STESSCO has produced a very interesting tournament craft in the form of Craig Simmons’ new Mirage SC Series. Taking a standard vee hull and lopping off 80mm from the gunwale height and customising the interior has resulted in a boat that looks good, performs well and can carry enough tackle to last a lifetime!
Taking a vee-bottomed boat, cutting it down and turning it into a tournament craft isn’t a new idea. Savage’s Mirage series was a little ahead of its time and Stacer’s recently displayed concept Pro Tournament craft takes the same ideas in slightly different directions, but it’s the level of fit-up and customisation that caught my eye on a recent test on the Brisbane River.
Launching the craft, you immediately notice that at the helm, things are set up a little differently. A gear change lever sits in the throttle’s usual position and a foot throttle is used to control speed.
Foot throttles allow the driver to have two hands on the wheel while driving, which is obviously safer than one on the wheel and the other on a hand throttle.
Fitted with an Automixing Tohatsu 90hp two-stroke engine, there’s ample grunt to get up and planing. Taking a lot of trim for an aluminium craft, a top speed in the low 40s (mph) will definitely keep you in the pack.
And because this is basically a vee hull from the waterline down, it handles like one. It cuts through small chop with ease and corners quite tightly without ventilating the propeller.
But in reality, you spend more time fishing than travelling, and the versatility in this department is where this boat really shines.
Starting at the bow, the 74lb MinnKota is powered by a pair of 100a/h gel cell batteries that are cleverly concealed under a sub-floor in front of the casting deck bulkhead. Next to the electric on the checkerplate bow sits a Humminbird Matrix 37 with an armature mounted transducer. The foot control is freely movable on the front deck, which means that you can kick it from side to side if you’re fishing the port or starboard side bank.
Moving the foot pedal also gives access to the cavernous tackle storage locker in the bow. Finally, a boat maker has listened to anglers’ needs and located the tackle next to the angler, but still out of the way! The front locker holds 22 Plano trays – easily ample for a whole holiday let alone a single day on the water. A small gas strut here would have been nice, though.
Two other hatches under the front deck give access to a pair of Nally Bins that sit neatly in the framework. Practically, this means that you can have your gear packed in the bins beforehand and then just drop them in before you leave for a day on the water. Top marks for this.
In the middle of the front deck, there’s the first of two livewells. Two livewells means that in a tournament, you have no problems deciding who owns each fish, but fishing socially, it means you can use one as a livewell, livebait tank or catch well, and maybe the other as an ice box.
Aft of these hatches is the battery hatch with a false floor above where Craig stored the PFDs. The step up to the front deck also acted as a glove-box, keeping keys, phones, keytags and other small items in the one place.
The side console housed nothing out of the ordinary – switch panels, 12V outlets, gauges, the helm and the trim/tilt switch for the engine. Along each gunwale alongside the cockpit are deep rod lockers – easily large enough for a dozen rigged rods each.
The second livewell sits in the aft of the boat. Each well has a separate and isolatable pump, even though they both work off the same timer switch. At 85 litres each, their capacity is ample.
Attention to the smaller details is the difference between a good fishing boat and a better fishing boat. This Stessco features concealed deck hinges that don’t heat up or take skin off wet feet, and it also has meticulous wiring – all wires are protected from the electric motor through to the outboard.
On a trailer and as tested, a Stessco 475 Mirage SC will set you back around $30,000. Call River City Marine in Brisbane for more details on (07) 3262 7666.
Length – 4.75m
Beam – 2.10m
Maximum hp – 90
Weight (on trailer) – 1040kg
Weight on water – 785kg
Sides – 3mm plate
Bottom – 3mm pressed
Livewells – 2 x 85 litre
Electric motor – 74lb, 24v MinnKota
Sounders – 2 x Humminbird Matrix 37
1) Plenty of deck space, plenty of underfloor storage and stable to boot. The Mirage 475SC Stessco is very angler-friendly.
2) How’s this for a heap of tackle storage where you need it? 22 Plano StowAway boxes can fit in here…. And it’s right where you need it – on the front deck.
3) With all of the performance characteristics of a vee hull, the 475 is a buzz to drive – especially with the foot throttle.
4) Nally Bin compartments are a practical and efficient storage solutions.