Some boats take a while to acclimatise to, while others fit like a glove as soon as you step aboard. I’d place the Stabicraft 1550 Fisher in the latter category based on the few days I spent aboard the compact, sub-5m Kiwi craft both inshore and offshore during our time in Mallacoota.
As a manufacturer, Invercargill-based Stabicraft has made quite a name for itself with its distinctive aluminium pontoon-type boats, which it now manufactures across a broad range of sizes and applications, from the 1410 Fisher through to the 2900 Pilothouse.
Stabicraft was a pioneer of the concept of incorporating airtight chambers, or pontoons, into its aluminium hulls, the benefits being outstanding stability, buoyancy and rigidity.
Our 1550 Fisher, which was prepared and supplied by MY Marine of Dromana, Victoria, is aimed squarely at the fishing market, with all of the essentials needed to hook-up, either inshore or out-wide, depending on conditions.
At 4.7m in length, it’s primarily a two-person (three at a pinch) boat in terms of fishing space, although it’s actually rated for five adults. It can easily be managed solo, including launching and retrieving. Ours was mounted on a Dunbier aluminium trailer.
The test boat featured a combination of standard and optional features, including a fold-down rocket-launcher/canopy combo, twin 25lt tote tanks (a 65lt underfloor tank is an option), a 50lt Icey-Tek ‘chully bun’ (otherwise known as an esky on the port side of the Tasman), a large walk-through windscreen for easy bow access and a removable compact baitboard. The Icey-Tek stowed under the passenger seat and incorporated an extra seat squab in its lid. With no means of locating it securely, it was prone to sliding around the cockpit, so we lashed an ocky strap around it when underway.
Opposite is a rear-facing fold-up passenger seat, which attaches to the rear of the skipper’s perch.
Power was provided by a punchy 60hp Honda – the 1550 is rated up to 75hp – while the battery is located high and dry on the transom shelf.
A heavy-duty fold-up dive ladder completes the transom.
Apart from a trio of three Shimano tackle boxes stowed under the skipper’s seat, gear can also be piled into coaming and transom shelves and up front in the large open space in the bow, where the ground tackle is also stowed. You’d want to throw a tarp over anything you needed to keep dry as some water can get in if you’re running into a sea.
A big feature of the new model is the walkthrough windscreen, with the large central panel folding upward on gas struts to allow almost unhindered access to the bow, making anchoring a breeze.
The skipper’s perch is adjustable and also swivels. Visibility is excellent seated or standing and the minimalist dash instrumentation takes care of all basic functions, with a compact Garmin plotter/sounder fitted to our test craft.
Flanking the checkerboard cockpit deck, the wide gunwales house rodholders and combined drink/sinker holders, with sturdy aluminium cleats in the rear corners and full length handrails.
We put the 1550 Fisher through pretty much every fishing scenario during our time together, from glass-smooth estuary running to heading offshore on a day that started out relatively placid, but which blew up later to around 15knot winds with choppy 1-1.5m waves. The latter was a good test of the hull and ride and showed the compact Kiwi to be a solid performer in less than ideal conditions. While it understandably jarred into bigger waves, it was actually not that hard to maintain a steady pace as long as you drove to the conditions. The ride wasn’t too harsh for a tinny of its size and stability underway was above average, although it was a little wet at times.
Performance was pretty much what you’d expect from the 60hp four-stroke combo, with a cruising speed of 30km/h at 4000rpm and WOT figures of 64km/h at 6400rpm.
From an angling point of view, it’s a pretty good proposition. Stability at rest is excellent for its size and everything is easy to access due to the open layout. For its length, it’s a relatively beamy cockpit and the gunwale heights suit average-sized anglers.
Stabicraft are known for their toughness and durability. The 1550 Fisher is no exception. It’s a good, honest little boat with a workmanlike utility that will suit those looking for a competent fishing package that won’t break the bank.
Base price is $35,990. As displayed here, with the 60hp Honda and aluminium trailer, it’s priced at $43,880.