NO READER of Fishing Monthly needs to be reminded of the incredible growth in numbers of custom bass and bream craft hitting the water. We’ve seen boats in these pages from big manufacturers and small, each trying to find an ideal compromise between cost, speed, stability and ease of manufacture.
Queensland’s Quintrex boats, by a long margin, have the largest market share of aluminium craft in Australia. Around three in every 10 boats sold is a Quinnie, and when you add sales of their entry-level Stacer brand, that figure moves closer to one in two.
As a result, the evolution of Aussie-made bream, bass and barra boats has been just that – a process that’s taking years and incorporating feedback from anglers nationwide.
Many good ideas that have been incorporated into customised Quinnies are now common in Quintrex’s 2004 line-up. We’ve seen switched-on anglers’ modified Hornets with pods, rod lockers, cool paint jobs and electric motor brackets on the water well before they appeared in the catalogue.
Tony Payne is a Gold Coast angler who fishes around a dozen tournaments a year, both individually and with his eldest son. It was with this task in mind that he built his fourth Hornet – a custom 475 Trophy with the help of Quintrex, Evinrude, Total Aluminium Boating Services (TABS) and the Coast’s Hinterland Marine.
“My last Hornet was a 435, so the step up to the 475 was pretty big for me. With a growing family I wouldn’t have considered a smaller hull and I can’t lie – the thought of that extra speed with 75 horses was more motivation,” Tony explained as we rolled spinnerbaits through a school of bass in the Coast’s hinterland. “I always take pride in how my boats look and perform, so there was always going to be attention to detail – right down to using wasted space and colour selection.”
And the resultant rig performs its job admirably.
Fitted with one of the very first Evinrude E-Tecs to hit our shores, Tony had no reason at all to be disappointed with the performance. Upgrading from his last motor – a 50hp four-stroke – he has nothing but praise for the performance of the engine.
“Even though it runs double oil for the first 10 hours, I can hardly smell the smoke. The three-year [300 hour] servicing interval sounds fantastic, but I know that I’ll still be down to the dealer every so often – you know, just to check that everything’s AOK.”
On the GPS the E-Tec pushes the 475 along at 41.5mph in saltwater and 39mph in the fresh with the out-of-the-box 17” SST stainless steel propeller. Hole shot is impressive, as is responsiveness of the E-Tech throughout the rev range.
After a short play with the E-Tecs at a media day last year, it’s good to see Bombardier start to deliver on their promises. The three-cylinder powerplant comes in quite a small package with a small profile. At 138kg the engine fits well within the Hornet’s specifications.
Apart from the long gap between servicing intervals, the E-Tec requires no input from the user during the break-in period – you just get in and drive and the engine controls its own run-in parameters.
As for the hull itself, Tony had some modifications done at the Quintrex factory and other features were retro-fitted by Wayne Pearce’s Gold Coast based Total Aluminium Boating Services (TABS).
“I liked the idea of all of my livewell water down the back of the craft, to enhance performance, so we ripped out the standard rotomoulded livewell and added a wider and deeper 95-litre aluminium well that’ll easily hold four bass or 10 bream,” Tony explained.
On the test day, four 40cm+ bass swam merrily around, as if to prove the point.
One clever addition is a storage compartment between the console and the front casting deck. This space is usually wasted in a standard fit-up, but Tony uses the top of the compartment to keep his assortment of lures and half a dozen Plano flat boxes fit underneath. With the speed these boats now travel, it is important to have an easily accessible tackle locker, otherwise your gear can blow overboard, and no-one likes that.
Tony’s 65lb, 24V Minn Kota Auto Pilot is powered by two batteries that are located immediately for’ard of the casting deck bulkhead. Both to the side and in front of this compartment are other gear storage hatches, although none of these are waterproof. My call is that in the next few years we’ll start to see waterproof storage in production boats. The wet test day saw all gear in these hatches as soaked as the decks.
Up the front, an Eagle Accura 240 pinpoints fish under the electric motor armature, where the transducer is located, while at the helm, a FishElite 320 GPS/Sonar combo allows Tony to see bait and fish while he’s homing-in on his favourite marks.
“It’s really important to have a GPS on board, because nowadays I can use it to mark tiny ledges and drop-offs in any lakes I fish,” Tony added. Increasingly, it’s the ability to pinpoint this less obvious structure that can give a tournament angler an advantage.
While describing the topography of the bottom on the test day, Tony accurately predicted the location of the bass in relation to his marks. As the water rose to a mid-lake hump, the familiar arches and slashes of bass filled the screen. As they say – it’s a tough job…
Another modification Tony has made was to remove the rotomoulded anchor well liner, carpeting the area instead.
“It gives me that few extra inches that I need to fit in the anchor and rope comfortably,” Tony explained.
The rod locker down the port side easily accommodates a quiver of tournament anglers’ rods and Tony ensured that rods up to 7ft in length could be accommodated here. When closed, the lid of the locker is an ideal place to store rigged rods that you’re using at the time.
The trend towards drive-on trailers is noticeable in these circles and the Dunbier Wide Track Loader series does the job well. As one angler reverses the trailer in and the other edges the bow into position before a quick squirt of the throttle lifts the craft up and into position. The car driver then attaches the winch cable and finishes securing the craft.
Hornets, with their flared bow, are suited to this method, as the trailer easily guides the bow into position.
Finishing, Tony chose a metallic Ford blue, and although his signwriting wasn’t complete at the time of testing, the boat definitely turned heads, both on and off the water.
So, the question now is what does it cost to get yourself on the water with a bassin’ machine like Tony’s? Tony paid $27,500 for the boat/motor/trailer package, but said that you can add another $4,500 for the batteries, electric motor and sounders, bringing in the complete package at $32,000. Call Hinterland Miami Marine for more information on (07) 5572 8166 or TABS on (07) 5529 3364.
Boat -Modified Quintrex Hornet 475 Trophy
Motor - Evinrude E-Tec 75hp
Trailer - Braked Dunbier Wide Track Loader
Electric - MinnKota 65lb, 24v AutoPilot
Electrics - Eagle sounders and GPS
1. Tony Payne’s custom 475 Hornet Trophy turns heads both on and off the water.
2. Discarding the standars 60l livewell, Tony’s opted for a 95l aluminium livewell down the back.
3. The Evinrude is compact, light, punchy and to date has delivered all Bombardier has promised.
4. The 7’ rod locker runs down the port side.
5. Wasted space between the console and the casting deck has been filled with a nifty tackle storage area.
6. You can see the space available from above.
7. The E-Tec pushed Tony’s craft to just over 40mph in the salt and just under that mark in the fresh.