Review – Hydro-Force Caspian Inflatable Boat
Ian and Liam Welch are ‘all at sea’ as they review the first of two boats from RIBS Direct.
The Manufacturers say:
2.3m Caspian RIB
Price point: £249.99.
The Caspian Inflatable boat has a Marine Grade Ply Solid Transom and Roll Up Slatted Floor which allows the boat to be folded up without removing the floor, making it a great tender for stowing in lockers, on the foredeck or equally for fitting into a car boot.
Perfect from mooring buoy to shore - equally ideal as an all-round dinghy suitable for fishing lakes and slow moving rivers.
2 Adults (load capacity of 258Kg)
You can manually control the RIB inflatable boat using its lightweight aluminium oars and integrated omni-directional oarlocks. The RIB also features a marine grade plywood transom with a moulded mount, allowing you to attach a motor for powerful, automatic control.
• 2 x 162cm aluminium oars
• (Oars can be taken apart for simple storage)
• 1 x 40cm Air Pump hammer
• 1 x 10m mooring/towrope
• 1 x Heavy-duty repair kit
• Moulded motor mount (motor not included)
• Maximum load: 258kg
• Maximum power: 2.2kW (3hp)
• Boat size (cm): 230 x 137 x 37
• Can support an outboard motor of up to 2.25kw (3hp)
The use of a boat opens up so many opportunities for anglers of all disciplines and over the years being able to fish, or access, areas that have seen little in the way of attention from other anglers has caught me a lot of fish.
The problem, of course, is one of practicality. I had access to a small rigid boat on the Thames for a number of years but that was only of use if I wanted to fish the Thames, indeed the immediate area of the Thames it was moored on. Similarly I had access to a small boat on a lake I used to pike fish for a number of years too – it brought me a lot of big fish but was totally useless if I wanted a change of venue as, without a trailer, I couldn’t move it.
In reality for the average angler without mooring, adequate storage facilities or a trailer a boat offers few advantages over bank fishing; in fact it probably offers more headaches than it does angling answers. Yet the desire to get afloat, to explore new areas, to troll, to moor up next to otherwise inaccessible features is in-built within us all and doesn’t go away.
My desire was recently stimulated when a couple of packages arrived from RIBS Direct containing two of their inflatable boats: The Caspian and the Hydro-Force Exploris. I had used small inflatables in the past for baiting up on big lakes, but I had never fished from one before, or indeed used one to ferry my kit to swims and I have to say I was worried that these incredibly compact and lightweight models would just not be up to the job. Oh how wrong I was!
My first problem with any boat, even an inflatable, is transport; not for me the typical angler’s estate car or 4x4 but a two seat sports roadster that I can’t fit a bedchair into so my kit is somewhat restricted at the best of times. I did however get the Caspian in without a problem and anyone with a ‘sensible’ car of any description would have no problem at all. Whether or not I would get it back after it had been inflated and deflated was another matter, but I’d cross that one when I got to it.
Rather than put the craft through its paces on a somewhat tame lake or river I checked my tide tables and headed south as much of my fishing these days is light sea work and I reckoned if the boat was up to inshore use then it could be pressed into use anywhere. Son, Liam, accompanied me as he too loves his sea fishing and, being twice the size of me, would more than put the ‘two person’ rating to the test.
Being so compact and lightweight it was incredibly easy for a single person to carry the craft to a suitable launch spot and it took just seconds to open up, with the roll up solid floor an incredibly useful feature – giving strength at the base of the craft without compromising weight or storage space. Inflation was an absolute doddle too with the pump provided making short work of both air chambers and in less than five minutes we had tested the inflation pressure with the meter provided and were ready to go.
The take-apart oars clicked together securely and were fastened in a 360 degree rowlock so they could not be lost and it was into the harbour against a stiff wind and a running tide – with lifejackets on just in case!
Easy to manoeuvre and stable the boat handled very well under Liam's rowing and although I wouldn’t like to take it too far out it was perfect for the harbour and surrounds giving access to some terrific bass and mullet swims that would otherwise be impossible to reach. It would be more than a match for any lake or slow–paced river too, in all but the most hostile conditions. With the oars stowed and my Minna Kota electric outboard fitted it was even more of a joy to handle and it balanced well, despite the additional weight of a leisure battery.
Space-wise it was adequate for both of us, despite the length of Liam’s legs, but with two people aboard tackle space is limited and it was really a case of a small box and light lure rod apiece. For one man, however, there was ample room for more than enough kit for a day’s fishing.
The boat took a little longer to deflate than to inflate – but not a lot – and, surprisingly, we were easily able to fold it down to its original size to get it back home; although it would have been nice to have had a carry bag or compression sack to pack it into after use.
The verdict was a big thumbs up from both of us, it is a terrific little boat for the price and the south coast bass and mackerel are certainly in for a bit of stick this summer!
For further information on the range of craft and accessories offered by RIBS Direct visit their website HERE
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