The Stessco 450 Catcher SFX SC is an angler’s boat through and through. Being a side console alloy craft, it offers a large amount of useful fishing room within its modest 4.5m length. It’s powered by a 3-cylinder, 60hp Suzuki 4-stroke so it was no slouch on the water either.
The Catcher is rated for up to five people, and the test boat was supplied by Motorsport Marine of Burpengary on Brisbane’s northside. I conducted the test within the Bribie Passage on a fine day with a bit of breeze kicking up some chop, which allowed easy assessment of the boat’s ride and handling attributes.
This is a solid rig. With 3mm construction all round there were no vibes, hums or metallic thrums at any stage of the test runs. I quickly decided that the Catcher 450 side console would be an ideal boat for a complete beginner yet just as useful to an old hand looking for a handy-sized boat for a couple of anglers to spend time in. There was no vice about this rig whatsoever – everything worked readily and with plenty of comfort given its modest dimensions.
Within the bow an open anchor well provided plenty of room for anchor and warp. A 300m high carpet-covered cast deck up front featured two under-floor compartments. The compartment nearest the bow was suited to general storage, while the second (109L capacity) was a dedicated well set up for the catch. An extra seat spigot to provide both easy weight distribution plus a comfortable fishing station up front was located between these hatches. A neat bow rail was there to assist around the ramp.
The craft’s alloy side console was set up with a neat grab rail plus a windscreen to offer some protection against slipstream for the driver. The console’s upright section proved a convenient mounting point for a GMI 20 gauge to monitor the Suzuki 60, while a bank of switches plus the craft’s steering wheel was also close by. There was plenty of room up on the horizontal section behind the screen for a sounder to be mounted as well.
Being an open, floor-mounted unit the side console had ample leg room for the driver and as a bonus also came equipped with a central storage shelf. Engine controls were side mounted within easy reach of the skipper.
Seating options are part of the Catcher’s attractions, with one base right beside the skipper another installed to port of the console. Again, very useful for weight distribution when you have more than two people aboard. Seating consisted of well-cushioned and supportive pedestal-style units, which were able to swivel aft to facilitate fishing.
Aft of the skipper and mate’s seats, the main features were 1m long, off-floor side pockets which obviously provided a brace point under them, a sizeable cast deck at the transom in which several compartments were set up, along with 250mm wide side decks and grab rails. Rod holders within the 750mm high side decks are options for this rig.
Areas adjacent the transom were carpeted and set up as an alternative casting platform which would be ideal in calm conditions. Under the rear deck area there was a 30L live bait tank to starboard, general purpose storage compartment to port, and battery and other items centrally. In all, excellent use put to this area.
Aft of the transom with its wide splash well was a checkerplate boarding platform, with accompanying rail, on each side of the 60 Suzuki.
With its 14° vee hull featuring several strong pressings plus an outer reversed chine, the smooth running Catcher was very well powered by the (maximum hp) 60 Suzuki on the transom – to the extent that with two aboard the craft jumped onto the plane in a little over its own length.
The Catcher drove and handled very freely with its mechanical steering set up, and it turned out some quite impressive performance figures all round. With three aboard the Stessco planed at 3000rpm at 12.2km/h, which is a very modest speed. 4000rpm saw a speed of 32.4km/h on the GMI 20 gauge, with 5000rpm recording 46.2km/h and 6000rpm a feisty 58.3km/h. They’re impressive speeds for modest power, and I was also impressed with the 4000 rpm/32.4km/h fuel use figures as well – just 7L per hour. Owners would no doubt find that cruising at around 30km/h at mid range revs would make a lot of sense. And with a 60L under floor tank, fuel consumption of 7L per hour would give a range of 240km+. Awesome!
Another of the Catcher’s attractions was a very good ride. A hull weight of 365kg saw the boat settled and nicely balanced on the water, and with three aboard it was a lot of fun to turn the craft rapidly, push over wash from other boats travelling in Pumicestone Passage, then see how quickly the craft returned to a level attitude to assess both handling and overall ride quality. While I could hear a bump as we crossed some of those waves – some were fairly large – there was certainly no upsetting impact to contend with.
Metre high sides kept all spray away from us as we crossed wash and chop, and with any displaced water being turned away from the hull around halfway along its length I was more than pleased with this aspect of the craft’s sea-keeping ability.
In all, I saw the Catcher as a well handling and well riding craft. Stability was very good as well, and it was no issue whatsoever to walk around the rig, tucking into various corners or positions while we were in mid channel, to take my photos. I believe that the average angler fishing from the Catcher would find nothing to complain about as far as stability is concerned.
Stessco have packed quite a few features into the no-frills but very capable Catcher SFX450, with about the only thing missing being rod holders along side decks. Given that there’s a large catch well, a plumbed live well aft plus four seating positions and both fore and aft storage compartments under decks, the angler has been quite well catered for. Backing these useful features were a very good ride, easy performance and handling plus excellent stability. Finish was quite good with welds quite well smoothed although visible. The 450 Catcher is an unpainted craft, with a neat decal catching the eye and highlighting the craft’s straight sides.
Motorsport Marine are offering the 450 Catcher and 60 Suzuki on a Stessco trailer, with safety gear, and registrations for $21,990. Motorsport Marine can be contacted on (07) 3888 0555 or on www.motorsportmarine.com.au.
|Hull construction||3mm alloy|
|Engine fitted||60 Suzuki 4-stroke|
|Towing||Family six or big four sedan or wagon|