Blue Fin Boats released their new 4.35 Drifter Tournament Pro at the 2012 Flathead Classic on the Gold Coast and it certainly turned a lot of heads there.
It’s this sort of event, or a bass or bream comp, that suits the 4.35 Drifter Tournament Pro so well. Blue Fin have set up this boat with all the features to endear it to competition anglers and have added a few nifty touches to set it apart from its contemporaries.
Up forward there’s the standard anchor well with hatch cover and the mounting pad for the electric motor to port.
Immediately aft are two storage compartments, the port one set up with removable tackle trays. The flat floor below is ideal for storage of general gear.
The starboard compartment is suitable for an electric motor battery.
The hookless marine carpet throughout means one can place a lure on the deck without a fight developing when it needs to be picked up again.
There’s a seat pedestal base in the 45cm high casting deck and three more in the cockpit.
A 90L competition standard livewell with a divider and Flow-Rite plumbing is at the rear of the casting deck.
The test rig was set up with fold-down pedestal seats for skipper and mate at the rear, although there’s another pedestal base to port and forward.
The Drifter’s lined 2.1m rod locker to port was sufficient to hold several rigged tournament rods. There is also a drop down storage bin under the rod locker.
The 4.35 Drifter’s free-standing console, mounted to the side, left unhindered legroom below. The console comes with a grab rail and tinted windscreen.
The faux carbon-fibre instrument panel and three-spoke sports wheel with non-feedback steering add a sporty touch.
A switch panel for the LED nav lights, pumps and other items is to starboard and a Fusion MS RA 50 radio, twin speakers and a Fusion iPod dock are all standard.
Engine controls were in comfortable reach of the one-size-fits-all helm seat, which suited me fine.
A full-width transom compartment, accessed via a usefully large hatch, provides additional storage and doubles as an excellent aft fishing platform.
The Blue Fin’s wide gunwales have low-profile grab rails front and rear, a pair of optional rod holders at the stern and to port the filler for the 60L underfloor fuel tank.
The full width transom pod has non-skid where it counts and the 60 Suzuki mounted on a raised lip. The Drifter 4.35 is rated for 50hp-75hp engines although the 60hp Suzuki proved ideal engine in quietness, smoothness and power at all throttle settings.
With two aboard, the 4.35 Drifter planed at a commendable 7.5 knots (13.9kmh) at 3000 rpm. At 4000rpm we saw 16.3 knots (30.3kmh) on the GPS, at 5000rpm 28.4 knots (52.6kmh) and at 6000rpm, nearly wide open throttle, 33.3 knots (61.8kmh).
The engine had a very willing, lively feel about it and even at nearly full throttle had plenty of urge about it. I felt it was the ideal engine for this craft in every respect and it never seemed to be working hard.
The ride was impressively smooth, with only small impacts from chop we encountered. The ride was quite dry as we headed into chop and wash from other craft.
Naturally, given the modest 640mm external height of the Drifter’s hull, one would need the wet gear if heading across sizeable wind-blown waves – the same as in any other open boat of this size. Driven sensibly, the Drifter will remain on the plane at very low speeds and with some trim applied, the ride should remain dry.
One thing: This little boat can really throw some G-forces in sharp turns. With the engine trimmed in and the wheel pulled sharply over, the Drifter would turn in almost its own length without any prop ventilation or side-slip. Fun to drive? Count on it…
Good as the ride and handling are, it’s the overall capability of the rig as a fishing platform that impressed me most. All the features making are there, from the bow electric motor to the rod locker and livewell and the casting platforms.
Stability, so important in a tournament craft, was very impressive. At rest the drifter was as steady as a rock, thanks to a 2.04m beam, ample hull strakes and a shape that puts a large amount of the hull in the water when stationary.
Under way, things changed very little, with the kart-like handling a fun bonus. With interior side height of 360mm, there’s ample depth to take a youngster or two for a safe fish in quiet water.
Blue Fin are obviously a progressive boat company and the new 4.35 Drifter Tournament Pro is definitely at the pointy end of the pile if there’s a need for a well-finished and well-appointed rig for competition or finesse sport fishing. Rated for up to four adults, two or three would naturally do things easier.
The finish and presentation are excellent, thanks to a great two-tone paint job and eye-catching vinyl, neat joinery and classy upholstery. I give this new Blue Fin full marks as an ideal beginner’s package or a boat for the really keen angler.
Price as tested, on a Blue Fin custom trailer, would be around $26,099. Email --e-mail address hidden-- for your nearest Blue Fin dealer.
|Length on trailer:||5.40m|
|Construction:||3mm alloy bottom, sides|