Kingfisher 450 Powercat Boat Review

This was not my first rodeo testing Kingfisher boats. First, there were the bigger monohulls set up for chartering in Samoa, followed in more recent times with a number of their catamarans – a hull configuration they are becoming well-known for.

I have been impressed with both the hull performance and the innovation evident in the model range. Nothing has changed that opinion after putting the Kingfisher 450 Powercat centre console through its paces out of Sandspit, accompanied by a side-console version supplied by Mangawhai’s Jackson Brown Marine and used as our camera boat.

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The centre console was spec’ed up to the nines, while the side console was about as basic as you could get. It made an interesting comparison, but this review is about the blinged-up version. And who doesn’t like boat bling? Catamarans and centre consoles are slowly gaining a foothold in the Kiwi boating market, especially among the sport fishing fraternity. They offer excellent stability, as well as room to cast.

 

A quick look around the recent Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show indicated just how far the Kiwi cats have progressed – hell, some even come with their own casting platform bivvies for overnighting for those hardcore anglers out there! From the fishing angle, the Kingfisher Powercat has some excellent features. With a beam of 2070mm, it is a stable vessel. Cameraman Sam and I stood on one side and the change in angle was barely noticeable – just a few degrees.

Much thought has gone into the forward casting platform. For the fly fisher, there is nothing on the deck to catch the line when casting. For the topwater aficionado, the bolster is at just the right height to provide support. This is ‘stored’ in the step-up to the platform where its padded top can provide a seat for the angler to rest on or cast softbaits or slow-jigs from. Grab rails on its sides are great when stepping up to the platform via a step, especially if agility is not one of your physical assets!

Catamarans generally need less horsepower than a mono hull to produce the same performance. The Yamaha 70HP Four Stroke is as big as you need to go.

Other grab rails are placed conveniently around the boat for both safety when underway and handling at the ramp. Great grip and comfort underfoot are provided by the Ultralon U-Dek deck grip, which is found throughout the boat. The other benefit of this covering is it helps deaden the noise when fishing in stealth mode. The anchor well is big enough to take the appropriately-sized ground tackle, chain, and rode without creating a ‘work hazard’. While there was no capstan, if anchoring was going to be a feature of your fishing style, I would be adding a small drum winch.

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In Stealth Mode

A Haswing electric motor adds to the stealth and angling aspects. Using the remote control, the operator can hold over fish sign or drive a course parallel to a drop-off they may wish to fish when softbaiting. The motor has its own dedicated lithium battery positioned in the port dry locker underneath the casting platform. Access around the centre console is easy, even for a ‘wellpadded’ fisher. The console itself has enough real estate on the dash to allow for a decent-sized sounder/plotter, VHF, Kicker media centre, switch panel, Yamaha engine management, and phone charger.

There is a lot going on at the helm station which has as its centrepiece the Garmin chartplotter/sounder display

Some shelter is afforded the skipper with a bimini and a fixed acrylic screen. The only change I might request is a tray be added to the top of the helm station attached to the bimini strut. This would be handy for the likes of sunglasses, car keys, and cellphones (if you didn’t have a wired-in charger). The key electronics are all Garmin. As well as the previously mentioned flush-mounted chart plotter/sounder, there is a slave screen for the casting platform enabling the angler to see what is around them without having to consult the main dashboard sounder.

The latest Garmin Livescope technology is part of the fit-out, using the recently developed RailBlaza removable mounting system. A VHF completes the Garmin electronics on board. Kingfisher offers a range of seating options, from a top-end folding and upholstered, pedestalmounted seat down to a simple chilly bin, depending on your needs and budget.

The hydraulic steering offers fingertip control when you get the trim right. Storage is adequate. There are dual dry lockers port and starboard under the casting platform, with another large locker built into the centre console. This could be shelved – with alloy, you can just about do anything! There is room under the seating in the transom for tote tanks. The test boat had a 70-litre underfloor fuel tank. Separating the two rear seats is dry storage for the batteries along with switches. Above this is the bait station. The top of the livebait tank is a cutting board that flips up to allow access to the inmates below.

One of the key features of the centre console is the well-appointed casting platform up forward.

At a guess, I would say there was space to incarcerate 20-plus decent-sized jack mackerel or koheru. The side shelves run the length of the vessel from the casting platform back to the transom. While these are not particularly wide, they would take a softbait/ slow jig outfit or two on each side, or freediving flippers. For the divers, the integrated boarding platform includes a short ladder.

Rod Storage

There is no shortage of rod holders, plenty to satisfy the cravings of a serious tackle junkie. I counted 12 on the test boat four across the back of the bimini top, mounted vertically so as to not impose on the casting space; a further four (plus cup holders) in the gunwale; two more attached to the bait station; and a final two utilising the forward bolster mounts when this is not in place. Propulsion is provided by Yamaha 70HP four-stroke.

There is a full set of Narva lighting options on board.

Unfortunately, the fuel computer was not giving me a reading (operator error?) but I suspect it would be somewhere around half a litre per nautical mile. The 70 ponies on the transom pushed the rig to over 50km/h Skipping over the residue of a decent NE swell from the days before, the hull handled it well with no vices evident.

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Cutting through a mixture of wind against tide on top of the swell gave a comfortable, dry ride at a more sedate 30 km/h. It seems most boat reviews leave the trailers to last, and this one is no different. Without a decent trailer, you aren’t going anywhere fast, if at all. They are the key to many fishing adventures – getting you and your rig to the water – and are as important as the outboard or the electronics.

The battery and switching have their own waterproof compartment as part of the bait station

The alloy trailer under the 450 Powercat was designed and built by Kingfisher to the same exacting standards as their hulls and are fit for purpose. My only criticism is to get rid of the wire winch cable and replace it with a hi-tech synthetic rope or a strap. They don’t rust or develop sharp strands that can be hard on your hands but should be protected from the sun when the rig is stored.

Kingfisher has designed their own bespoke alloy trailer for the 450 Powercat.

In summing up...

Whether you are heading offshore for a deep sword drop or towing water toys in a sheltered bay or lake, the Kingfisher 450 Powercat will be equally at home doing both. I enjoyed the stability the hull offered and find there are minimal performance vices once you become familiar with the characteristics of the catamaran configuration. The boat was unpainted. Instead, it was wrapped. The sides were left plain, but the drop sheer nature of the build creates a great space for an owner to personalise their craft with an eyecatching design.

With a shallow draft, the boats can be launched in minimal water depth and are easily handled at the ramp or dock by one person. They lend themselves to being set up ‘fit for purpose’, depending on your style of fishing or boating, and available funds. The Kingfisher 450 Powercat punches well above its weight and I would be happy to have one parked in my driveway.

Find out more here: https://www.kingfisherboats.co.nz/

Acknowledgements

Thanks to: Sam Pillage from Spec Media for the photography and video footage Northland’s Kingfisher agent Matt Jackson from Jackson Brown Marine (Mangawhai) for providing and running the camera boat.


July 2023 - Grant Dixon
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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