Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Meet The Savages

Boat Fishing

Iconic boat brand Savage was recently bought out and Savages are now built in Queensland instead of Melbourne. Wayne Kampe gets on the water to see what else has changed with the brand.  

DUE to a recent acquisition of the Savage boat brand by the Queensland-based Telwater company – manufacturer of the popular Quintrex and Stacer ranges – Savage fishing boats are now built at Coomera on the Gold Coast. I was fortunate enough to organise test runs in the nearby Coomera River in the 425 Jabiru Pro and 385 Big Boy. Both boats were Mercury outboard powered. 

425 Jabiru Pro

This old favourite is one of the original punt style sportfishing boats and has seen few changes from the original model that won accolades for being a no-nonsense fishing boat with impressive stability and carrying capacity.

Today it’s a little deeper and slightly wider, but build quality is still very good with solid welds, wide rolled decks, plenty of storage space plus a good turn of performance from modest outboard power.

Up front there’s a solid bow eye with a wide and very strong foredeck directly aft. Side rails are standard.

Storage under the 30cm high front casting deck is one of the strengths of the rig. Side hatches are located directly aft of the carpeted foredeck, allowing access to a large underfloor storage area in the bow.

A seat spigot is set up between hatches, allowing one angler to have first crack at a hot spot if a seat is set up.

Located centrally in the aft section of the casting deck is a good sized roto-moulded well, which allows buyers the option of further storage or full plumbing for live well duty. The well is the stipulated competition size – another bonus for any fishos keen on competing in any of the various C&R tournaments around these days.

Within the large work area aft there’s sufficient uncluttered space for four anglers (maximum rating) to fish in comfort, although a full crew would probably be limited to bait fishing or very careful lure casting!

The boat features side rails and twin rod holders aft. Three seating positions are available here with floor spigots to starboard  plus another forward to starboard to cater for the fitting of a side console.

The seat nearest the engine had its mounting on the forward face of the rear thwart, which formed part of the aft casting deck/storage area that extends across the stern; hatches here allow access to fuel tanks or battery (if fitted).

Off floor shelving is featured within these compartments and proved handy for storing the Mercury’s tote tank snugly onto the port shelf.

Pedestal style swivel bucket seats were fitted to the test rig and I found knee and leg height to be ideal everywhere. Importantly, seat ergonomics were comfortable when driving the tiller steer Mercury 40 two-stroke.

With the hull rated for engines from 30 to 40hp, I thought the Mercury 40 provided ideal power for the 435 Jabiru with its 222kg hull. Two up, the craft planed freely at seven knots with little engine input. Cruising at around half throttle was ideal at just over 13 knots, with wide open throttle recording a brisk 26.1 knots.

Typically, the Mercury just wanted to go: a bit of throttle saw instant pick up at virtually all engine revs.

The Merc two-stroke wasn’t noisy at all, exhibiting noise levels that might impress owners of four-stroke or DI two-stroke outboards.   

In short wind chop and wash in the Coomera River, the Jabiru rode commendably well with no inclination to pound or wallop over small waves; I found the craft could be turned very hard without side slip or unwanted movement thanks to the substantial keel and underhull pressings. Stability at all times was brilliant, as has been the hallmark of these punt-style craft.

In short, the Queensland-made Jabiru retains great value for money as a basic, no frills rig that is suited to plenty of fishing applications in the lake/river estuary situation.

If you liked the Jabiru before, you’ll certainly still like it now. Note that many factory extras are available, including paint, bow mount plate, side pockets, side console and transom step.  

385 Big Boy

The 385 Big Boy is a classic open tinny. It’s large enough to be useful for a lot of lake/river/estuary fishing situations, strong enough to fulfil a lot of fishing/ crabbing duties yet still light enough to tow behind a four -cylinder sedan. And it’s affordable at about $7995.


The 385 Big Boy is a  classic open tinny with wide appeal to budget conscious anglers.

I was impressed with the stability and easy going performance of the high sided and beamy (1.83m) Big Boy with its four person rating, level flotation and on water capability. Stability is immense as this craft features great beam for length and the same feature ensures easy carriage of serious payloads when necessary.

The 385 Big Boy is a strongly made pressed alloy craft. It’s fully welded – which cuts out annoying vibrations –  and there are numerous sets of cross ribs within the hull to ensure rigidity. And although a basic set up there are ample angler friendly features.

A strongly constructed foredeck is set up with a split bow rail and good sized storage shelf below.

A forward thwart is a little aft of the foredeck. A carpeted floor extends to the stern thwart, which I found to be just the right distance from the transom for easy driving of the tiller steer Mercury 30 two-stroke.

In a budget rig such as this a flat floor is a bonus and makes fishing or crabbing much easier and more enjoyable.  

Legroom while seated was good too – no knees up under the chin in this case.

The transom featured a small cutaway section for outboard fitment. This didn’t compromise sea keeping to any great degree. Aft of the rear thwart were off floor pads for fuel tote tanks or battery if an electric start engine is fitted. Completing the stern features were grab handles on the transom and side rails adjacent to the aft seat.  

With maximum rated 30hp fitted, the Big Boy was also a pretty fast boy. The 30 two-stroke kicked into life at first pull on the start cord and hummed quietly at idle. No surprises about performance: the engine was very willing and pushed the craft onto the plane, two up, in only a couple of boat lengths at a modest 6.6 knots. The Big Boy cruised smoothly at 16 knots and a burst of WOT recorded 23.4 knots on my GPS.

Testing the Mercury 30 with a hard twist of the throttle revealed that the engine had plenty of punch, certainly enough to easily keep out of harm’s way.  

The ride was much as I’d expect from a tinny of this size. There was certainly some noise as we crossed waves or wash kicked up by other larger craft on the river – even a little bit of impact – but I certainly didn’t find this excessive due to the design of the Big Boy’s bow entry which sliced cleanly into waves at speed.

Handling was very good, too, thanks to the pronounced underhull pressings and keel which helped the craft track true at all speeds.  

In summing up, I’d see this neat Savage as an ideal outfit for new boaters. For the first time owner with a small family to take fishing, the 385 Savage Big Boy and 30hp Mercury two-stroke represents a very economical and useful combination. Side height at around the metre mark offers peace of mind and if that great stability is factored in,  along with ease of towing, storage and handling, the Big Boy represents great value, in my view, at just under eight grand.

Savage 435 Jabiru Pro


Deadrise:12 degrees

Weight:222kg (hull only)


Towing:Family four sedan or wagon

Price: . . . . . . . . . . . . As reviewed, $14,150

Contact: Your local Savage dealer; www.savageboats.net.au

Savage 385 Big Boy


Weight:125kg (hull only)

Deadrise:8 degrees


Towing:Family four sedan or wagon

Price: As reviewed, $7995

Contact: Your local Savage dealer; www.savageboats.net.au


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