This budget priced Ally Craft rig has a lot to offer when we look at the total package. The Fish Mate is versatile as it is offered in three different set ups; a centre console configuration (as tested), a tiller steer with fore/aft opposing seats or a tiller steer twin thwart dinghy style rig.
Common to all three designs are features such as carpeted floor, a large anchor well, split bow rail, grab rails on all quarters, large side pockets and a boarding step to port – on each configuration of hull – complete with a grab rail. A transducer bracket is also standard.
The Fish Mate's hull is constructed from 3mm plate bottom and 2mm flat alloy sides and has a modest 12º Vee aft, where some six strakes per side plus a small outer reversed chine are noted. The rig also has a large well formed central keel.
All three 425 Fish Mate configurations are rated for outboards up to 40hp although I must say I was impressed with the performance of the 30hp Mercury two stroke.
As Trevor Rowe, of Rocklea based Karee Marine, (who provided the reviewed rig) put it: “The Fish Mate is basically a very sound boat at a budget price so folk can make up their own minds as to which configuration they want for the job at hand”.
I saw the centre console model as a very useful fishing craft given that the weight of driver and perhaps another passenger will be centrally located, while work room for many different types of fishing would never be in short supply.
Interestingly the reviewed 425 Fish Mate was equipped with only one pedestal seat directly behind the console with it's central shelf and windshield. But it would certainly be an option to have a couple of seat bases fitted at the factory so that two could be seated in the central helm area. The rig is also rated for up to four persons so a bench seat aft might be a good factory option if more than two people would be aboard on a regular basis. In the reviewed rig a tote tank plus an engine battery were tucked aft against the transom.
With mechanical steering linked to the lively Mercury 30hp two stroke on the stern the centrally situated wheel was within easy reach of a driver seated aft of the console while forward controls for the Mercury were quite handy on the starboard side of the console as well.
As a no frills centre console rig the 425 Ally Craft Fish Mate might have been short of a few bells and whistles but it certainly performed to a quite satisfactory level. Test runs were carried out in the Brisbane River, Jindalee Reach, where the water was pretty close to full fresh by the look of things at the time.
The Mercury 30hp started quite readily and when snicked into gear lifted the craft along quite smoothly to plane at 13.8km/h, a good indication of the hull's ability.
A few more RPM saw the rig running along – with Trevor and myself aboard – at 28km/h, which I considered to be an excellent cruising speed. The Mercury was not working hard so noise levels were quite acceptable and normal speech was possible. Even with a burst of wide open throttle – which saw 41.3km/h on the hand held GPS unit – noise levels from the two stroke were still reasonable and normal conversation was still possible.
There was also no annoying vibration or buzzes from the fully welded hull, proving that while the rig is budget priced, Ally Craft have taken no short cuts with hull construction.
The ride and handling were without surprises. The rig easily handled fast runs over it's own wash without loud impact or excessive jarring. The hull also remained dry in the river conditions as displaced water was shunted well aft along the hull.
Stability was very good thanks to the generous for length beam and anglers should enjoy easy fishing in this craft so far as this aspect is concerned.
Frankly, I would be surprised if the Fish Mate didn't carry these same characteristics through to bay or estuary conditions as well. I've based this estimation on the fact that the 4.25m long 1.97m wide hull does have considerable free board plus a well formed entry that should handle bay or estuary chop with ease.
Ally Craft make no secret of the fact that the 425 Fish Mate is a budget craft, but it has a lot to offer both the casual or serious angler. In basic form it comes with a reasonable level of fit-out with plenty of potential for some innovation from someone handy with tools.
There is ample freeboard, a strong standard of construction, a quiet ride due to under floor foam fill, welds are obvious but neatly executed and if more power is required, a 40hp outboard can go on the transom. About the only thing I saw lacking in the reviewed craft was a rail on the centre console but I'm sure that one could be organized at the factory.
For $10,990 on an Oceanic trailer with LED lighting this budget offering from Ally Craft should rightly attract it's share of buyers. Karee Marine can be contacted on (07) 3875 1600.
|Hull construction:||3mm plate bottom, 2mm sides|
|Fuel:||25L tote tank|
|Engines:||25 to 40hp|
|Engine fitted:||Mercury 30hp two stroke|
|Towing:||Family four or six sedan or wagon|