Rigging the 2015 Hobie Outback and Adventure Island for Structure Scan

I’ve fitted the Lowrance HDS 7 Gen 3 onto my 2015 Outback and it came with a Structure Scan transducer. Structure Scan combines down scan imaging and side scan imaging. It’s certainly great technology to have on a kayak, some would say an overkill, but I’m really enjoying having such enhanced capability on the kayak.

However, it comes at a slight cost, that being extra equipment in the shape of a rather large transducer with associated cable. The Structure Scan uses it’s own transducer in addition to the standard transducer that covers CHIRP, Broadband and Down Scan. The real downside with this new transducer is that it needs to be mounted externally, direct into the water beneath the hull of the kayak. This isn’t an issue on a boat when it’d be mounted aft on the transom, but on the kayak it’s more of a headache.

I originally purchased a RAM transducer arm though I didn’t find it rigid enough, I could shake it about an inch at the base when locked onto a RAM ball. I wanted something far more rigid. It was also quite chunky, with the plastic tubing running down the arm looking like it would create quite some drag. Another issue with the RAM mount was that from the seat it was hard to tell if it was actually locked in the vertical position. I didn’t like it at all.

Despite having paid good money for the RAM arm I decided to go down the DIY route, something I should have probably done at the outset!. It needed to be solid and fully retractable. Oh, there was one other VERY important requirement, it needed to be easily transferable to my Adventure Island as required. The budget was also very limited!

Here’s the result followed by an explanation of how I did it.

The biggest issue was getting a lockable hinged joint that was going to stand the test of time around saltwater. After much surfing of the internet I came across an umbrella mount that was designed to fit onto large seat boxes as used by river & lake fishermen. They came in varying lengths, so I picked the one closest to my requirements.

This featured a fixed hole mount at one end designed for an umbrella and a lockable rotating joint at the other end. The rotating end featured a couple of rubber adapters to permit it to be fitted to differently shaped mounting legs. I could see the potential of mounting the fixed end to a mounting pillar on the kayak and the rotating end to a transducer arm. If I was to have similar fixed mounts on both the Outback and AI I’d be able to swap the arm between them (theoretically!). A plan was forming…

Next up were kayak hard points onto which I could mount the swing arm. I ended up using some pieces of stainless that I had lying around. Utilising some plate and tube, I welded them up into a suitable pillar shape. The base plates differed to permit a mounting option for both the AI and the Outback. Here’s how they looked after painting.

The top one was for the Outback. There was also a bolt hole in the post of each mount to ensure a rock steady fix to the kayak hull. Any flex would only occur via hull flex. Here’s the mounts as fitted to both kayaks.

Structure Scan mount fitted to the Outback

Structure Scan mount fitted to the Adventure Island

On offering up the umbrella arm I’d decided that it was too long, I wanted the vertical arm for the transducer to be close to the side of the kayak. I cut a 2” section out and TIG welded it back together. Here’s a photo of the shortened arm, weld clearly visible.

For the vertical Arm I used a length of 12mm A4 stainless tube, cut to a length that would suit both the Outback and the AI. To mount this into the swivel section on the modified arm I made a tubular sleeve out of thick nylon board. This was an interference fit for the stainless tube and was firmly drifted into place with a hammer!. This permitted the clamp on the swivel end of the arm to be tighten around the sleeve on the stainless tube. If you look closely in the above photo the blue sleeve is only just visible as I coloured it in with a blacker marker pen purely for aesthetics!.

That left the transducer itself. I needed some sort of plate to mount the transducer to the stainless arm. I ended up taking the plastic one off the RAM transducer arm and fitting it to the end of the tube. I’d thought of this much earlier on to be honest which somewhat dictated my choice of 12mm tube. It certainly made for a neat solution as it was made specifically for the LSS1/2 Structure Scan transducers.

That was basically it, the retractable transducer arm was complete. To ensure that the rotating joint locked securely in both the horizontal and vertical positions effectively every time, I filed two flats onto the spigot that the locking screw tightened down onto.

Here it is, the retractable and transferable transducer arm.

The spare cable was left coiled and sits beneath the seat of the AI and Outback. With careful routing the cable it’s quite unobtrusive and doesn’t pose a snagging hazard.


Fitted to the Outback

Fitted to the Adventure Island

It’s easily deployed and retracted from the seating position and due to the flats I filed onto the swivel arm spigot, it doesn’t take much effort to lock it securely into the correct position. Fitting the arm is simply a case of pushing it onto the kayak mount and locking it at a right angle to the side of the kayak, it literally take seconds to fit and remove. Most importantly it’s solid, something the RAM arm was not. Yes, it has the potential to be a pain if it fouls something underwater, something to be considerate of. Though not really much different to the Mirage Drive, etc.

I’ve used it a few times now and it works exactly as I’d hoped. Sure, Structure Scan is not a cheap upgrade, though I’m really enjoying using it. The imagery is excellent and I being able to view underwater features both directly beneath and well away from either side of the kayak in great detail is tremendous.

2015 Hobie Outback – Rectangular hatch upgrade with hatch liner & modified tackle insert

The Hobie fishing kayaks (bar the Pro Angler) come fitted with round hatches. I’ve never been a huge fan of these, if for no other reason that I much preferred the practicality of the rectangular hatch that I’d fitted to my Big Game. From about 2014, Hobie had flattened the area on the Outback around the centre hatch to permit fitment of the rectangular hatch from the Pro Angler as an optional upgrade. This obviously didn’t help me on my older 2011 model Outback so I’d been stuck with the round hatch. I did greatly improve it’s effectiveness by fitting a large hatch liner, something I’d copy during this upgrade.

Below is a photo of the finished product… followed by an explanation of how I achieved it.

The hatch kit was ordered from my local Hobie dealer, this consisted of the hatch itself, an internal securing bracket and a foam seal. The screws had to be ordered separately. The hatch is a very study affair. It can be seen below next to the round hatch for comparison.

Fitment is actually really straightforward, though it’s really is a case of measure and check 2-3 times before making a cut, this is not something that you get a second chance at!.

The round hatch is held in with 8 screws. Remove these and the round hatch lifts straight out, remove the foam seal and recover the securing bracket from within the kayak. Keep them as spares as they’re identical to the rear hatch.

The hatch can be mounted in two positions as shown below. I chose the standard ‘across’ fitting. It’s a personal thing, sit in the kayak and try both, see what works best for you.


Once that decision had been made I marked out the cutting area using the back plate as a template. It’s always best to remove too little and take more away as required. Again… CHECK several times before you begin to cut. I drilled a couple of access holes in the corners to permit me to use a jigsaw.

That’s the hard part done!.You might find that the hatch doesn’t drop in at this point. Fear not, look to see how much it’s out and remove additional hull material as required. I’ve found rotary sanding wheels mounted into an electric drill ideal for this. Finally, clean up any rough edges using some sandpaper.

With the hatch placed into position mark up and drill out the screw holes. It’s simply just a case then of sliding the rear bracket into the hull, offering it up into position and screwing down through the hatch hole into the back plate (don’t forget the hatch seal!). A third hand may prove useful at this point, though once the first couple of screws are in, it’s plain sailing. Just nip them up, don’t over tighten them as it’ll potentially result in stripping the threads in the back plate. If that was to happen, I’d drill the back plate holes out slightly and fit nuts and bolts.

So here it is, the rectangular hatch upgrade, perhaps an hours work.

You can order the hatch with a tackle box cantilever system that’ll permit the fitment of two Plano tackle boxes. This wasn’t something for me, I really wanted as much useable room within the hatch as possible. As I mentioned earlier, I had decided to incorporate a hatch liner as per my earlier model Outback. For this I sourced a large size heavy duty rubberised dry bag designed for military backpacks, etc. It’s about 120 litres in size.

Here it is, shown against the Outback to give an idea of its size.

The plan was to position the dry bag as far forward as it’d reasonably go (up against the Mirage drive well), make a cut out for the hatch and to glue the hatch backing plate into the hatch bag on the inner side of the cut out. With the hatch positioned internally I’d roll up the open end of the dry bag and tie it off around the transducer scupper before lifting the backing plate into position and screwing down the hatch…. straight forward?

Using the backing plate as a template I made a cut out in the bag. Once that was done I used Marine Goop to glue the backing plate into position. This was really easy to do. Once dry the backing plate holes can be felt through the rubber material of the dry bag, I punctured these with a spike to make fitment that little bit easier.


I ‘pre-measured’ the bag by lying it is position on top of the hull. This permitted me to gauge how much I needed to roll up prior to securing it around the transducer scupper. With the bag inserted into the hull it’s quite an easy job to get your hands back and clip the rolled up bag around the scupper tube. With that done, drop the hatch into position on top of the seal, lift the mounting bracket up against the hull and screw it all up.

It created a really large useable storage space, far better than the hatch opening up directly into the hull. The picture doesn’t do it justice. This space extends from the rear of the Mirage drive well back to the transducer scupper, as well as several inches either side of the hatch opening.

Was it straightforward?, yup!. Below is the finished hatch bag installation. You can also see that I’ve upgraded all the mesh tackle pockets with the rubberised versions from the Pro Angler. It’s well worth doing, no more tangled hooks!

Well that’s not quite the end of the story. I also purchased the tackle insert for the rectangular hatch, a while plastic affair. I believe that is came with a removable fabric strap, though I lost before I got around to using it!.

With the hatch all fitted I dropped the tackle insert into the hatch… it didn’t fit!!!. The insert appeared to be too high. I got straight onto the internet and it quickly became apparent that it’ll fit some new Outbacks, and not others?!. The tolerance for fit is quite tight and when a kayak hull is removed from the mould it can move by up to 5% as it cools. This apparently accounts for the inconsistency of fit. Not ideal, but as mentioned this insert is meant for the Pro Angler.

I’m not one to be beaten easily so I set about modifying the new tackle insert. The corners were removed, inverted and glued inside of the tackle insert. It was the corners that had been fouling the hull so this modification overcame that.

I then made a centre divider which was secured into place using stainless screws and Marine Goop. All joins were then fully seal to create two watertight compartments. The result?, a removable tackle/bait tray.

As all seams are fully sealed I can use wet baits without the juices leaking into the hull or cross contaminating the adjacent compartment. Adding the centre divider really stiffened the whole tackle insert up and made it far more effective. A finger hole was drilled into the top centre of the divider to enable it to be easily removed.

Even with the modified tackle insert fitted into the rectangular hatch, there’s plenty of room to fit small tackle boxes around it. Definitely one of the best modifications I’ve done on my new Outback.

Rigging the Lowrance HDS7 onto a 2015 Hobie Outback

I’d previously used the Lowrance Elite 7 HDI on my older Outback, though with the arrival of the 2015 model Outback I was going to upgrade the electronics fit to the new Lowrance HDS7.

I’m often asked if the 7” head unit is too large for the kayak. I have it mounted on the side of the Outback where it’s readily to hand, though importantly I’m not really having to use a paddle, only rarely when I launch/recover. With no paddle the mounting position is less of a concern, though throw a paddle into the equation and things become far more difficult!. Now that I’ve used a large screen for quite some time, I’d not willingly return to a small screen unit. That said, I’d not really want to go larger than 7”.

The new model Outback has some real improvements over the old model. For now, the one that’s of most interest is that it’s Lowrance ready!. It has a dedicated scupper hole in which to mount the transducer and there’s also wiring glands to permit a quick and neat installation.

Well here’s the finished product.

As mentioned I’ve experience of this sized unit on an Outback. My previous rigging had proved successful so I wasn’t going to attempt to re-invent the wheel as they say. It was going to be side mounted, I was going to use a length of Geartrac as it’d also permit the fitment of a rod holder, sailing controls, camera mount, etc when needed.

There’s a wiring gland in both side pockets as well as one positioned just aft of the transducer scupper beneath the Vantage seat. The Outback comes with a wiring adapter kit to allow fitment of different sized cable glands as required. First job was to fit the transducer.

Access to the transducer scupper is gained from beneath the hull. Here there’s a cover that is retained with three crosshead screws. Remove these and the cover and you’re good to go.

The 28/200Khz transducer is mounted to the back of this cover plate as per the Hobie installation manual. It’s quick and simple taking only a couple of minutes. All parts required are within the supplied Hobie kit. NOTE: it’s highly unlikely that the 50/200Khz transducer will fit!

Below is the mounted transducer ready to fit back into the kayak. note that there’s a 3-4mm gap between the base of the transducer and the mounting plate, as per the instructions.

The transducer cable is threaded up into the scupper hole and pulled through, the transducer plate assembly is then secured back into position into the hull of the Outback using the three crosshead screws.

Reaching from within the round centre hatch of the kayak the transducer cable gland can be removed by turning the plastic securing nut. This is a real stretch, long arms are required! With the cable gland removed the transducer cable can be passed through the gland mount prior to passing the transducer cable into the kayak.

The correct gland adapter needs to be selected from the fitting kit and passed down over the cable so it sits up against the mount. This can be a little fiddly, some soapy water may help with fitment. With all the cable slack passed into the kayak and the gland correctly positioned, it’s ‘simply’ a case of passing the securing nut over the transducer cable plug, feeding it along the cable and screwing it up from within the kayak to lock the gland into position. This is again a painful stretch!

The finished cable installation should look like this, very neat.

From within the kayak the transducer cable can be routed forward. There will be a lot of slack cable on completion of the installation so it’s worth keeping it neatly coiled to permit the spare coils to be secured to the transducer supper with a ty-wrap, etc.

I decided to fit the head unit to the right hand side of the kayak, so I fitted an 8” length of Geartrac 175 just ahead of the flush mounted rod holder adjacent to the side pocket. The hull in this area is several millimetres thick so I mainly used the supplied self tapper screws, substituting two for nuts and bolts with penny washers fitted internally for additional security.


A different cable gland adapter (twin hole) needs to be selected from the installation kit for the next stage as both the power cable and the transducer cable are passed through the hull in the side pocket. With the head unit positioned in my chosen position the correct amount of cable can be passed from the inside of the kayak, through the cable hole and fitted to the head unit. By fitting them it’s far easy to produce a neat installation by not having excess cable present. With both the power and transducer cables in position the cable gland can be secured using the same method as the rear one.. though its much less of a reach!

Here’s a photo of the looming fitted and attached to the head unit.

The side pocket can also be used to stow the cables when the head unit is removed, it actually works really well.

Obviously the unit requires power so the power lead needs routing to a suitable 12v source. I’m currently using a 12v 12Ah SLA battery which is giving me 12-16 hours of useable battery life on the water, enough for a couple of sessions. This is housed in a durable dry bag with waterproof electrical connectors, I’ll post an article up on this at a later date.

New camera – Olympus TG-4

Out with the old and in with the new!. I decided to replace my ageing (still working) Olympus 795SW after 6 years of service with the new Olympus TG-4. Let's hope it lasts as long as its predecessor. Obviously technology has progressed since I purchased the 795SW. The new TG-4 packs a host of features as well as much improved image quality and size.

On the negative side it’s a little bulkier and there’s no lens protection as standard (bar a fixed glass cover). The latter can be addressed by purchasing the Olympus conversion lens adapter ring (CLA-T01) which comes with a removable lens cap. The ring is good as it also permits the addition of after market lenses (fisheye and telephoto). It’s threaded (41mm) so filters can be fitted. Here it is fitted with a polarising filter, float and lens cap, what I currently expect will be the standard setup.

I also picked up a UV filter for standard (cheap) protection and an ND4 filter if I fancy getting arty with blurred water photos, etc. I’ve always enjoyed adding photos to my reports and reviews, hopefully this new addition will enhance all future articles.

Full review to follow is a few weeks once I’ve clocked up some serious time with it.

What cooler bag?

On the Big Game I had a Flambeau marine box behind me which was ideal for storing frozen bait wrapped in paper with a couple of ice blocks. I could keep bait from for many hours, often bringing it home and straight back into the freezer.

I’ve yet to find a good solution for the Hobie’s as the tankwell area is smaller and wont accommodate the dry box and flambeau. As both the Outback and Adventure Island are stable enough to permit easy access to the front hatch whilst afloat, I’ve decided to buy a cooler bag that’ll permit me to store a good amount of frozen bait with ice blocks in the front hatch.

That raised the question of which cooler bag?. I’ve used the cheap ‘6 can’ coolers in the past from supermarkets, etc, and they’re not up to the job. They may be foil lined, but the insulation is effectively not existent. I spent a couple of evenings surfing for reviews and there was quite a few in the Carp angling pages as they’re popular with those guys.

Nash is a very popular brand and came out on top in a couple of reviews that compared several bags. I ended up purchasing a Nash Compact cooler (20Litre - 40cmx25cmx20cm) which certainly looks very impressive now that it’s arrived. A heavy polyester outer, rubberised base with thick insulation and a foil lining.

There’s almost nothing to corrode apart from the zip pulls, something I’ll keep an eyes on and well maintained.

I also decided to pick up a Grauvell cooler bag (15Litre - 30x20x22cm). It’s  a little smaller and lighter in its construction, though it’s deceptively large inside. Taller than the Nash. That said it’s still comes across as a decent back and is perhaps suited to those shorter trips when I don’t require so much bait. Time will tell.

I’ll be using both of them over the coming weeks, I’ll report back with my verdict in due course.

First fishing trip on the Adventure Island

It’s been a while since I rigged the Adventure Island for fishing. Well to be honest it’s not quite finished, which is why I’ve not posted a rigging article on it yet. Almost there!

I’ve a 10 day road coming up later this month and I really want to take as much frozen mackerel as possible with me. The freezer is currently empty so I had only mackerel in mind when I launched at the weekend. Obviously the AI isn’t as convenient as the Outback when it comes to launching, plus I would be taking the trailer, hence planning requires a little extra consideration!.

I decided to launch into the mouth of Langstone Harbour from the Hayling Island side after a little advice from my friend Jamie. Parking was easy enough early in the morning, though it’d clearly be a real pain later in the day on these summer days. Launching towards high water could be achieved by dragging the AI over a bit of a hump and straight down to the water, though the wet sand was softer than I'd have liked!

Another consideration with the AI is of course wind. The forecast was for very light winds of 4-6mph, though this would potentially push me along at pedalling speed. That said, experience has shown that the wind in the Solent is often stronger than predicated.

I deployed the trampolines as I wanted to see how effective they’d be to fish from, otherwise it was my standard fishing setup, combo fish finder was fitted, with almost everything else contained within my dry box. I also planned to do a little trolling so I fitted a pair of Scotty rod holders on extenders ahead of me.

There wasn’t enough wind to sail to begin with so I pedalled out of the Harbour on the ebbing tide and out into the open sea. I trolled as I went, though there was no activity to report.

I’d arranged to meet up with Jamie and after a brief radio call I headed off to his general location a mile offshore. He was with a couple of other kayak anglers and they’d managed to bag a few mackerel, though not the hoards that I'd hoped for. I decided to head off to the Solent forts, into deeper water where I hope there’d be a few shoals moving about.

The Solent Forts were built as part of the British sea defences designed to protect the port of Portsmouth against seaborne attack. They are popular marks for mackerel as well as attracting bass. The plan was to circumnavigate the three forts, Spitbank, No Man’s Land and Horse Sand.

Fortunately the breeze picked up very early on, and despite being light I was pushing out directly towards Horse Sand fort at around 5.5mph, quite respectable considering the conditions!.

It was too fast for trolling, though I could have furled the sail to sloe things down. Instead I just chilled out whilst tweaking the rudder to maintain a steady course. Despite being 2.5 miles away I was there in 30 minutes, it certainly beats pedalling or paddling!

I circled Horse Sand fort a couple of times though I was unable to locate any definite shoals of mackerel, despite having sailed over a couple of small shoals on the way out. After 20 minutes of feathering I was getting a little frustrated so I decided to move further out to No Mans Land. I could see that there were a couple of boats already fishing the fort close in, so I was hopeful that there were mackerel in the vicinity.

It was only a mile or so to the next fort and the breeze had freshened a little more, so I was making over 6mph, not bad for such calm conditions.









I eventually found the odd mackerel here and there. No shoals on the finder to speak of, just feathering in likely areas with the odd fish to show for it. It became clear all too quickly that I was unlikely to be catching the numbers that I’d hoped for.

Despite the lack of mackerel around No Mans Land Fort, the presence of two or three boats attracted more like flies. Within 15 minutes there were about a dozen boats drifting around in close proximity!. I saw one mackerel caught during this time, it was time to move on.

I headed in the direct of Spitbank Fort and as I passed over the far side of the main channel, the drop off was holding a few fish. The feathers went down and I was soon into a multitude of small mackerel. Big enough for bait, so they were kept for the freezer.

Spitbank Fort was equally as fishless as the others so I headed back towards Hayling Island after a short time. I managed a somewhat disappointing 21 mackerel for the session, I’d been wanting 50+. I’ve since heard that they were there in numbers a couple of days later, typical.

That said it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip on the water. It’s the first time that I’ve seen all three forts close up, the weather was good and I had a small bag of fish to show for my efforts. I hope to repeat the trip this weekend in the hope of completing the re-stock of the freezer.

The trampolines are a great addition to the AI, though as much as they happily support my 92kg weight, I didn’t find them ideal to fish from, I want a hard platform to sit out from the cockpit. I’ve always planned to build a set of bench seats (Hakas) for the kids to sit on as well as other plans that I have. That project is now top of my list as I can really picture myself sitting on and fishing from them. Watch this space.