Scotto’s Cure

REVIEWED: Haines Signature 485SF

Buying a boat usually involves an element of compromise – not so in the case of this flash sportfishing rig, reports to its owner Scott Mitchell.

MY family’s last boat was an amazing and incredibly fast “no compromise” machine – unfortunately we couldn’t afford the fuel bill that went with it. Next time round, we decided to compromise on speed and space and save on fuel.

Having an amazingly diverse range of fisheries surrounding us in Queensland’s Hervey Bay meant a challenging search for a boat to cover it all.

For starters our new boat had to comply with the engine restrictions on Lake Lenthalls, which only allows for four-stroke and direct injection two-stroke engines up to 60hp. Lenthalls has had a few tough years but now looks set to return to its former glory; so the new boat had to perform with a 60hp four-stroke. And after owning a high performance fibreglass hull we decided we were never going back to a tinny. We decided the hull needed to be less than 5m to work with its maximum 60hp engine, small enough to launch single-handed and large enough to fish three up when required. It also needed to fish effectively on local impoundments such as Lenthalls, Monduran and Awoonga, the Mary, Susan and Burrum rivers, and the maze of waters within the Great Sandy Straits. If that wasn’t enough it had to easily work the shallows when fishing sand flats on the inside of Fraser Island, and finally allow us to run wide to the southern gutters and cross the Wide Bay Bar when weather permitted – a tall ask!

In February 2009 I ran into fishing writer Warren Steptoe at lake Awoonga and first saw his Haines Traveller TD149 and tiller steer Suzuki 50 four-stroke. The boat just had beautiful, classic lines and reminded me of an O’Brien game boat. Warren explained that The Haines Group was working on a slightly longer model and that there was a Suzuki 60hp four-stroke in the pipeline. A few months later I saw the new boat at the Brisbane Tinny & Tackle Show. It didn’t take long to assess the boat as truly something special. I soon made plans for the new Signature 485SF to become our new “project”.

A build to Rivale anything
This hull has an interesting heritage as it’s been a long time in the making. Originally produced as a Seaquell, it eventually became part of the Traveller range – the popular alternative line-up to the company’s excellent Haines Signature range.

The Haines Group has often led the way when it comes to innovation in boat building. The technology used in the building of my new boat is another example;  Rivale – “Resin Injected Vacuum Assisted Low Emission” – is a form of sophisticated resin injection moulding that produces deck and hull mouldings with smooth finishes on both sides. They are also thinner, lighter and ultimately stronger than a traditional fibreglass hull.

The 485SF’s hull features two Rivale mouldings that form the interior and outer hull, with foam filling between, all bonded into a single unit by another Haines Group developed proprietary process – Nexus.

The unique Rivale build process allows fantastic flexibility when it comes to customising interior designs to suit buyers’ fishing styles and budgets. The hull can be ordered as a plain basic dory and then each modular part can be added as required; this can also continue over time, as owner funds allow.

We elected to have “one with the lot” with options that include: a bow casting deck with a moulded under-floor storage bin; anchor well; fully plumbed live well that, being foam-lined, doubles as an extra ice chest; rear casting deck with tackle storage on either side; ice box/fish bin; portside rod locker extended to accommodate fly rods up to 10ft in length; 120L under-floor fuel tank; sports side console; comfortable Signature seats and non-slip surfaces throughout.

A Teal coloured gelcoat was selected for the hull so as to blend in with the waters around the bay (everyone’s got a white boat …) and a Stone coloured gel coat for the deck colour to reduce glare when sight fishing the flats – we have found white decks act like a big reflector and are a pain to keep clean. The Stone colour stays cool and is fantastic!

Boat with the lot
We fitted a Motorguide wireless 74lb 24v electric motor to the bow, housing the two deep cycle batteries in the front casting deck along with a C-TEK XS1400 on-board charger. A second CTEK XS800 12v charger was mounted to the main cranking battery as well. All that’s needed is an extension lead run out to the boat to charge the batteries after each session. The CTEK chargers are smart chargers and can be left on indefinitely without fear of damaging expensive deep cycle batteries.

A Lowrance HDS5 sonar unit resides up with the Motorguide up front and a HDS 8 combo sonar/GPS unit is fitted on the console with an additional LSS-1 structure scan module.

The unusual looking black pole on the transom is a PowerPole or hydraulic anchor. This allows the boat to instantly hold position at the press of a button in water up to 8ft deep. I’d now rate the PowerPole as the next most important item after the electric motor and sounders. We also fitted a Lowrance LVR-250 VHF radio.

For the trailer a custom built EasyTow was the first choice after having one under our last two boats. The team at EasyTow designed the trailer to allow the hull to sit as low as possible for launching in shallow areas and offer streamlined towing while on the highway, all while maintaining reasonable ground clearance. I settled on timber/carpeted skids over rollers to allow the use of Keel Shield to protect the hull and for better support, while eliminating the need for roller maintenance.

The new Suzuki DF60A completes the package. Weighing in at only 104kg the four-stroke outboard is an impressive 42 per cent lighter than its predecessor and is 2010 state-of-the-art. It features Suzuki’s computer-controlled Lean Burn Control system as seen on the DF70/80/90. Lean Burn monitors and adjusts air to fuel mixture at various engine revolutions for optimal performance and economy. We like the Suzuki’s 19amp alternator that’s capable of supplying 11.5 amps at 1000rpm to keep all our 12 volt gadgets working! We connected the DF60A up to Bay Star hydraulic steering for smooth reliable handling and manoeuvrability.

So how does it all perform? Beyond our expectation is the short answer and to top it off some great fish have come in over its gunwales already.

This hull has been described as being soft riding, dry, predictable and one of the safest hulls in an under-five-metre boat. I can now endorse all of these comments – it really is that good.

Its stability is fantastic with two anglers easily  able to fish up front without any problems. The extra wide gunwales also make it easy to get around the deck quickly when chasing a fish. The decks are uncluttered with enough storage to keep everything needed for a day’s fishing organised and close at hand.

The non-skid fibreglass decks are fantastic for keeping clean. About the only hassle I’ve noted comes with having to remove the passenger pedestal seat to access the rod locker, but it still provides good insurance when carrying more rods than we ever really need.

Overall we couldn’t be happier with our 485SF/Suzuki 60 combo and suggest you checkone out if you’re looking for an extremely versatile and economical sport fisher that stacks up against anything on the market today. And it’s proudly Australian made.

For more information go to:

What's your reaction?

Related Posts

Load More Posts Loading...No More Posts.