Boating made easy: the all-rounder
  |  First Published: July 2016

Very few manufacturers classify their craft as all-rounders. However, quite a lot of boat owners refer to their craft as all-rounders because the like to do a range of on-water activities, not just fishing. Such rigs see a lot of family use, which can often involve nights spent aboard in a selected anchorage, and often combine tow sports and fishing with whatever else is going on. The same craft might be used within an estuary, out on the bay or even involved in an upriver or offshore run. Impoundment fishing? Certainly! The next 6m rig to launch at Lake Awoonga won’t be the last.

So what do we look for in a boat for general all round use, one that can fulfil all of these functions? Family touring and overnighting aboard the rig means there needs to be ample room, protection from weather, bunks to snooze on and with lots of storage space under them. Certainly, provision for a toilet might well be there in the criteria, as well as enough dedicated batteries to accommodate a portable refrigerator and the like.

This selected criteria will rule out specialised sportfishing craft such as bass boats, high-end punts, and all other open craft that have plenty of fishing room but limited or no protection from the elements.

Considering that the weather protection, storage and creature comfort side of things are paramount, it makes the most sense to opt for a cuddy cabin or centre cab rig. There are plenty of boats that are suitable for family boating, water fun and fishing, all neatly combined in the one package. The selection of a cuddy cab rig is perfect. Coming in second is the centre cab, provided the craft is large enough to feature a cabin of some size, and maybe with optional storm covers to provide weather protection if you’re planning to do some overnighters.

Surprisingly, a larger bow rider can constitute a handy all-rounder, especially if you don’t want to spend time on the water overnight. Even those these are open boats, larger bow riders do offer plenty of storage area and lots of seating. They are usually powered to the limit as well, and offer a huge amount of fishing room.

Now that we have covered the best boat types, let’s turn our attention to power issues.

Power is the key

Larger craft require larger motors, and if tow sports are involved there’s certainly a need for power to spare. On top of this, extended cruising is easiest with a powerful engine working with plenty of revs in reserve to save fuel. Fuel savings are always important, whether you’re off on a long coastal jaunt chasing fish or doing some serious point to point inshore cruising. My concept of an all-rounder would see the craft equipped with an engine near to top power specifications. A large fuel tank, say around the 200L mark, would always be an asset.

Other requirements

The next factors to consider are seating, general equipment levels and work room for fishing.

Cuddy rigs usually have additional seating aft, which is often able to be lowered when fishing to increase fishing room. This is a very handy feature if offered. Some craft even have modular lounge seating which can be moved or removed at will – brilliant!

Next comes equipment levels. A good all rounder should have weather protected storage space, and somewhere to store the catch which can be drained at the end of the day. You’ll also want to have decent off-floor side pockets within the cockpit area to accommodate a wide range of gear, from skis to gaffs, and to tuck your feet under when bracing against the sides if conditions are unsettled or a big fish is causing mayhem.

A bait station aft is important, as is a bait tank which can also be filled with ice and cold drinks on long runs or when skiing or towing. Rod holders are virtually essential, both in the gunwales and on the bait station. When preparing tackle it’s very handy to have somewhere to set the rod into and then work on the business end to replace gear or set up bait correctly.

Combining all of these attributes is not difficult, and the larger the boat is the easier it is to get all of these features in the one unit. If you’re looking at something a bit smaller you’ll find it harder to get everything, but it’s still not out of the question; there are several manufacturers, both plate alloy and glass, that do offer useful rigs that make excellent all-rounders. Two examples that come to mind are the Iconic 5.5 plate boat that I reviewed recently, as well as the Evolution 552 fibreglass cuddy cab.

Having said all that, the main consideration when choosing an all-rounder boat comes down to what each particular owner wants the boat to do. If you mainly want to do family trips, you can’t go past a cuddy cab. As well as creature comforts, there’s always sufficient room aft for fishing when it’s planned.

Alternatively, a team of angling aficionados might well see the centre cab as their all-rounder. And last but not least, if there’s no intention to overnight on the water, the bow rider can be in the equation – especially if it’s equipped with a decent bimini to provide some weather protection.

Choosing an all rounder? It’s not hard at all.

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