The 5m Hooker hull has been around for some time and there are already around 200 plying the Australian waterways. The latest fit-out of the 5m model by Hooker Boats in Cairns is well worth a look, as it has some new approaches and an excellent layout.
The test boat will be in Darwin by the time you read this and new owner Max Bell will be all smiles if he likes it as much as I do. Max had some specific requirements, most of which could be met.
One change to his request was the need to put an access hatch in the rear casting platform to get at the battery and internal steering and motor fittings. This space is huge and I would have used it differently, but this is a custom-designed layout built to the owner’s requirements. That’s the great thing about Hooker boats – the owner has plenty of input into the layout. Basically, from the hull up, it’s up to the buyer.
The layout is fairly standard for a centre console, with forward and rear casting platforms, console and three removable pivoting bucket seats. What makes this boat different is the size of the platforms. The rear casting platform has a large fully plumbed livebait tank in the port corner.
The forward casting platform is dropped down about 70mm below the nose deck, which holds the self-draining anchor well. The back edge of the nose deck has a lip to stop water draining back into the hull and the anchor well has a solid fibreglass lock-down hatch.
The anchoring system consists of a small bow roller with a cross bollard mounted directly behind it, and there’s a mounting plate for the removable bucket seat on the rear edge of the nose deck. A Minn Kota Rip Tide 55lb electric thruster is mounted on the port shoulder and is set up to be operated using a foot control from the front seat.
Two deep-cycle batteries to power the Minn Kota are housed under the console, and there is a power jack in the front port corner so the electric thruster can be removed when desired. The rear side of the front casting platform has a weatherproof hatch, making an ideal dry storage compartment at the nose. The four corners of the main cockpit have a length of PVC tubing glassed in to mount the removable canopy, which Max designed and made himself.
A feature I really like is the use of white gunwale rubber which is wrapped up onto the top of the gunwale. It is glued onto the top edge of the flowcoat gunwale to create a much neater finish. It gives a great finish while maintaining the easy-to-repair flowcoat edge rather than a moulded top deck.
The console is compact while holding all the electronics needed for fishing. The wraparound perspex screen is protected by a stainless steel grabrail and offers protection for the Lowrance X125 sounder and Globalmap 4800 GPS. Standard Yamaha instrumentation is mounted into the dash and a six-switch panel to port controls on-board electrics. The Teleflex planetary gear cable steering is super-smooth and a pleasure to operate. Storage under the console consists of a single shelf with the two batteries on the floor.
We didn’t take the Hooker for a run in open water as I have been in a number of these hulls in the past and they have exceptional sea-handling capabilities. Their enormous popularity as tenders for professional reef fishing operators is a great tribute to their seagoing ability. You will be hard pressed to find a better sea boat in its class. The 5m centre console will pass survey as is, and has a self-draining deck, built-in floatation under the floor and gunwales and a 40mm solid fibreglass transom. No timber is used in the construction, so you don’t have to worry about rot.
The 60hp Yamaha four-stroke was a bit sluggish getting the Hooker out of the hole with three aboard, but there would have been 300kg between us. A 60 Yamaha is probably at the bottom of the power range, especially to push the weight of three batteries, three guys and 200 litres of fuel.
Once on the plane it produced a reasonable pace without being overly fast. At 3500rpm it produced 14km/h (8kts, 9mph), at 4000rpm it produced 27km/h (15kts, 17mph), at 4500rpm it produced 32km/h (17kts, 20mph), at 5000rpm it produced 39km/h (21kts, 24mph), at 5500rpm it produced 42km/h (23kts, 26mph) and topped out doing 47km/h.
The Hooker has an underfloor fuel capacity of 200 litres. This is well above standard, but Max asked for it so he could easily travel long distances around Darwin.
All up, the 5m Hooker centre console is a great fishing rig, ideal for the angler who wants the option of fishing the creeks or offshore in good weather. The great riding hull means it will be a pleasure to shoot long distances along the coast to access those seldom-touched waterways in the Territory.
For more information on the 5m Hooker contact Hooker Boat Sales on (07) 4058 0644 or check out the Hooker website at www.hookerboats.com
Centreline length - 5m
Max beam - 1.84m
Max eepth - 0.91m
Underfloor fuel - 200 litres
Max horsepower - 70
Price as tested - $_______
1 The 5m Hooker is a renowned sea boat and has proven itself in the harsh conditions of the professional reef line fishing industry.
2 The Minn Kota Rip Tide is mounted so it can be operated from the front seat. The lip on the back of the nose deck is to stop water flowing back into the cockpit. The solid fibreglass anchor hatch and quality hinges will see the hatch last the life of the boat.
3 The dash is compact but holds all the electronics needed for inshore fishing. Note the stainless steel grabrail around the perimeter of the perspex screen.
4 Building a hatch into the rear casting platform was necessary to access the battery, fuel filter and engine mounts.
5 The large, fully plumbed livebait tank will hold a serious school of bait. It could use a clip to keep the lid open, leaving both hands free to chase the bait.
6 The foot-controlled Minn Kota Rip Tide electric thruster is perfect to allow the operator to have precise control of the Hooker, making sure they get first shot and the best angle on any snag.
7 Having the white gunwale rubber wrap up onto the top of the gunwale gives a very neat finish while maintaining the easy-to-repair features of a flowcoat finish.
8 At the owner’s request, PVC pipe has been glassed into each corner to mount a homemade canopy. Note the power jack for the electric thruster so it can easily be removed from the Hooker when not required.