I first saw a Robalo Cayman 206 at the Melbourne Boat Show in 2015. Like a lot of other patrons, I thought, ‘man, I could take that to some pretty awesome places and catch some kick-ass fish out of it.’ Seriously.
Dreaming about American-styled bay boats is virtually mandatory if you like casting lures and flies at inshore predators anywhere in Australia. Bream and trout anglers in Tassie, bass and flathead flickers in NSW or barra botherers in the north could all insert this Robalo into their daily fishing routine. From what we’ve seen, they’d enhance their fishing experience because of it.
Imported by Scott O’Hare from Aussie Boat Sales, Robalo is a brand with serious Stateside history. Founded half a century ago and owned by Chaparral – the world’s largest sports boat manufacturer – Robalo’s DNA is characterised by all of the little things that make a good boat great. Bronze through-hull fittings, tinned wire and the soft, dry, stepped Hydra-Lift hull with Kevlar combine with the highly evolved deck design to make the Robalo a pleasure to fish from and own.
The smallest of the Cayman bay boat range (its bigger siblings are 22’6” and 24’6”) was put to the test, and the test hull performed remarkably well with a 135HP Honda. Given that the maximum horsepower is 200, the sub six-second hole shot was quite remarkable.
Scott O’Hare attributes this to the extended v-plane hull, where the planing surface extends past the transom where the outboard is attached.
“Some anglers who want to keep the purchase and running costs down will opt for a smaller outboard and it’ll perform just fine. Of course, if you’re a petrol head who needs the maximum horsepower, the hull will handle it no problems,” he said from Robalo’s home base – the Anchorage Marina in Williamstown, Victoria.
The first thing I noticed when I jumped aboard was the port side gunwale mount for the bow mount Minn Kota iPilot. In a massive victory for common sense, there’s a place to stow this reasonably delicate and important piece of machinery that’s not right at the bow of the boat when making long and/or rough runs. And that includes trailering.
Many features of this boat have been refined to make your boating easier. The rear boarding ladder folds away under a cover on the step and there are concealed buckets that aren’t banging around on the deck between spots. The rear seats also fold away to clear, flat decks.
Anchor storage for instance, is a standout. Vertical, hanging anchor storage has been a feature of this style of boat for decades, yet is difficult to find in locally produced versions. Self-draining, all hatches and decks are made to be waterproof while being hosed down. Rods, tackle and dry gear don’t need to be soaked every time the boat is washed or it rains, so another big tick from me there.
Luckily, it was a wild and windy day at Port Phillip Bay when we tested the Robalo, and as expected, the hull ate up the smaller chop with ease. Of course, it wasn’t as seaworthy as the 26ft centre console Robalo that we also tested on the day, however, its rough water capabilities would be at home in any inshore waters Australia wide.
Of course, my inner petrol-head yearned for 200 ponies on the back, but I was quite surprised at the ease with which the 135 Honda got this boat up and running.
To keep prices under control, all Robalos in Australia are currently sold from Aussie Boat Sales’ headquarters in Williamstown, Victoria. As tested the boat sells for $90,000. Packages start from around $75,000. You can call Scott direct for more information on 0417 511 340 or visit these sites: www.aussieboatsales.com.au or www.robalo.com.
Watch the QR code to see Steve Morgan’s interview with Scott O’Hare.Reads: 630