that can be varied without getting up.

“This new seating arrangement really is innovative,” explained Captain Jerry Collins of Captain Kayak (www.captainkayak.com) in Sayville, NY, when I stopped by for an up-close inspection of Hobie’s newest release. “You can set the chair in the low position low for maximum stability, raise it for optimal visibility, or fold it all the way up to provide a little extra support as you lightly lean against it when casting from a standing position. It’s lightweight, breathable, fast drying and very comfortable – and the infinitely adjustable seat back provides superior lumbar support. Because it is easily removed, the seat can double as a beach chair when you go ashore.”

In the forward bow, the removable hatch liner is a nice touch. Just below this are four horizontal rodholders with individual capped tubes that run inside the hull. These accommodate rods measuring up to 7-1/2 feet.

“I usually fish with two rods on my kayak,” said Collins, sliding a seven-foot conventional set-up out from one holder for emphasis, “but with this set-up, I’d consider bringing along two more on some trips. The configuration is well planned to keep your fishing sticks organized, within reach and out of the way.”

Like other Hobies in this series, the Pro Angler 12 features the Mirage Drive system which functions on the premise that it is easier to push a kayak with the big muscles in your legs than it is to pull it with the smaller muscles in your upper body. Instead of traditional paddles, the MirageDrive system employs two foot pedals, mounted in front of the seat, to drive powerful underwater fins that take the effort out of getting around. The Pro Angler 12 uses ST Turbo Fins – the longest, most powerful fins on the market – so you’ll be able to cover plenty of water with minimal effort. Use the paddle when precision positioning is necessary. The fin-drive mechanism can also be raised for traversing shallow flats and runs where paddling simply makes sense.

The rudder control, located on the gunwale ahead of the seat, provides both port and starboard controls and can be moved from one side of the ‘yak to the other. Mounting boards for an electronics package are easy to work with and can be quickly removed from the side gunwales should you ever need to replace them. The drop-down rudder system at the aft of the boat provides great maneuverability because it is positioned slightly forward of the stern. This positioning improves balance, allowing anglers to stand or sit with optimal stability. Up/Down rudder pulls allow you to drop or raise the rudder right from your seat.

A transducer-ready mounting plate is another neat innovation that sets this vessel apart. It puts the transducer in the water to assure a good sonar response and makes for easy installation.

“Simply run your wires though a scupper behind the seat,” stated Collins as he traced the path, “and then up into the hull through a through-hull fitting. At that point, you can run the wires to either side and mount your unit.”

Among the finishing touches that put the Mirage Pro Angler 12 at the top of the class are a center hatch in front of the seat that holds a selection of clear tackle boxes which tilt forward for easy access as you lift the door, a paddle holder that clips onto the rail, and a pair of rodholders just aft of the seat that are positioned at appropriate angles for trolling. An eight-inch gear hatch resides in the rear of the platform and there is plenty of room for a livewell behind the seat.

Wide and perfectly balanced, the Mirage Pro Angler 12 offers tremendous stability on the water, superior comfort while fishing, easy installation of electronics, plus a hands-free way to get around with minimal effort. At 120 pounds fully rigged, however, it is comparatively heavy. You may need a hand lifting it onto a small trailer, into your truck or onto your vehicle support rack.