REVIEW: STESSCO GULF RUNNER 550

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

Stessco Gulf Runner 500 On Water Review Stessco Gulf Runner 500 On Water Review
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Fishing Casting Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Fishing Casting
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 On Water Coming in Stessco Gulf Runner 550 On Water Coming in
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 On Water in Surf Stessco Gulf Runner 550 On Water in Surf
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 On Water Side On Yamaha F130. Stessco Gulf Runner 550 On Water Side On Yamaha F130.
 Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Stability  Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Stability
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Transom Yamaha F130 Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Transom Yamaha F130
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Bait Station Filleting Board Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Bait Station Filleting Board
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Casting Platform Minn Kota Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Casting Platform Minn Kota
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Casting Platform Storage Batteries Minn Kota Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Casting Platform Storage Batteries Minn Kota
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Console Helm Steering Humminbird Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Console Helm Steering Humminbird
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Layout Console Seats Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Layout Console Seats
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Live Bait Tank Well. Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Live Bait Tank Well.
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Transom Lockers Storage Yamaha F130 Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Transom Lockers Storage Yamaha F130
Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Transom Yamaha F130 Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Transom Yamaha F130

The new Stessco Gulf Runner 550 takes a tough-as-nails tinnie and adds a centre console in one extremely good value package

As the largest test boat for the day the Gulf Runner was no doubt my pick of the bunch. Now not due to size as they say it doesn’t always count, but rather due to this boat being right my ally when it comes to its fishability, its stylish appearance, and bloody good ride and performance.

STESSCO GULF RUNNER 550 PRICED FROM $46,049

STYLISH LINES

At a glance, the smooth and high side Gulf runner 550 side-console with Yamaha F130LA 4-stroke boasts simple but stylish lines and just comes across as the kind of boat that I could see myself equally as comfortable chasing Barra up in the Northern Territory, as well as fishing local bays and even heading offshore with. Its fishing weapon, plain and simple and a sexy one at that.

Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Fishing Casting

LURING LAYOUT

For those a tad more serious about fishing the 550’s layout is well suited to lure angling and just as good for those who do the dirty and use bait. Up front the bow is configured with small anchor well and a bow mount for electric motor, along with a wide and decent sized carpeted and raised cast deck with full storage below for electric motor batteries, gear and tackle.

The main cockpit area is then spacious with high gunwales with wide coamings, as well as a bonus full-length lockable rod-locker on the port side, and multiple seat positioning bases.

At the helm the low-profile console has a small screen and flat dash for flush-mounting electronics – personally I would like bit more angle to the dash and it would be nice to have a few recessed drink holders into the console as standard. None the less the side-console positioning and comfort at the wheel is good and having a decent sized flat surface to suit larger electronics is appealing.

The stern then comprises of live-well, large floodable kill-tank in the deck, sealed storage for batteries and plumbing, rear transom door and ladder, flush mount rod-holders, and Stessco’s sturdy and stylish bait-board.

Stessco Gulf Runner 500 On Water Review

GIVE IT STICK

On the water, the Gulf Runner 550 is just one of those hulls that eats the chop and has an x-factor ride at high speeds. Powered with the Yamaha F130LA four stroke on the back this is yet another Stessco hull that’s perfectly matched to the motor.

The 550 has a deadrise of 15 degrees and when it comes to hole-shot its planes quick and effortlessly and even gives you a bit of push-back into the seat. Gentle acceleration will get you onto the plane at a low speed of 9 knots with the motor fully trimmed in.

In the mid-range, the ideal cruise speed is around 3500Rpm at a speed of 21.33 knots which is a pretty good cruise speed for any boat, especially in chop. Yet again, the economy is impressive and at 21 knots the 550 uses a moderate 15Lph of fuel, which is exceptionally good. As for the range at this speed, well you would be looking at around 150 nautical miles on 110L of fuel – and that’s quite a distance, or at least a fair few local fishing trips in the bay or the dam.

Read the Yamaha F130A test: TEST: YAMAHA F130LA REVIEW

What’s also impressive is the hulls handling characteristics as its smooth in full lock turns and is nice and soft in the chop, enabling higher speeds than average when it’s rough. It’s also a dry ride and although a fair amount of spray comes off the outer chine, its projected flat and keeps it well away from blowing back in windy side-on chop or swell.

Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Transom Yamaha F130

VERDICT

Again, my favourite and pick of the range and that only due to it suiting my person style of fishing and boating. At A$46,049 for the base model it’s also decent value for money considering the size of the boat, build quality, performance capabilities and standard inclusions. Whether it be lure fishing, bait fishing, light offshore fishing or even just general family boating, the Stessco Gulf Runner is most certainly worth a look.

 

Stessco Gulf Runner 550 Specs

PRICED FROM A$46,049

OPTIONS FITTED

Hummingbird Helix 7X Chirp DI GPS G2 (inc Nav. card), Minn Kota and mount, rod locker, spray chines, metallic paint

PRICE AS TESTED A$53,931

GENERAL

LENGTH 5.94m

BEAM 2.24m

WEIGHT 1015kg (as tested)

DEADRISE 15deg

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 6

REC. HP 115

MAX. HP 130

FUEL 110l

 

MANUFACTURED BY

Merlin Marine and Leisure

For all pricing, availability and information on the Stessco product range please contact your authorised Stessco Dealer as Stessco do not offer factory direct sales.

See www.stessco.com.au for dealer information

 

 


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