I don’t get aboard powered cats very frequently but I’m always amazed and impressed with what these craft have going for them.
The 5.5 Angler Cat is a classic example of what a well-made twin-hulled craft can offer for someone who’s really serious about their fishing. Along with the huge amount of work room when compared to any mono hull of similar size, there’s pontoon-like stability, and yet easy performance from minimal power – in this case a single 115 Mercury four-stoke mounted centrally astern.
Angler Cats are manufactured by Angler Cat Australia, at the Gold Coast Marine precinct. A look at the factory impressed me with the schematic layout of the work area, the quality of workmanship involved, and the emphasis on sturdiness and longevity.
At this stage all the hulls are 5.5m in length and are built to Queensland commercial vehicle standards (survey) and foam-filled to comply with Australian flotation standards. A five-year hull warranty applies for each 5.5m craft which, incidentally is rated for eight persons. Not surprisingly, one craft is currently in service as a water taxi!
The 5.5m Angler Cat, at 2.2m in width, features an impressive amount of interior space. The five-piece windscreen is centre opening to allow easy access to the anchor well with its removable hatch, and is situated well forward within the craft. The anchor is self launching; at the turn of a link it will run straight out and down.
A near 2.2m wide dash area featured a massive glovebox to port, both a marine and FM radio CD player located centrally (along with EPIRB) with a raised area for instruments and gauges to starboard. A Humminbird 788c Sounder/GPS and Ritchie compass were set uppermost with switches and gauges lower. The wheel, linked to non-feedback steering, was central, and forward controls for the Mercury 115 were set into the side of the craft in the normal manner. A grab handle for the passenger was set to port.
I found the driving position of the Angler Cat – enhanced by sliding, swivel, bucket-style seats on large storage boxes – to be very good. Visibility through the windscreen was unimpeded yet you could still stand to drive if necessary. There was a floor level storage area under the windscreen as a lip stretched full width across the craft. In addition to the windscreen, a bimini also offered some weather protection. Clears are an option for these craft.
Directly aft of the forward seating was a centrally mounted moulded box. It measured 1170mm long, 670mm wide and 850mm high, and still left plenty of room to work around it. Angler Cat Australia refer to it as their Pro Fishing Box. It featured two major compartments of a live well (55L with a light) and a big fish box, with both items accessed via wide top hatches and equipped with drains. On the side of the box were paired tackle lockers, up top a deck wash, sink and cutting board. Hatches provided access to the engine battery at the front and the ice box at the rear. I saw the centrally placed Pro Fishing Box as a great place to brace against while fishing within the expansive cockpit of the craft.
In the rig as tested there were no aft seats although they are certainly an option. By any standard the Angler Cat 5.5 offered a huge amount of fishing room – far more than any monohull craft of comparable size – aft of the forward seating. The 2250 long cockpit featured a 6650mm depth, carpeted floor, wide flat gunwales plus three grabrails each side for security. Four rod holders were set across the transom with gunwale holders an option.
Although side storage pockets and rod racks were not featured in the cockpit of the test rig, they are again an option – one which buyers would no doubt take up with relish given the over all length available.
Beneath the transom stretched a 140L aluminium, baffle-equipped fuel tank with a sight gauge so the skipper can see at a glance exactly how much fuel is available. Note that larger fuel tanks are an option, too.
Completing features astern were tow hooks plus pod-like hull extensions each side of the Mercury 115 which would serve as boarding platforms.
Again, the Angler Cat Australia 5.5 impressed me with its easy performance. When you’re accustomed to monohull craft there are certain factors that don’t vary drastically, such as power requirements and performance levels. However, this powered cat, with its slim knife-like hulls, completely re-writes the rule book. With such a small amount of actual hull wetted area, this craft – all 820kg of it and with two aboard plus full fuel load – shot onto the plane in around its own length when the Mercury 115 four stroke’s throttle lever was pushed forward hard.
This level of performance speaks volumes of the very quiet and smooth running Mercury four-stroke’s ability, but the bottom line is simply that this is a very lively craft that can extract great performance from minimal horsepower. The Angler Cat 5.5 is rated for engines from 90 to 115hp and I would see a 90 also doing a great job of powering the rig.
The craft planed at 3500rpm at 26.4kph, 4000rpm saw 35.4kp/h on the Humminbird 788 C, 4500 (great cruising) a neat 38.2kp/h, 5000rpm 44.7 and 6000rpm 56.6kp/h.
The design of the Angler Cat’s narrow V-shaped hulls sees reversed chines on the water line area with a 20cm wide planing plank right on the bottom. The efficiency of their design saw one of the cleanest washes I’ve noted from a powered cat of this size and there was an absolute minimal impact from wash thrown up by passing craft within the Coomera River.
The rig could be thrown about with ease, and Peter from Angler Cat Australia impressed me with some circle work he performed. Surprisingly, turning at speed saw the craft leaning slightly inward, much the same as a mono hull. During tests I noted the craft was very responsive to steering.
The Angler Cat’s ride was exemplary in every regard. Off the plane a very slight bump could be felt as the sponsons contacted chop, but up on the plane the ride was ultra smooth. In fact, as soon as some air was passing under the hull the magic carpet ride began. Even belting very hard into some serious wash from passing craft caused only the slightest sensation of impact as the knife-like hulls on their cushion of air sliced straight across it. The ride remained dry at all times – unsurprising when we look at the high sides plus the raised bows that are able to shrug off any water at speed. In rainy weather, large above-water drainage flaps at the rear of the floor plus sumps and bilge pumps at the rear of the hulls would take care of any water coming aboard.
Few craft, in my opinion, offer the easy performance, outstanding fishing room, immense stability and sea keeping ability of the Angler Cat 5.5. I’d see six anglers working from the craft’s massive cockpit space with ease and the wide, flat gunwale tops would make gaff or net work quite easy. Angler Cat Australia are offering complete customisation of their boats (centre consoles and twin engine rigs are also available), allowing a keen angler to set up one of these craft to perfection for either bay, estuary or offshore work.
Overall finish and presentation was very good. I’m not a huge fan of carpeted floors in serious fishing boats and I’d be happy to save the money and opt for a flow-coated floor if the craft was mine.
The custom made tandem wheel trailer provided with the rig presented no problems so far as launch and retrieval was concerned.
At around $60,000 – with options as reviewed – the Angler Cat 5.5 represents a fair outlay. However, when we look at the amount of fishing room plus the combination of sea-keeping ability and pontoon-like stability, I believe the value is certainly there. You would need to buy a much larger mono hull craft to get the same amount of work room.
Enquiries can be directed to Nitro Marine on (07) 5532 5812 or to Angler Cat Australia on 0418 602 019. More information is also available on the Angler Cat website at www.anglercat.com.au.
|L.OA including trailer||7.6m|
|Height to w’screen||2.334m|
|Weight with trailer||1340kg|
|Engines||90 to 115hp|
|Engine fitted||Mercury 115 EFI four-stroke|
|Towing||Large family six or 4WD|