Reviews

REVIEWED: SCOUT SPORTFISH 205

US manufactured boats are more common place on our shores of late thanks to a buoyant Aussie dollar. Mick Fletoridis reports on the latest specialist import to hit our shores.

SYDNEY-based fishing guide Dean Hayes thought he’d been in some reasonably good fishing boats until an American client raved about his mate’s boat back in the US. As a result, Hayes did a bit of investigation into the Scout range of sportfishing boats and liked what he saw. So much so that further thought led Hayes to team up with mate and tackle shop proprietor Peter Jacovides to form Sportfishing Boats Australia – the country’s sole Scout importer.

So what sets Scout boats apart from all the other imports we are seeing these days? According to publicity releases via the Scout website it’s all about the hull construction. To ensure longevity of the fibreglass hull, no wood is used at all in the base construction. Instead, composite stringers and transoms are a feature of all Scout boats, ensuring no rot years down the line. While this sounds a practical inception, this build practice isn’t restricted to Scout (and other US manufacturers) as Australian ‘glass boat builders are also tending to follow the same timber-free path when designing and building their latest boats.

It’s safe to say that US boats generally have a good reputation for quality construction Ð the same can be said of most Aussie boats. However, from what I’ve seen so far attention to detail tends to set some Yankee boats apart. The Scout 205 Sportfish makes a good case in point.

Design & layout
The 205 Sportfish is of a centre console configuration that measures 19′ 11″ (just over six metres) in length with a beam of 2.5m. Scout has come up with what is called the Air Assist hull which, according to promotional material, “increases static flotation and decreases time to plane and also vastly improves overall handling characteristics”. On larger Scout models (210 Sportfish and up) a Strata-Mount engine mounting system is integrated with the hull’s two main longitudinal stringers in a bid to spread stresses over the boat’s entire hull.

As its name suggests, the Sportfish is designed to do just that. In either standard guise or fully optioned up, the 205 makes for one serious fishing machine. Twin aerated live wells make for one option or a single live well plus storage space as standard. Rod holders abound on this boat – unfortunately an area overlooked by some local boat builders. The Sportfish features four stainless steel flush mount gunwale holders and four vertical holders that encompass the side mouldings adjoining the stern bench seat – more on that later. Horizontal storage for three fishing outfits is provided to starboard under the gunwale approaching the bow section. This is a neat set up that sees rod tips neatly tucked away from harm’s way into the hull cavity through plastic entry ports and the outfits secured by elastic straps.

Centre consoles offer maximum fishing space Ð in theory at least. Some boats do it better than others. The 205 Sportfish is well set up in this regard. The prominent centre console/helm station on this boat is well designed and laid out. The reasonably tall console allows good space either side for maouevring around the deck and is afforded some weather protection by a small clear glass curved windscreen. The reviewed boat was set up with factory optional bimini cover and stylish curved t-top with its solidly constructed polished support cage that completely surrounds the console, providing extra grab bars and affording the boat more of a solid, workmanlike feel. Under the bimini storage for valuables is available in a lockable compartment that features a gas-strutted, tinted Perspex lid; a centrally mounted spotlight provided night vision for the foredeck.

The helm dash is home to instrumentation that includes fuel, trim, speed and tachometer gauges and flush mounted Ritchie compass. Control of on-board accessories comes via circuit breaker protected switches mounted either side of the dash fascia panel. A 12-volt outlet is also available for plugging in accessories such as handheld spotlights; courtesy lighting is also provided either side of the console at floor level. A handy dual drink holder resides to starboard, directly above a latched glove box for storing valuables.

The steering wheel is located to port on the front console face with the binnacle and ignition key located alongside to starboard; controlling the boat from the port side feels a little weird when you’re used to twirling the wheel from the starboard side, but quickly feels normal. The shiny five-spoke stainless wheel is also tilt-adjustable and hydraulic steering comes standard (Bay Star or optional Sea Star hydraulic steering for 150hp plus fit-outs) and makes pointing the boat in the right direction an easier and more precise affair.

A neat feature of the console is a deckwash that tucks away into the portside and accessed via unscrewing an inspection port lid. Directly to the fore of the centre console is a large Igloo ice cooler, which doubles as a seat and is fitted with comfy white padded upholstery, which matches the rest of the Sportfish’s upholstery. 

Comfort
The stern features a stylish padded bench seat Ð with Scout in-laid stitching prominent on the back padding Ð which supplies additional seating while travelling to and from spots; the seating section is removable when it comes to serious fishing time. Stainless drink holders are close at hand. The live wells are well positioned on the transom corners and fitted with flush fitting hinged lids and a securing latch to prevent slap while underway.

The deck flooring on the reviewed boat was sensibly free of carpet, which is a more practical situation on a fishing boat. Ever tried to get squashed chunks of striped tuna or pilchard out of carpet fibres? A quick washdown of the ‘glass deck sees any wayward gunk on its way into the bilge. The deck top – like the gunwales – features a non-slip finish for added foot grip.

Attention to detail abounds on the Sportfish. The helm seat displays stylish stainless pipework wrapped around it and aft, a vertical rod rack with provision for four outfits, as previously mentioned. The seat itself pivots forward to access a decent size storage well, which could double as an ice box if required. A folding step on the helm seat is at a good height to assist height challenged skippers and mates who might struggle to get their feet flat on the deck while travelling.

Quality stainless steel can be seen everywhere on the Scout Sportfish, including a number of handily positioned pop-up cleats, hinges, bollards and the grab rails that are fitted into moulded cutaways in the bow section. 

The foredeck features a raised platform that can be easily fished from. Storage is available below in a large under-floor storage well and forward in a smaller hatch. The anchor well has a lid which hinges to port and is deep enough for lots of rode and chain. The well is designed to support the stock on Danforth type anchors so other arrangements would have to be made for Sarca anchors and other designs that require more well space.

On the water
The 205 Sportfish was fitted with a 175hp Suzuki four-stroke outboard, which – no surprises – started immediately and ran smoothly with minimal noise emitted. Three up and pointed into Botany Bay, the Scout responded impressively when the Suzi’s throttle was pushed forward. There was no noticeable transition to planing with the hull quickly cruising on the surface and running out to around 50mph (43 knots) on the console speedo @ 6000 rpm. The boat had just been set up and with some juggling of props still to be done a compromise between lower revs and performance should be easily achievable.
We ran the Scout across the bay and it felt surefooted and quickly inspired driver confidence. The hydraulic steering felt pleasantly neutral and light and the Suzuki delivered instant response from the throttle. The Sportfish is the sort of boat that’s easy to warm to.

With a 19-degree deadrise built into the Sportfish’s hull the makers appear to be offering a good compromise between stability and handling. A short lure casting session highlighted the deck’s roomy walk-around and with three standing on one side the boat’s stability was minimally affected. The extensive Scout options package runs to outriggers, which make the Sportfish a complete fishing package, or if a family is to be considered a Porta Potti might be the final selling point. Well worth a look either way.

SCOUT 205 SPORTFISH

Length: 6 metres
Beam: 2.5 metres
Deadrise: 19 degrees
Weight: 907kgs (hull only)
Fuel: 238 litres
Power: As tested 175hp, maximum 175hp (with hyd.steering)
Price: As tested $84,900
Contact: Sportfishing Boats Australia (02) 4732 5249, 0408 334892; websites at:www.sfba.com.au; www.scoutboats.com

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