Submitted: 09-25-2007 by pbr
I wanted to do some kayak or canoe fishing and decided that my highest priority was overall weight and ability to fit on a wall rack in my garage. Since I am car topping ease of lifting on and off, an ease of walking to the water were very important. That narrowed it down to a canoe made of kevlar and/or carbon. I also decided a canoe would be more convenient in terms of storage and could be used for camping as well. For fishing and efficiency I decided I wanted something that could be double paddled.
I liked the price of the Hornbeck's compared to others, and the layout of the thwarts worked well for use for fishing. I chose the kevlar/carbon version rated at 25 lbs. Once purchased the hardest thing was finding a way to get it to Florida. Hornbeck really had no way of crating and shipping it, and relied on what they call "gypsies" or people coming south to cartop them when possible. Unfortunately after two months Hornbeck could not find a gypsie. So I had to find one myself and got lucky through a friend of a friend to bring it down. Once it arrived I was a little disappointed to find it had some gouges in the bottom from setting it down on small rocks or something, and some porosity and imperfections in the finish on the outside hull which is unpainted and clear resin out of the mold. Also the finish on the gunnels could have used a couple more coats of oil.
The interior Kevlar finish and seating were very well done. This model can be used as a tandem and they provide foam seats and extra backrests if you want to convert it over. I would call this a minimalist tandem canoe and would only use it as such in a situation where hiking and portaging was the issue. I found it just right in size as a solo fishing boat. Initially it is a little tippy but it gains ultimate stability as you roll it over because of the "cheeks" amidships. I would not say it is a canoe for standing up in if you are into flyfishing.
The standard foam seat and back rest work well, but I added a Crazy Creek canoe seat which strapped to the existing seat perfectly, to provide more comfort for long fishing trips. To convert it to a fishing machine I added a couple of rod holders to the backrest thwart, I also moved this thwart aft four inches since I would carry a fish bag in the forward area and not be bow heavy. I replaced the backrest thwarts fore and aft that are there for tandem use with thinner cherry thwarts. I rigged an anchor trolley between these thwarts so I could adjust the anchor position when fishing.
I fish on the open bay and have found the boat to be quite seaworthy, and dry, it goes up and over larger waves with no problem. Of course being light it blows around a bit more, but quite controllable. Speed seems to be as good as most kayaks I paddle with, it tracks quite well, but the limited rocker makes for a larger turning radius, so it wont spin on a dime. The clear resin finish scratches very easy so great care needs to be taken not to drag up on the beach. I have tried to repair a few scratches and it is not easy. So best to get out and pick up the canoe and set it down on something soft.
For me it has met my needs in terms of portability perfectly, I can one hand it off the car, put all my fishing gear in and pick it up and walk it to the water by myself. My friends with poly kayaks need help and take longer to launch. Even though the poly kayaks dominate the fishing market, I think a hybrid canoe like the Hornbeck rigged for fishing provides some real advantages.