BOAT TEST: FISH PRO 520 CENTRE-CONSOLE

By: John Ford


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The Fish Pro 520 centre-console is at the forefront of Avante Marine's push into the crowded Aussie alloy boat market, writes John Ford.

BOAT TEST: FISH PRO 520 CENTRE-CONSOLE
AVANTE MARINE FISH PRO 520 CENTRE-CONSOLE

The Avante Marine group of dealers is well known for its imported American brands. Keen to cover all the bases, the group recently commissioned the design and production of a range of entry-level aluminium boats to complement its existing array of American-made Bayliner, Trophy and Crestliner models.

The result is the New Fish Pro series of boats, consisting of runabouts, punts and car-toppers from 3.1m through to 5.2m.

 

 

BY NAME AND NATURE

 

I recently had the opportunity to test the Fish Pro 5.2m centre-console model in Sydney. The test conditions on the day would comprise a good mix of estuary, bay and ocean - all different conditions that a boat like this is likely to encounter.
We set off from the tranquil waters of Roseville, Sydney, for the run down to Middle Harbour, then out through the heads to sea.

On first encounter there's no mistaking the boat's brand, with the Fish Pro name emblazoned emphatically in red and blue on the side of the black hull. With its deep sides, dark colour and bold logo, the boat has a modern and aggressive appeal.

It's constructed from 3mm pressed-aluminium with deep sides and a moderate-vee hull. Moderate chines and running strakes are moulded into the hull and there is a sharp entry at the bow.

This centre-console has a tall alloy targa top, and the name and style puts the boat firmly in the dedicated fishing category. The layout is simple and uncluttered, with the centrally-placed helm allowing full walkaround movement on the single-level and carpeted floor.

Up front there's a bowroller and a generously-sized (albeit unlined) anchorwell. Estuary fishers will like the bracket to port for an electric motor, bottom bouncers will like the 200mm-wide sidedecks and rounded coamings, while sportfishermen will appreciate the high sides and good footholds. There's rod storage along the sides and rodholders along the decks. An underfloor 80lt alloy fuel tank is matched by an 80lt killtank - the rest of the space is filled with foam.

The Fish Pro's design certainly makes optimum use of the available floor space and it puts the driver and passenger towards the rear of the hull, where the ride tends to be softer. Generally, a centre-console keeps things simple and makes boats very fishable, but there's always a compromise in terms of comfort. While that's also true of the Fish Pro, plenty of thought has been invested in making the most of what it's got. The screen is high and wide - enough to help protect the driver and a seated passenger. There's also standing space to the sides, where strong grabrails will offer welcome support in the rough stuff. The seat lifts for storage and the simple seat-back can fold forward, creating an aft-facing position for trolling.

The dash is clean and clear, with all the instruments easily visible from either a standing or sitting position. You get standard Mercury analogue gauges for trim, fuel, speed and tacho, but our test rig also got a Lowrance HDS-7 sounder / GPS / Structure Scan unit and a Standard Horizon VHF radio. There's also a Lowrance Sonic Hub audio system with radio and iPod dock, matched with two 60W speakers.

A Teleflex wheel and cables handle the steering, and the controls are mounted to the right side of the console with the trim on the outside, which seemed a bit awkward at first.

Overhead, the targa is well supported on thick alloy bars, offering good sun protection at the helm. For storage or long-haul travel the top folds down. To the front of the console is an Esky-style cooler, which could double as an extra seat.

The transom is a neat arrangement with a port-side seat for two that folds out of the way for fishing. There's also a livebait tank and a berley pot to port, and to centre is a well-designed alloy baitboard. Boarding is easy via a starboard-side transom door and folding aluminium ladder.

 

 

HANDLING AND RIDE



With a 90hp Mercury OptiMax installed, the Fish Pro was a willing performer. It got on the plane at a bit over trolling speed at 9kts (16.7kmh) and accelerated easily to around 30kts (55.6kmh), with a maximum of 34kts (63.0kmh) at 5500rpm. A fast cruise on flat water can be dialled in at 5000rpm for 27kts (50.0kmh), but on the choppy ocean it easily sat at a sensible 20kts (37.0kmh) at an economical 4100rpm. The motor is a good match for the hull, but the boat could easily cope with a 70hp to minimise costs.

Across a typical Sydney Harbour chop we maintained 30kts (55.6kmh) in comfort, but the boat felt a bit flighty - it needed more weight to let it sit lower in the water. To be fair, in working trim it would carry the sort of equipment that would settle it down - we were light on fuel and there was none of the assortment of equipment that usually accumulates on a working fishing boat.

Its handling is sporty if a bit sensitive to trim, with some cavitation in sharp turns. It turned in with a predictable lean even in sharp turns, and could be thrown around lock-to-lock without a worry. Outside the heads into a 1m sea it pounded a bit over waves at speeds over 22kts (40.7kmh), but backing off to a more sensible 18kts (33.3kmh) allowed the hull to soften out to a more passenger-friendly ride.

 

 

THE WRAP


It's good to see the Avante Group getting involved with a new local project, and as an all-rounder the Fish Pro 520CC acquitted itself quite well. It's easily towed by medium-sized cars and will be economical to run.

Obviously this style of boat has popular appeal for its versatility and ease of use. It can easily be handled by one person but there's room for three to get out fishing. Even if the catch is lean, at least you'll still look like a "fish pro".

 

 

On the plane...


Good use of fishing space
Easily modified 
Economical

 



Dragging the chain...


A bit tender at rest

 

 

PERFORMANCE



3000rpm (plane) 9kts (16kmh)
3500rpm 14kts (26kmh)
4000rpm 19kts (35kmh)
4500rpm 22kts (41kmh)
5000rpm 27kts (50kmh)
5500rpm 34kts (63kmh)

 

 

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS - FISH PRO 520 CENTRE-CONSOLE

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $45,000
Options fitted: Custom T-top, Lowrance HDS-7 colour-screen GPS / sounder, Lowrance 3D Sonar Structure Scan, Lowrance Sonic Hub audio entertainment system, VHF radio, Mercury 90hp OptiMax, and more
Priced from: $33,990 (with 75hp Mercury two-stroke)

 

 

GENERAL


Type: Centre-console monohull
Material: 3mm aluminium (bottom and sides)
Length: 5.2m
Beam: 2.26m
Weight: 490kg

 

 

CAPACITIES


People: 5
Rec. HP: 70
Max. HP: 90
Fuel: 80lt

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Mercury 90hp OptiMax
Type: Fuel-injected, in-line, three-cylinder two-stroke
Weight: 170kg
Displacement: 1526cc
Gear ratio: 2.33:1
Propeller: 18in S/S Vengeance

 

 

SUPPLED BY


Avante Marine
210 Silverwater Road
Silverwater, NSW, 2128
Tel: 1300 282638
Web: www.avantemarine.com.au

First published in TrailerBoat # 277

Find Fish Pro boats for sale.

 


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