The Ally Craft 445 Shadow Pro is a sport fishing rig. No, it won't whip along at 100kmh but it can be towed with a four-cylinder sedan and could fulfil a lot of sport fishing requirements with its multifunctional 110L livewell and you get a lot of boat for your buck.
There's an offset pad for fitting a bow-mount electric motor and the large under-floor compartment aft of the anchor well would be ideal for fitting a battery to run the thruster.
Fishing plastics, hard-bodied lures or flies couldn't be easier in this rig as around half the craft consists of a forward casting platform. There's also a seat spigot up front and options run from a full pedestal seat to a leaning post – the buyer's choice.
Aft of the central spigot the boat has a 110L recirculating livewell which is neatly plumbed and set up with a removable divider.
Each of the six hatches in the casting platform of the test rig was very neatly finished with all hinges and finger tabs aligned. The hatches are strong, too, failing to give even the slightest bit of flexing as one walks on them, thanks to the Ally Craft's rigid construction.
The 445 Shadow Pro is a side-console rig and the moulded console is set neatly to starboard in the cockpit area. This is a sensible set-up for a craft of this size as it maximises fishing room and the neat console sports a windscreen that serves to deflect a bit of breeze while under way. Seating both skipper and mate are bucket pedestals in floor spigots.
At the helm there is ample legroom beneath the console with the soft-feel wheel is within easy reach of the one-size-fits-all driving position. Gauges to monitor the EFI 60hp Mercury four-stroke on the transom are neatly set out on the top of the console with an array of switches and a marine radio starboard of the wheel.
The test rig was equipped with an optional bimini, neatly stored in its sock for our review. No doubt quite a few people might opt for the bimini, given our steamy Summer conditions.
The cockpit is carpeted, as is the rest of the craft. There is a spacious 2m-plus locker to port in place of a side pocket. I think for general storage of gaffs the locker would be fine.
It is long enough to store rods, but some padding and tie-downs would be desirable instead of the painted alloy surface within. Ally Craft could no doubt look at this at a buyer's request, in the same way they look at individual colour schemes for customers.
The 445 Shadow Pro has a two rod holders per side and a raised shelf at the transom. There are grab rails in the stern and a rail at port leading down to a boarding platform.
The Shadow has wide and completely vibration-free gunwales wide enough to sit on. They are fully welded and quite rigid – even thumping them hard failed to produce any resonance. Full marks to Ally Craft for construction strength there.
The 445 Shadow Pro is rated for engines from 40hp to 60hp and with an EFI 60hp Mercury four-stroke on the transom it certainly exhibited snappy performance. The smooth running and very quiet Mercury had the Shadow Pro on the plane at 2800rpm. At 3000rpm we cruised at 13 knots (24.5kmh), 4000rpm saw 18.3 knots (34kmh) and 5000rpm cranked the speedo to 25 knots (46.2kmh). A burst to 6000rpm gave us a top speed of 32.5 knots (60.4kmh).
The Ally Craft's hull has substantial bottom pressings; a small reversed outer chine and a keel around 75mm deep. Each of these features contributes towards the excellent ride of this punt-style craft.
During our test run, the reasonable bow entry did a good job of taking the belt out of waves and wash from a couple of ski craft sharing the river. The amount of above-water flare kept spray down and out of the way.
While the 445 Shadow Pro was probably designed as a smooth-water fishing rig, it is definitely suitable for a trip into bay and estuary waters in the right conditions.
There is almost 1m of freeboard, a handy thing in its own right, and the manner in which the hull levelled out and settled down for a spirited run was impressive, as was the way the boat dug into sharp figure eight turns as I threw it about for the sheer enjoyment.
This boat is stable for its size. Once the hull settled off the plane it really gripped the water, which is one of the strong points of the design. Two anglers walking about did little to change the hull's attitude. The rig is suitably rated for five people.
The Ally Craft 445 Shadow Pro is an excellent rig for anglers. The handy electric motor mounting bracket, the large forward platform with hatches and wells, and great overall stability make it hard to go past as a value-for-money proposition.
The 60hp Mercury EFI four-stroke was an excellent power choice and I was impressed with its quietness at low revs – handy for sneaking up to snags and other features. The test boat on an Oceanic trailer is priced around $24,500.
For more information about the Ally Craft 445 Shadow Pro or any of their other great rigs phone Ally Craft on 07 5537 6382 or email them at --e-mail address hidden--
|Construction||3mm bottom, 2.5mm sides|
|Engines||40hp to 60hp|
|Test motor||60hp EFI Mercury four-stroke.|