Hybrid SUP Kayak Review: Hobie Mirage Lynx

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

According to Wikipedia, a lynx is a small to midsized cat and a versatile hunter. According to Hobie, the Lynx is a hybrid standup paddleboard and kayak, and a versatile hunter.

Combining the convenience of a paddleboard with the performance of a pedal kayak, Hobie’s new Mirage Lynx is an angler’s perfect companion. Measuring only 11 feet long and 36 inches wide, the Lynx is compact enough to be stored on your back porch, then easily cover distance on the fishing grounds thanks to its MirageDrive 180 pedal system.

Equally attractive is the Lynx’s 47-pound weight—light enough to cartop and carry to the water. Hobie uses its ACE-TEC construction in making the Lynx. ACE-TEC is a foam core sandwiched between layers of thermoformed plastic with fiberglass patches reinforcing the deck and rails. The process creates a tough watercraft that’s lighter and stiffer than rotomolded plastic.

We’re not the only ones who think this fishing vessel is the cat’s meow. The Mirage Lynx was voted Best New Kayak in this year’s Paddling Magazine Industry Awards by specialty paddlesports retailers, outdoor media and enthusiasts.

Fishing with the Hobie Mirage Lynx

Hobie Mirage Lynx Specs
Length: 11’0” / 3.35 m
Width: 36” / 91 cm
Weight: 64 lbs / 29 kg
(with drive)
Capacity: 360 lbs / 163 kg
MSRP: $2,999

On the surface, the Lynx comes with a simple layout. Bow and stern bungees, EVA foam deck padding and a cup holder perfect for cougars at the lake. Hobie threw on a comfortable frame seat and dropped in their MirageDrive 180 with Kick-Up Fins for a prowl around the neighborhood. But then Hobie also cleverly incorporated features that turn it from a house pet into an aquatic predator.

Look closer to see inserts in the deck allowing the covert angler to install accessories, add electronics and store more gear to turn the boat into a sporty fishing craft. To make rigging easier, add Hobie’s H-Rails to each side of the boat. The multi-sided metal tubes accept a range of Hobie’s matching accessories and make convenient carrying handles. I kept rigging simple with a Hobie H-Crate to hold my gear and rods. I installed a YakAttack track mounted LockNLoad base and an Omega Pro rod holder on the gear track beside the seat to keep one rod within reach. Simple.

For anglers who have a hard time standing in kayaks, you can add the H-Bar standing aid to the H-Rail. To stand up from the elevated seat, just grab the top of the bar and pull yourself up. Once standing, hold onto the bar for improved stability. The Hobie H-Rail system allows you to add a rod holder and paddle holder to the stand assist bar.

In the stern, a special scupper accepts a Power-Pole Micro Spike Driver. Then, with the push of a button on a wireless remote, you can drop a stakeout pole to stop the kayak and hold it in position.

Another scupper ahead of the pedal system leads to the Lynx’s transducer plate. Install a fish finder display and battery near the scupper and run the transducer cable through the scupper to a covered compartment below the boat protecting the transducer.

man pedals the Hobie Mirage Lynx with MirageDrive 180
Plenty of power with Hobie’s MirageDrive 180. | Photo: Roberto Westbrook

Starring the MirageDrive 180

One of the best features of the Lynx is Hobie’s MirageDrive 180 with Kick-Up Fins. While it’s a mouthful to say, the advanced pedal drive turns the Lynx into an efficient and easy-to-operate fishing platform.

The latest generation of Hobie’s MirageDrive makes me appreciate how far the pedal system has improved since its introduction way back in 1997. The new MD180 is light and tight with fewer moving parts and simpler construction.

A few years ago, Hobie added reverse to the MirageDrive. Pull a tab on the drive and the fins spin 180 degrees to propel the boat backward. While the system doesn’t provide instant reverse, like a propeller drive, switching the MD180 into reverse quickly becomes second nature. Second nature now, revolutionary at the time.

The most recent improvement to the MirageDrive is the Kick-Up Fins. When the fins strike an underwater obstruction, they kick up, folding flat against the hull. After the obstruction is cleared, the flippers flip down, and the driver can keep kicking.

While I didn’t get to run over any tree limbs like in the Hobie promotional video, I did find the Kick-Up Fins helpful fishing in shallow water where I always worried about damaging the old MirageDrive. Now, I fish until I hit bottom and then bring up the fins. A pedal system with more than nine lives.

On the water performance

I borrowed a Mirage Lynx from the rental fleet of Kitty Hawk Kites in Nags Head, North Carolina. After a half-season of heavy use, the boat looked good and worked just fine. To test the Lynx, I launched at my favorite fall fishing hole, Owl Creek in Virginia Beach. With the trees in full autumn yellow and red and the marsh reeds a golden green, the sunlight sparkled off the bright facade of the oceanfront hotels bejeweled in the background.

The first thing I notice on the water is how easy the Lynx is to operate. I paddled a few feet from the launch, dropped the fins through the scupper, clipped it in place and pedaled away. The rudder is perfectly matched to the boat for quick turns and slight adjustments in direction. The rudder is connected with a flexible external cable to a control knob clipped to the side of the seat. I can change the control knob from the right or left side of the seat.

stern of the Hobie Mirage Lynx hybrid fishing kayak/SUP
The rudder is perfectly matched to the lightweight thermoformed hull. | Photo: Roberto Westbrook

Speaking of the seat, it looks too simple to be this comfortable. The seat is a simple low-slung frame with a mesh cover, but the angle of the back and the bottom provided support for pedaling and fishing. I had no problem standing up from the seat. I spend most of my time standup fishing, so I appreciated the foam deck padding. I also appreciated the rock-solid stability of the wide, flat hull. It was easy to stand, kneel, turn around and sit back down on the Lynx.

The Lynx isn’t the first choice for long stretches of open water because the square bow and low sides suffer in large waves or heavy currents. But it’s perfect to pedal for a full day exploring backwaters. I mean, think about it. The MirageDrive 180 with Kick-Up Fins is reliable and powerful enough to propel many of Hobie’s full-size sit-on-top kayaks, making it more than capable of pushing the light and nimble Lynx. The MD180 complements the Lynx by providing a reliable, efficient and compact power source to push this hybrid SUP beyond its paddleboard roots.

After pedaling a few miles and landing a half dozen fish, I realized the Lynx would be a great addition to my fleet of full-size kayaks. The Lynx is easier to transport, launch, rig and fish. I can save my full-size boat for open water and all-day, long-distance fishing expeditions.

man paddles the Hobie Mirage Lynx across calm water in front of city buildings
The Lynx is simple with the potential for serious rigging. | Photo: Roberto Westbrook

The biggest downside of the Mirage Lynx is the price. For the cost of the Lynx, I could buy another manufacturer’s premium full-size pedal kayak and have some change left over. In fact, the Lynx costs $400 more than the base-model Hobie MirageDrive Passport with Kick-Up Fins. Oh, wait, but you don’t get reverse on the Passport.

The Lynx does something else some bigger boats can’t do: quickly and easily hit my favorite inshore fishing spots when I get a few hours on the water. The hybrid SUP and pedal kayak is purrfect to cartop and only takes a minute to rig with a handful of tackle and a couple of rods. With the Lynx in my arsenal, I don’t pro-cat-stinate, I just fish more places more often.

Where to buy the Hobie Mirage Lynx

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Hobie

Mirage Lynx

The effortless speed of the MirageDrive 180 pedal propulsion system with patented Kick-Up Fins combined with the sleek, flat bottom hull make for a truly epic ride. Designed for maximum comfort and convenience with a breathable, mono-mesh, elevated seat and storage for all of your gear. Make it yours with molded-in tracks to mount your fishing accessories. At just 47 lbs, less is more when it comes down to hull construction. The Lynx is Power-Pole and fishfinder ready.
  • Available in Ivory Dune and Papaya Orange
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