I took my first fishing trip in my new Pro-Angler this weekend. What a boat! Seriously, this thing just makes fishing more fun.
It is not a kayak, which makes it better, or worse, depending upon what you’re trying to do. I began kayak fishing almost 12 years ago and have owned and used no less than 7 fishing kayaks in that time period, fishing shallow rivers, lakes, ponds, bays and ocean. I’d like to offer a few observations on the Pro-Angler in regard to this type of “small craft” fishing.
First, while I cannot see the Pro-Angler replacing a couple of the kayaks that I use for fishing shallow, rock strewn, rapid filled mountain rivers, it may well replace all my kayaks for all other types of fishing. It’s heavier and more cumbersome than most kayaks out of the water, but if you can easily get it to the water, i.e. drive your truck or trailer to the water’s edge, then there is little that a kayak can do that the Pro-Angler cannot. No, I wouldn’t recommend it for running rapids or using it on waters where you’re forced to constantly get out and drag the craft over shoals or rocks. But for almost anything else, I see little reason not to prefer the Pro-Angler.
Speed - The Pro-Angler with the ST Turbo fins is every bit as quick and fast as my Outback with the standard ST fins. While there was a bit more pedal resistance, I was able to troll all day at 2 to 3 knots without undue effort. I wasn’t worn out when I got back in. The Mirage Drive unit is not in any way overwhelmed by the larger size and weight of the Pro-Angler. Into a strong, gusty headwind of about 10 to 15 MPH, I had no trouble making 4 knots, comfortably, on the voyage back. Plenty of power and enough speed for any reasonble use of a boat this size.
Steering - Just like a car, you can’t point the boat in a direction and expect to take your hand off the tiller and have it track in a straight line. No vehicle or craft will do that. Expect to make constant minor course corrections, just like you do in the Outback, Revolution, etc. Because the rudder is set up under the hull instead of behind it, it seems to require that you’re moving a bit in order for it to take effect. But once you’re moving beyond perhaps 1 to 1.5 MPH, the effect is so positive and quick that it’s easy to oversteer. It took me all of about 10 minutes to get used to this. After that, even in a 15 MPH headwind, I was never frustrated and had no trouble traveling along a fairly straight course. I didn’t find it to be adversely affected by the wind, more so than a kayak perhaps, but not bad at all when used within the confines of what a craft this size is designed to handle. Wind was a non-issue for me.
Standing - I’m 6’ tall and weigh 187 lbs. I could easily stand and fish without any concern. I’m sure I could get myself tossed in the drink if I got careless, but standing in the Pro-Angler didn’t require any balancing act on my part. It was easy and the boat seemed solid underneath me. Frankly, this aspect of the boat surprised me more than anything else. I can stand in kayaks, but not without great care and careful balancing. Standing and fishing in the Pro-Angler wasn’t difficult at all. At least not on fairly calm water.
Storage - What can I say... There is so much room for stuff that if you ever fill this boat up you’re carrying a lot more gear than I’ll ever carry.
As much as I enjoy fishing from my kayaks, if I have the depth and the ability to easily transport the Pro-Angler to the water, it’s what I’ll be using from now on. Well worth the price in my opinion. It doesn’t do everything, but it does an awful lot, awfully well.