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M & M Marine

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Scott Marles at the helm of M & M Marine's Invert flats boat, displaying the craft's unique inverted-V hull.

Scott Marles at the helm of M & M Marine's Invert flats boat, displaying the craft's unique inverted-V hull.

Shallow-water anglers are constantly seeking out an advantage that will let them more efficiently, quietly, and stealthily stalk their prey, whether they’re bonefish and permit, red drum and speckled trout, or other predators looking for meals in skinny water. This drive has led to massive advancements in the gear used to pursue gamefish on the flats, from rods and reels to lures and lines, as well as myriad gadgets designed to give anglers a step up on the competition.

One thing that hasn’t changed much over the past decades is the average flats boat hull. Materials have advanced, the boats take more power, and they move more quietly, but the basic flats skiff is still a low freeboard, v-bow craft that shifts to a fairly flat bottom quickly from the sharper entry. One Wilmington man has built a boat with a radically different hull that has excellent performance characteristics in the shallows.

Scott Marles’ creation is called the Invert.

“Because it’s an inverted V,” he answered emphatically and swiftly when I asked about the origin of the name, “it’s actually pretty old, a Billy Hickman design from the early 1900’s, but we’ve modified it to today’s standards.”

Not to be confused with a catamaran, the hull seems to be exactly what he says, with a fairly sharp, but decidedly upside down, V at the bow tapering to an almost flat bottom with a subtle 1” tunnel for the motor towards the transom. If it sounds hard to describe, that’s because it is, at least for someone used to more conventional designs. Within minutes of seeing it, I had to admit I did find the unconventional hull rather attractive.

While it’s certainly the desired outcome, building a pretty boat is secondary to building a functional craft, so I asked Scott a few questions about what had driven him to the design for a shallow-water fishing machine.

“Well, it’s 18’ long by 8’ wide,” he explained, “which is a lot wider than most flats boats. But as big as it is, it still floats in 3” of water.”

OK, so he’d put some thought into this.

“I also hate a boat that’s not very stable side to side,” Marles continued. “I weigh 270 lbs., and we had three guys about my size standing on one gunnel and the deck drain didn’t even go under.”

Stability and shallow draft, the boat definitely had more going for it than a pretty face.

The design is apparently quite efficient as well.

“It’ll go right at 50 with a 90 hp motor, which is the recommended power,” the boat builder said. “We’ve had both two and four stroke 90’s on it, and it goes the same speed with either one. The four-stroke’s just a little heavier, so it drafts about a half inch more.”

Speeds like that should catch the eye of the competition redfish crowd, particularly since the boat’s been powered with up to a 150 hp.

The Invert is also a totally custom boat, meaning anglers can order it in any configuration they want. The current model features a center console, 12” wide walkaround gunnels, and a much larger cockpit than most 18’ flats boats sport, ideal for anglers who fish choppier waters and need a little more space below the gunnel level.

“This one’s got a 4.5’ deck and the wide gunnels,” Marles continued, “but we can easily build it with narrower gunnels and a 6’ or even an 8’ deck if that’s what somebody wants. I think the redfish guys are going to want more deck than this one’s got on it.”

The custom features don’t stop with the deck and gunnels. Though this Invert is plumbed for a pair of livewells in the console and front deck, with abundant storage both front and rear, Marles can work out a wide variety of livewell and storage options to tailor an Invert to an angler’s needs.

One of the things Marles seems most proud of about his creation is the price. A fully finished Invert hull will run the buyer approximately $11-12,000, substantially cheaper even than most factory flats boat hulls, but offering the buyer the opportunity to configure a one of a kind vessel to their specific desires and fishing styles.

Marles grew up around his parents’ marina in Jupiter, FL, and has been working on boats ever since. He started his current company, M & M Marine, in August 2001, and has been performing comprehensive marine repair and restoration services since. The Invert is built at M & M’s facility on Market Street in Wilmington, where Marles also specializes in full restorations of Boston Whalers and other classic boats. His experience and enjoyment in restoring Whalers with premium components has rubbed off on the Invert, and the boat is beautifully built and finished.

Anyone interested in new flats boats owes themselves at least a look at the Invert, and Marles would be glad to give flats boat shoppers a look at the vessel.

To learn more about the Invert or to inquire about any sort of boat repair or restoration, give Scott Marles a call at (910) 784-9222 or (910) 352-8392.