WHEN reviewing various plate boats over the years I’ve often mentioned the benefits of having the boat customised to suit anglers’ individual needs. Most of the time these modifications are applied to the layout of a standard hull in the manufacturer’s range. However, in this latest boat test from AMM, the boat was built entirely as a custom job – from the hull to the layout – to suit the customer’s requirements. This is when you truly start to see the ability of an experienced boat builder.
AMM 5.5m Pro Guide, designed as a fishing guide boat, had to meet extensive requirements. Because fishing guides have no idea of an angler’s skill or how much time he has spent on a boat, the boat’s design needs to cater for both seadogs and land-lovers to ensure that everyone enjoys their time on the water.
First up, you need a stable platform for them to fish on. As any skipper will vouch, one minute the guests are on one side of the boat and the next they are all over the other side, so an unstable boat can be a bad mix. Here we see the boat ordered with a very shallow 10-degree deadrise, for that very reason. Most aluminium boats run around 12 to 15 degrees, with the larger plate boats in the 15- to 21-degree range.
As you can guess, there isn’t a lot of deadrise or vee at the transom on this boat. This ensures that there’s plenty of hull in contact with the water, supporting movement around the boat. It also ensures a very quick response in lifting up onto the plane and holding the plane at slower revs. The Pro Guide has most of its weight towards the rear half, enabling the boat to maintain that level attitude with no bow-high problems or the rear end bogging down, struggling to get out of the water.
Even though we had only minimal weight in the boat it was very snappy, getting on its way with little effort from the 115hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard. Without that shallow deadrise, and with the particular layout of this boat, it would indeed struggle to get onto the plane with any efficiency.
One of the problems that can arise with boats that have quite a shallow deadrise is that they can be a little harsh on the ride. Take your traditional style punt for example – it’s very stable and requires minimal horsepower to get it going, but has a rough, wet ride.
Boats have come along way since these old style punts, and the AMM 5.5m Pro Guide has achieved a good ride due to the length and weight of the hull. Because it’s longer you can still have that shallow deadrise in the stern with the length to pull the sheets up to form a deep and fine entry in the bow, which is what takes the punch out of the ride.
The day we did the test run the winds were 30 knots plus (just another average weekend for boating!) so we didn’t have to go far to find some short, steep chop to put the Pro Guide through its paces.
The boat ate the conditions far better than I thought, and would probably ride a little better again with the added weight of a day’s charter and crew. I daresay the new owners and their guests in the Northern Territory will find this hull a top one to fish out of, and they’ll appreciate not getting bounced all over the ocean when getting to the fishing spots.
Being of a solid plate construction, there’s the scope for quite a selection of outboards. The transom is suited to engines of up to 140hp, or can be built to accommodate twin engines.
These days it’s hard to go past the four-stroke outboards. They are smooth, fuel efficient, fume-free and, in most cases, quieter than their two-stroke counterparts. The 115hp fitted to this model provided ample power without a load, and when the boat is loaded up that shallow deadrise should further improve the ride due to the increased planing surface in contact with the water.
When it comes to fuel capacity, the 200 litres in the underfloor tank will see you travel many miles before you’ll need to put any fuel in the tank. This is great for those extended trips when you might otherwise have to keep a few drums of fuel in the boat.
You can have the best hull in the world but it’s not much good to you if you don’t have room to move about the deck and fish, or if you trip over something each time you try to move from one end of the boat to the other.
To ensure the skipper can keep an eye on his guests, the helm area with the centre console is located aft of centre to leave as much room at the front of the boat as possible to fish out of. The console houses all the necessary electronics, live fish/bait wells and the tools of the trade, keeping them easy at hand and out of the way of people fishing.
You can comfortably fish three anglers up front, with the old skip back at his seat. Two thirds of the deck is at standard level, with the raised casting platform in the bow section. There are a few seating positions here, along with an impressive storage area below and a fish well.
I liked the fact that plenty of space has been left between the centre console and the sides of the boat. You can imagine how cumbersome it would be moving down the side of the boat with a big barra, trying to coax it into the net, if you didn’t have the room to move down the length of the boat. Plenty of fish have been lost this way.
Nice, long side pockets run from the casting deck down to the transom, where they meet the raised shelves for the battery boxes. It all blends in tidily – a must for this type of fishing, when good times for the customers mean food on the table for the owner.
You could pretty well say this boat is divided into two sections (although no real barrier exists): the aft area for skipper/deckie and all his workings, and the for’ard larger area for the clients to fish from.
Open boats are great to fish out of but there isn’t much shade; it’s a compromise that gives you have little room to negotiate. A lot of shade and you lose fishing and casting room, due to the supports for the shade. No shade and you melt.
On the Pro Guide a canopy runs from the console back to the transom, and while it doesn’t provide a lot of shade it does offer relief from that tropical sun. I think the deck hose will be soaking the carpet a bit here to keep things cool.
When you have a good look around this rig you soon realise the extent to which you can customise a boat in a practical manner. As long as you’re not suggesting anything extreme or radical I’ve yet to see a boat that the team at AMM haven’t been able to do and do well.
Package price as tested: $48,350. For further information call AMM on (07) 3889 7380.
Make - Australian Master Marine
Model - 5.5m Pro Guide
Construction - plate alloy
Bottom - 5mm plate
Sides - 4mm plate
Length - 5.5m
Beam - 1.4m
Weight - 1600kg (BMT)
Deadrise - 10 degrees
Fuel - 200L underfloor
Height on trailer - 1.8m (to top of console)
Max hp - 140hp
Flotation - optional
1) This purpose-built 5.5m Pro Guide by AMM offers superb stability while maintaining a soft ride.
2) It’s hard to go past four-stroke engines these days, and this 115hp Yamaha sits well on the boat with power, performance and economy.
3) All the essentials of the work area – live wells, deck wash, cutting board and controls – are located within an arm’s reach of the helm position.
4) Rhree anglers can fish comfortably up front, with heaps of storage below.
5) It’s nice to see plenty of leg room down the sides of the boat.
6) Not a big centre console – just the right size for electronics and dry storage, with the added benefit of not crowding out the sides of the boat.