Have Boat, Will Fish – Haines Traveller TF200


Aussie fishos have long had a love affair with fibreglass cuddy cabs. A new entry into this popular market sector looks set to only strengthen the relationship. Mick Fletoridis reports.

ANY seasoned fisho knows how factors that affect fishing quickly change. Things like weather or, more importantly, the fish we target. A case in point was the timing of this review. We’d fluked a few sunny days after a week of dark storms and torrential rain in south-east Queensland. A day earlier Scott Thomas and I were out on a gameboat off the Gold Coast shooting footage for the Fisho website’s How-To video series. The sunlit sea was alive with surface activity as mack tuna and spottie mackerel harrassed acres of baitfish. (Check out footage on “One morning off the Gold Coast” at

Unfortunately, we’d stumbled across this scene when we weren’t out to fish, and didn’t have the time. The following day, though, we jumped aboard a couple of new Haines Group boats to review for Boat Fishing. The featured boat, the Traveller TF200, is a recently released cuddy cabin which on first impression didn’t look or feel dissimilar to  models in the Haines Signature line-up.

Company sales and marketing director Greg Haines was at the helm of the TF200 as we powered away from the ramp.

I’d noted the boat’s rocket launcher was fully loaded with spin and troll outfits and Greg soon made it clear that finding fish was more a priority than blindly driving around the ocean. It suited me.

We shot across the broadwater to the Seaway entrance to where the Traveller made short work of a slow rolling swell. Once beyond the Seaway, Greg was quickly on the phone chasing reef waypoints. The boat was heading south near to the scene of the previous day’s surface action. Unfortunately things had changed. Scanning the horizon for any surface commotion only resulted in tired eyes. There wasn’t a splash or hovering tern to be seen.

Not giving up, Greg kept the boat on the move as we kept looking for fish. We drove  along close to the surf break to allow the following camera boat to make the most of the scenic backdrop. Still hopeful of stumbling across pelagic activity we pressed on. Eventually we spotted patches of baitfish splashing about, but no sign of predators in pursuit. We slowed up to start a troll run with diving minnows in case  fish were down deep, but it was a dead loss.

We then headed east to a reef that was obviously a popular spot judging by the boats fishing there. No one seemed to be catching much as we slowed up and cast soft plastics around. The boat’s Garmin GPS MAP 5008 showed some promising soundings. Apart from a couple of softies getting chomped, the session proved fruitless.

Fishability & power
Despite the lack of action I had a good indication of how the Traveller performs in fishing mode. With three on board, the boat’s rear deck offers plenty of workable space and stability is very good. Mind you, conditions were very pleasant with only a small swell running and virtually no wind to speak of – hardly taxing conditions for what appears to be a very capable hull.

It didn’t take long to feel comfortable behind the wheel. The standard fit Hy-Drive hydraulic steering makes light work of general manoeuvres and changes of direction at speed. The Traveller’s seats feature swivel and slide adjustment and are comfortable. The cabin feels quite roomy thanks to good use of available space. A Waeco 86 litre ice box neatly slots under the seats and is a good example of the boat’s overall ergonomics. The deck features a spacious under-floor kill tank and other fishing specific features included a plumbed live well, flush-mount stainless rod holders (four), and a removable bait prep station. From the cockpit the view forward and to the sides was good, seated or standing. The optional clears and Bimini top fitted well and should provide a good level of protection in adverse weather and sea conditions.

The Suzuki 140 four-stroke outboard, which sits around the middle of the boat’s recommended power range, delivered plenty of torque to get the hull out of the water and quickly planing. The engine spun a three-blade 14” x 19” prop, which felt well matched for a good compromise between performance and economy (see performance figures below). Noteworthy about this particular Suzuki four-stroke was its extremely low noise at idle. A few times I found myself checking to make sure it was actually running. It’s a different story though as the motor climbs the rev range; the four cylinder develops a throaty growl and pushes the hull across the sea at a rate of knots. This is one balanced boat and motor package.

Bells & whistles
After a few hours on the Traveller TF200 I wondered where it sat among the HMG’s growing range of fishing boats, especially considering Signature’s high standing with Aussie boaties. Greg Haines summed it up by likening the boat brands to Lexus and Toyota cars. Signatures just have more “bells and whistles”, he says.

One of the more obvious differences between a Signature and a Traveller can be found below the waterline. Only Signatures feature the builder’s renowned variable deadrise hull (SVDH). The TF200 though features Nexus foam-filled construction, which gives the hull added bouyancy and noise dampening. Haines calls these state-of-the-art hulls “a boat within a boat” and says the TF200 is based on the earlier TC200 model, with refinements such as walk-around deck, larger cockpit and walk-though transom. The TF200’s walk-around deck has ample width for those occasions when you have to chase an uncontrollable or circling fish, or for mooring duty.

Getting to the anchor well is better done via the common cabin hatch arrangement. The review boat sported an (optional) Stress Free anchor winch, which probably means the hatch won’t see a lot of use.

The cabin’s V-berth comes standard with a Dometic portable toilet under the in-fill cushion. There’s also plenty of storage space on offer up front. In summing up, the Traveller is a perfect example of a well designed ’glass cuddy that caters equally to families and fishos. The “standard” TF200 comes with an impressive level of factory fit-out. Throw in an impressive list of factory options, and buyers have no shortage of bells and whistles available.

Length: 6.15m
Beam: 2.5m
Deadrise: 22.5 degrees
Weight: 750kgs (hull); Tow weight: 1900kgs
Power: 175hp max.
Price: From $59,340; as tested $83,521

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