Boats are a very personal thing and it’s not often one man’s boat is right for the next, and this is why the level of customisation Swan Hill based boat builders Action Craft offer is making a big impact on our inland waterways.
Several big name anglers own an Action Craft and the latest on that list is VFM scribe and proprietor of Cod Hunter Fishing Tours, Roger Miles. Roger resides in Bendigo and guides on his local rivers and lakes, as well as further afield in places like Lake Mulwala, the Murray River from Mulwala to Echuca and the backed up water behind Torrumbarry Weir. His clients are exposed to some of the best native lure fishing available and to meet their demands, Roger found little option other than to create a customised boat suitable for guiding that could be built in survey.
Settling on the Action Craft brand, Roger opted for a 5.3m hull that is impressively built with a massive 2m beam from 4mm aluminium plate. This craft exudes toughness and when you first step into the rig, you can feel every bit of that strength. This strength does not come at the expense of finish though. Roger’s boat is finished beautifully with full seam welds (an optional build extra) and a degree of finishing you really only see from smaller boat builders. Every weld is neat and clean, all corners are rounded and the paintwork is first class with no blemishes.
But all this toughness and beauty will soon lose their appeal if the boat does not do its job right, and for Roger that job is to provide a stable and comfortable casting platform that clients can feel safe fishing from, regardless of their level of experience.
Unfortunately to test the actual fishing pedigree of the Action Craft, I had to spend a day on the water with Roger and Marc Ainsworth fishing the waters of Lake Mulwala. Yes it’s a tough dirty job, but…
The interior design was a compilation of Roger’s ideas and the working knowledge of the design team at Action Craft.
Starting from the aft section of the craft we see a 115hp Yamaha 4-stroke work horse that gets the big boat to a top speed of 63km/h with a full rig of three. The Yamaha is set up on an outboard pod that has large boarding steps should they ever be required.
Moving forward sees a large rear casting deck that easily accommodates one angler. This deck has two massive hatches, one covering the batteries and electrical equipment and the other covering the 70L fuel tank on the port side.
From the back casting deck we move into the cockpit that is set up with a three person seat arrangement. There are two spacious bucket seats for the skipper and one passenger, and the middle seat is a large, fold down that serves several purposes. The first is obviously as a seat for a third person, but when folded down there is a handy drinks holder and, more importantly, the seat is built strong enough for it to act as a step through from the rear casting deck into the cockpit. This avoids the possibility of tripping over the tops of the big bucket seats when moving around the rig – something that is very important in Roger’s guiding business.
The cockpit itself is simple and effective. The skipper has a side console that is large enough to sport all the necessary dials and controls as well as a large stainless steering wheel and on top a massive Lowrance LCX-37c sounder. Beside the skipper’s right leg is a lure storage rack from Fish On, along with a fire extinguisher in easy reach and, of course, the throttle controls a little higher up.
The seats have plenty of room underneath them and it is here that Roger stores the majority of his tackle. The seat bench was built to fit specific Plano tackle boxes under it, which are easily accessible during a day’s guiding when lures need to be changed to meet the conditions.
On the forward section of the cockpit there is a vertical rod holder and a cleverly designed step to access the forward casting platform. The rod holders are only used when travelling from spot to spot and the step is one of the clever designs in this boat that make it operationally fantastic. With the step there is no big stride needed to get onto or off the front casting platform, which is great for less mobile anglers using Roger’s services.
The forward casting platform is all about function. Immediately forward of the step is a large hatch that protects a fully working Engel fridge. In the heat of an inland summer, cool drinks and food are important and the addition of a fridge is a Godsend. Beside the fridge is a 7 foot rod locker that can take up to 6 rigged rods or 10 unrigged rods. This rod locker runs down the middle of the casting deck and is really only used if a specific rod for a specific application is needed. To the starboard side is a massive storage hatch that takes everything else. Things like life jackets (PFDs), customer’s personal bags, nets, brag mats and more all slots neatly into this hatch and they remain out of the way until they are needed. It’s also worth noting that all hatches (forward and aft) are almost 100% waterproof, a luxury most often only found on imported American-style tournament boats. This in itself is a fantastic inclusion, especially with big, angry storms passing across inland Australia in summer.
With everything stored underneath, the front casting deck is a massive working platform that can easily fit three anglers. There are no annoying latches sticking up to trip unwary anglers and this deck allows a degree of mobility not often found on inland lure casting boats made from aluminium.
It’s really hard to judge how well this boat rides as the day we fished the wind had blessedly left for other parts and the wind chop on the lake was a paltry 5cm at best. However we did get a chance to ride over a lot of wakeboard boat wakes and the heavy 4mm construction meant that the Action Craft didn’t bang and bounce around all over the place, it simply pushed through these big, damaging wakes. It was a step up from my wake experience in a standard 4.3m tinnie where you need to slow right down and negotiate the wakes carefully or risk breaking something.
At speed the Action Craft was sturdy and through corners was solid as a rock. The boat seemed to plane on more of the hull than I usually expect, but it certainly didn’t detract from the performance in cornering or take off. With 115 horses powering the craft onto the plane, there was no prolonged period where the nose was sticking up obscuring the skipper’s view and the Action Craft jumped onto the plane easily at just over 2500rpm.
Maximum speed was around 63km/h at 5600rpm, fast enough in inland waters where submerged logs, massive wakes and tightening speed restrictions all combine to make a super fast, top end speed impractical if not outright dangerous.
Fishing from this rig is an absolute pleasure. I spent time on the rear deck and the front deck and, apart from some light hearted back boating, there was no noticeable difference in what you could do.
On the back deck the fold down middle seat and step up onto the front platform were great. If you were snagged or had to land a fish, it made getting from the back deck to the front very easy. When fishing from the front deck it was simply beautiful. There was very little rocking of the rig as anglers moved from side to side and the hull draws very little water allowing access to some skinny water where cod and goldens often hide. Roger is confident electric motoring through water a foot deep. Now just consider that from a 5.3m rig with a 115hp 4-stroke on the back. It is amazing.
The addition up front of the new Minn Kota Terrova bow mounted electric meant Roger could manoeuvre the boat from the back deck with the remote control wrist strap or use the optional foot pedal up front. This made fishing Lake Mulwala a breeze and allowed us to all catch a few fish, as well as watch Roger get totally smashed up by Mr Big.
For the keen angler who chases cod, barra, bream and flatties, the Action Craft is well worth checking out. The ability to totally option up the craft or simplify it means that you, as the end purchaser, have a great deal of say in how the rig is delivered. From a basic tiller steer to a fully decked out guiding machine like Roger’s, there is sure to be an Action Craft that will meet your need.
Roger’s craft, fully fitted out with the Lowrance electronics, Minn Kota electric and Yamaha 115hp 4-stroke will cost you around $45,000. That’s not bad value for a seriously tough rig that is designed for a job that it simply eats up without a fuss.
Contact Action Craft on (03) 5032 2160 or log onto their website at www.murrayriver.com.au/houseboats/murraydowns.
|Height on Trailer:||1.7m|
|Length on Trailer:||6.5m|