A blog and website about all things kayak fishing Including information on kayak fishing in Cornwall and across the UK, blog catch reports, fishing kayak and gear reviews, advice articles, kayak diy tutorials and more!
The Hobie Outback has stacks of deck space and storage areas as standard, however i have added some extra accessories and features to make tackle and gear storage even more organised. This blog post takes a look at adding the Hobie H-Crate, Livewell, Plano Waterproof Tackle Boxes and more to the Outback.....
Hobie H-Crate on the Hobie Outback
Storage crates are very useful on a fishing kayak. Stowed in the rear cargo area, you can chuck all your tackle boxes, anchoring kit, lunch and more into a crate and reach this relatively easy from the seat. For the last two years i have been using the Hobie H-Crate and this is by far the best crate i have used on a kayak.
It is super strong and sturdy and features decent straps and clips to attach the crate firmly to the kayak using the Screw-In Padeye XL's located at the corners of the cargo area. It has 4 upright rod holders in the corners of the crate which are perfect for carrying rods whilst on the move on the water. These rod holders have integrated bungee rod retainers too. The handles of the crate are sections of H-Rail. This allows you to add H-Rail accessories mounts, such as the H-Rail 1.5" Ram Ball Mount i have fitted for a camera pole, and the H-Rail MiniPort i have fitted for a Railblaza Safety Flag or Visibility Kit. The walls of the crate have a grid layout of pre-drilled holes for easy attachment of further rod holders and accessory mounts.
The Hobie H-Crate fits easily in the rear cargo area of the Hobie Outback, with plenty of room spare for carrying extra gear. I have cable tied a section of 4" tubing to the side wall of the crate for use as an anchor holder. I also have some sections of bungee cord on the inside wall to retainer a chopping board, filleting knife and other tools.
The H-Crate is one of my favourite accessories and is used practically every session.
Hobie Livewell on the Hobie Outback
Fishing with live baits can be deadly for some targeting some species. I particularly like using live Mackerel for targeting Tope, Bass, Pollack and Ling amongst others. The Hobie Livewell is a superb piece of kit for keeping live baits in top condition for long periods on the water.
The Livewell is a flow-through system and provides the fish in the Livewell with a constant supply of clean, cool and oxygenated water. Water is drawn up an intake pipe inserted and protruding from one cargo area scupper hole, circulated around the livewell and an overflow pipe drains water down the other scupper hole. The livewell uses an Attwood Tsunami pump that is self priming with the forwards motion of the kayak. This pump will provide a flow rate of 250 gallons per hour with the supplied 6V 10Ah sealed gel battery, but can be ramped up to 500 gallons per hour by using a 12V battery! The live well has a capacity of 8 gallons / 36 litres of water, which is plenty enough to keep around 8-12 joey mackerel happy, or lots of sand eels, crabs or shrimps. The livewell has 3 upright rod holders too and straps to tether down the livewell to the cargo area.
There is still plenty of extra storage space around the live well when it is fitted.
Keeping your fishing tackle dry on a kayak is quite a challenge. Fishing kayaks are often wet environments and tackle will often get drenched. It certainly pays to have decent waterproof tackle boxes to keep your gear dry and in top condition. The best waterproof tackle boxes i have found are the Plano Waterproof Stowaway Utility boxes. I use 3 sizes: the small 3500 (yellow seal), the medium 3600 (blue seal) and the large 3700 (red seal) sizes.
These are really good for use as lure boxes or for storing items of terminal tackle such as hooks, swivels, weights and more.
The medium 3600 size is a perfect fit for the rectangular hatch bucket on the Outback. You can comfortably fit 2 x medium and 1 x small boxes in the hatch.
The large box will fit in the side storage areas too, as will a medium and small box together. Ideal for keeping a lure box close to hand.
The large box will also fit in the cargo area storage recesses too. Plenty of places to store tackle boxes on this kayak!
A large and medium box will fit under the seat too!
I have a whole host of these tackle boxes for my lures and terminal tackle - they are just brilliant!
Hobie Vantage Seat Accessory Bag
Sometimes i launch with minimal gear. Sometimes i launch with a shed load of kit for a big session. The Hobie Vantage Seat Accessory Bag is a useful accessory for both situations. This bag attaches to the Vantage Seat and is handy for carrying a couple of tackle boxes, or extra kit. When i am travelling light with minimal gear i can store enough tackle for a short session in this bag - perfect for half a day lure fishing, or fishing creeks for a bream. When i am on a big session, the bag is handy for carrying my lunch, suncream, and other small bits and bobs. An inexpensive but quite useful storage accessory.
Gear Leashes on the Hobie Outback
The side storage recesses in the cockpit of the Hobie Outback feature bungee gear leashes. These are a nice feature but they lack an easy way of attaching tools such as scissors, forceps and pliers. I simply clipped on some small stainless steel (316) karabiners which will make it easier to clip on my tools.
Whilst the kayak is being transported or during storage the karabiners can be clipped to the small corner leash points in the storage areas to stop them from flying around.
DIY Mirage Drive Leash
The Mirage Drive is your main source of propulsion on a Hobie Mirage Kayak. It is also an expensive piece of kit and not something you'd want to lose. Most of the time it will be clipped into the Click-N-Go ports whilst in use, however i do remove my drive and lay it in the foot well when launching and landing. There is a risk of losing the drive if i were to flip the kayak during launching or landing. The solution..... leash it!
Hobie produce a Mirage Drive Leash Kit, however it is easy enough to make a DIY leash for your drive. I made mine using a short length of 5mm braid-on-braid cord and two small stainless steel (316) karabiners.
One karabiner clips to the leash point at the front of the drive...
The other karabiner can be clipped to the corner leash point in the side recess areas or looped around the H-Rail and clipped back onto itself, which feels like the stronger option to me.
Hobie Mirage Drive Stow Bag
Hobie product a specific carry stow bag for the Mirage Drive to keep it protected whilst in transport and storage. This is a very well made bag, with tough waterproof lining, and ventilation panels to allow the drive to dry out after use. There is a carry strap, a sturdy carry handle and a clip to hang the bag up during storage. The Mirage Drive 180 with Turbo Fins just squeezes into the bag. A Mirage Drive with standard size ST Fins is an easy fit. A neat piece of kit to keep your drive in top condition.
Other Storage Accessories?
Hobie produce a wide range of storage accessories, such as front hatch liners, fish cooler bags and more. The accessories i have described here cover just about all i need for my kayak fishing and will allow me to make the best use of the space on the Outback, and keep my tackle and gear organised and within easy reach during a fishing session.
Pretty much all of the accessories mentioned above can be brought from Cornwall Canoes, if you are in the UK, or any Hobie Kayak dealer.
The new Hobie Outback comes with 4 flush mounted rod holders as standard, but these are not in the best position for use whilst fishing. This blog post outlines how i added a rod rest to the Outback for bait fishing and track-mounted trolling rod holders for lure fishing...
Attaching my Ram Pole Rod Rest to the Hobie Outback
I regularly bait fish at anchor or on the drift, with baits presented on the bottom down-tide. For several years now i have used a rod rest on the front of my kayak to allow me to position my rod tips at a shallow angle to the water. This works well for fishing baits down-tide and with the rods freely resting you can quickly grab them when you get a bite. A rod rest also works well to rest your rods whilst baiting up, tackling up or unhooking fish.
1 x Ram Mounts 1" Ball Base with 1/4"-20 Threaded Insert (RAM-B-337)
1 x Brass Bank Stick Camera Adaptor - 1/4"-20 Male Thread to 3/8" BSF Male Thread
1 x Brass Extra Long Nut - 3/8" BSF Thread x 1"
1 x Maver Ripple Rod Rest - uses 3/8" BSF Male Thread
The Maver Ripple Rod Rest features a standard bank stick thread which is 3/8" BSF thread. This then screws into the extra long (1") brass nut with 3/8" BSF thread. To the other side of this the Brass Bank Stick Adaptor screws in - one side has a male 3/8" BSF thread, the other side has a male 1/4"-20tpi thread (standard camera mount thread). This can then be screwed into a Ram Mounts 1" ball mount with 1/4"-20tpi threaded hole. Use a dab of Loctite Thread Locker or Superglue on these threaded joins to stop them from loosening / spinning during use. This rod rest assembly then attaches to the 1" open socket end of the Ram Mounts 18" extension pole. The other end of the pole has a 1.5" open end socket. This will attach to the Ram Mounts 1.5" Wedge Mount for the Hobie Mast Tube.
The Ram Mount 1.5" Wedge Mount simply pushes into the sail mast tube at the front of the footwell. To secure this in place you tighten a screw on the top of the ball, until the mount is solidly fitted in place and will not move.
The rod rest can now simply attach to this 1.5" ball. The rod rest can then be angled as desired with adjustment possible at the 1.5" ball at the base of the pole, and also the 1" ball at the top of the pole. The more vertically it is positioned, the higher the rod tips will be held, the more it is angled towards the bow, the lower the rod tips will be. There is just enough space between the 1.5" socket clamp and the bow hatch lid to tighten the clamp.
This now makes the perfect place to rest my rods whilst fishing at anchor or on the drift. The rod butts neatly tuck under the seat to hold the rods in place should i get an aggressive bite.
Thats the bait fishing rod holding solution sorted, now for lure fishing....
Trolling Rod Holders for the Hobie Outback
A Hobie Mirage Drive kayak has to be the ultimate fishing kayak for lure fishing. You can cruise on the kayak, moving over and around fishy looking marks, all whilst holding a rod and trolling a lure! Sometimes though it is nice to have both hands free, or even troll with two rods. I needed a trolling rod holder solution. There is a huge range of rod holders from the big names in the kayak fishing accessory world including Railblaza, Scotty, Yak Attack and Ram Mounts.
I opted for these rod holders as they feature a Dual Track Base. This is a track mounted base mount featuring two T-Bolts. This provides a rod solid fitment to slide tracks, which is needed when holding the weight of a fishing rod. I would be installing these rod holders to the H-Track found down the sides of the Outback cockpit storage areas.
These rod holders are constructed from a lightweight yet very tough composite material, with stainless steel fixings. The rod holders are adjustable 360 degrees around the track base, and can be tilted at many angles off the body of the rod holder.
RAM-ROD Jr Rod Holder with Dual Track Base
The RAM-ROD Jr is the smaller of the two and is suited for light rod applications, be it trolling with light lure gear or fishing with light bait rods. This will be a perfect rod holder for trolling for bass.
This rod holder works fine with fixed spool and multiplier / baitcaster reels. There is a notch in the rod holder to hold the reel vertically down. In this position the rod can quickly be pulled from the holder.
For additional rod/reel security, the Ram-Rod Jr has a flexible rubber strap at the front of the holder. Simply slide the reel down further into the holder and lock the strap back over to prevent the rod and reel being pulled from the holder. This position also holds the reels higher off the water.
I really like these rod holders and will have one mounted either side of the cockpit when i am trolling for bass with my lure rods. With the rod holders mounted close to the seat, the rod butts stick towards the seat and beneath the legs whilst pedalling yet remain within easy reach.... perfect!
Ram-Rod HD Rod Holder 6in Spline Post and Dual Track Base
The Ram-Rod HD rod holder is the larger of the two rod holders and is designed for heavy-duty applications. This will be useful for heavy lure trolling or for bait fishing with heavier gear for larger fish.
This rod holder features a 6in spline extension to hold larger reels further off the deck. This also allows for a steeper angle to be achieved as the rod butt doesn't reach down to foul the deck. Again there is a notch at the front of the rod holder to hold the reel straight. There is also a flip-up/down gimbal bar which can be used to prevent the rod butt from sliding down further than the base of the rod holder, keeping the rod high up. This works well when the rod holder is at a steep angle.
For additional security the reel can be locked into the rod holder by using the rotating locking collar.
RAM-ROD Go Pro Mount
You may have noticed by now that there is a moulded-in Go Pro base mounting point on these rod holders. This allows you to mount an action camera to the rod holder itself. I thought it would be pretty cool to get some trolling action shots as a fish hits the lure and slams the rod tip around so got myself the Go Pro mount to attach to these rod holders. Of course the camera doesn't have to be pointing down the rod and can be angled for other shots too.
The part required is a Ram Mount 1" Ball Adapter for Go Pro Bases with Short Arm and Action Camera Adapter (Part No: RAP-B-GOP2-A-GOP1U). The action camera adaptor ball will work with Go Pro Hero, Go Pro Session, Garmin Virb and many other action cameras.
A pretty cool little addition to the set up...
My Outback is now suitably equipped with a rod rest for down-tide bait fishing and drift fishing, and with trolling rod holders for trolling lures and more, as well as a heavy-duty adjustable rod holder for heavy bait fishing and trolling applications. Not all will be fitted to the kayak every session but i have plenty of options to choose from so that i can fish effectively on the water.
Being able to anchor a kayak opens the door to new fishing opportunities. In order to anchor safely i would need to install an anchor trolley system to the new Outback. This component of an anchoring system allows for safe and easy anchoring from the bow or stern of the kayak. This is how i installed an anchoring system on the new Outback....
An anchoring system allows you to fish stationary and this is particularly effective when bait fishing for certain species. It allows you to present a static bait on the bottom at your chosen spot. This can allow you to catch species that can't be effectively caught whilst drift fishing such as Rays, Conger, Hounds and Bream to name but a few.
To safely anchor a kayak your anchor line need to enter the water at either the bow or stern of the kayak. This allows the kayak to sit in-line with the prevailing wind, tide, swell and any associated chop. Sitting in-line with the conditions allows the kayak to remain stable at anchor. The confines of a kayak make it difficult to manually reach to the bow or stern. This is where an anchor trolley comes in handy.
An anchor trolley is essentially a pulley system which allows you to move the point of anchoring along the side of the kayak from the bow to stern. It allows you to set up the anchor line at the seating position and then shuttle it to the front or back of the kayak without you having to struggle to reach anywhere.
Fitting an Anchor Trolley to the Hobie Outback 2019
The first step is to decide which side to install the anchor trolley. I've opted to keep this the same as on my Hobie Revolution 16 and put it on the left hand side.
It is then a case of fitting two pad eyes at either end of the kayak. These act as attachment points for the pulleys used in the system. I am using the Hobie Chrome Pad Eyes for this install. These pad eyes are used as standard on Hobie Kayaks so it keeps all the fittings looking the same. They also won't rust or break.
Ideally they want to be fitted close to the bow and stern. I have drilled the holes for the bow pad eye around 4 inches back from the bow using a 5mm drill bit.
It is easy to access the back of this area through the bow hatch so i can use bolts with backing washers and nyloc nuts to attach this pad eye. I always use A4 (316) marine grade stainless bolts, washers and nuts to ensure no rusting with saltwater use. A dab of Clear Sikaflex sealent and adhesive ensures a strong, waterproof fitment.
The stern pad eye is positioned a couple of inches from the back of the kayak. There is no access to the back of this area to use bolts so the next strongest method of fixing is to use Marine Trifold Pop Rivets. These are designed to work with sheet plastic/metal and offer a strong fixing for use on kayaks. The shaft of the rivet is split into 3 sections which splay out as the rivet is popped/compressed, preventing it from being pulled through the material.
A standard hand held pop rivet gun can be used to install these. Again use a dab of sealent to ensure a waterproof fitting.
Once fully compressed the rivet shaft eventually breaks.
Next i form a bungee loop using a short length of bungee cord and the larger 32mm Parell Bead for 8mm lines. You can just squeeze the doubled up 5mm bungee through this. Tie an overhand knot in the bungee and trim the tags. Melt the tag ends with a lighter to prevent fraying. The knot then pulls into the bead for a neat finish. This loop is around 4-5 inches in length.
This loop then passes through the front pad eye onto which you clip one of the karabiners and one of the Harken Micro Block Pulleys. These pulleys are great - they are small, lightweight, made from high quality Stainless Steel and have ball bearings for a very smooth action.
I clip a pad eye directly to the stern pad eye using another karabiner. The bungee at the front allows for some buffering in the system, which helps prevent the kayak jolting the anchor line in choppy waters. It also keeps the system taut to the kayak, which allows for smooth shuttling between the pulleys. With the pulley clipped directly to the stern pad eye, this allows the point of anchoring to be as close to the stern as possible.
It is then a case of assembling the trolley cord loop. I use 5mm braid-on-braid as it is durable and does not stretch. Pass one end of the cord from top to bottom of the bow pad eye, and the other end from top to bottom side of the stern pad eye and bring the two ends together. this should see a continuous length of cord along the top side of the trolley system. To complete the trolley system we just need to join the ends of the cord using a karabiner, however the cord is not directly tied to this.
I tie each end of the cord to a stainless ring which can then be clipped to the karabiner. This serves the purpose of allowing the trolley to be disconnected forming a tow rope / towing line. Unclipping the anchor trolley and leaving the karabiner on the bow side ring allows the line to be clipped to another vessel to tow your kayak. Likewise, if the karabiner is left of the stern ring then this can be clipped onto a kayak behind you so that you can tow them. This adds versatility to the system and may come in handy when you need it most.
I also incorporate a smaller 22mm Parrel buffer bead against the stainless ring with an overhand retaining knot tied behind it. It's not essential but i like it. It can take sometimes take a few goes to tie the second ring in the right position to allow sufficient tension in the trolley cord once the rings are connected with the karabiner. Once happy with the tension, the tag ends of the cord can be trimmed and ends melted with a lighter to prevent fraying.
When assembled and the karabiner is shuttled to the bow it looks like this....
And shuttled to the stern it looks like this....
The anchor trolley is complete but it cannot be used effectively without a cleat to lock off the system and prevent it from running freely. I have always got on well with Zig Zag Cleats as the one cleat can be used to lock off the anchor trolley and also the anchor line.
Some thought must be given to it's positioning. It needs to be within easy reach, yet out of the way of your paddling arc so that you don't catch your hands on it whilst paddling. It's also good if you can keep it out of the way of the seat/footwell area as this will be your route of entry for self-rescue should you need to climb back on the kayak after a capsize. A cleat can cause potential snagging so is best kept out of the area you would use to pull yourself back onto the kayak. I tend to place these just back from the seating area and the Outback has a nice flat area here for cleat installation.
On the Outback this is a tricky place to reach the back of to use bolts/washers/nuts for fixing. I used marine trifold rivets and a dollop of Sikaflex to install this to the kayak.
In this position it just allows for the paddle to sit in the holder with the paddle shaft flush against the cleat, although the Outback has a paddle holder on the right hand side of the kayak, so i can use this side of the kayak exclusively for the anchor trolley.
The anchor trolley line can now be 'zig-zagged' through the teeth of the cleat to lock the karabiner in the desired position.
Using the Anchor with the Kayak Anchor Trolley
The process of anchoring is now fairly straight forwards. Clip the anchor line into the karabiner and begin to lower the anchor to the bottom. Shuttle the anchor trolley karabiner (with anchor line now through it) to the stern of the kayak. Lock off the anchor trolley line into the zig zag cleat. Once enough anchor line has been let out (this depends on the conditions) then the anchor line can then be locked off onto the cleat too. The anchor line will now be running off the stern of the kayak.
The kayak will now be anchored and the kayak will point down tide/wind inline with the conditions, providing stability whilst riding any prevailing wind chop, tide and/or swell.
I use a DIY anchor reel to store my 1.5mm anchor line. This sits in the rear cargo area when in use as all the tension on the system is from the cleat backwards, with no tension on the reel itself.
I use two types of anchor depending on what type of ground i am anchoring on. A 1.5kg folding grapnel anchor with 1m of 6mm short-link chain is great for mixed ground and rocky ground. A 1kg Bruce anchor with 1-2m of 6mm short-link chain is great for shallow sandy and muddy grounds. Sometimes a 2kg Bruce anchor is required for deeper sandy/muddy grounds or in faster tides. Both set ups use a small 1.5mm cable tie weak link to allow the anchor to trip and be pulled backwards from a snag, and this works most of the time. Some snags are just unforgiving and you have to cut free! The chain attaches to the anchor with a D-Shackle and the anchor line clips to the chain with a karabiner, making it easy to disconnect the anchor from the anchor line when on the kayak.
Using a Drift Chute / Drogue on the Kayak Anchor Trolley
The anchor trolley can also be used to set up a drogue / drift chute off the bow. Drogues are great for slowing your drift in windy conditions. They 'anchor' the kayak to the water so that the kayak will drift at the same speed as the water current/tide as opposed to the wind. This works well when the wind is causing you to drift faster than the tide is beneath you. In wind against tide situations you can almost make the kayak stationary. On the flipside, in wind with tide conditions a drogue is less effective.
I use the Hobie Drift Chute which is very good. It features a square mouth opening with a weighted bottom section and a floating top section which keeps the chute open in the water. This attaches to the anchor trolley with around 1m of cord and a karabiner. It simply clips onto the anchor trolley karabiner.
The anchor system is now complete and this will allow me to safely and effectively anchor my kayak from either the bow or the stern. It will also allow me to use a drogue/drift chute effectively for drift fishing. The anchor trolley also doubles up as an emergency tow / towing line too! A versatile system that is essential for fishing at anchor. The anchor trolley shown here costs approx. £65 but uses components designed to last and offer smooth and hassle-free operation. Expect to spend £15-20 for an anchor with chain, shackle and karabiner. Whilst i made my own anchor reel, off-the-shelf anchor reels filled with line are available for around £40 so for a full anchor system similar to what i have shown here then you are looking in the region of £120+.
My first session on the new Outback involved anchoring and the system worked perfectly. I even caught a few Thornback Rays whilst anchored too.... result!
The first rigging task on my new Hobie Mirage Outback was to install my fish finder and GPS chart plotter unit - a Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro. This blog post outlines how i fitted the unit using the Hobie Guardian Transducer Shield, Thru-Hull fittings and H-Track found on the Outback....
The Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro
The Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro is a fish finder and GPS chart plotter combo unit. The display is bright and clear, and the unit offers both CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) Sonar and DownVision Imaging.
CHIRP sonar uses a pulse of sonar at a range of frequencies to provide greater resolution of objects and the seabed beneath the kayak. It provides greater target separation meaning that it is easier to distinguish between individual fish, between large fish and baitfish and between fish and the seabed. DownVision Imaging uses higher frequencies to provide greater resolution of the seabed structure. When used in combination, and viewed side-by-side on the screen you can get a very good idea of what is going on beneath the kayak.
The Dragonfly 5 Pro offers full GPS Chart Plotter functionality allowing you to plot productive marks and drifts, or mark fishy-looking features so that you can return time and time again. GPS provides your vessel speed, vessel heading and allows you to set routes to and from waypoints for easy navigation. As standard you get a very simple land and sea base map, however the unit has a MicroSD card slot to allow you to upgrade the base maps to high detail seabed bathymetry maps. I use Navionics+ charts which offers seabed 'Sonar Charts' at 0.5m contour intervals for incredible detail of the ground beneath the surface. This makes navigation to reefs, drop-offs, sandbanks, holes and other underwater features very easy!
The Dragonfly 5 Pro has proved to be an invaluable asset on my fishing kayaks providing me with detailed info on the world beneath my kayak.
One Fish Finder, Two Kayaks
I have been using a Raymarine 5-Pro for several years now on my Hobie Revolution 16 and other kayaks. I now have the new Hobie Mirage Outback 2019 and it was time to install the Dragonfly to my new kayak. I would still be using the Revolution 16 so needed to be able to use the unit on both kayaks. The main head unit can be easily transferred between kayaks, however the transducer and power cable are fitted to my Revolution 16 using the Lowrance-Ready system - details of which are outlined in a previous blog post. In order to use my Dragonfly on the Outback i had to purchase a separate transducer with power cable.
Components for Installation
Raymarine Dragonfly 5-Pro with CPT-DVS Transom Mount Transducer (comes as standard with the unit)
Index Marine Bulgin 2-Pin Waterproof Plug - required for my battery box
RAM Mounts Quick Release Track Base - 1" Ball
RAM Mounts Double Socket Arm for 1" Balls
RAM Mounts 1" Tough Ball with M6 X 6mm Male Threaded Post
BerleyPro Raymarine 4/5 Visor
Hobie Guardian Transducer Shield Universal Transducer Fitting - supplied with the Hobie Outback 2019+
There are 3 main parts to this installation: mounting the main head unit, installing the transducer and wiring in the power supply. I'll start with the transducer...
Installing the Raymarine Dragonfly Transducer to the Hobie Guardian Transducer Shield
The new Hobie Outback comes fitted with the Hobie Guardian Retractable Transducer Shield.
This is the latest development in the kayak fish finder installation world, making it super easy to install a wide-range of fish finders to the kayak including side-scan units with large transducers that must sit proud of the hull. These large transducers can be bolted to the bottom of the shield, which sits on a bungee cradle. The shield can be fully retracted within the hull by simply pulling a toggle and cord in the footwell. This raises the shield within the confines of the kayak protecting the otherwise exposed transducer from any damage when launching, landing, transporting and storing the kayak.
Standard Dual-Beam, CHIRP and DownScan transducers can be installed on the topside of the shield, completely protecting them from any potential damage. To access the topside of the shield it is a case of unscrewing 3 bolts holding the shield frame to the hull.
The recess beneath the shield is pretty big, measuring approx. 35cm x 15cm.
The top side of the shield features two upright plastic mounts for transducer attachment.
The Dragonfly transducer is fairly long and if placed on the shield the transom mount does not line up with the transducer mountings.
Hobie provide a 'universal' transducer adaptor and transducer fittings with the Outback to allow you extend the attachment point forwards or backwards of the mount to suit your transducer.
Using these mounts and the supplied bolt, nyloc nut and rubber friction washers it was fairly easy to fit the transducer.
The friction washers must be used either side of the transducer mount eyelet so that fine adjustments can be made to its position and when tightened down it will hold firmly in place. The transducer must be raised a few millimeters to allow for water flow between the transducer and the shield. The sonar will shoot through the thin plastic shield with very little loss of resolution.
One Dragonfly transducer fitted!
It is now just a case of passing the transducer cable to the deck side of the kayak through the transducer scupper hole. To access this, a black cover plate must be removed beneath the seat.
The cover is held on with a single screw and removing the plate reveals a pulley and cord. This is the cord which operates the retractable aspect of the Guardian Shield. As standard this is not connected to the shield and just tied to the pulley. To activate the retractable sheild you have to remove 6 screws from the top side of the shield, holding the central plate to the frame. Once undone the plate will retract on a bungee system. The cord from the pulley can be tied to the bridle on the plate to complete the system. When the transducer toggle is pulled in the foot well the shield will raise up into the hull. I do not require the retractable option so have left the 6 screws in-situ.
Simply pass the transducer and power cable up through this scupper hole onto the deck and then screw the Guardian Shield back onto the hull.
The transducer and power cable must then be passed back into the hull through the 3-Way Thru Hull fitting located just forwards of the cover plate. Simply unscrew the 3 small self-tapping screws holding this to the kayak.
The thru-hull fitting features a rubber gasket and a design where three rubber plugs can be removed and replaced with cable seal plugs. The Outback is supplied with numerous plugs with various diameter holes to work with various power/transducer cables. It is just a case of finding the correct one for your cable and placing this around the cable and slotting it into the thru-hull fitting. Screw the fitting back onto the hull and the transducer is now fitted to the kayak. Super easy!
Wiring in the Fish Finder Power Supply
Prior to connecting up the power source i needed to decide which side to mount the fish finder, as i would have to pass the connector and cabling out through a thru-hull fitting on the chosen side.
I opted to fit the unit on my right hand side. The first step was to remove the 3-Way Thru-Hull fitting fitted in the side storage area of the cockpit beside the hookless pocket.
The connector that plugs into the back of the unit can then be pushed through the hole beneath the fitting, from the inside of the kayak out onto the deck. You can gain easy access to do this through the centre hatch.
It is then just a case of selecting the right size rubber seal to fit around the transducer and power cable and fitting the thru-hull plug back to the kayak. Easy! Just remember to pull enough cabling through to allow for the connector to reach the unit wherever you wish to mount it. I left enough spare so that the fish finder could be mounted at the furthest point on the outside H-Track if needed.
As usual there is loads of excess transducer cable now in the hull. I tidied this up using a couple of cable ties and attached it to the scupper hole to keep it out of the way.
Time to attach the power source. The Dragonfly runs off a standard 12V power supply, and most people opt for a rechargeable sealed lead acid battery. I have recently moved over to using a Lithium-Ion battery, which are much lighter than the lead acid batteries, thus saving important weight on the kayak. I have put together a complete guide on how i built a waterproof lithium battery box which can be viewed by clicking here.
This battery box uses a Index Marine Bulgin 2-Pin Waterproof Socket as a connection point.
I would need to fit a Bulgin 2-Pin Waterproof Plug to my fish finder power lead to allow me to connect to the battery box. Take note of the grey wire - this is a drain wire and is not required for installation on a kayak, i trimmed this back to the outer wire coating.
These plugs offer a waterproof connection and are fairly easy to install to your wiring. It comes complete with a screw cap fitting which waterproofs the terminals when the plug is disconnected. The cap also doubles up as an assembly tool. Use the notched side of the cap to unscrew the ring holding the terminals in place. You can then remove the terminal block. The wiring can be pushed through the plug and the wires then connected to the screw-down terminal connectors. Just strip back a few millimeters of wire coating and fit to the relevant terminal - these are marked L and N and must correspond with the wiring in the battery box socket. I'm using Red to L, and Black to N.
With the wires connected to the terminal block, this can be fitted back into the plug by screwing in the retaining ring. The top end of the plug features a screw-adjusted cable seal, whereby a rubber grommet seals around the wire as you screw the cable seal down. I also filled the gap between the wire and the plug housing with some sealant to completely ensure a waterproof fit.
The connector is now fitted to the power cable and can be used with my battery box. I have decided to store my battery box in the bow hatch of the kayak so it was just a case of running the power cable up front to meet the battery box.
I used a small loop of bungee cord attached to the leash point on the inside of the hatch to retainer the connector during transport and storage. This keeps it elevated off the hull which can often get damp.
Mounting the Raymarine Dragonfly head unit
All that was left to do was mount the main display. I would be mounting this on the outer H-Track on the Outback. In this position it is within easy view and reach whilst pedalling and fishing. Track mounting allows for easy position adjustment and easy removal at the end of a session.
I would be using a Ram Mount system. I like these mounts as they use ball and socket technology, allowing you to find the perfect viewing angle for your fish finder screen. The first part used in the system is a Ram 1 inch Quick Release Track Mount (Part No: RAM-B-383). This mount features a slim T-bolt which attaches the mount to the T-Track. There are two width settings for the T-bolt, A and B. The narrower A setting worked best for the Hobie H-Track.
To install you hold down the two outer buttons and unscrew the ball a little to lower the T-bolt. Then slide this into the track and into the desired position. To lock into place simply screw up the ball until tight. The outer buttons operate a ratchet system so that the mount cannot loosen off accidentally.
The other two Ram Mount components required are a Double Socket Arm for 1 inch balls (Part No: RAM-B-201) and a 1 inch Tough Ball with M6 X 6mm Male Threaded Post (Part No: RAP-B-379-M616). The Tough Ball screws directly into the back of the Dragonfly unit into a threaded insert. The double socket arm then makes the connection between the track mount and head unit. Put the screen into the desired position and tighten down the double socket arm wing nut to hold in position. Simple!
I have also used a BerleyPro Raymarine Dragonfly 4/5 Sun Visor on my fish finder - this is great for reducing screen reflection on bright days, and helps reduce splashes from soaking the unit and display. These are not readily available in the UK and have to be ordered directly from BerleyPro in Australia through their website - linked here.
The transducer is fully protected and the power supply and head unit can easily be removed at the end of a session. The wiring connector features a rubber cap so once disconnected it can be covered and the wiring curled up and stored in the hookless pocket during..
The Hobie Outback has undergone a complete re-design for 2019 bringing together a new hull shape with the latest advancements in kayak fishing features and technology. I just had to get my hands on one! Check out this blog post for a detailed look at the latest mind-blowing design that Hobie Kayaks has to offer....
One small step for Hobie, one giant leap for fishing kayak design....
Hobie are no strangers to pushing the boundaries. Surfing, Sailing, SUPs and Kayaking.... Hobie have brought huge advancements to each of these sectors and continue to be a driving force in new technology within the water sports world. So when Hobie makes a video press-release.... you tune in, and indeed i did. Back in the summer i watched intently as Morgan Promnitz took centre stage to make important new product announcements for the upcoming year. The Hobie Mirage Outback has been a best seller for Hobie for many years and as Morgan broke the news that it has undergone a complete refresh the camera panned onto what i can only describe as a next-level fishing kayak!! A new hull design, absolutely packed out with cool and useful features with almost unlimited options for accessorising and customising.... the new Outback sets the standard mighty high for others to aspire too.
Hobie are very good at listening to their customers. The guys at Hobie monitor online forums, facebook groups and listen to customer feedback so that they can tweak and advance designs to meet customer demand and expectation. All the niggles and wants from Outback owners have been answered with the new design. The result is a fishing kayak that stands out a mile from others around it. A fishing kayak where everything is just how you'd want it, with features that make a real difference when fishing. With Hobie you know you are getting a top quality build and construction too. A proper quality top-end premium fishing kayak.
That was it. I just had to have one!
Hobie Mirage Drive Kayaks
Hobie Kayaks are well known as leaders in the world of pedal-drive kayaks. They were the first to put a pedal drive in a kayak and have led the way ever since, despite recent fierce competition from other major brands. The Hobie Mirage Drive utilises side-to-side fin action in a similar way a penguin would use its wings to propel itself through the water. The user operates the Mirage Drive by stepping to and fro on pedals in the footwell of the kayak and the fins drive side-to-side beneath the kayak, propelling the kayak through the water with incredible efficiency. Over the years the system has been refined and optimised. The latest incarnation is the Mirage Drive 180 V2 which offers both 'full-power' forwards and reverse motion with roller-bearing 'Glide-Technology' for smooth pedalling action.
Mirage Drive kayaks have proven incredibly popular with kayak anglers as they offer a huge number of advantages over a traditional paddled kayak. Propelling the kayak your feet leaves your hands free to fish with. The ability to move your craft whilst holding a rod offers a number of ways to have the edge on the water. Troll a lure whilst holding the rod, hold ground in the tide, bait up or rig up whilst on the move, operate your fish finder or chart plotter whilst on the move, move whilst playing a fish, force drift baits, cut through wind with more efficiency and much, much more. Just some of the reasons why myself and many other kayak anglers are fishing from Hobie Kayaks. The latest Hobie Mirage Outback would only further the advantages that the Mirage Drive Kayak range can offer.
The all-new Hobie Mirage Outback 2019
My order was placed with Cornwall Canoes and the wait began. It can often take a little while for stock to trickle it's way through to the European distributor and then onto UK dealers once a new product is announced by Hobie after initial demand in the US is met. The wait was worth it though....
A Hobie Mirage Outback 2019 in the Camo colour!
Lets take a look at the specs.....
Mirage Outback Specification
Length: 12' 9" \ 3.89 m
Width: 34" \ 0.86 m
Max. Capacity: 425 lbs \ 192.78 kg
Fitted Hull Weight: 85 lbs \ 39.86 kg (includes all permanently fitted features/fittings)
Fully Rigged Hull Weight: 103 lbs \ 46.72 kg (includes seat, drive and paddle)
The Outback offers a very stable hull design. At its widest point it is 86cm and it holds a good amount of width along much of its length. Stability is an important consideration for many kayak anglers, be it newcomers who want a rock solid hull without too much risk of tipping it over, or for those wanting a platform to stand from, or to carry the combined weight of them and their gear. The Outback hull is clearly designed for comfort for a wide range of user sizes up to a maximum capacity of 425lbs / 192.78kg.
Whilst the previous Outback design also offered excellent stability this is about where the similarities end. This is a completely new hull design. The bow has been re-designed to minimise hull slap and improve efficiency through the water for a faster hull. The stern has been squared off to offer increased stability.
Looking from the side we see a very level design on the top deck with minimal rocker between the bow and end of the central keel line (just before the rudder) on the underside. Rocker is the under-hull curvature from bow to stern. Minimal rocker is not necessarily a bad thing as it maximises waterline length of the hull. A longer waterline length makes for a more efficient hull through the water, which in the real world translates to a faster kayak. I like fast. The steep bow further adds to maximising the waterline length on the hull.
The new Outback does have less bow flare than the previous version. This will likely make for a wetter ride in choppy waters, but this is the compromise for having a bow which cuts through the water more efficiently. The sides of the kayak look far less slab-like than the previous Outback. The sides are gently curved up to the top of the Hobie logo where the sides then taper into the top deck. This certainly gives it a more streamlined look, and perhaps will lead to less windage effect on the hull when it's breezy.
The under-hull shows a tri-form shape to bring plenty of stability. A central keel bulge is flanked by two outer bulges offering plenty of volume at the side of the hull. With lots of volume in this area you get lots of primary stability - this is the stability you feel as you sit in a kayak and rock it from side to side. Well the Outback has stacks of it with a hull like this! The shallow channels between the keel and outer sections offers structural rigidity to the underside.
The whole under-hull is silky smooth so i expect it to glide well through the water. Whilst the Outback is primarily designed for stability and comfort, the hull actually looks like it will push through the water much better than it's predecessor. I have a feeling it will be surprisingly fast for its size, and perhaps not too different from a Revolution 13 on calm waters.
The hull is constructed from high-density polyethylene which offers excellent structural rigidity, durability and resistance to warping and scratching. The build quality is just superb.
Mirage Outback 2019 Features
Now things gets really tasty! The new Outback is absolutely packed full of the latest and coolest features including:
Mirage Drive 180 V2 with Arc Cranks and ST Turbo Fins
Vantage CTW Seating System
Guardian Retractable Transducer Shield
Two-Piece Paddle with On-Hull Storage
Kick-Up Rudder with Dual Steering
H-Track Deluxe with H-Rail
EVA Floor Standing Pads
Vertical Rectangular Hatch with Hatch Bucket
4 Molded-in Rod Holders
Large Rear Cargo Well
Large Rear Handle
Reflective Bow Decals
There is a lot to take in there, so let's take a detailed look at the whole kayak and every feature on it....
Starting at the bow we find a toggle carry handle connected to the kayak with a chrome pad eye.
Moving back we find the bow hatch, held shut with two sections of bungee cord.
The hatch hinges open and features a soft rubber seal on the hatch rim and gasket on the hatch lid. The seal-to-gasket contact will form a good waterproof seal when the hatch lid is held down with the bungees.
A Railblaza C-Tug fits comfortably in the front hatch - wheel and hull pads tucked back under the footwell, and the frame put up up towards the bow. This still leaves plenty of room for extra kit if needed.
At the bow end of the footwell there is a sail mount mast tube, with rubber cap cover. You can add the optional Hobie Sail Kit to this kayak for fun in light winds. The new Hobie Bimini sun shade also fits into this tube. Ram Mounts offer a 1 inch and 1.5 inch ball wedge mount for the mast tube, allowing various Ram accessories to be fitted at this location.
We then come to the foot well and the driving force of the kayak - the Mirage Drive 180 V2 with ARC Cranks + ST Turbo Fins.
The MD180 locks into the mirage drive well via two Click-N-Go ports.
Pull the tabs backwards and you release the drive.
The MD180 V2 comes fitted with ST Turbo Fins as standard. Turbo fins offer a longer than standard fin for greater surface area against the water. This creates more resistance and more thrust, resulting in a greater top speed but more importantly it allows for cruising speed to be maintained at a lower cadence (less pedalling!). These fins are an additional upgrade on most other Hobie Kayaks and it is good to see Hobie include these as standard with this model.
The drive utilises 'Glide Technology'. This is where roller pin bearings are used on pivoting parts, such as the drums, sprockets and idler pulley, creating a very smooth pedalling action.
This drive features the new ARC pedal crank arms, which allow easy pedal adjustment by simply pushing a button on top of the arms. Pedal adjustment allows for users of different heights to use the kayak. The ovalised arms are an improvement on previous designs and have a tough anodised finish. A numbered scale is found on the top of the drum to set the pedals at differing distances from the seat.
The pedal pad on the Camo Outback features a Camo grip pad to match the kayak. On all other colours the pedal pad is black. The pedal pad features an adjustable pedal strap to hold your foot to the pedal. Some users don't use the straps at all but i like them. Reflective decals feature on the back of the pedal.
The drive itself is made from many parts, all of which are replaceable should any part break. The main parts of the MD180 V2 Spine section are outlined in the image below.
The Mirage Drive 180 is named for it's ability to switch the fins 180 degrees allowing for reverse motion without changing the way you pedal the drive. The fins are switched at the simple pull of a toggle on the drive. Two shifter-tendons protrude from the drive - Green FWD and Red REV. These can be left sticking up or tucked under a small loop of bungee cord at the bow end of the hatch as shown in the image below.
In the forwards pedalling position the fins look like this below the kayak.....
With the pedals in line (fins pointing straight down) you can smoothly pull the reverse toggle to switch the fins around 180 degrees. You can now continue pedalling as before but now the kayak will go in reverse! This is surprisingly useful even on large expanses of water.
The fins themselves have a hard plastic trailing edge with a hard plastic skeleton running beneath a flexible rubber main fin section. This allows for clean water flow off the trailing edge for a smooth action and better performance, and the tough rubber main section allows the fin to flex and provide resistance against the water resulting in thrust.
A stainless steel mast runs down the leading edge of the fins and is connected to the boom and sprockets above. As the drive is put into action the sprockets move the masts from side to side thus moving the fins. The masts are designed to bend if accidentally struck and can be accessed for removal/repair if needed. This is achieved by undoing the split ring and clevis pin holding the fin to the boom and sprocket above. The fin will then slide off the mast, where the mast can be unscrewed from the boom housing.
The fin tension can also be adjusted by loosening or tightening a bolt at the base of the masts.
Loosening the bolt extends the length of the mast and puts more tension down the leading edge of the fin. This has the result of making it harder for the fin to flex as it moves against the water, and this manifests as more resistance on the legs whilst pedalling. You get more acceleration and a higher possible top speed but it can be harder work on the legs and body! Great if you want to zip around and get a work out!
Tightening the bolt shortens the length of the mast and puts less tension down the leading edge of the fin. This has the result of making it easier for the fin to flex as it moves against the water, and this manifests as less resistance on the legs whilst pedalling. You get less acceleration and a lower possible top speed but it is much easier on the legs and body! This is great for covering longer distances without tiring.
You may notice that the sprockets are exposed beneath the hull. The Outback under-hull has been shaped to better protect the sprockets within the keel line of the kayak.
The fins can be positioned flat against the hull to better protect them when launching and landing. This is achieved by using the mirage drive retaining bungee hook in the footwell. This holds the fins firmly against the hull. Personally i like to remove the drive and lay it in the footwell for launching and landing. My drive is leashed to ensure no unexpected losses!
The bungee drive retainer runs from the front of the seat to the drive and when not in use can be hooked onto a Pad Eye XL situated on the opposite side of the kayak in front of the seat.
I have used a standard Sealed Lead Acid battery for several years to power my fish finder without issue, however these batteries do have one downside.... they are heavy! Lithium batteries offer a much lighter option but lightweight comes at a cost, and lithium batteries must be fully waterproofed to use safely on the water. This is how i made a Lithium battery with waterproof housing for my kayak...
Lightweight Power Source for Kayak Fish Finders
My 12V 7Ah Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) battery has served me well over the last 5 years. It was inexpensive at around £20-25, but it is heavy. I built a waterproof battery box using this battery and in total it weighs in at exactly 1.825kg. This may not sound a lot but when you have to manually haul your fully-laden fishing kayak to and from the water to your vehicle, often several hundreds yards away or involving steep slipways or paths, then every 1kg of weight is very noticeable!!
There is a solution.... Lithium.
Not only is Lithium a great song by grunge rockers Nirvana, it is also number 3 on the periodic table of elements. It is a highly reactive alkali metal with a wide number of applications including use in rechargeable battery cells. Lithium-based batteries are used widely in modern electronics. Your phone will have one, so will your laptop and various other mobile devices. There are several types of Lithium batteries available, including Lithium Polymer (LiPo) and Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion). Lithium batteries are great.... they are lightweight and they hold a lot of charge for their size. So why are they not widely used on fishing kayaks?
Safety Concerns and Disadvantages of Lithium Batteries
Whilst having several advantages, Lithium batteries do have some disadvantages. Lithium batteries are expensive and require a specialist charger to safely charge the lithium cells. The price of these alone puts many off using these batteries for kayak fishing applications. Lithium batteries can also be potentially dangerous with a risk of fire or explosion if overheated.... not a good scenario on a kayak! There are two main ways you can overheat a lithium battery:
Overcharging - if the battery is continually charged then the excess charge will have no where to go and dissipate as heat, potentially leading to failure and combustion of the lithium cells within the battery.
Short Circuiting - this is where current is allowed to travel between the positive and negative terminals of the battery through a low-resistance conductor. In this scenario the battery starts to pump current back into itself almost unrestricted and with no where for the current to go it will rapidly heat up leading to failure and combustion of the lithium cells. Short circuiting can occur when the battery is wet, particularly in saltwater, and this is a realistic possibility within the confines of a kayak.
Overcharging or short circuiting a lithium battery must therefore be avoided at all costs. Luckily high-quality modern lithium batteries come in robust sealed housings and have integrated fail-safe features to minimise the risk of battery failure. A good quality charger will prevent overcharging. Housing a battery within a waterproof box will further prevent the possibility of short circuiting a lithium battery on a kayak.
The answer is simple.... i want to save weight on my already heavy kayak fishing set up. Lithium battery technology is advancing rapidly with the huge demand from the technological and now automotive industries and user-friendly lithium batteries for custom applications are now readily available. The price is coming down but they are still a fair step up from sealed lead acid equivalents.
You can even buy 'off-the-shelf' lithium battery packs for kayak fishing from companies such as Nocqua and FPV but none are readily available in the UK and have to be sourced from the US or Australia. Ah well... i'll make my own!
Sourcing a Lithium Battery for Kayaks
After some searching around i decided to buy an Aliant YLP Ultralight Lithium Iron Phosphate (LIFePo4) Battery. These are marketed as an ultralight motorbike starter battery as a direct replacement for the original manufacturers sealed lead acid battery, so i could see no reason why i could not use one to power my fish finder as a replacement for my sealed lead acid battery. Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries are generally regarded to be more stable and less susceptible to combustion in the event of battery misuse and mishandling, compared to other Lithium-Ion batteries.
The Aliant YLP battery range uses safe Lithium iron phosphate technology with embedded 'Active Balancing' electronics control microprocessor unit to minimise risk of battery failure. The specifications were good too, with the battery performing well in both hot and cold temperatures, with up to 3000 charge/discharge cycles, low self-discharge rate when disconnected, fast recharging, no liquids or lead and it can be mounted in any position. The battery is all housed within a tough ABS shell with chunky well-separated terminals to connect wiring too.
There are various sizes in the range and i settled on the YLP10 which has a charge hold approximately equivalent to that of a 10Ah SLA. According to Aliant it weighs in at just 740g with a size of 114mm x 69mm x 90mm! compact and lightweight... perfect!
I managed to pick up the YLP10 for £88 from www.sportbikeshop.co.uk which i thought was quite reasonable. It's not something that i can use straight out of the box on the kayak though. I'd need to house this within a good waterproof box to prevent any chance of water reaching the battery and potentially causing a short-circuit. I like making battery boxes.....
Making a Waterproof Box for a Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery
A few online purchases (links below) and a trip to a local chandlery shop and i had all i needed to ensure my Lithium battery would be staying dry on the kayak. The items required are:
A length of twin-core electrical cable - i used approx 40cm.
Block of high-density closed-cell foam
Drill with various size drill bits
22mm Hole Saw Bit
Small Flathead Screwdrivers
Small Allen Key
Crimping / Wire-cutting Pliers
Wire Stripping tool
Making a Waterproof Battery Box
The first step was to build the waterproof box to house the lithium battery. Previously i have used a Lock and Lock waterproof storage container to good effect as a battery box. I find the 1.9L HPL818 size ideal for the kayak and it would house the battery and wiring comfortably.
I would need a good quality waterproof connection between the battery inside of the box and the device connecting to it. I settled upon using a Index Marine Bulgin 2-pin Waterproof Plug and Socket. These components are made from glass filled nylon to military specification and are waterproof to IP68 rating, which is defined as resistant to submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes. In the confines of my kayak hull, the Bulgin Plug and Socket should be just fine!
What i particularly like about these are the screw-on blanking caps to protect the plug/socket when not in use. Fish finder manufacturers need to take note of this... not many come with caps to protect exposed plug/socket terminals when not in use. This means i can seal off the socket on the box when not in use, maintaining its waterproof integrity, and also seal off the plug that will be left inside the damp salty environment on the inside of my kayak when not in use. The socket also comes with a rubber gasket for a good waterproof install onto a flat surface.
The topside of the blanking cap also doubles up as an assembly tool. Using it you can unscrew the socket to allow for wiring to be attached.
Before wiring, the socket needs to be fitted to the battery box. I used a 22mm hole saw to cut out a hole in the centre of the box lid. NOTE: the plastic is fairly brittle, so drill several pilot holes in increasing size before using a hole saw bit, to prevent cracking the lid.
The rubber gasket can then be aligned with the centre hole and 3mm holes drilled for the bolts.
The bolts, washers and nyloc nuts can then be used to attach the socket to the box. A dab of sealant can be used between the rubber gasket and box lid to be extra safe.
One waterproof socket fitted...
Wiring in the Lithium Battery
You could straight wire the battery to the waterproof socket but then it would be permanently attached to the lid. I decided upon making it so i could disconnect the battery from the box. This serves two purposes - i could remove the battery completely from the box for charging, and if down the line i purchased a second battery for longer trips away (with no charging facilities) i could easily switch batteries within the box. To do this i have used AMP Super Seal 1-way connectors for 0.5mm-1.5mm wires (yellow seals). These are waterproof connectors, however they will be within the battery box so shouldn't ever be exposed to water. They are good wire connectors though. I opted for 1-way connectors over a 2 way connector to further minimise the risk of short circuiting. The positive and negative wires are connected via completely independent connectors rather than the same connector with little separation between terminals. Some easy and basic wiring is needed to set this up.
Take a short length of twin core wire and carefully remove the outer black sheath with a blade or scissors, leaving the red and black wires seperated. Strip back approx 6mm of wire at each end of each section.
Crimp a ring terminal connector to one end of each wire.
To the other end of the wires i fitted the male sides of the AMP 1-Way Super Seal connectors. These can be a little fiddly to fit. I brought a pack of 5 as i have in the past lost my temper assembling them and snapped a metal terminal - with 5 i have spares to play with!
Firstly place the rubber gaskets over the wire, then carefully crimp on the female side of the terminal.
The female terminal then slots into the male connector which takes some patience to align correctly so that the metal terminal pushes completely into the connector. Once lined up and in position a red retainer on the end of the connector pushes in to lock the terminal in place. Gently pull on the wire - it the terminal moves out then it is not locked in place and you will have to pull out the red tab and re-try. Once locked in place the rubber wire gaskets then push into the connector to form a seal.
The wires now have a ring terminal at one end and the male Super Seal connector at the other.
The ring connectors can then be attached to the terminals on the battery using the terminal bolts supplied with the battery. Red wire to red terminal and black wire to black terminal to make things easy and clear when connecting everything up!
That's half of the wiring done. Time to make the link to the socket in the lid of the box.
Take another short length of two-core wire and split into the red and black wires. Again strip back a few millimeters of wire at each end.
Fit the female side of the AMP Super Seal connector to one end of each wire - same protocol as the male side. Wire gaskets on, crimp on the male terminals, push into the female connector, lock into place and push the wire seals into the back of the connector.
The other ends of the wire can then be attached to the socket. The wire is held in place using screw down terminals for a strong fit. Take note of which side the positive and negative wires are attached to - the socket is marked for this so that they match up correctly with the wiring going into the plug from the device you wish to power.
The socket is now attached to the two female Super Seal connectors.
You can now connect the battery to the socket by connecting the super seal connectors like so....
Now we are getting somewhere! To finish off the waterproof box i made a foam battery holder for the base of the box using a block of high density closed cell foam. You can buy thick blocks of this, or buy a garden kneeling pad as this uses this same foam.
I cut to shape using a hacksaw, sharp knife and scissors. It was trimmed to shape to be a good snug fit into the box and a good push fit for the battery into the foam hole.
After perfect conditions during the 2017 meet, this year the wind had returned to spoil the show. Luckily there was a lull in the weather on the Saturday and a hardened contingent of kayak anglers descended upon Sennen Cove to enjoy a day in almost perfect conditions....
I had several days put aside for this years meet but the weather was just rubbish! I know that many make this meet into a several day or week-long holiday and usually the forecast allows a few good days fishing to be had over the time but it wasn't looking to be this year. As a result many people dropped out of making the journey down on the run up to the week surrounding the meet.
Persistent winds for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with a glimmer of hope for Saturday and then a return to windy weather on Sunday. I took the chance to skipper a friends boat out of Falmouth on the Wednesday and we went out in search of sharks. We caught and released 13 Blues and 1 Porbeagle, and i had the best of the day with a beautiful Blue Shark of 131lb! Luckily that fish made up for the lack of fishing over the next few days.
The next few days were spent twiddling thumbs and keeping an eye on the forecast. Saturday looked to be calm and settled but with strong winds on the days either side of it i wasn't sure if it would hold. Come Friday it looked to be holding so it was announced that Saturday was on! I headed down to the campsite Friday evening to see a stark contrast to last years plethora of kayaks and tents. It didn't matter though, the hardcore that had attended were in for a good day on the water.
Up bright and early on the Saturday and i was pleased to see clear blue skies and little wind! A quick coffee and it was down to Sennen where a few of the local lads were already setting up. The bay was looking superb and the wind was dropping all the time.... perfect!
Everyone stood around chatting for an hour or so before anyone made a move to launch. It is always a relaxed affair here. There is no rush to launch and it's always great to see friends for a chat and catch up, discussing fishing and kayaks and more.
Richi and Flossy put in an appearance and we're gearing up for a day in the waves surfing on their kayaks/waveskis. It was looking to be a great day for everyone.
The first kayak heading for the water was none other than Mark Radcliffe....
He left the shelter of the breakwater headed off out into blue skies and a sea with just a touch of wind chop....
A steady stream of kayak anglers followed suit over the next hour whilst i was chatting away as others were continuing to arrive and set up.
Bloody hell it was 9:30am and i had been standing around chatting for 3 hours! Around 20 kayaks had headed onto the water which was good to see. Time to get on the water. I headed out with Matt on his RTM Rytmo and we decided to look for some bait in the deeper water. The gannets were diving around the bay but the fish finder screens were bare and the mackerel tinsels were untouched. Hmmmm. A paddle around and Charlie and Adrian had found a few but not many.
There was a good drop of swell still lingering from the strong winds in the previous days. We were over some rough ground so decided to drop some lures down to see if the Pollock would play. Matt was first in....
I couldn't buy a bite so headed for a shallower reef to see if any Bass were hunting about. A few casts with nothing then something smashed my Fiiish Minnow 120 lure. It fought hard and deep and was hoping for it to be a Bass as it would be a good one. Nope. Pollock. A nice golden kelp Pollock of around 8lb. A great fight on my Major Craft Skyroad 10-30gr rod and 18lb braid.
A few more Pollock found the lures before it was time to try at anchor in hope of a Ray. Anchors down, baits down. Wait.
Nope. Anchor up and into deeper water.
Mars Ba.... nope Dogfish.
You get the picture. I spent an hour or so twiddling my thumbs in between feeding dogfish with not a ray in sight. It was much the same for the 10 of so anglers now fishing the clean ground. A shame as in previous years the Rays have provided great sport but this year they just weren't present. I'm hoping a trawler hasn't gone through them during their migration from deeper offshore waters to shallower inshore waters. A small group of Porpoises cruising around the kayak lifted spirits.
The tide hit low and was now into the flood with conditions calming all the time. It was time to head further offshore towards Lands End, working with the tide, allowing it to bring us towards the safety of the bay during the drift. Lands End is not a place to be during an ebbing tide and fishing this area must be timed well with the tides and conditions on the day. It becomes hell on earth when the conditions turn against you, with no safe landing spot - the ebb will take you directly offshore away from safety and if you are unable to paddle/pedal against the strong currents then you will almost certainly get into difficulty.
A group of us headed a way out and found a nice little reef to drift over.
30ft down to 150ft at its edges, that'll do. I happened to hit straight into fish and pulled onboard a flurry of Ballan Wrasse which were nailing the lures!
Stu got stuck into a better fish....
He was having a right battle on a small HTO reel which was near breaking point! The quarry gave a number of powerful dives and was looking to be a better Pollock, and indeed a fish just under double figures was soon at the surface. A lovely fish indeed.
I was picking out fish almost every drop with several Pollack around the 5-6lb mark putting a good bend in the rod, and then a better one of around 9lb. Always a great fight on light balanced gear, in fact they nearly rip your arm off on the first run!
The Pollock fun continued and Craig was having equal success with plenty of arm wrenching battles with fish up to 10lb.
Stu then pulled something different out the bag.... a nice Cod!
Plenty of fun was being had with fish smashing Savage Gear Sandeels and Fiiish Minnows. I managed to winkle out something a little different too with a 2lb Pouting on a lure!
We had enjoyed 2 or 3 hours of steady sport and the tide was due to turn. Time to get back to the bay.
Conditions had bettered the whole afternoon into a millpond like sea with gentle rolling swells. It was stunning! The sun was hot too.... summer had returned for us. It all becomes worthwhile when this is the view....
It was a steady 1.5 mile cruise back to the bay, passing a few kayakers on the way that were fishing closer to the cliffs, who had found some Pollock too.
I tried my luck casting around the shallows again in the hope of a Bass but in the bright sunshine i wasn't surprised to go without a bite. Matt was having similar luck but eventually found a small Bass. Swells rolled onto the Cowloe reef with incredible power on the flooding tide. The aerated water turns a beautiful tropical turquoise enhanced by the deep blue sea and blue sky with Cape Cornwall in the distance. You can really feel the power, energy and unpredictability of the Atlantic at Sennen, and every now and then this venue shows you who’s boss and will test your limits (its caught me out on a number of occasions). Even the relatively calm swell/wind conditions brought a challenge to some who are used to flatter seas, with a few suffering the effects of sea sickness on the day, making for a shorter session than expected.
it wasn't long before we headed back in after a long day in the sun. Matt displayed two fine catches from the day, with a new PB Pollock of 10lb!
It had been a great day with some lovely fish caught, including some another Cod of 6-8lb, Ballan Wrasse to 4lb+ and plenty more Pollock to double figures. As we packed away, the bay looked ever more inviting in the evening sun...
It was time to head back to the campsite where the few of us that were camping sat around a roaring campfire chatting away into the small hours about fishing, kayaks and more. Richi's kayaking adventures are always a particular highlight. The evenings at the campsite really make this meet and the campfire is very much the beating heart of what the weekend is all about. If you have been, you will know.
Whilst the 2018 meet was a short-lived one, it was still a very enjoyable one as always. The fishing brought mixed results with the reefs fishing reasonably well, but the clean ground fishing very poor. A big thank you to those who travelled and attended, without you the meet would not exist. Thanks also go to Roger at Ponsandane Campsite for allowing us kayakers to camp at his site - not many sites will accommodate for big groups.
Lets hope for superb weather in 2019 - more information on dates for this soon!
Fish finders are a common accessory that anglers add to their fishing kayaks. As standard, fish finders run off a 12V power supply and on a kayak this will have to be provided in the form of a re-chargeable battery. This blog post shows you how to make a waterproof battery box to keep your power source dry whilst you are on the water....
Batteries for Kayak Electronics
The water is an unforgiving environment especially for electrical equipment. If you fish on saltwater then you can add the corrosive nature of seawater to the unforgiving mix. Most fish finders are built to withstand splashes and quick dunks, but are rarely included with a power source as they are designed to be wired into the 12V supply found on motor boats.
On a kayak this power source will need to be provided in the form of a re-chargeable battery. Most popular are Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries, also known as Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries. These are relatively inexpensive and readily available from hardware stores or online and come in a range of sizes measured in Amps per Hour (Ah). The higher the Ah, the bigger the battery, the more charge it will hold, and longer run time you will have between recharges. The downside is that the bigger they are the heavier the battery is! Most popular for 3-inch to 5-inch display fish finders is a 7Ah battery and these will usually last a couple of days on the water before they need recharging. Larger screen sizes, touch screen units or side-scan units may require batteries of over 10Ah for a days fishing. A 12V trickle charger is ideal for re-charging these relatively small batteries.
Whilst called a sealed battery, these are not entirely waterproof as the terminals are exposed. Getting these wet risks shorting out your electronics, or damaging the terminals through corrosion and salt deposit build up. A waterproof box provides an ideal solution to keeping your power source dry whilst on the water.
DIY Waterproof Box for Kayaks
A waterproof battery box is fairly easy and relatively inexpensive to make. See below for a step-by-step guide on how i make a waterproof battery box for my 12V 7Ah battery which powers my fish finder.
These components are readily available from most chandlery stores, hardware stores or online.
Preparing the Power Cable
Take a 30cm section of power cable from your fish finder cables. Alternatively buy some twin-core 12V power cable of similar diameter from a hardware/electronics store.
Strip back 3 or 4 inches of black outer covering from the wire at either end, and then strip about an inch of both the red and black wires to expose the copper core. Either use a wire stripper for this or carefully use a pair of scissors or blade.
To one end you need to crimp-on spade end connectors using either a crimping tool or pliers.
To the other end of the wire you will need to attach one half of a two-way Superseal connector - i use the male half. The Superseal connectors come in small kits including the male and female sections of the connector, pins and wire seals. These are quite fiddly to assemble and takes a few minutes to do.
Firstly, slide a wire seal onto the red and black wires.
Next, crimp on the short pins to the wires as below.
These pins then slide into the male connector and with a bit of wiggling and patience should click/lock into position. This sometimes take a few attempts. Once in position a red end cap clips over the end of the connector and locks the pins in place. A dab of sealant can be smeared around the wire seals to ensure a fully waterproof install.
The same process is carried out with the female connector, with the longer pins, to attach it to the fish finder power cable running to the fish finder unit/connector. Just ensure that the positive (red) and negative (black) wires are inline when the connector is put together!
Assembling the Waterproof Cable Seal on the Box
Lock and Lock produce a range of waterproof storage tubs which make excellent battery boxes with a little modification. Essentially all we need to do is fit a waterproof cable seal for the wiring to pass through.
Scanstrut make the best cable seals and these are 100% waterproof when installed correctly. These cable seals are supplied in kits ready to fit where needed. The kit comprises of a base ring with foam gasket which screw mounts to a surface. A rubber seal and top cover then bolt down to this base ring once fitted.
The cable seal is designed to be screw-mounted to a surface, however the lid of the box is only thin, so we need to make a backing plate for the cable seal to screw down into. For this i use a piece of chopping board. Simply cut out a 44mm (or similar size) circle of board using a hole saw.
You can then use an 8mm drill bit (or similar size) to drill a central hole in the backing plate for the wiring to pass through. Use a vice or grips to hold the disc whilst drilling. The spade end connectors are 6.3mm so will fit through the 8mm size hole easily.
An 8mm hole can now be drilled in the box lid - dead centre for OCD reasons!
I also placed the base ring of the cable seal over the hole and drilled some pilot holes for the screws.
The foam gasket is sticky backed and can be stuck down in the required position.
The base ring can then be screwed down using the supplied self tapping screws.
The wiring assembly can now be put in position by passing the spade end connectors through the hole in the lid. Note: Thread on the plastic cable seal cover onto the wire first.
The cable seal is supplied with a number of rubber seals, 3 that are pre-drilled with various diameter holes and one blank seal. I used one of the pre-drilled seals which had a 6mm hole, and this was the perfect fit for the power cable on my fish finder. If you cannot find a match from the pre-drilled rubber seals then drill a custom size hole in the blank seal and then cut a slit from the edge to the hole with a blade.
Once in the desired position then you can slide down the plastic over and bolt this down onto the base ring.
Assembling the Battery Box
Place the battery inside the box and then cut some sections of high-density (closed cell) foam to pack out the battery box and hold the battery securely in place. Use a hacksaw or serrated blade for this.
You can now attach the spade end connectors to the battery terminals and clip down the lid of the box. The waterproof battery box is now complete!
This can now be positioned inside the hull or on the deck of the kayak where required, providing a waterproof power solution for you kayak electronics. The box can easily be disconnected from the kayak to take the battery away for re-charging. Likewise, the battery can easily be disconnected from the battery box to connect it to a charger. As the battery is sealed, the box can be laid on its side if required too. Either use some double-sided velcro or some bungee cord to secure the box in place inside the kayak or on the deck.
I have been using one of these battery boxes for the last 3 years and it is still going strong. Including a battery, this waterproof powering solution costs around £35. An easy to make and inexpensive way to ensure your power source stays dry during use!
Any questions on this build, feel free to ask below in the comments.
It was time for the 2018 Swanage Classic. The forecast was looking to be fantastic for once and i had 3 days to spend on the water. The fishing was great on the days leading up to the competition and i managed several new PBs. The competition proved a little more difficult but i just managed to sneak into the top 10....
The Swanage Classic is my favourite kayak fishing competition of the year. Not only is there some great prizes up for grabs, the venue itself offers excellent fishing for species i don't often target or can catch on my local grounds. I arrived at Swanage early on Thursday morning and met up with Ben for a day on the water. The plan was to fish the clean ground for Ray.
The wind was brisk but dropping all the time so after a slow and steady set up we launched late morning under glorious blue skies. There was still a reasonable swell rolling into the bay.
Out to the mark and anchors down. I sent out one rod with a running ledger and 4/0 hook baited with am 8in section of huge launce, and another with whole squid. The wait began....
The tide was ebbing and it soon became apparent the bottom was covered in drifting seaweed. The rigs were not down for more than 2 minutes before huge clumps of weed was wrapped around the line and choking the rig. It became a bit of a chore cleaning the rigs every 5 minutes but we persisted. An hour or more passed when i finally had a positive bite on squid. I was soon enough hooked into a Ray!
As it approached the surface i could see that the fish was darker in colour and not the sandy colour of a Small Eyed, Spotted or Blonde Ray. It was looking like an Undulate..... nope..... it was a Thornback!
sI have only caught Thornbacks to 6lb previously so at 7lb this fish was a new PB. It was soon swimming back to the bottom. No sooner had i cast back out the other rod has an enquiry. Subtle bites and knocks but i had a feeling a ray was settling on the bait. I gave it a minute and then tightened down to the fish and hooked into a lump, bending the Ugly Stik 12-20lb rod over in a lovely arch. My suspicions confirmed and a ray powered off taking line from my Avet SX5.3 reel. This one felt bigger and i had my fingers crossed for an Undulate. After some good rod bending the fish neared the surface and i could see that it was a sizeable fish. Up on the surface and the fish flipped onto it's back which makes things easier when keeping the fish at the surface. I soon pulled the lump into the kayak. Ben done the honours with the camera...
A quick weigh and it pulled the scales down to 14lb 8oz beating my previous best of 12lb! That was me well happy and what better sight than to see it swimming back off the the bottom.
Not long after Ben was hooked into a fish and soon had a nice Small Eyed Ray on board that was close to double figures.
After a short spell of activity things went a little quiet again and over the next hour or so my baits were entertained by a dogfish and a couple of smoothhounds and copious amounts of seaweed!
As things got a little more desperate we up-anchored and called it a day. The target was Rays and the target was achieved. It was back to the campsite to set up camp, have a few beers and prepare for the next day on the water.
The weather forecast showed light winds all day with sun... perfect! Kyle had travelled up from Plymouth and we planned to fish the reef for Bream and other species.
Swanage Bay is littered with shallow reefs and these are great for targetting Black Bream amongst many mini-species. Simple 2 hook rigs with small size 4 or 6 hooks baited with ragworm of thin strips of squid are all that's needed to catch many species off the reefs. Light lure rods and small reels with light braid provide great sport for the smaller fish and a real battle when you hook a bigger fish. I was using a HTO Rockfish Revolution ML 7-28g paired with a HTO Lure Game 3000 fixed spool loaded with 12lb braid.
We headed across the bay and located a nice patch of rough and mixed ground on the fish finders. Ballan Wrasse were quick to find the ragworm baits and i managed quite a few upto the 2lb mark. Kyle had managed to find a patch of Bream so i followed him and soon enough a shoal of fish sitting just off the bottom was showing on the fish finder display.
Rigs down.... tap tap tap tap. Rattle tap. The rod hooped over and a fish was powering back towards the bottom and taking line. I held on and brought the fish clear of the bottom but this fish was going bezerk! Kyle had also hooked up and we were both playing decent bream. My fish was really testing my light tackle, taking fast dives and zooming around all over the place.
A bright flash of silver showed beneath the kayak and i finally got a look at the fish.... this was a better bream and certainly the biggest i had ever hooked. A little bit of composure whilst i coaxed the fish into my landing net..... result! I had a stunning Black Bream in the kayak!
This fish was beautiful! Dark vertical black bands serrated its silvery body and all tinged with an electric blue hue. The electric blue markings on the head were particularly vibrant...
The fish weighed 3lb 8oz and was a new PB for me. My elation was unfortunately short lived as the fish would not swim back. It tried hard to swim back to the bottom but was suffering the effects of pressure change and kept floating at the surface. I stayed with the fish for over 10 minutes trying to help it swim back to the bottom but it just wasn't happening. I'd have loved for it to be returned but every now and then it just doesn't happen. The fish would not go to waste and would later be cooked and eaten at the campsite.
Kyle also had a good fish around 2lb 8oz, again with stunning colouration.
I had a couple more smaller ones and Kyle managed one closer to 3lb.
The fish then went off the feed and we could no longer locate them on the fish finders. A change of plan and we headed out to the clean ground to hopefully find a ray or two again.
All was very quiet and the seaweed was pretty thick on the bottom again, choking up the rigs after a few minutes. After an hour or so Kyle hooked into a nice double figure Undulate, and followed it up with another smaller one a short while after. My baits were being untouched but i persisted. Persistence paid off with a good bite and i was bending into a bottom hugging Ray. A good scrap and a Small Eyed Ray was pulled into the kayak.
Things went quiet again and it was now mid afternoon. We had a little play on the mini species on the way in and i found a few wrasse along with a Rock Goby, but the action wasn't frantic.
It was back to shore and back to the campsite for an evening of rig tying and preparation for the next days competition.
Saturday - Competition Day
It was an early start to get down to the car park and set up ready for the comp. The conditions were superb for once! The last couple of years have been complete trash with high winds and reduced boundaries in which to fish. Today the whole bay would be accessible.
The cars were piling into the car park and kayak anglers were milling about all over the place setting up and heading to the tackle shop to get bait and supplies. There is always a great vibe on the lead up to the competition. Soon enough kayaks were being lined up on the grass of Prince Albert Gardens overlooking the bay. One noticeable thing, there has been a big influx of kayak anglers now using Hobie Kayaks, with many Revolution 13's and 16's, a Revolution 11, several Outbacks and a Pro Angler all kitted up ready to hit the water. A superb sight!
Competition organiser David kicked off proceedings with the safety briefing...
Everyone then pilled into the water and waited for the 10am start. Once the 10am call arrived everyone raced off to their marks. I headed across the bay to hopefully find a bream. As everyone started fishing blue skies dissapeared as a massive bank of fog rolled inshore making visibility terrible! You could hardly see the next kayakers 100 yards away! The fishing wasn't great. After an hour i was deeply regretting the decision to find a bream with just a Ballan Wrasse and Corkwing Wrasse to show for my efforts.
Scrap that then. Out to the clean ground and things got very disorientating with only one or two kayaks visible in my vicinity. Rods out. Wait. Wait. Take seaweed off. Wait. Take Seaweed off. Repeat. This just isn't happening. Not a knock, nibble or sniff on sandeel, mackerel, squid or peeler crab. This was incredibly frustrating and now 2.5 hours into the 5 hour competition i was feeling like just going in and giving up. I went back to rough ground in the hope of some mini species and cast a rod out for Garfish. That was a waste of time too. More Ballans and Corkwings found my ragworm baits. A move to another mark and finally species number 3 a Goldsinney Wrasse after over 3 hours!?!
An hour or so left and i had pretty much resigned myself to failure and any chance of being in the top placings was gone. I was now anchored next to Martin and he was catching Rock Cook Wrasse. Could i catch one... absolutely not! More Ballans and more Corkwings then two lucky casts with a Tompot Blenny and a Pouting!
I carried on catching more Corkwings for 20 minutes and then called it a day. It had been a poor days fishing. I registered my catch, packed my gear away and headed for an ice cream. Others had 6, 7, 8 species so i was going to be down the list. Martin had done well with 10 species and was on for the win. Prize giving time and 5 species earned Stephen Fuller 11th place, and he had landed after me so i was on the prize board! I just snuck into the top 10 in 10th place out of 81 anglers with my 5 species. I was happy with that considering i had a rubbish day on the water.
Mark Radcliffe took 3rd place with 7 species, Kyle Waterhouse took 2nd place with 8 species and Martin Collison took the win with 10 species, winning himself a Hobie Mirage Compass!
I had planned to stay and fish Sunday but i wasn't feeling it after poor fishing today. Neither was Kyle, Ben and a few others so it was back to the campsite, tent packed away and goodbyes said as i headed off for home.
Swanage 2018 was over and whilst the competition proved difficult, i had a few lovely fish on the days before which made the trip for me more than worthwhile. I'll be back next year!