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product review: fish’n’tip 0557: hobie i9 inflatable review by rob paxevanos
Dated: 3 November, 2010
“SNEAKY: The hobie i9 can be stashed or wheeled just about anywhere.”

Rob’s weekly FISH’N’TIP written for the week of Wednesday 3/11/2010

Despite the kayaking boom, inflatable kayaks have been less popular than their hard bodied cousins, but Hobie has a ripper that I have found myself using more and more often in certain scenarios; the compactable yet amazing i9.

Regular readers of my columns will remember the i12, which I stashed on a small plane so I could fish the remote Poruma Island in the Torress Strait some 2 years ago. I have used the craft in many other places, but it is actually too much boat, unless you need to dink a second adult around.

Realizing just how stable and buoyant the i12 is, Hobie created the i9, which at 9 foot is three foot shorter than the i12, and packs into an even smaller suit cased sized rolling travel bag that totals just over 20 kg.

With the paddle, seat, pump and everything else you need all packed into the one bag: it’s so easy to throw it in the back of the car or wheel it down the road and hit the water for a few hours.

If you live in an apartment or otherwise don’t have room to store a conventional hobie, or you have a very small car, then the i9 might be just what you need. They are also very popular as tenders which need to be tucked away aboard bigger boats.

I originally got the i9 for a motor home trip because I couldn’t fit a long kayak aboard. I loved the idea of how easy it was to pack away, but was further surprised by its performance!

The i9 is incredibly stable; enough so for me to comfortably stand up when needed, it also turns sharper than any other kayak I know of; which makes it brilliant to use in tight cover (such as the drowned trees around many inland lakes at the moment). In short it is serious fishing machine.
“On the water the i9 surprises with its durability, stability and maneuverability.”

What might deter some anglers is the fact that it is inflatable and hence less tough than the hard bodied counter parts. I thought the same, but have since learned otherwise; the material is state of the art-incredibly tough and durable; I have used the craft over the last 8 months from the harsh tropics to the ice cold waters of tassie, all with no problems what so ever.

The floor is so hard and durable you are hard pressed to realize that it is inflatable had you not pumped it up yourself. There is also a remarkable protective lining under the hull. I have portaged the craft over rocks while inflated on numerous occasions, and also wheeled it in its pack for kilometers, often into places where you cannot carry a standard kayak. Again it passed these tests with flying colors.

I also get peace of mind from knowing that there are three separate chambers, so if you ever did get a hole in one, you have the other two to get home; which is something even hard bodied kayaks can’t offer.

The hand pump is amazing and easy to use; I can have the kayak inflated and ready to go in less time than I can unload a rigid one off the roof racks. There is also an accessory pump that plugs into your cars cigarette lighter if needed; I have since found most people never bother, in typical hobie fashion the hand pump is amazingly efficient.

There are many other features that get the ‘that’s amazing’ comment when ever people get close enough to see my i9, but best of all it has the mirage drive which leaves your hands free to tie knots, cast, fight a fish and take a photo.

One downside to the i9 is that it has no rod holders, or a sounder, and while hobie make accessories to fit these, not having them is sometimes a blessing in disguise: For me the i9 is about simplicity; I take a small esky with food and water, one small kit of lures, one spin stick and the dry bag with essentials such as sun screen, leader, shades and car keys. Simple yet fun.

In summary the i9 is the shortest lightest and cheapest Hobie with a mirage drive. They will never replace my Sport or Pro Anger hard body Hobies, but if like me you love the mirage drive and you’re short on space, budget or just want to keep things as light and simple as possible, there’s no better kayak on today’s market. Highly recommended.

See you on the water.

Rob Paxevanos

Rob Paxevanos Fishnet Pro Angler

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