When you need a spoon and a fork, grab a spork. If you like tigers as much as you like lions, then a liger is your favorite animal. Hungry for tangerine and pomelo? Peel into a tangelo. And if you can’t decide between a SUP and kayak, or canoe and kayak, check out a hybrid paddlecraft.
Can’t Choose Between SUP, Canoe or Kayak? Try a Hybrid
Mixing the best features of a canoe or SUP with a kayak has produced some interesting offspring. After all, the sit-on-top kayak started as a hybrid of a sea kayak and a surfboard. Recently, hybrids have been a big hit with the inshore crowd and boat builders have responded with innovative designs that combine the best of both worlds.
Canoeists and kayakers never seem to see eye-to-eye, but combine the open cockpit of a canoe with the maneuverability of a double-blade paddle and you get Old Town’s NEXT. Craig Hefner, owner of Yellow Dog Kayak Accessories, has been using the NEXT since it was released in 2014. “It’s light and easy to car-top or carry,” he points out, “perfect for quick trips or portaging.” The NEXT is constructed of three-ply polyethylene material that is lighter than a traditional kayak’s rotomolded skin. The canoe’s open cockpit also cuts weight and increases storage space. “My kids love it,” Hefner adds, explaining that the boat is easier to paddle and move around in.
David Hadden, brand director at Old Town, agrees that ease of operation and user-friendly design make NEXT a perfect mix for anglers looking for a canoe and a kayak. He says the boat has been particularly popular with hard-to-reach kayak fishing demographics. “Older paddlers, fly fishermen and traditional canoeists tend to gravitate to the NEXT,” Hadden explains.
Another popular crossbreed is a mix between a kayak and a standup paddleboard. Since anglers first took up the paddle, they’ve asked for stand-up stability and kayak agility. One of the most recent answers to that question comes from Hobie Fishing’s i11s inflatable fishing platform. [Editor’s note: Hobie’s i11s has since been followed by hybrid models like the Mirage iTrek 11 and the Mirage Lynx.] Built on the Sportsman inflatable SUP chassis, the i11s adds a Vantage seat, MirageDrive and rigging for rod holders and tackle storage.
Director of fishing development, Morgan Promnitz, says the i11s is a perfect mix of stability and maneuverability. “The i11s retains the simplicity of a fishing SUP, deflates and folds away for transport and storage and offers the performance of a MirageDrive kayak,” Promnitz points out. He adds that the Vantage frame seat allows the angler to get low and drive into heavy wind and chop.
Both Hadden and Promnitz recommend a hybrid as a complement to an angler’s kayak quiver. “Just like surfing,” Promnitz explains, “I have a big wave board and small wave board.” He recommends a hybrid SUP for quick trips before work. Hadden also uses his NEXT for hunting. “I have plenty of room for decoys and blind materials.”
The future is bright for hybrids, with Kaku Kayak introducing the Wahoo and Diablo tweaking their popular stand-up kayaks. Promnitz says the i11s has found fans on backwater and in boardrooms. Hadden even hints at more hybrids to come from the Johnson Outdoors family. “I’ve been hunting in a prototype all fall,” he says, “the best is yet to come.”
Below you will find in-depth reviews from Kayak Angler contributors on the best hybrid paddlecraft available today.
- Inflatable Fishing Kayak Review: Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130
- First Look: Vibe Uptown 100 Lite
- Tandem Fishing Kayak Review: Hobie Mirage iTrek 14 Duo
- Fishing Kayak Review: NuCanoe Unlimited
- Hybrid SUP Kayak Review: Hobie Mirage Lynx
- Vibe Cubera 120 Hybrid Fishing SUP Review
- Inflatable Pedal Kayak Review: BOTE LONO Aero Apex
- Hobie Mirage iTrek 9 Ultralight Inflatable Kayak Review
- NuCanoe Flint Hybrid Fishing Kayak Review
- Boat Review: Kaku Voodoo Fishing Kayak, SUP And Skiff
Looks like a canoe, paddles like a kayak; Old Town’s NEXT offers the best of both platforms. | Feature photo: Old Town Canoes and Kayaks