Looking for a well priced, angler-friendly, versatile boating platform? Then check out the Fish Hawk range by Crestliner – you wont be disappointed.
The US-built Crestline range have been operating for 65 years and have recently arrived in Australia. These boats raise the bar when it comes to ingenuity in the layout and design of internal storage compartments, seating arrangements and complex hull construction.
The manufacture of these boats is impressive, using an aluminium tongue and groove locking system and full length welds to deliver a super sturdy ride and a bigger boat feel in short choppy seas. The hull has a substantial reverse chine for stability plus variable deadrise along the length of the keel for better running and handling capabilities.
Where this 5.1m long (2.18m beam) boat really comes into its own is the attention to detail in the internal layout. There is a space for almost every piece of inshore fishing tackle one could hope to own.
Let’s start by taking a quick walk through the seating layout and cockpit options available across the Fish Hawk Range.
The Crestliner Fish Hawk 1650 has a high walkthrough tempered glass windscreen set up (similar to a bowrider) with dual side consoles, ample legroom and a well-appointed dash with space for basic marine electronics. Even though the standard set up for Australia is dual consoles with individual lower windscreens, this design is much better equipped for stormy weather conditions.
Aft of the navigator/skipper’s 360º swivel bucket seats is a fold down padded narrow bench seat. It is a fantastic inclusion allowing seating for a six-person capacity, or an extended rear casting platform when angling.
A sizeable 75L rear livewell is positioned under the portside floor of the rear casting platform. There is easy access to the battery and isolation switch in the next compartment.
Under the gunwale, also on the portside, is an open air rod storage rack. This means you can keep additional rigged outfits at the ready for changing fishing scenarios.
The consoles are fabricated using a rotor-moulded UV stable plastic, which delivers a clean durable finish that will last through the years.
On the navigator’s side, a glovebox compartment keeps your valuables dry and away from the elements. Below this at the height of the forward casting deck, is an open shelf that can be used to house a fire extinguisher. Forward of the foot well is another open locker providing a place to keep tackle wallets, brag mats and angling tools.
At the skipper’s console is a comfortable moulded steering wheel that gives direct control via hydraulic steering, with basic analogue gauges mounted in a moulded insert. The switch panel has enough space for basic accessories but I’d like to see a few more switches for better control of additional accessories.
The only let down is the lack of dash space for a large screen sounder/chart plotter set ups. The use of a ram mount will enable a medium-sized screen to be installed, but this is probably insufficient as this package is, after all, targeted at serious anglers. The standard fitted Lowrance will do the job for occasional or old school fishing pursuits, but if you want to compete in tournaments or take your angling to the next level, then it is likely that you’ll want to upgrade.
One of my favourite features is the lined central rod locker, set up to accommodate seven rods in individual tubes. Access to this is via a fold up door, with a gas strut to keep it open while you select your next outfit. When closed this doubles as the step up to the forward casting deck, which has two further storage compartments for bags, clothes and safety gear.
Mounted on the bow is an electric motor for stealth fishing in quiet bays and estuaries. New deliveries of this model have an ample anchor well plus a mounting bracket for the electric motor, which for the Australian market is a great decision.
The test boat was powered by a Mercury 60hp four-stroke, but this rig could do with a little more power. Nevertheless, at an entry level there is plenty of torque to get the hull with gear and two anglers up and out of the hole and cruising with enough pace.
All the Crestliners I have tested are very stable at rest, corner well and handle a turn at pace with confidence, but don’t seem to like too much trim before cavitations occurs. There are ways to combat this, by either lowering the fitted position of the outboard and adding a planning fin, or perhaps selecting a different prop.
This oversight is probably because these boats were originally designed for calm water fishing in lakes, dams and extensive wide river systems. In such environments there is less chop and definitely no swell, which really eliminates the need to trim the nose up much at all.
These boats are designed and built with versatility in mind; capable to be used for family outings, serious fishing and fun on the water, they really are uniquely convertible.
Available in different colour palettes and with so many additional options, these compact boats are sure to be a success on the Australian inshore and inland fishing scene.
Delivered on a Dunbier single-axle trailer with a central roller bank and poly skids, a large-sized family car is all that is required to get you to the ramp and onto the water.
For more information visit www.crestliner.com or cal Berowra Waters Wholesale on 1800 802 444. Price as tested was $30,490.