Reviews

Punt with Bite!

My Boat: TABS P420 Bullshark & 25 E-TEC

When it came time to update their old tinny Wayne and Denise Kampe opted for a roomier, more fishing friendly rig. Wayne Kampe reports.

New boats don’t come home to our garage very often, but our long serving 12-foot tinny seemed to be getting smaller as our fishing horizons grew larger and more diverse. After a long hard look at available replacement options, the TABS P420 Bull Shark was eventually on top of the list.

We were looking at a lot more fishing room, immense stability (particularly for fly fishing), large storage capacity and comfortable pedestal seats. Motor wise, we’d also be enjoying an upgrade. The old pull start two-stroke 15hp went with the sold tinny so an electric start power trim/tilt 25hp E-TEC was chosen for the potential new rig. After all considerations the TABS’s terrific value for money given its level of finish, fit-out, and performance proved the kicker.

To date there are three offerings in the new “P” (punt) rigs, namely the P385, and Bullsharks in both P400 and P420 configuration. Interestingly, TABS refers to its P series craft as saltwater punts as they feature very heavy duty fully welded construction, freeboard of 0.6m and a well formed, fine, elevated bow to reduce wave impact. As we often fish three up, the P420 was the natural choice. That hull’s solid standard of construction contributes to its 245kg weight and adds greatly to its ride quality. I’ve noted that the majority of alloy craft that pound and jar are usually subject to poor bow design and overly light construction.

The size is ideal; the rig will fish up to four, yet can be towed with my wife’s four cylinder sedan. Up front, the P420’s is 1500mm wide, is 1550mm long, and has a 380mm high carpeted casting deck. There’s also an enclosed carpet lined anchor locker of substantial size. The entire area below the casting deck is devoted to storage, apart from a 65 litre live well (can be plumbed) which runs fore and aft. Other forward features include an electric motor mounting plate on the port bow section fitted with a Watersnake 54 SWDR, a seat spigot on the casting platform plus grab handles and bow cleat. The under floor is readily accessed via a pair of side hatches, highlighting the fact all space below the casting deck can be used for storage; we’ve set up a deep cycle battery to starboard.

Within the cockpit area there’s a 1.8m long side pocket to port, grab rails aft, and another seat spigot to port around amidships, which complements the paired seat spigots aft. Being able to adjust seating to suit fishing or trim requirements is a bonus in this craft.

Aft of the paired rear seats are two more storage compartments with casting deck style lids. These lids can easily be slid forward for removal. I have fly rod racks set up on the port hatch and a tote tank for the E-TEC below; the engine’s cranking battery is located in the starboard off floor locker.

A mini console fixed to the starboard gunwale is within easy reach to activate switches and the Lowrance LMS 522c sounder. The latter’s RAM bracket allows it, at the release of a locking nut, to be turned in any direction.

On the water
The P420 is rated for 25 to 40hp but I’ve found the 25hp Evinrude E-TEC provides plenty of power for the solidly constructed punt. The engine, with its electric start and power trim/tilt (also has pull start), tiller mounted gear shift and well located trim button is a delight to use. The E-TEC has real punch: the hull fairly jumps forward from cruise speed to WOT.

Distance between engine tiller and rear seats is ideal : full marks to TABS there.

The Bullshark P420’s ride – for a hull with only a small amount of vee aft – is very gentle, so much so that it initially took me by surprise given experiences in other punts. Pushing hard into waves and chop in the Jumpinpin area north of the Gold Coast on our initial test runs saw impact as only minor bumps due to the Bullshark P420’s excellent hull design. There’s also a complete lack of buzzes or vibration from the hull thanks to its full welds and cross members. At rest, and with two up front fishing, the 1.87m wide Bullshark is steady as a rock and all I could ask for in a small sports fishing craft. There’s no question that the TABS Bullshark P420 and 25 E-TEC has really increased our fishing enjoyment. On a Swiftco trailer, the rig (without sounder and electric) with 25hp E-TEC sells for around $14,400.

Contact TABS on (07) 55946333; www.tabsboats.com.au

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