Although we’ve tested the ubiquitous Blue Fin 435 Wildcat before in Fishing Monthly, the opportunity arose to check out the ‘Limited Edition’ version of this boat. Fitted with all of the options that most keen anglers add anyway, this iteration of the boat will be available for a few months only (orders will be taken until the end of September) and ticks a lot of boxes.
And, as a turn-key package, it’s a lot of boat for the sub $30,000 price tag.
The model we tested was the first out of the factory and has been fitted with a 60HP Mercury 4-Stroke by Jim Hickson’s Manning River Marine. Check the performance box for exact numbers with the new Mercury Spitfire 15”, 4-blade propeller. Even with the test rig a little over-propped, the four blades push this rig up and out of the water very easily and achieve a top speed of 46km/h wide open.
The hull, however, is rated to 75HP, so if you’re after that extra thrust, there’s no problem upping the ponies on the back and gaining the increased performance.
The Merc is fed by a 60 litre underfloor fuel tank which will give this boat a range of well over 100km.
This Wildcat hull is built to last, with a 4mm bottom sheet and 3mm clinkered sides combining to create one of the toughest tinnies on the market.
Jim Hickson observed that these locally made boats have all of the features that modern anglers are asking for and was happy that Blue Fin had consulted extensively with the dealers who sold the boats and the customers who were the end users.
“Having the correct MinnKota and sounder factory fitted, proper rod boxes and a dedicated trailer makes everyone’s experience better,” added Jim, who sells around 10 Blue Fins in this configuration annually.
The front casting deck has higher freeboard than a standard bass boat, making this rig a little more comfortable to fish when the water’s rough. Those same high sides are quite kid-friendly and with a bimini top, would make this whole rig quite suitable for a young family.
There’s a 90 litre livewell with a baffled, removable divider that will easily hold two tournament limits of bream with the divider inserted as it will a metre mulloway when the baffle is removed. The whole system is controlled by a Flow-Rite timer switch and pump in/out system – all controlled from the helm.
Also at the helm, the Humminbird side imaging unit is mounted on a swivel mount that allows it to be rotated from helm-viewable around to casting deck-viewable – minimising the need for (and cost of) a second unit. At idle, the side image was clean and crisp, indicating correct placement of the SI transducer. An internal GPS antenna for this unit minimises the number of accessories that need to be added to the gunwales.
Subtle upgrades, like the hookless carpet add function as well as looks and the Italian Gussi steering wheel is the flashest I’ve seen in a tinny yet. There’s a set of blue Korr Lighting LED lights installed under the gunwales, lighting up the inside of the boat at night without directing light into the water and scaring anything that’s not a squid off into the darkness.
There are also several, strategically positioned Railblaza mounts, designed to take rod holders, cup holders and even iPad/iPhone holders that can be customised to suit your use of this boat.
Blue Fin has worked with Dunbier to create and fit the perfect trailer for this model. In fact, the factory trailer will add an extra year to the boat AND trailer warranties, stretching them from two to three years.
“A lot of damage done to aluminium boat hulls is caused by incorrect size or poorly set-up trailers,” explained Blue Fin’s Mark Johnson, “so we were happy to give our customers the incentive to get the right trailer by offering this extended warranty.”
Exemplifying the design is the fact that the Wildcat easily drives on and off the trailer.
Visually, the Limited Edition (LE) Wildcats will be defined by their vinyl wrap that features the LE program partners. Available in 10 colours, this vinyl not only looks good, but offers excellent protection for the paint underneath.
In recent years, Blue Fin Boats have been kicking plenty of goals and if this LE project is an indication of the willingness of the new owners to listen to feedback from customers and dealers, then the future looks bright for everyone in the chain.
Blue Fin’s New Owners
On the test day, we caught up with Blue Fin Boats’ new owners – Geoff Knight and Brad Richey. The vibe in the industry is that these guys (who have come in from outside the marine industry) are injecting plenty of energy and enthusiasm into the brand.
There’s a short interview online where you can meet the new team, check the links on www.fishingmonthly.com.au.
Interviews and test footage
There’s a seven and a half minute video showing interviews with Mark Johnson and Jim Hickson and running shots of this boat. Get the link on the front page of Fishing Monthly’s website www.fishingmonthly.com.au.
|Weight (hull only)||440kg|
|Weight (on trailer)||circa 1,000kg|
|Trailer||Drive on/off Dunbier OEM|
LIMITED EDITION EXTRAS
90l divided livewell with FlowRite system and timer
MinnKota 55lb iPilot electric motor
Humminbird 798 Side Image/GPS combo fish finder
Railblaza accessory mounts
Wildcat vinyl wrap
Gussi steering wheel
LED light kit under gunwales
Extra year warranty of hull and trailer with factory trailer