The Plan B Boat

Fishing World writer Michael Guest is no stranger to plate boat ownership. His latest version of a familiar brand looks to have all his fishing options covered. Mick Fletoridis reports. 

NOBLE boats have a long-held reputation as quality plate sportfishers with first-rate ride characteristics to match fit-out and finish. One man who’s familiar with Noble platies is regular Fisho writer Michael Guest. Having purchased his first Noble – a 6.25m centre cab – in 2004, Guesty upgraded to a 6.85m centre cab that hit the blue water in 2009 – see review in September 2009 Boat Fishing. That brings us to the boat here. Being a 5m side console it represents a departure from the norm for the brand now known as Noble Boats International (NBI) and is owned by Chinese-based parent company the Tianjin Group. Guesty told Fisho he had recently visited its massive modern factory where the Noble range is now built, amongst other products, and where the company has manufactured ships for many years. 

It might be fair to say most fishos don’t have the time or funds to justify owning two boats. Anyone who knows Guesty knows he doesn’t do anything by halves. When he’s not fishing he’s likely to be dreaming up ways to do so and how best to maximise time on the water.  In typical style he rang me one day to ask when I was reviewing his new boat.  “What new boat?” I asked, surprised. 
“Another Noble … a side console this time.”
“Still got the other one?” 
“Yeah, of course!”

It turned out that like many fishos, Guesty had come up against the dilemma of one boat not being enough. His 6.85m centre cab is a serious bluewater weapon, but is obviously not ideal for skinny water bream luring or an impoundment bass bash. He’d sold his previous inshore boat, a neat little Polycraft, to concentrate on financing and sorting out the big Noble. When the chance later came for a Noble side console, well, it was too good to refuse. 

For a good excuse to check out the new boat, we opted to go fishing rather than a typical “boat test” which usually involves a fairly limited spin. Guesty was in two minds as to where to go and in hindsight I wished he’d listened to his first thought, which was a session on lake Macquarie. Instead we ended up at Lake St Clair in the Hunter Valley targeting bass session. Unfortunately, it was clear – once we’d stopped mucking around taking boat photos – that the St Clair bass were in no mood to co-operate. We had three bites all day. This we put down to a plummeting barometer. The shutdown bite did, however, provide a good indication of how well the side console rig worked as an impoundment boat as we zipped from spot to spot in a bid to shoot at least one bass photo. 

By early afternoon the weather turned for the worse as the north-westerly picked up in strength and dark clouds loomed low. The strong breeze offered a good chance to see how the hull performed on the messy stuff we found out on the windswept main basin. 

One of the notable features of this and other Noble boats is what NBI calls its DeepVee hull. Featuring a sharp entry angle of 38 degrees and 24 degrees at the stern, the craft looks capable of performing as well 10 miles offshore as on an open lake. The boat features a prominent bow that adds to its sea-keeping ability. The combination of the deep vee hull and loads of freeboard gives the impression of a boat that can handle anything thrown at it. 

We shot across the choppy lake at around 32 knots with the stiff 20 knot wind beam-on. The Noble was impressively unfazed by the conditions and smoothly rode over the bumps, notably without a hint of spray hitting the cockpit. Guesty had fitted the boat with Minn-Kota trim tabs, which no doubt helped the hull stay true on its course without leaning into any “holes” in broken water. In theory, a deep vee hull will cut the water and ride well better than a shallower angled hull but at rest can feel more unstable. In the case of this hull its stability at rest has been helped by what the builder calls a “multi-chine” placed amidships. The hull also features 4mm plate alloy throughout and like all Nobles has fully-welded and sealed alloy decks. A speedy ride in white-capping conditions and a few hours on board fishing confirmed its overall solid build status. 

Fit-out & drive 

In typical Guest style, the new rig won’t win prizes for subtle paintwork. Like its 6.85m big sister, the side console stands out thanks to bright blue, white and red paint and graphics and prominent signage. Guesty is clearly out to keep his sponsors happy, all the while ensuring his growing TV and internet persona stays on the rise. Guest now regularly appears on Escape with ET, and has produced the Fishing The Edge series of video clips (as featured at with Fisho writer Mark “The Captain” Phillips.

A stint at the wheel was a lot of fun. The drive is quite sporty as the boat’s a cinch to throw into tight turns, another advantage of a steep hull angle. Sitting at the helm I found the bow a bit on the tall side when accelerating from a standing start; especially with that TV screen-sized Lowrance HDS-10 sounder in direct view! Once on the plane the view was good and the skipper’s chair comfortable thanks to pedestal suspension seating. There’s more of the same via movable deck seating. 

The boat is fitted with its max rated power with its 130hp Evinrude E-TEC. The DI two-stroke gave impressive performance with a solid spread of power throughout the rev range. This fact was further highlighted by a bare hull weight of just under 500kg. Potential buyers could also save money fitting less power without sacrificing too much performance. Being the revhead he is, Guesty is more than happy with his boat’s current engine set-up.

To maximise any fishing opportunities the rig is fitted with the latest in electronics, with the bow featuring much of it. To complement the console’s Lowrance HDS-10 unit there’s a HDS-7 fitted at the sharp end for those fishing from the casting platform. Both feature Lowrance’s SideScan technology, which unfortunately on the day only verified the locations of numerous non-biting bass

There’s also a Minn-Kota Terrova 24v 80lb thrust bow-mount electric with remote control Co-Pilot. Powering it are two 12v deep cycle batteries stored in the below deck storage section.

The stern also features some innovative fishing accessories including a 140L plumbed live well/kill tank that has a mesh divider for separating catches during tournaments. The transom has a neat bait prep station with owner-designed drawer storage and four rod holders on top. The gunwales carry six rod holders and Guesty has fitted vertical rod storage to the side console. He’s also fitted Regupol flooring for comfortable grip underfoot and for easy hosing out of the deck after fishing.  

While we didn’t worry any St Clair bass, a few hours on board this side console platie showed its potential. Guesty has plans to catch a marlin or two out of it, just for fun, and to add to its tally of fresh and saltwater sportfish species. The side console is clearly a contender for one of the most versatile boats around.

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