I'd owned an inflatable boat for 4 years after randomly bumping into to a guy called Sebastian who was about to take his son out fishing from where myself and partner Susie happened to be spending a summers day soaking up the sun.
While observing him setting up this boat ready to take his son out fishing and wishing I had a boat too I made conversation and asked him how much it would cost to buy something similar. To my surprise he suggested I make him an offer. So, after a quick deliberation with Susie and a dash to the nearest cash point I negotiated a price and ended up taking it home in my van that day for £300. I like to buy things on impulse. I was now in possession of a 2.9m Kolibri inflatable with a wooden/aluminium deck with some basic extras including a life jacket and foot pump. All I needed was an outboard engine.
"For me it was all about upping my fishing game."
Within a year or so I'd gone from shoreline fishing with only a fair amount of success to inshore boat fishing with lots of success. I'm not a top angler by any stretch of the imagination but what I lack in knowledge I make up for in ardent love.
After a couple of summers enjoying the boat having just the best days out fishing and catching numerous Bass including my personal best at 10.5lb I created a Facebook group intending to invite anglers from local fishing groups who might own an inflatable boat or be interested in buying one at least, to meet up, share locations and generally to have fun, all the time being safe in numbers while out at sea.
I wasn't expecting much really, a few dozen perhaps, maybe out of them a handful might actually own a boat and want to meet up.
After sharing my group in other local angling groups people started joining one by one. My phone notifications were going crazy. For the next few weeks I'd wake up with 30-40 requests to join. There were days when 60+ requests were a common theme.
It was apparent that this style of fishing was attracting a lot of interest and it wasn't even summer yet. Myself and Susie couldn't believe how quickly the group was growing in such a short space of time.
The group attracted boat suppliers eager to promote their products. Very soon there were magazine journalists wanting photo shoots for articles in their mags. Saltwater Boat Angling did a three page spread. The legendary Sam Harris from CVFM called me out of the blue. He somehow managed to get my number and wanted me to go on his angling radio show 'Gone Fishing'.
Nearly 2000 members within six weeks. I planned the groups first meet up and called it 'Inky Blighters hunt for Squid'. A modest ten boats were out that day albeit a quite windy affair and with not much catching going on. It was all about getting the guys together. We all met up at the slipway in Newhaven harbour at 7.30 am. With bait collected and evenly dished out and with smiles on everyone's faces from ear to ear, off we went one after the other leaving the harbour. It must have been a great site to watch us from the harbour wall.
The group kept on growing as the days began to get warmer and warmer with lots more trips arranged to various parts of the coast. Photos and videos now being posted of people up and down the country taking their SIBs out. Absolutely stunning scenic views coming in especially from anglers in Scotland. By now members were beginning to see the attraction and started to buy their own boats to join in the fun.
The group is now becoming the go to place for advice and tips on just about anything related to inflatable boats, outboard engines and fishing in general. What are the best transom wheels to use? The best VHF radio sets to buy? All sorts of things were being discussed and friendships were forming. Safety while out at sea is important to everyone and advising new comers on what to set up with and do is something everyone in the group discusses on a regular basis.
Competitions are the talk of the group with great prizes being offered by the groups 'Trusted Suppliers'. £160 electric pumps, £100 worth of SIB maintenance and repairs, a great prize. A 4K action camera was won recently. The most recent competition was to win a boat that you get to design yourself with your own unique feature added. The winner was announced on Christmas Day. A fabulous prize.
So, at this point there were 5000+ members in our group. This is inspiring me to push forward and encourage the sport of inflatable boat fishing all over the UK with this newly created website where I can supply Inflatable boats as well as other things to do with inflatable boat fishing from reputable companies across the UK.
Watch this space as I add things to the site.
I hope you find it useful and if there is anything else you'd like to see added then don't hesitate to contact me.
Carlo from the 'Inflatable Boat Advice' Facebook Group
Inflatable Boat Advice.
Fun, Fishing & friendships
Happy floating and tight lines.
We're all in the same boat.
Seago, one of our partners allowed me to have my own designed boat made up. The Hydrus, the boat that suits anglers both inshore as well as river fishing.
Incorporating the groups colours and logo, it looks fantastic, better than I had ever imagined. It comes in various lengths, all of which have an air deck although aluminium decks are available to order.
They come with anchor rope runners installed as well and brandishing three of the group logo's on the tubes. I've kitted mine out with Railblaza accessories. You can buy the boat with or without the accessories.
To order yours today just drop me a fishing line or use the Chat Dashboard to your right if you have any questions.
Another top Angling magazine wanted to do a feature on the Hydrus and the sport in general so I met up with Dave Lewis from Sea Angler magazine at Lymington Harbour back in June 2019 where I told Dave all about the boat and it's features while I set it up ready for a photo shoot.
A great opportunity to share the IBF story with thousands of Sea Angler magazine readers including Bob Whicher who came down to the Littlehampton Waterfront Festival to see us and the boat at our stall and place an order.
Bob is now the proud owner of a Hydrus along with a 6hp Suzuki and all the accessories to go with it.
Thanks to Dave Lewis for the feature.
The first batch of Hydrus boats had all sold out throughout the year. It was time to think about The Hydrus II.
I wanted to be more hands on with the design of the boat so I needed to go direct to the source.
With the help of a very good contact from my business bank, I formed a relationship with an overseas company where I've been able to go direct to the manufacturers and take the design of the Hydrus a few steps further. A few tweaks to the design of the Hydrus later and I was ordering the Hydrus II direct from China. They were due in the summer of 2020.
During 2019 I kept busy promoting the IBF concept attending various networking events. My enthusiasm for the sport and to build something from it was evident.
I was invited to attend 'The Tigers Pen'. Yes, just like Dragons Den I found myself pitching to 4 local, wealthy business men and women for £500 and mentoring to help boost the Inflatable boat fishing journey.
I managed to get funding and mentoring from three of the Tigers which blew me away, I absolutely smashed my pitch.
Fast forward to 2020 I had to make a decision on how many Hydrus II boats to order. With Covid arriving and a lockdown imminent I was reluctant to order too many in case we were locked down for the entire summer. Luckily things turned out OK and the whole batch of Hydrus II had sold out before they even arrived in the UK.
By now the Facebook page has 2,000+ members and the Group is 6000+ members and the summer was a blast with regular SIB meet-ups, lots of great fishing, PB's caught and plenty of happy Hydrus owners out on their SIBs.
OK, now let's go for the Hydrus III....
Roll on to 2021 and the all new look Hydrus III has been built and the first batch of 30 arrive in March with all but 4 pre sold to Facebook group members and via web orders before they even arrived.
With the summer fast approaching and while I wait for the next batch of Hydrus to arrive it was time to organise a group meet up.
I couldn't decide which location to choose so I chose went for a three day May bank holiday weekender instead. Check here for details. Look out for lots more Sibfest events planned in the future.
July 2021 and the second batch of 30 have just arrived. This year has really exploded in sales and IBF is gaining notoriety with the brand being labelled by other well known inflatable boat companies as gaining a 'cult following'. I think I'll take that as a compliment. Now with this new look website going live and more items being added to the website from reputable, well known companies I'm really looking forward to the future and ordering in more Hydrus in bigger quantities to cope with demand.
Some Hydrus customers just can't wait to have their boats delivered so opt to pick up instead.
The next batch of 30 boats arrived in September 2021, this time with Railblaza RibPorts preinstalled so you can choose which accessories you wish to add without worrying about gluing the ports to the tubes yourself which can get messy.
Here's the Hydrus III mk2
Without doubt Covid has seen a huge change in how we run our everyday lives. With IBF still in its infant years as a company I have not really known any different, be that an advantage or a disadvantage. What I do see however is anglers looking for a means to social distance themselves which has lead to surge in sales of inflatable boats across the board.
So with this great news IBF will be looking to increase the range of sizes available to buy going in to 2022 and 2023.
On top of this our factory are now offering heat welded seams for all Hydrus boats from the H4 onwards. With PVC laminated 1100 Decitex materials the Hydrus will be even stronger than before. We're adding an extra layer of 0.7mm PVC material to all air decks built to provide extra protection against fish hooks and spines. We've added some pressure valve rings to highlight the correct psi for each tube to guarantee the correct pressure is met and upgraded the hand pump provided with a built in pressure gauge.
The Hydrus IV nicknamed the H4 will undoubtedly be one of the best Sibs on the market to fish from and with Hydrus now being mentioned alongside the very top names it's certainly taking the inflatable boat scene by storm.
For more information on the new H4 give the fishing line a call on 01903816390
January 2022 and IBF plan to attend The Big One Show at Farnborough in March 5th-6th.
Predominantly a coarse angling show, I'm having a 'Camo Hydrus' boat produced ready to take to the show. A huge market to enter with lots of well known and established names to compete with but IBF has something up its sleeve. Watch this space.
For now, here's a glimpse of the Camo Hydrus colours.
The first shots of the Camo Hydrus arrived in my inbox mid January. The factory had delivered. I absolutely love it!
I was going to wait until I was able to see the sample up close before committing to an order but with my confidence in the factory and quality of previous models very high, I took a punt and ordered a part container in three sizes. 2.4m, 3.0m and 3.7m air decks.
The sample is on its way via air freight and should arrive in time for the Big One Show with the bulk order arriving in July.
With the hotel booked along with a bit of IBF merchandise, a few banners, business cards and flyers I'm really looking forward to the show and making some great contacts.
For now here's a few pics of the Camo Hydrus (H5 Camo)
February 2022 - I needed something to push along the H5 Camo as outboard engines aren't allowed on most rivers and lakes in the UK so I took a trip to Hamble, Southampton to pick up some Epropulsion Spirit 1 Plus electric engines after seeing them at most of the stands at recent boat shows.
What they lack in speed (max 6 knots) they make up for in noise and vibration reduction making them the perfect engine choice for carp anglers who fish the rivers and lakes of Europe enabling them to get close into the banks and rocks in stealth mode.
Most common electric engines are not much more than a zooped up lawn mower engine and get slated whenever they get mentioned for inshore use but the Spirit 1 seems to be in a different league when it comes to power, design and more importantly reliability. I'm looking forward to putting one to the test on the sample H5 once the angling show is over and I can get out on it.
Lets see how they do at The Big One Show.
March 2022 - With the release of the H5 Camo Hydrus intended for carp anglers to fish the rivers and lakes of Europe as well as the UK, what better place to launch it other than The Big One fishing show in Farnborough.
I'd always wanted to exhibit at this show since chatting to Barry Reed the editor of Freshwater Informer magazine who said it was the show to do.
So, with help from Susie, Fish Hunter UK Rhys and Paige we were set up on stand 33 for the weekend.
What an experience. Rhys was on form. He met many of his YouTube followers as we showcased both the Hydrus IV and the H5 Camo.
Between us all we sold a few Hydrus, a couple of engines, lots of Railblaza accessories and made some very good contacts including the legendary Ali Hamidi from One Last Cast.
While at the show we were visited by a rep from The Reel Master Show team who were there looking for companies in the saltwater angling sector wishing to exhibit at their upcoming show in late September. A first of its kind show dedicated to saltwater predator angling. This was music to my ears. As good as the Big One show is, it mainly caters for Carp fishing. IBF, for now is mainly focussing on inshore saltwater angling so it was a show I wanted to be at 100% so I took their details and contacted them after the show.
More about that later...
Inflatable Boat Fishing really is beginning to gather pace now as once again the Hydrus appears in this months edition of Sea Angler Magazine proving that the sport really is being taken seriously.
Check out some of Dave Lewis's own words when it comes to comparing a SIB to a kayak
"SIBs are infinitely more comfortable to fish from than kayaks. Aboard a SIB you can, to varying degrees, move around or even stand while casting: the lateral stability really does have to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Whats more, onboard you will likely have a lot more space to store the amount of equipment most anglers take afloat, yet still leave sufficient space from which to actually fish.
Thanks Dave for featuring IBF and the Hydrus in the magazine again.
Easter 2022 - Time for another SIBfest.
This time with a twist. IBF are giving away a free H5 Camo Hydrus or Garmin Striker Vivid Fish Finder by way of a prize draw.
Visitors to our stand at The Big One show that scanned the QR code have been entered into the draw and now anyone out on their SIBs catching fish until the end of April can be entered up to 5 times by taking a photo of their catch with the Easter Bunny Fish Hunt logo in the shot.
We had a meet up out from Shoreham Lighthouse West Sussex over the Easter weekend on what turned out to be a fantastic day with glorious sunshine, flat calm conditions and plenty of fish being caught.
As always Susie caught more fish than I did :-)
The summer of 2022 brings the eagerly anticipated Hydrus IV boats to the UK shores.
With Shanghai going into lockdown once again the container had to take an alternative and longer route getting here and to the very excited customers who had preordered them. With the biggest upgrades so far, the Hydrus IV couldn't arrive soon enough.
I was eager to see how much it had improved and I wasn't disappointed. The option to buy the Hydrus with preinstalled Railblaza RIBPorts as well as being the only SIB on the market that enables the user to switch between air deck and ally deck without the need to make any modifications has been an absolute game changer.
The warehouse is now fully stocked with Hydrus boats to cope with demand and another batch containing the H5 Camo Hydrus will be arriving in September.
The only problem is getting enough outboard engines to cope with demand. The ongoing saga with the UK dealer network shortage is proving to be a real disappointment and it's looking likely to be at least another 2-3 years before dealers are back to full strength.
Ah well, at least I now have my boats in stock so no more waiting for them anymore.
This summer has gone really quick. Sales of Hydrus and the engines that finally arrived have been going well.
Throughout the summer I've been posting in the Facebook group different ways for members to enter the prize draw to win the H5.
Recognising regular members as well as the Easter SIBFEST entries and the Big One show entries the time to announce the winner is getting closer.
During the summer I met up with the team at Reel Masters who I first made contact with at the Big One show. I managed to sell them the idea of having a SIBFEST at their show held in Weymouth at the end of September. They knew little about sibs at the time but after my enthusiastic pitch they've since realised how big the scene is actually becoming and are sold on the idea of allowing sibs to gatecrash their party.
After a few emails back and forth and even more convincing that sibs are the way forward, IBF are pleased to announce we are actually sponsoring the event. Check out the Reel Masters Show website for full details of whats happening but Saturday night will be The Hydrus Skippers Ball where myself and Susie will announce the winner of the H5 Camo Hydrus.
As well as our own IBF indoor stand, radio Wave 105FM will be promoting the prize competition in the run up to the show, we have IBF perimeter fencing banners around the event and after the branded boat competition will be The Hydrus Skippers Ball so plenty of exposure for IBF which I am so looking forward to.
IBF family member, YouTube sensation and all round Mr nice guy Rhys aka Fish Hunter UK joined us for the weekend at the ReelMasters Show in Weymouth with his gorgeous wife Paige and long time Hydrus fan Rob Shephard to help out on the exhibiting stand to showcase the 'nearly full' range of Hydrus inflatable boats. We even had the chance to do a walkaround video showing off the various features of both the Hydrus and the Camo Hydrus.
All that was missing from the show was the recently added, all new, Big Kahoona, 4.2m ally deck Hydrus, but the rest of the range was on show for visitors to see, jump on, take screen shots of and to generally delve deep into the heart of IBF to see if fishing from an inflatable boat was for them or not.
Sadly the weather played it's part in the end and put a dampener on the SIBFEST meet up and the footfall for the whole event was not quite as expected but it was nice to see a good number of faces from the IBF Facebook group turn up anyway even without their sibs.
It was also nice to see the H5 Camo Hydrus, Wave FM radio competition winner Mathew Kelsey turn up with his family. Both father and son are keen anglers and fans of IBF so it was great to see the first of two boats that IBF were giving away going to a good home.