Fishing expos are roaring back to life post-pandemic with ICAST 2021, held in Orlando, Florida from July 20–23. Kayak Angler editor Ric Burnley is on-site, walking the trade show floor for a preview of the latest and greatest in kayaks, tackle, accessories and more. Here are his picks for the best new boats from ICAST 2021.
Best New Boats from ICAST 2021
Hobie MirageDrive 360 Pro Angler 14 Ike Edition
ICAST 2021 kicked off with Hobie unveiling the MirageDrive 360 Pro Angler 14 Ike edition. The crowd oohed and aahed as Morgan Promnitz introduced the boat and lifted the cover off the most striking Hobie ever.
Inspired by the loud and proud bass pro Mike Iaconelli, the special edition is bright red with toothy Ike graphics, EVA padded deck and all the other features on the top-of-the-line Pro Angler 14 360.
Hobie Mirage Lynx
Hobie was out in full force with another fresh offering at ICAST 2021. The new Mirage Lynx has been on the water since early summer. The hybrid standup paddleboard and kayak features a thermoformed outer skin over a foam core to be light and tough.
Weighing only 61 pounds fully rigged, the Lynx is one of the lightest pedal boats with a frame chair for all-day comfort. At 11 feet long and 36 inches wide, the hybrid craft is seaworthy and fish ready. Powered by Hobie’s reliable and efficient MirageDrive 180, the Lynx is a sporty fishing platform perfect for quick trips and fun fishing.
BOTE LONO Apex
Taking the prize for Best Watercraft at ICAST 2021, the new BOTE LONO Apex is part paddleboard, part kayak and part pedal boat. The hull of the LONO can be used as a paddleboard. Add a standing platform to the stern, and the LONO turns into a kayak.
This year, BOTE gave the LONO a pedal drive system, one of the first for a full-size inflatable kayak. Add BOTE’s matching rod holders, cooler, stakeout pole and other accessories to customize the LONO into a fishing machine. Check out a review of the LONO Apex in the Summer 2021 issue of Kayak Angler.
NuCanoe borrowed the best features from its most popular kayaks and added a deeper, wider and more seaworthy hull to create the new Unlimited. Just like all NuCanoes, the hybrid canoe and kayak has an open deck with scuppers. A new transducer mount allows the operator to raise and lower the transducer through a pocket in the bottom of the hull. The Unlimited has a deep cockpit to load with gear or add another seat to turn the boat into a tandem.
NuCanoe offers motor, pedal and paddle options with the Unlimited so you can use the boat to fish open water one day, then bounce down a rolling river the next. Our favorite feature is the Fusion 360 elevated frame seat that spin around to fish in any direction.
The ultimate powered paddlecraft, Esquif’s Rangeley has a flat stern for a large electric motor and oar locks to double as a rowboat. The Formex hull is tough and light with enough room for the whole family or a weekend fishing adventure. The Rangeley comes in 17-foot and 13.5-foot models, but the Rangeley 15 is a happy medium, with plenty of space to spare at 41 inches wide and 40 inches deep.
Forward, midship and aft webbed seats friends and family while the 115-pound boat is ready for solo escapes. Add an outboard motor up to six horsepower or use the oar locks to row the Rangeley when water gets shallow. Added floatation keeps the Rangeley afloat even when filled with water. A whopping 527-pound capacity will hold huge fish, a big kill or camping gear.
Jonny Boats Bass 100
With two motors and hundreds of pounds of capacity, Jonny Boats was center stage at ICAST 2021. Capable of carrying a two-horsepower gas motor and rigged with a new integrated electric motor, the Jonny boat will get to the fish quick then sneak up on them without a sound. The electric motor is controlled with a remote with forward, reverse and direction control. Best of all, the lithium-ion battery is integrated into the motor making it easier to install and remove between trips.
For more power, or to add electronics, the Jonny boat can be rigged with a 12V battery. Still, the Jonny Boat is only 10 feet long and 35 inches wide with a base weight of 77 pounds, so it fits in a pickup truck bed and can be car topped. The Jonny boat fits in the category of micro skiff with motor, paddle and pole capabilities in a stable platform ready for fishing.
Since Bonafide released their first standup sit-on-top kayak, fans have been clamoring for a pedal version. This year, their request will be granted. The new P127 combines Bonafide’s stable and efficient Hi-Cat hull with Native Watercraft’s proven Propel pedal system.
The P127 hosts Bonafide’s unique features like a large bow hatch with quick-release hinges and one of the most comfortable frame seats. They added horizontal rod holders and reinforced bow mounting plate for an electric motor to make the P127 a formidable tournament fishing platform.
One of the coolest new boats at ICAST 2021 is the Skanu. A cross between a kayak, canoe and flats skiff the Skanu is designed to be paddled, poled or powered by a gas or electric motor. With features from the flats skiff world, like a spray rail and sharp bow, the Skanu is nearly silent when under paddle or electric power.
With horizontal rod holders, a large waterproof storage area and a shallow covered area, the Skanu has ample storage for gear and tackle. The Skanu is intentionally rigged with minimal accessories to allow the owner to add their own touches. Side scuppers drain water without gurgling like deck scuppers and the shallow draft passes silently through the skinniest water.
After following famed paddler, angler and innovator Eric Jackson’s development and testing of the groundbreaking Apex Watercraft on social media, I was anxious to get a first-hand look at the first carbon-fiber fishing kayak. We stopped by the Apex booth at ICAST 2021 for a complete tour of the space-age Tyr kayak.
Constructed of carbon fiber and Innegra with a scratch-resistant coating, the Tyr only weighs 40 pounds. With a 12-foot, six-inch planing hull and 36-inch beam, the Apex Tyr should be the fastest standup kayak on the water. The boat is kept simple with horizontal rod stagers in the cockpit and a removable mounting plate to flush-mount up to a 9-inch electronics display. One of the coolest features is the carbon fiber swivel bucket seat that sits seven inches off the deck and turns 360 degrees. Another cool touch is the magnetic pads in the cockpit to hold hooks and tackle in easy reach. The Apex can even be rigged with an electric motor.
Not only is the material from the future, the Tyr looks like it came from another time with a low, curvy profile and custom graphics. Each Apex is custom built for its owner with a long list of options and personal touches. Starting at $10,999, the Apex Tyr is the most advanced and highest priced kayak ever.
The ICAST 2021 crowd oohed and aahed at the Hobie MirageDrive 360 Pro Angler 14 Ike Edition. | Feature photo: Ric Burnley