The Savage Truth

Boat Review: Savage Jabiru 3.85

The Savage Jabiru has long been a favourite among keen inshore sportfishos. Kris Sweres investigates why.

FEW boats these days have the history that the Savage Jabiru 385 Pro can boast. During the early 1980s on Sydney Harbour I virtually grew up in one of these rigs and believe me the thing took an absolute beating! Slightly over-powered, the said boat would take air frequently, bash rocks and jetties and be loaded with enough camping gear to sink most boats. It was a trooper of a tinny back then and not a lot has changed in production standards since.

The Savage Jabiru was one of the original “Vee-nose”’ punts to enter the boating market back in the early ’80s, and the overall design hasn’t changed a great deal since. News is that the Telwater Group – which fairly recently acquired ownership of Savage and also manufactures Quintrex, Stacer and Yellowfin boats – plans to keep Savage boat production going strong. In a nutshell the Savage Jabiru is a strong, affordable and exceptionally stable boat that is still one of the best estuary options on the market. The flat bottom and seemingly “too wide” feel of the boat makes it ideally suited to estuary sportfishing and the ever growing contingency of freshwater lake and dam anglers. Bass anglers especially will love the water this little boat will open up; guys who enjoy throwing a crab pot or five in are sure to love this little battler as well.

On the water
Being a classic punt style boat means that the Jabiru draws very little water, so zipping across sand flats and other areas that larger boats simply can’t access is a major advantage. On the day of this review – carried out during a small window of opportunity between storm bursts – we only had to cope with small chop which the hull deflected through the slight vee entry. The review boat supplied by Brisbane Yamaha was – as you’d expect – fitted with a Yamaha outboard, in this case a 25hp two-stroke that pushed two of us along effortlessly. We simply flew, and as I’m currently pushing the scales down to 135kg the boat/motor combination proved very impressive.

Cornering on this small tinny is something I would throw in a quick caution with, as on full throttle, a slight pull on the tiller will see you change direction very promptly indeed. These little Savage Jabirus are incredibly “sticky” on the water and their responsiveness takes a little getting used to and has to be felt to be believed. Boat owners should also bear in mind that it is still a small rig and passing wake, especially from large cruisers, can potentially be an issue, so sticking to quieter areas is advised. Also, being a fairly low slung craft substantial side wind and chop will see you pull on the spray jacket fairly quickly, but that’s a factor that’s no different from any boat of this size. Overall, for a lightweight hull (145kg) the SJP385 felt very “solid” for its size and displayed no flex or rattle. It was also super stable and just had a general well manufactured feel that comes about from many years of successful production. The old adage when you’re on to something good stick to it definitely applies here.

Design & layout
Having a forward casting deck and carpeted floor is a standard inclusion for the Savage Jabiru Pro 385. Swinging hatches in the front provide storage for safety gear and other items, leaving an uncluttered deck for fishing. The stern comes with fuel racks fitted, which allow you to easily move portable fuel tote tanks on or off the boat from their own dedicated shelf. Bottom and side sheets run at 1.6mm, which is fairly standard for tinnies of this size and more than adequate thickness  for most estuary and inshore applications. The depth and overall beam has been slightly increased over time, which may have been something to do with the introduction of heavier four-stroke motors. These hulls are rated for up to an 104kg motor, which sees outboards in the 20-30hp range being ideal. In my opinion any motor 20hp and above on this boat will push you along nicely at a very quick pace.

Side rails come standard and allow quick tie offs to wharves or side-on anchoring options for the whiting fishermen out there.

The SJP 385 also comes with two massive bung holes which are a godsend for anyone who gets their boat pretty dirty from the likes of crab pots, mud  and cast nets. These bungs allow for the easy hosing away of any accumulated mud and sand.

From a fishing point of view these tough boats are amazing little performers that belie their size. A large, roomy carpeted front casting deck and central floor make the little Jabiru a lure fisherman’s dream. And thanks to such a wide (1.73m) beam the boat is also extremely stable, which makes a lot of difference when you spend a lot of hours casting from the pointy end.

The SJP comes ready to be tricked out with electrics; a small electric motor and budget sounder would make this rig a very capable entry level sportfishing boat for young, or not so young, fishos alike. The fact that you can fish these rigs in such shallow water make them a perfect choice for flicking ultra light poppers over sand flats for whiting and bream or throwing plastics on the edges of drop-offs for flathead. It will easily double as the ultimate small creek explorer, allowing you to get into places that larger boats simply can’t, making those secret bass and EP holes accessible.

To conclude, the Savage Jabiru Pro is a great entry level estuary/impoundment fishing boat. It offers amazing stability for such a small boat and, importantly, a price tag that won’t break most family budgets. It’s a rig that lends itself to easy customising – adding accessories such as rod holders, sounder and elctric motor shouldn’t break the bank. It’s also very well suited to using with kids on board (being so stable) and would provide the perfect boating introduction for many juniors. As crazy as it might sound, Savage’s Jabiru Pro is the sort of boat that makes you want to continue on around the next bend and keep exploring.

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