There is a secret fishing hole 100 yards from the small parking lot for my community library. The launch requires carting my kayak across the library lawn, so needless to say I don’t like to hang around too long. Commando fishing requires quick action, so the local library is a perfect location to test Vibe’s redesigned and renamed Cubera 120 Hybrid.
The launch is through a row of thick hedges and across 20 yards of marsh grass then dropping down a muddy bank pocked with clusters of oysters. Not surprising, I get some weird looks from the library patrons. Especially after I return from a trip, popping through the hedges, covered in mud and saltwater, grunting and wheezing as I drag my kayak across the grass, with a stringer full of speckled trout, striped bass and redfish on deck.
Vibe’s New Cubera is a Potent Mix
Vibe Cubera 120 Hybrid Specs
Weight: 72 lbs
Capacity: 475 lbs
The Cubera 120 Hybrid is a hybrid standup paddleboard and kayak. It fits in the same category as the Kaku Wahoo or new Hobie Lynx. The wide, flat deck and shallow draft make these hybrids a standup paddleboard. A frame seat makes them a kayak. The idea is to capture the best of both worlds and overcome the disadvantages of each platform.
The trick with a hybrid is to harness the power of both a SUP and kayak. To this end, the Cubera is a success. Shaped like a paddleboard and rigged like a kayak, I load the boat with gear, rods and paddle.
I can slide the Cubera fully rigged into the back of my pickup truck and I’m ready to go when I get to the launch. Instead of using a cart to move my kayak to the water, I just drag the Cubera a short distance across the grass.
Once on the water, I can sit and paddle to the fishing grounds with a kayak paddle. Then, switch to a SUP paddle or push pole to stand and fish. The kayak and SUP hybrid is perfect for quick trips on sheltered waters where standup fishing is on the menu.
Reintroducing a Maverick
Vibe’s new Cubera is a redesign of their original Maverick hybrid with more fishing features and a new seat option. I reviewed the Maverick in the Spring 2018 issue of Kayak Angler where I said, “The Maverick combines features of a rotomolded kayak and foam-filled hard board to create a new type of hybrid anglers will feel comfortable using and abusing.”
The same is true with the Cubera. To build the Maverick, Vibe developed technology to fill a plastic shell with foam. The plastic is thinner than their rotomolded kayaks to save weight, while the foam makes the board stiff and unsinkable.
Unlike most foam-filled hard boards with epoxy and fiberglass skin, the Cubera’s plastic flesh will not bruise or bleed. The rotomolded plastic makes the Cubera almost indestructible.
The foam core also makes the Cubera stiff and strong. With a 475-pound capacity, the Vibe can carry up to 100 pounds more stuff than some competitors. The advantage is a larger angler will feel more comfortable standing and fishing on the Cubera. With limited deck space and no internal storage, a 300-pound angler could carry 100 pounds of gear. But where would it all fit on a SUP?
The foam also makes the Vibe heavier than other SUPs. At 72 pounds without the seat, the Vibe is as heavy as a traditional kayak. It is considerably heavier than other standup paddleboard hybrids. Carrying the Cubera under one arm like a SUP is a stretch. With the 33.5-inch beam, I had to stretch my arm to reach the recessed grab handle in the deck.
SUP Shape, Compact Kayak Weight
The Cubera is more kayak than standup paddleboard. Beside the standup paddleboard shape with low gunnels, shallow draft and flat deck, the hybrid is as heavy and wide as a small kayak.
Still, the Cubera’s low profile make it easier to drag or cart. The bow slides across the soft ground and the Cubera has reinforced and replaceable plates on the stern. Dragging from the bow is tough because the molded fins dig into the ground like a land anchor. It’s easier to pull the Cubera around by the stern handle.
The SUP shape is more convenient to store and transport. The Cubera slides into a pickup truck bed and fits perfectly on a cartop roof rack. I prop the board against the side of my garage and cover it with a tarp, but it would be possible to lift the Cubera to the garage roof rafters.
Another advantage of the SUP hybrid is stability. The Cubera may be as heavy as a small kayak, but it is lighter than a typical standup kayak. The Cubera is 10 pounds lighter than Vibe’s Shearwater flagship standup boat. On the other hand, the Cubera is slightly heavier than their Yellowfin 120. But I dare you to try and stand in the performance-oriented Yellowfin.
So, with the Cubera, I get standup stability with the weight of a compact kayak. On the kayak side of the story, the Cubera may be heavier than a traditional standup paddleboard, but the extra weight gives the hybrid capacity to carry a full arsenal of gear and a full-feature frame seat.
Paddle Straight Through the Chop
The Cubera’s hull is a modified version of their tunnel design with shallow keel and channels to improve performance. A hint of flare in the bow and tumblehome in the stern keeps the hybrid paddling straight. The Cubera also has three small, molded finlets to further improve tracking.
A low gunnel cuts below the wind but it does expose gear and tackle to waves and spray. While the Cubera doesn’t handle as well as a performance kayak, it has some advantages over a standup kayak.
The day I met Kayak Angler photographer Roberto Westbrook to shoot photos of the Vibe, the wind was blowing 20 knots out of the south. Although we launched in a secluded harbor, I had no worries pointing the Cubera into the wind.
The board splashed through the short-period wind chop, and I appreciated the low profile design and high capacity for keeping the bow out of the water and the boat paddling straight. Facing these conditions in a traditional standup boat would have been drier, but a lot more difficult to paddle.
Another advantage from the kayak side of the family is the Cubera’s rigging potential. While the incredible capacity tempts me to pack everything and the kitchen sink, the SUP side of the tree encourages me to keep rigging to a minimum.
I attached a Stealth QR-1 X elevated rod holder to a gear track on the gunnel. The QR-1 X is perfect for a SUP because the locking cam keeps my rod secure on a SUP where there is more potential for the rod to go overboard.
For gear and rod storage, I secured Railblaza’s Kayak Crate with the bungees and clips in the stern. In less than a minute, the Cubera is ready to fish.
Stand Tall or Sit in Comfort
A kayak is easier to paddle than a SUP. Standing and paddling on a board takes balance and a lot of energy. Sitting with a double blade paddle is easier to propel the boat and keep it straight.
To turn the hybrid into a mini kayak, the Cubera uses their new Summit seat. This is the same seat as the Shearwater. With four positions, the seat can be raised, lowered, reclined and turned into a standing platform.
Fold the seat back forward and add the poling platform and brave anglers get an extra few inches of elevation. The higher I stand in the kayak, the more I can see through the water. Since the Cubera is intended for standup sight fishing, being able to see the fish farther from the kayak gives an advantage to the angler.
The Summit seat is the most advanced seat on a hybrid SUP and kayak. It’s also the heaviest. The adjustable positions and quick-dry mesh covering make it one of the most comfortable options. In the low position, the seat makes for efficient paddling. In the high position, I could sneak along a mud flat looking for signs of fish. Then, I can stand on the deck or climb onto the poling platform to hunt down my prey.
Catch the Cubera 120 Hybrid
While the Vibe Cubera 120 Hybrid doesn’t have the range of a traditional kayak, and it is heavier than a hard-shell standup paddleboard, the advantages of stability, portability and fishability make the Cubera the best of both worlds.
This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 46. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.
The Vibe Cubera 120 Hybrid paddles like a kayak, fishes like a SUP. | Feature photo: Roberto Westbrook