Friday, March 1, 2024

REVIEWED: Savage 520 Pro Angler

With the popularity of imported bass boats it’s fitting that an iconic Aussie boating brand has pulled one out of the box. Mick Fletoridis reports.

EACH year on the boat show circuit there are a few new boats that catch the eye. On day one at the recent Sydney International Boat Show, I glimpsed Savage’s 520 Pro Angler sitting on the exhibition hall floor. Featuring baked two-tone silver bay/onyx black metallic paint, cool graphics and a bow as sharp as an arrowhead, it was an early standout.

Not surprisingly, it attracted plenty of attention from show-going fishos. An old mate hovering nearby talked about buying one – never mind that his current boat is only 12 months old. The Pro Angler is definitely the sort of boat that fuels imagination.   

American origins

Savage has used fibreglass mouldings in decks and cabins on its alloy boats for sometime. Some punters may have assumed the new boat had gone the whole hog. An experienced boatie I know was taken aback at the show to realise the shiny hull of the 520 is marine grade alloy, not GRP, and the gleaming finish not the result of a gelcoat.

On the grapevine I’d heard the Pro Angler 520 is a US-built boat, which was later confirmed by Savage product manager, Ian Stanley. While Stanley verified the hulls are imported – via the US arm of Savage’s parent company Brunswick Corp – he added outboards and other ancillaries such as power steering are fitted here and local dealers receive complete boat/motor/trailer (BMT) packages.         

Design & layout

The review boat was supplied by western Sydney Savage dealers Watersports Marine. It looked as impressive on water as at the show, all flawless paint, smooth-as-a-baby’s-bum hull and stylish space-age console. That baked-on paintwork carries all the way throughout the hull – including under deck hatches.

Alloy welds, no matter how good the job, can detract from the look of the boat in areas but on the Pro Angler, which I almost hesitate to call a tinny, I struggled to find any seams, unsightly pressings, or ugly metal joins. The finish is top rate, including in areas not easily seen. The decking is made of a composite material which should ensure no chances of rot setting in. The hatch lids are made of aluminium alloy; lift one and you’ll see the same paint below as on the outer hull or gunwales.

The hull itself has a level flotation rating due to the amount of flotation material pumped into the hull’s cavity. The cockpit is also self-draining.

The huge fore casting deck is a plethora of open and shut surprises. There’s a live well to port, storage lockers and a pedestal seat mount up front for fishing the pointy end in comfort. The review boat was fitted with a Motorguide W55 wireless bow-mount electric up front – an optional extra.

The bow deck is large enough for two fishos to work in comfort highlighted by Mercury’s Shane Wilson and I clambering around the bow having a few casts and taking photos. The boat feels big and roomy thanks to 2.42m of beam, the casting deck providing good workable fishing height while a secure feeling comes from the freeboard on offer – unlike lower-to-the-water bass boats, the Pro Angler seems to offer more versatility thanks to its higher entry and 0.89m internal depth.       

At the stem there’s a removable vinyl partition which accesses wiring for the electric. A handy outboard trim switch and 12/24v plug for the electric are mounted hereabouts. There’s no anchor well though – potential owners would have to make do with one of the storage lockers.

The cockpit features marine carpet, which carries right up the sides of the boat’s interior. A bump-strip runs around the boat exterior’s highest edge to protect that fancy paint work.         

You know you’re on a real fishing boat when there’s room for nine outfits in a central rod locker and a couple of fly rods on the flat portside panel. The rod locker is designed for four rods to 6’5″ in length up top and five to 6′ below; the Loomis I’d brought along is 6’9″ and fitted into one of the pipes easily with a little care. Once in place rod handles are secured by an elastic strap. While a good set-up, if you’ve got a full quiver getting to rods on the bottom row might require shuffling those above first.

There’s a lockable portside locker, which was taken up with safety oars and bits and pieces. Below gunwale cargo netting is a nice touch and a good place for storing PFDs and tackle trays.

Trollers will be holding on to their rods on the Pro Angler – there are no gunwale rod holders – it’d be a shame to spoil those shiny flat panels anyway. I don’t see owners of this boat spending doing much trolling anyway – it’s a caster’s delight.

The console is typical tournament boat fare. It features a tinted wrap-around screen that provides minimal protection from the elements. There were no electronics fitted as yet – and there isn’t loads of room to do so – but a mid-size sounder GPS combo unit would slot onto the dash facing the skipper and a radio could be flush-mounted to the front facia. Instrument readouts were via Mercury Smartcraft – the engine fitted was a Mercury OptiMax – three spare instrument cut-outs, switch panel (including horn switch) , cup holder and storage space for keys, mobile phones, sunblock etc. Storage space under the console has room enough for a small ice or tackle box or jackets and an additional mate’s console is an option.  

The stern casting deck is fairly narrow compared to the bow’s but features a centre seat mount and large 90-litre live well with dual lids.

On the water

The boat featured maximum rated power with a 115hp Mercury OptiMax. While the transom isn’t full height (there’s no pod) the consistent wake of Parramatta River cats didn’t reveal any wet issues as the boat sat at rest.
Two excellent bucket seats give good support and comfort. Height adjustable only, the skipper’s chair provided a good all-round view over the screen.

Push down the throttle and the hull shows no tendency to bowlift, instead staying nicely flat up onto the plane, which happens in a blink. The boat was fitted with cable steering which wasn’t overly taxing; hydraulic steering is an option.

The efficient hull planed at 2800rpm and a smidge under 10 knots. 3500rpm provided 20.4 knots while a burst at WOT (5750rpm) saw just over 40 knots on the handheld GPS. While some bass boats are powered with engines twice as powerful, why you’d need more than this Opti delivered is beyond me – it was impressive.
The boat was lots of fun to drive on the busy Parra. I would liked to have run it on the harbour but we ran out of time. It can competently tackle such open waters; Anthony McEnally of Watersports Marine crossed the harbour after this review to pick up a customer at Rose Bay for another on-water demo.    

My short stint behind the wheel highlighted how right the boat feels. The hull was responsive to trim, hung in nicely in turns and was very stable. As mentioned, the 115hp outboard felt right for what is essentially a fishing boat, albeit a quick one. The hull offers good freeboard, which adds versatility to the package, and a secure feeling when working the cockpit casting lures and flies in varying conditions.

Savage has done a lot that’s right with its 520 Pro Angler. With an attractive price point in the mid 30s they should sell like hotcakes.


Length: 5.30m
Beam: 2.42m
Power: Max. 115hp
Hull thickness: Bottom 2.5mm; topsides 2.3mm
Weight: 499kgs (hull only)
Price: From $36,645; as reviewed $37,545
Contact: Watersports Marine on (02) 9676 1944; website at:

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