Boats that meet the needs of the family angler are difficult to find. Some tend to go too far along the fishing path, while others go too far along the family comfort path. Yet, in amongst all of the contenders, the Larson FX1850DC strikes a balance between both that I liked, in fact I liked it a lot.
Larson are American-built boats that have their heritage in cruising, and cruising in comfort. Recently they added fishing and cross-over ranges to their list of boats and both of these ranges will meet the needs of many anglers. While it took some organising and no little effort from the crew at Boats and More in Shepparton, Peter Jung and I got the chance to play around in the first of the Larson range brought into Australia by Boats and More, the FX1850DC, while we were attending the fabulous Cod Classic on Lake Mulwala.
The FX1850DC is a big boat with an overall length of 18’6” (5.64m) and a weight just under 900kg. It’s a beamy rig at 7’8” (2.39m) and its stability is fantastic. On the trailer the overall length stretches out to 6.6m so you’ll need to be aware of your storage capabilities before even considering this boat, but the custom fully-rollered trailer from Dunbier was built so that it met all the legal towing requirements in Australia.
The rig was powered by the fantastic 150hp Mercury Verado and while the specs say you can fit this rig with a 175hp, I reckon the 150 was plenty enough, a point Robin from Boats and More agreed with.
A quick look at some of the features shows that the Larson comes with a beautifully designed helm and console, a walkthrough windscreen, a large livewell, brilliant rod storage up the guts (I really loved this), storage hatches everywhere, a superb front casting platform, a removable ski pole, aft casting platform, five seating positions with an additional two fold up seats at the aft end of the cockpit and loads of space for the extra electronics we all seem so hell bent on having these days. It really is quite a package that allows a really diverse range of uses.
And it is this diverse range of uses that separates this boat from plenty of others. I have rarely stepped into a big, comfortable boat like this that can do all manner of tasks. If you want to water-ski, boogie board or wakeboard you can. If you want to cruise up and down the river or along the bay you can. But best of all, if you want to go for a serious fish with lures, or have a crack at some snapper, or even chase a pelagic or two offshore, then this boat can do it – and do it easily. It really is a fantastic boat for so many reasons and for so many uses.
The test day was brilliant in that a solid 20 knot wind was blowing up Lake Mulwala pushing up a nasty chop that kept smaller boats to a sedate crawl. In contrast the Larson revelled in the choppy slop making short work of the wind chop and steering easily and comfortably whether with, against or across the wind waves. And this just wasn’t at cruising speeds either, we really gave the rig a solid workout at wide open throttle just to see if it made a difference to the track-like handling. It didn’t!
The Verado punched the Larson onto the plane in under five seconds and some trim work with the motor had us flying along at just under 40 knots. There are not too many times where you’ll be travelling at wide open throttle and maximum speed when you’re on the water, but it was exhilarating fun with the added dimension of Mulwala’s millions of trees to contend with. And this was where the ability to tell this boat where to go really shone. You definitely do not want to be sliding out at 35 knots as you twist around the curves of the old Murray River course in Mulwala, because if you slide out of the channel you will hit a stump bloody hard. The Larson didn’t even come close to this fate and that was great.
As you must on any serious boat test we decided we had better have a quick fish just to make sure the Larson could do this vital task! While we didn’t take the boat into the sticks and the shallow water like you would a small tinnie, we did play with the Minn Kota i-Pilot along the channel edges while we attempted to cast lures in the 20 knot wind. So I’m not sure if it was the Minn Kota or the hull shape, but with a 12V i-Pilot, three blokes fishing and over 900kg of boat and gear, we managed to Spot Lock our way along the channel edge easily and the front casting deck was awesome for two anglers. The rear casting deck (once the ski pole was dismantled) was just as good to fish from so I would suggest that this rig would be awesome for two anglers and good for three anglers who were lure casting. Any more than that and I reckon you’d get in each other’s way. Anchoring up and baitfishing though would be a different story. I reckon you could easily fish six rods out the back or side for snapper or whiting.
After our casting exercise we had a bit of a troll and the Verado performed magically, pushing us around the lake at around 1.5 knots that saw us catch a small Murray cod and a carp on trolled lures. The chairs that come standard with the rig are super comfortable and a session trolling in this rig would pose no problem at all – especially with the radio cranking the cricket out on a rare good day for Australia against South Africa!
A big test for a boat of this size is the ability to get it on and off the water easily. In this instance the fully rollered Dunbier trailer made light work of the task with the boat easily slipping off the trailer when launching and being easily driven on again when being retrieved. It’s still a two person job, but seriously who goes fishing by themselves too many times? You have to have someone to brag to when you catch that monster Murray cod, sensational snapper or whopper whiting!
Towing was a breeze with the 100 Series LandCrusier we were using and I would suggest a 4WD would be a minimum requirement for towing this rig around. It’s a big rig off the water and you certainly do not want to be lacking traction and power when you’re on the ramp or the highway.
I really enjoyed running around and fishing in the Larson FX1850DC. It provided a degree of comfort and style that not too many people would find hard to accept and it was a really easy boat to fish out of when the time came. You can accessorise the boat up with the latest and greatest electronic technology and I reckon the rig deserves the best electronics you can afford.
If I was a bay angler, loved to fish and ski the lakes and enjoyed just cruising around in comfort then the Larson is well worth a look over. The Larson FX1850DC will sell from $35,990 as a basic set up. That’s very good value for a boat that can do a lot of things.
For more information on the Larson FX1850DC contact Boats and More in Shepparton on (03) 5822 2108 or Boats and More in Echuca on (03) 5482 1992. You can also check out more on this craft by logging onto www.larsonboats.com or www.boatsandmore.com.au.
|Length on trailer||6.6m|
|Max weight capacity||839kg|