THE BLUE FIN 4.5 Warrior has had sensational sales figures across the state since it made its debut at this year's Sanctuary Cove Boat Show. The much-anticipated side console version of the Blue Fin, called the Predator, has hit the showrooms and is causing as big a storm as its tiller steer predecessor.
Rick Castino, owner of Tableland Marine & Outdoors, has been working with Blue Fin owners Margaret and Allan McDonald on developing a series of boats specifically for North Queensland requirements. Boy - have they got it right! The Warrior has proven to have far wider appeal than just North Queensland, with Rick receiving enquires from as far afield as Victoria and Mt Isa following the write-up I did in the August edition of this magazine.
The Predator has it all and, like the Warrior, it’s massive for its length, with a width of 2.15 metres creating an incredible amount of useable floor space. The high sides, which are 1.1 metres overall, with a 0.6m internal gunwale height, give a really safe look and feel to the boat. The whole rig gives you the confidence to feel secure, whether you’re heading to the reef or fishing the croc-infested streams of the north without worrying about a scaly coming over the side.
One of the big drawcards of the Blue Fin is the 3mm alloy used for the bottom, sides and side deck. This means the Predator will withstand the extra punishment that the harsh northern environment can deal out.
The layout is ideal for northern fishing, with a forward and rear casting platform. The forward casting platform has calf-height support, giving you the elevation to throw a cast net or lure with the security of knowing that you won't follow it over the side.
The 60-litre underfloor fuel tank gives plenty of range while keeping the floor clutter-free. The fuel filler is set into the gunwale, so you don't have to scramble aboard at the servo to fuel up. When you do climb aboard, the internal volume of the Predator is staggering, with the side console allowing maximum use of the available space.
The console is compact while still having plenty of storage room underneath. An EPIRB and fire extinguisher are fitted inside the console on the starboard side, and the sides of the console are cut away to allow the helmsman's legs to swing around to the side with ease. It's little things like this that make Blue Fins stand out from the competition. The attention to detail is exceptional.
A low profile perspex screen protects the electronics. The test boat was fitted with a 350 TX Humminbird sounder, with the GPS still on order, and a four-switch panel and standard Yamaha digital instrumentation finishing off the electronics.
The low profile bowrail feeds the anchor rope directly onto the bowroller, situated on the end of a small bowsprit. The anchor well is self-draining and consists of a moulded plastic well inserted into the foredeck. This reduces noise and stops unsightly anchor dings in the bow. The cross bollard is situated on the rear side of the well for easy access.
The forward casting platform contains a massive storage area which can be accessed by two side-hinged hatches. These are ideally located to still allow full access when the seat is on the foredeck. The two padded pivoting bucket seats come with five location holes - two at the stern, two just behind the forward casting platform and one in the middle of the foredeck. Errol is ordering a third seat, and there is a stack of room for three anglers, or even four, to fish in comfort from the Predator.
The Predator is built to be left in your will. A close inspection reveals heaps of reinforcement and added strength but the boat still maintains its smooth, sleek lines. Having 10 ribs that carry right through to the gunwale is another example of strength, along with the four under-gunwale support struts. Another great idea is a crease placed in the side sheets just below the gunwale for extra rigidity, which negates the need to weld all the way along under the gunwale – something that often causes rippling along the sides.
The rear casting platform has a large storage area to starboard. This could hold a spare fuel tank and a live bait tank, and a smaller storage compartment to port housing the battery. Two small side pockets finish off the ample storage available in the Predator.
A transom step and grab rail are situated on the port side, and two rear quarter cleats make mooring a breeze. Two through-gunwale rod holders, in trolling position, come standard. Nav lights are tucked away under the bow rail for protection from branches and pontoons, and the white light folds down out of the way near the back of the helmsman's grab rail.
The workmanship and finish on this Blue Fin are top shelf. The dark blue sides and top deck, with striping, gives a really classy look to the Predator.
The test boat was fitted with a 60hp Yamaha four-stroke which performed beautifully during our trials on Lake Tinaroo. The boat was sold before it arrived, so Tableland Marine and Outdoors head mechanic Luke Turner kindly organised for his father Errol (who bought the boat) to take me for a run.
It was only the second time Errol had been in the boat, and boy - did he look like the Labrador who stole the sausage! For me, it was envy at first sight. The Predator is exactly the boat I’d like to own and, when we got back to the shop, I told Rick that if I had the money I'd be signing up on the spot. Rick never missed a beat, recommending Aussie Loans for the job. I asked him if they also did cheap divorces, because I’d just built a new home and didn't like my chances of getting the boat before curtains, mirrors and landscaping. But it won't be long!
The 60hp Yamaha had been re-propped by Luke because it wasn't getting the full rev range, and he certainly picked it right. The 11 3/8 inch by 12-inch prop was just perfect, letting the Yamaha rev out to 5700rpm while having plenty of pick-up out of the hole. With three up we managed 25km/h (16mph, 13 knots) at 3500rpm, 35km/h (22mph, 19 knots) at 4000rpm, 41km/h (25mph, 22 knots) at 4500rpm, 45km/h (28mph, 24 knots) at 5000 rpm, 49km/h (30mph, 26 knots) at 5500rpm and topped out doing 52km/h (32mph, 28 knots) at 5700rpm. You can add about another four knots to the top end speed in saltwater, which is more than fast enough for a fishing boat.
The Predator was an absolute pleasure to drive. The Teleflex Morse steering system was as smooth as silk and the response was just perfect. It turned incredibly tight and hung on like chewing gum to a shoe. A low profile grab rail is ideally situated for the helmsman and the passenger when the spare seat is in the back.
While not a bolter out of the hole, the 60hp Yamaha four-stroke got the Predator up on the plane with ease and it would be even sharper in the brine.
Overall, the Predator has a wide range of appeal and I rank it as the number one boat in its class. I wonder if I can get one of those boat loans without the wife's signature?
Blue Fin Predator 45 hull only price: $8705 (plus extras). For further information contact Tableland Marine and Outdoors on (07) 4095 4284.
Length overall - 4.7m
Sides - 3mm plate alloy
Bottom - 3mm pressed
Side decks - 3mm
Front deck - 3mm
Front deck - 2.5mm
Beam - 2.15m
Hull depth - 1.1m
Weight (hull only) – approx. 300kg
Maximum hp - 60
1) The Blue Fin Predator has the perfect layout for fishing the north.
2) The planing strakes help keep the spray down.
3) The side opening front hatches can still be fully accessed when the seat is moved onto the casting platform.
4) The cut away under the console makes it easy for the helmsman to get their legs in and out.
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5) The Predator was an absolute pleasure to drive.Reads: 2496