IN THE PAST, manufacturers were too scared to build dedicated fishing machines. They came close but always added a few features or creature comforts to appeal to the masses but, to a devoted fisho, were a waste of time.
Slowly the major builders realised that anglers were a huge slice of the market so a few went out on a limb and produced out-and-out fishing machines. These boats were immediately snapped up by anglers so more manufacturers dived in and produced hard-core angling platforms. There is now a wide choice for those who don’t want cabins, padding, comfy chairs and so on.
Most fishos just want room and plenty of it. This trend towards pure breeds has helped people like me, who just look at boats through a fisho’s eyes. In the past, I have had to compromise, as most rigs on the market were all-purpose.
Col Allison, a very astute Queensland boat builder, always has his ear to the ground and his finger on the pulse. As a result, he went back to the drawing board and played around with a design that would give plenty of room and a hull that enjoyed conditions outside – full stop. The result is the Allison Fisherman 5, aimed totally at the recreational angler.
It was a brilliantly sunny Winter’s day at the Wharf Road boat ramp in West Ryde – except there was a 30-knot westerly blowing directly down the Parramatta River. It was cold – bloody cold – and waves were white-capping in the main stream.
I pulled my coat around my ears and wished I had brought a beanie instead of a cap. Grabbing camera, clipboard and tape measure, I climbed aboard and was instantly gobsmacked at the amount of cockpit room this five-metre craft offered. With just under 1.6 metres of inside beam, there was plenty of room to dance around each other when fishing or do a jig when a big one comes aboard.
The configuration is a cuddy cabin but there are no bunks. The front end is short, with large storage areas either side of the walkway to the anchoring hatch. After the dash and passenger consoles, there is nothing except the seats until the transom. The donk is well-podded out, so there’s no motor well eating into valuable cockpit space. The test boat sported a rear folding lounge and bimini, but they were the only creature comforts.
Working forward, either side of the motor there are boarding platforms with grab handles. One big bung drains the hull and the cockpit. The hull has a 19° deadrise for comfortable offshore work and wide chines for stability at rest. Planing strakes run the whole length of the hull to keep the boat up at low revs. The fully floating pod is sealed and will support the heavier four-stroke motors.
The test boat was powered by 75hp two-stroke Mercury driving an 18” Vengeance prop and the steering was mechanical. Two self-draining wells, both with taps, are inset atop the transom and could be plumbed for live-bait tanks or just filled with ice and used as drink or bait coolers. The four standard rod holders on the wide 15cm coamings can be easily added to – something that drift fishos will appreciate.
A drained underfloor kill tank is big enough to keep trophy fish on ice. Under the transom there is the standard water-separating filter, battery on an above-floor platform and a battery isolating switch. The test boat sported a 60-litre underfloor tank but standard issue is two 25-litre free-standing tanks. Side pockets you can get your feet under run the full length of the cockpit and were deep and wide enough to hold rods, landing nets, hand reels and more. They would also be good places to store lifejackets, where they can be accessed in a hurry. So many people stow lifejackets out of sight and out of reach – which could be a problem when they are most needed.
The Allison seats were very comfortable and the skipper has the luxury of his/her seat sliding forward or back to allow standing operation in a sea. There are large indents in the console, providing plenty of legroom. Sitting or standing, forward vision was good.
Instrumentation was the standard tacho, hour meter, speed in mph, fuel and trim gauges. The binnacle-style dash has room on top for sounders, GPS and compass, all protected by the large windshield. The standard four-way switch panel operated the navigation lights, with the other three switches free for add-on electronics. The five-piece windscreen is strong, well-supported and has a 490mm opening access to work on the anchor.
The walkway allowed me access right to the bow to perform the kellicking duties and had plenty of hip room for my not-so-sylph-like frame. The small bowsprit had a roller and there was a split cross-bollard for tying off. Split bow rails were supplied on the test boat. A large anchor well will hold many metres of rope/chain plus a couple of anchors and any excess water will drain out through a skin fitting.
I took the boat downstream and down wind to do speed tests. Flat-chat at 5800 revs, she skated across the water at 42 knots (72kmh, 49mph). At 4000rpm the boat went at a steady 22.5 knots (41kmh, 26mph), the most economical speed in terms of fuel consumption. The boat was very responsive to trim and liked the leg out, not tucked in, to get optimum performance.
The harbour was like a washing machine as the westerly tore across open water – not a safe place to be in a small boat. The Allison took on the chop with hardly a whimper and spray came nowhere near us. Full-on into the chop, the boat lifted and remained there with a fair bit of down trim, making the forefoot do its work.
Turns were easy and the boat lifted on the windward side but weight kept her from heeling. In reverse, water was pushed aside by the pod with no intrusion into the well. At rest, the boat showed a little lean with both of us hanging over the side but eventually rested on the chines and stayed there.
After the test, we headed back to the ramp. The trailer was reversed into the water and I allowed Dane to drive the boat on, as I was sure it was going to be a pig’s breakfast due to the howling wind. The trailer picked up the bow first time, aligned it and, with a dash of power the Allison slid up to be fastened off on the winch post. Easy, and a credit to the Dunbier trailer.
The Allison Fisherman 5 is a serious fishing machine and is designed for those who want to go a bit further than the mouth of the river or estuary. After seeing what it can do to a 30-knot chop, the Allison will cope with that very well.
ALLISON FISHERMAN 5
Overall height (no bimini)1.7m
Hull weight (approx)550kg
Cockpit area 1.6m x 2.52m
Recommended HP50-75 hp
Upholstered helm swivel seats; mechanical steering; sports wheel; non-skid floor; 4 x rod holders; underfloor storage; bronze bow roller & bollard; s/s bow U-bolt; 2 rear cleats (recessed); 2 x bait tanks; 2 x cutting boards; two-tone deck
Nav lights; foam buoyancy; ski hooks; rear seat with backrest; 60-litre cruise tank; s/s grab rails; cockpit carpet; s/s boarding ladder; s/s split bow rail; marlin board; auxiliary bracket; gas operated seating.
Boat as tested $24,910 inc GST
This includes rear lounge, cruise tank, fire extinguisher, split bow rails, bimini top, front clears, 27meg radio and Permatrim. Boat is supplied with a Dunbier self-aligning trailer, all registrations, safety gear and on-water instruction.
Boat supplied by Watersports Marine, 11 Binney Road, Kings Park, NSW 2148. Ph (02) 9676 1400. Fax (02) 9676 7588Reads: 6519