Getting there is half the fun
SECTION: boat test
There is a saying in fishing: ‘Being there is enough and catching fish is a bonus.’ Yeah right!
Generally I reckon that is just an excuse for anyone who isn’t catching fish, but I do concede that with the escalating interest in the estuary luring scene (not just bream), we should change the saying to: ‘Getting there (first) is enough and catching fish is up to you.’
With the tendency towards dedicated lure-fishing rigs, the need for speed can overwhelm the punters so most boat manufacturers have catered for a balance between speed, safety and cost.
If we look at the top sellers, alloy creations easily fill the top spots on the wish lists and the award-winning Stessl 435 Pro Tournament Edge Tracker fits in nicely with current demand.
Stessl have further developed the well-known Edge Tracker models, producing a boat that is making serious inroads on the bream/bass luring market. They have adopted a more traditional ‘pointy-end’ finish to a boat that I must say I enjoyed driving and fishing from.
When I was asked to test the boat out of Hastings Marine at Port Macquarie, I insisted on having the rig for the day, loading it with fishing gear, guys and filling the 100-litre livewell. Everything you would take on a trip out was stowed on board.
Testing a boat properly has to be done under certain conditions to simulate the exact use for which the craft was intended, otherwise you can’t really assess it as a whole fishing package.
The boat slipped off the trailer with ease and, once loaded with camera, video and fishing gear, there was plenty of room for three large blokes to get comfortable for the run up the river. Much of the gear was stowed under the front deck with rod bags rested in the port side pocket.
We were fishing three-up comfortably while we waited for our camera boat to show and the Stessl had no trouble skipping over the wind chop. The forward deck has a pedestal seat mounted mid-deck that would allow comfortable foot control of the MotorGuide electric.
John at Hastings Marine had added a solid electric motor mount that provided a great base for the MotorGuide cable-steer unit. The welded and painted aluminium plate was firm and functional without detracting from the appearance of the hull. The plate would take any sized electric. The electric motor shaft, while not central to the keel, hangs sufficiently forward so that it does not drag the hull too much during turns in the current.
The 60hp Mercury EFI four-stoke was a quiet inclusion that allowed us to enjoy the slap of the water as it pushed the hull to around 36knots, trimmed out. The 435 Edge Tracker was close to perfect. You could tinker with different props for boat load or speed but the test prop was fine.
The optional side console provided a secure steering position and even in the worst of the slop was more than comfortable. The aluminium console with wrap-around screen was the focus of the boat with instruments, steering and your own options able to be added to provide a very functional helm. Rod rack, beverage holder, carpet, and Velcro tabs are all small touches to the console that would personalise your boat.
With plenty of river to explore, we headed flat-out upstream looking for snaggy spots to try our hand at the bream. The boat was an absolute joy to drive, negotiating the bends and floating snags that seemed to appear from nowhere. Powering down and dropping the 46lb MotorGuide leg into the water, the boat was soon being steered from the front deck with little effort.
There is an option for a port-side rod locker but the port storage pocket is adequate for non-essentials like leader spools, tackle boxes and a spare rod. Stessl have laid the boat out well with good storage under the front deck area that can be partitioned for effective use.
I would move the fuel tank to the front underfloor to help reduce the weight in the back end of the boat.
When full, the 100-litre livewell, which was slightly forward of midships, helped to get the boat up and out of the hole easier than when it was empty with two blokes and fuel sitting at the rear.
At rest with two fishing from the front and rear, the boat maintains good stability and even if one of the anglers gets active there is no trouble countering the effects. The rear fuel hatches provide an adequate elevated platform for the non-boater to get some good casting from.
The Stessl 435 Edge Tracker Pro Tournament (quite a mouthful, that) is a stylish-looking hull with fine lines and a top paint finish that would be a shame to leave on the local oyster racks. The chine lines mark the painted finish of the upper hull and give the boat a fine look on the water.
Internally, the carpeted finishes are tidy with plastic and elastic hold-downs on hatch covers and nylon webbing tabs to lift the flush hatch panels. Stainless hinges are quality fittings and, given a personal touch I would Velcro tabs of carpet over the hinges to prevent the ‘hot foot’ that can occur on bare feet during the height of Summer.
The forward live well is large enough to satisfy tournament regulations and is big enough to transport a trophy flathead. The ethos of catch and release is now entrenched in many anglers and the livewell provides ample water circulation to house the day’s catch.
Draining of the livewell is via a pull-out PVC standpipe. Different lengths of pipe will provide varying volumes of water. So if you didn’t want to fill the well you simply use a shorter pipe.
One thing I notice in most livewells is that the smaller diameter pipes can air-lock and occasionally overflow. A simple solution to this is to use a larger PVC reducer to allow better flow into the overflow pipe. For instance, if you have a 25mm overflow pipe, you fit to the top of it a 32mm to 25mm reducer so you have a larger inflow surface area and a slight head of water to force the water down.
The Stessl Edge Tracker 435 Pro Tournament is a boat worth serious consideration. At around $21,000 as tested, it is well within the market for this type of boat and the inclusions John from Hastings Marine has added are thoughtful add-ons.
All in all, two thumbs up for the pocket rocket from Stessl.
|Length on trailer||5.4m|
|Height on trailer||1.6m|
|Max transom weight||120kg|
|Fuel (sub floor)||60 litres|
|Weight (hull only)||230kg|
2 rod holders, 2 upholstered fold-down pedestal seats with four floor positions, carpeted floor, port side pocket, anchor locker under foredeck, pro tournament casting deck with sub-floor, rear casting deck with splashwell, transducer bracket, extruded side decks, underfloor flotation, painted with stripes, bow and side rails with nav light brackets,
Sports side console with screen and steering system, 100-litre livewell, 60-litre underfloor fuel tank, side deck fuel filler with gauge and sender, two-tone paint, bowsprit and roller, electric kit (nav lights, bilge pump etc), port rod locker, rear 40-litre livewell, electric bow-mount bracket.
• Price as tested on Felk trailer with 46lb freshwater bow-mount MotorGuide, all registrations and safety gear: $21990
(Test boat supplied by Hastings Marine, 185 Hastings River Drive, Port Macquarie 2444, phone 02 6583 5511. Email --e-mail address hidden--
Choppy conditions are better for boat testing than fishing. So that's what the author did at the end of the day – thrashed around, putting the boat through its paces. The conclusion was a pass with flying colours.
The-100 litre livewell is more than ample for a BREAM tournament or trophy flathead. Hell, if things get tough you can use it for a jaccuzzi.
The Stessl 435 Pro Tournament Edge Tracker is a great-looking boat on or off the water.
The recovery of any boat at the end of a hard day has to be easy. Sliding the Edge Tracker on to the trailer was a breeze.
Running flat out was not only fun but gave a good indication of the boat handling.
The pointy end of the boat looks a little dangerous but it is a great look for the revamped Edge Tracker model. The welded electric mount is a neat inclusion from John at Hastings Marine, Port Macquarie.
Comfortable seating and relocatable pedestals make for a few combinations, whether fishing alone or with mates.
The clear uncluttered decks and floor with compact console provides plenty of room for floor area storage (ie dumping the necessary tackle bags).
The console is simple but functional. Personal touches like carpet or velcro tabs, drink holder and electronics can be accommodated with a bit of thought.