Before the company’s design team had a crack at the Stabicraft 1550, staff members spent a great deal of time at boat ramps and fishing clubs, finding out just what people wanted in their boats. While the information gathered is applicable for every size hull, the first Stabicraft to reap the research benefits is the 1550 Fisher.
So, what did the people want? Stability, storage, easy of anchoring and plenty of cockpit space were the main requests - and on all fronts the 1550 fisher has delivered. Better still, Stabicraft offers a variety of options which can be added to the $33,995 base boat package.
There is no point testing a fishing-oriented boat unless you fish out of it, so with that in mind Stabicraft Marine’s Marketing Manager Daniel Upperton and I planned to launch at Little Manly on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and head out towards the Mahurangi Harbour under the guidance of Mark Kitteridge, who, with fishing.net’s Grant Blair on board, would be working the photo boat. We expected the early start to provide good light for photos and filming before the forecast southerly picked up.
Sure enough, when Daniel’s custom-painted ute arrived at the appointed time trailing the similarly-painted Stabi’, it made for a particularly striking combination, setting our cameras clicking right away.
Launching off the beach proved to be a breeze, thanks to the four-wheel-drive ute and the simple but effective Hosking ‘Low Loader’ trailer, which has two skids as opposed to rollers. This design makes for easy beach retrieval, even in very shallow conditions, and as it’s approximately 140mm closer to the ground than on a standard trailer, the rig’s height is reduced to 1.85 metres, allowing it to fit under most garage doors.
The first thing to strike me on board was the self-supporting windscreen, in the middle of which is one of the boat’s major selling points: an XOS walk-through windscreen. This gives even a wide boy like me plenty of room to access the anchor, and as the hatch is kept in the raised position by two pneumatic stays, there’s space to work the ground tackle whilst keeping a straight back.
The helm position is intentionally Spartan, with a handsome (and comfy) steering wheel predominating. A seven-inch Garmin sounder/plotter is dash-mounted above it, with a Uniden VHF completing the electronics package.
Stabicraft’s trademark chambered hull provides plenty of stability at rest, and its unique ‘wing-style’ coamings create a good place to sit on when fishing, without intruding on the internal cockpit space (of which there is plenty for a boat this size). From a safety perspective, the boat is positively buoyant, coupled with US Coastguard regulations, Stabicraft now offers an option to fill the pontoons with foam, which many customers now opt for to help quieten the ride.
Some shelter from the elements is provided with an optional fold-down bimini top, its rear support creating an eight-rod rocket launcher. Hand-holds are set into the bimini top and sides for any crew standing while underway, while a strategically positioned handrail across the top of the XOS windscreen accommodates the needs of those who are seated. The same handrail makes entering and exiting the boat a really easy task.
There is seating for four: two in conventional swivel seats, and two rear facing – one a an upholstered fold-down behind the helm seat, the other an upholstered squab cleverly fitted on top of a 70-litre split-lid Icey-Tek bin.
Storage around the boat is excellent, with Stabicraft making the most of all available space to create shelves which that can carry everything from Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) and flares, through to paddles, landing nets and gaffs. Beneath the cantilevered helm seat is a designated storage area for three standard Shimano tackle trays – once again, good use of space. I also like the battery storage, which is raised on a shelf that runs across the transom. Should the unthinkable happen and the boat become flooded, the battery will remain above the water level for longer.
There are six rod holders around the cockpit – four set into the wing-style coamings with associated drink/tackle holders and one on either side of the removable bait board. Next to each coaming mounted rodholder is the Stabicraft designed ‘multiholders’. The multiholders are good for drink containers as well as providing a spot to safely secure sinkers, jigs and the like. The bait board can be exchanged for a ski-pole.
A chequer-plate deck offers reasonable grip underfoot and the wing-style coamings mean the angler can get up close to the sides, gaining a little extra support when playing a fish.
For the divers, a boarding ladder on the port side makes getting back on board easier. I would like to see a grab rail, located near the ladder, and perhaps one on the other side, to make it easier to pull yourself up. They would also provide something to hold the boat with when launching in surf. Not difficult to rectify.
The test boat had fuel carried in two tote tanks that fitted snugly under the rear tray. A 60-litre underfloor fuel tank is also an option.
Performance in the 15-knot wind-against-tide chop was good, especially with a bit of power on to lift the bow. With plenty of shelter provided by the screen, the ride was dry from a helm-seat perspective, and the 70hp Yamaha meant there was no shortage of power.
Then, with business largely done and dusted, it was time to go fishing. But with winds now swinging to the south and increasing to 18 knots, our plans had to be revised – not ideal conditions for two small boats!
Instead, we fished Wellington Reef and the western side of Tiri Passage, with soft-baits producing half a dozen good Hauraki Gulf ‘pannies’.
• 50hp outboard of your choice
• Hosking low-loader trailer
• XOS walk-through windscreen
• Icey-Tek 70-litre cooler with upholstered seat
• Shimano tackle boxes (3)
• Folding upholstered starboard seat (cantilevered)
• Drink/accessory multiholders (4)
• Octigrip no-skid on coamings
• Anchor locker
• Multiple storage shelves (9)
• Soft-touch Gussi steering wheel
• Raised transom
• Stabi-cleats (3)
• Ultra-flex planetary steering
• Stabi’ heavy-duty rod holders
• Fully upholstered swivel seats (2)
• Raised transom
• Arrow pontoons
• Stabicraft wing-style coamings
• Delivery to nearest Stabicraft dealership..
RRP $33,995 (GST incl.)
• Stabicraft 1550 hull
• Hosking Low-Loader trailer
• Full Paint
• Fold down rocket launcher/ canopy arch
• Bimini cover
• Transom boarding Ladder
• Wash-down kit
• Garmin GPS
• Fusion Active Sound
• Rope and chain pack
• Sarca No1 anchor
• 70hp Yamaha outboard.
RRP $48,699 (GST incl.)
The Stabicraft 1550 fisher is a smart-looking craft, but for those perhaps wanting something a little different, there are other paint options available. And, true to their research and design brief, the Stabicraft design team has managed to pack many great fishing features into a relatively compact package. I really was impressed.
Length: 4.72m (15’5”)
Hull thickness: 4mm
Tube thickness: 2.50mm
Internal beam: 1.46m
External beam: 2.02m
Deadrise: 15 degrees
Sealed buoyancy: 984 litres (approx)
Dry hull weight: 415kg (approx.)
Tow weight: 740 (approx)
Length on trailer: 6m
Height on trailer: 1.85m.
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