The Ally Craft 4.95 Shadow Pro-Elite with 115hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard is a solid, spacious side-console rig perfect for big waterways.
It could go offshore on the right day as it has 70cm high sides and was very sure-footed through the chop encountered in the river on the test day but it pays to remember rivers, impoundments and estuary work will be its forte.
This is a sportfishing/tournament rig complete with a side mounting plate up forward for an electric outboard.
The 4.95 Shadow Pro-Elite is set up in the usual punt style with a very large casting deck.
This deck uses the whole area forward of the side console, providing a great place to stand and cast plastics, lures or flies. Useful under-floor storage is a big advantage and a seat spigot means the angler can sit or lean in comfort if desired.
Right up forward behind the bow sprit and roller is a pair of lined hatches for ground tackle. Back somewhat, two large side hatches can accommodate anything from safety gear to tackle boxes or clothing bags, while further aft there is a plumbed 60L catch well with divider.
Grab rails up front also incorporate the port and starboard running lights.
There is about a 35cm step down into the cockpit, which gives a standing angler about 55cm of cockpit height when fishing.
The side console of the 4.96 Shadow Pro-Elite is a composite of alloy in the lower parts and fibreglass up top, with a one-piece, wrap-around screen to shield the driver from slipstream and spray.
The screen shield is particularly handy when pushing the 115 Yamaha four-stroke to full noise.
The console is equipped with a four-station upright rod rack on its forward section and the dash is ideal. The speedo, tacho, fuel and multi-function gauges are all easily monitored and within easy reach of the driver, with a switch panel just to starboard.
The console is comfortably spacious with enough room for the skipper to easily stretch his or her legs underneath.
There is also sufficient room to install a sounder/GPS combo behind the windscreen, which is set well forward on the console.
Engine controls are mounted on the side in the usual fashion, with additional storage for the skipper available via a short side pocket directly under these controls.
The steering is cable style but quite free, responsive and manageable, the vessel responding instantly to any movement of the wheel.
I was also impressed with the clear vision at all times when driving. Hard application of the throttle lifted the bow somewhat but only momentarily and the hull soon settled on an even plane.
Cockpit features for the skipper and mate consist of paired pedestal seats with decent upholstery. These are the only seats aboard the Shadow Pro-Elite.
The carpet-lined side rod locker to port is more than 2m long and can house several ready-to-use outfits and can also double as a seat to make this a four-person boat.
Rod holders set up in each of wide, fully welded decks add the finishing touch.
Welds are visible and while they were not smoothed over, they are quite neatly executed. The paint job and decals are of very good quality.
The Shadow Pro-Elite has sufficient room for a pair of anglers to work aft of the console and another pair to work forward without being in each other's way.
Those fishing aft of the console have to share their fishing space with an icebox, but I don’t think this would cause too much fuss.
The aft casting deck is another fine fishing attribute. It is wide enough to be useful and the immense stability of the 2.08m wide Shadow Pro-Elite makes standing to work on the deck no hassle.
The aft casting deck also incorporates lockers for items like the engine battery or an extra tote tank of fuel to complement the 60L underfloor tank. A plumbed livewell is located centrally ahead of the outboard.
The Shadow Pro-Elite is as steady as a rock at rest. Two of us walking to one side made little difference to trim, so anglers could fish virtually anywhere in the boat without needing to consider leaning issues.
Grab rails aft turn down over the transom to act as boarding rails, in conjunction with small checkerplate boarding platforms.
Two transducer brackets are fitted to the transom as standard.
In all, this craft has a standard set-up that is highly functional. For tournament anglers everything is already there except the electronics and angler expertise.
The 115 Yamaha four-stroke is top power for the rig (rated 90hp to 115hp) and the performance reflected this.
Planing occurred at 2800rpm and 12 knots (23kmh), while 3000rpm saw 15 knots (27.8kmh) on the GPS. At 4000rpm we saw 24 knots (44.5kmh), 5000rpm at 35.3 knots (65.5kmh) and 6000rpm topped out at 40.1 knots (74.3kmh).
At 6000rpm the craft was fairly humming along but was still easy to control and didn’t show any tendency to overbalance.
I was more than happy with a cruise speed around 4000rpm, there's a lot of water covered at 24 knots and very little fuel burnt.
At no stage did engine noise become intrusive or annoying and even at full song, we could still speak normally. At idle the Yamaha was hardly audible and at that 4000rpm cruise there was so little noise that the sound of waves slapping against the foam-filled hull was more obtrusive.
I would also be happy with a 90hp as an option; one could trade off a little speed for some money in the bank.
A stiff northerly was present but in the sections of river with chop the hull rode very nicely, thanks to a design incorporating a fairly sharp entry and a 16º vee aft. A keel and pronounced strakes also provide directional control, plus some reduced friction, under way.
Chop from passing larger craft was taken at speed without reducing the quality of the ride or any hull pounding or slap. No spray came aboard in these circumstances but as with any open boat, when running hard across wind and waves a spray jacket would be handy.
In smooth or semi-smooth waters, this craft will offer a very good ride driven according to the conditions.
The Ally Craft was supplied for review on an Oceanic single-axle, braked trailer. There were no launch or retrieve issues with the craft easily lining up on retrieve and winching straight forward until it rested securely on centre rollers and outside skids.
The Ally Craft 4.95 Shadow Pro-Elite is a well-built, smooth-running and very stable craft with an excellent pedigree for a buyer to have confidence in the product.
Best in smooth or moderate waters, it would suit family or tournament anglers alike. There is a lot of fishing room and the large catch well and bait well are great assets for any fishing boat.
The price as tested, including ZZZZ ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ $.
|Length of hull:||4.95m|
|Length tow ball to propeller:||6.2m|
|Construction:||bottom 3mm, sides 2.5mm|
|Engine fitted:||115 Yamaha four-stroke|
|Towing :||Family six sedan or wagon|