TEST REVIEW: Stabi-Craft 389 Fish'r

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Don't be fooled by the Stabi-Craft's compact proportions: the 389 has space to spare and leaves Rick Huckstepp gobsmacked by its performance as a fishing boat.

TEST REVIEW: Stabi-Craft 389 Fish'r
TEST REVIEW: Stabi-Craft 389 Fish'r

There is an astounding number of types of boats in today’s marketplace. Some are sleek and slender, others opulent and tricked up with all the accessories imaginable. Then there’s Stabi-Craft — a company in a league of its own.

These boats are among the most odd you’ll see on the water, and they fly in the face of what is considered the norm when it comes to shape and design.

I often see them under the command of sea rescue or police department employees in my travels around this country. You can’t help but wonder what it is about these boats that makes them so popular with those whose life is spent on the water, come rain, hail or shine.

We had a look for ourselves — in this case at the baby of the fleet, the 389 Fish’r — and soon found out why.


Hidden behind that facade of boxy aluminium sponsons and chiselled forequarters is a workboat that many of us that take our fishing and boating seriously would die for.

The passage over the coamings when boarding the 389 was like walking into Dr Who’s Tardis. A diminutive boat that from the outside looks almost toylike, it transforms into rig with a cockpit that feels like that of a five-metre boat.

Stability was simply outstanding: the big sponsons formed an aggressive reverse chine coming away from a 16° deadrise. Two big blokes walking around the cockpit did nothing to upset this solid platform — doing the same in a 14ft V-bottom dinghy would be a different story altogether.

Leaning out over the gunwales purposely to make this rig roll, we found that it would spring back and settle, showing excellent recovery. Four adults could fish this rig easily, especially when the thwart seat is removed from the equation simply by undoing four bolts.

Adding to the impression of compactness was the Evinrude 40hp E-Tec engine. It was almost lost on the transom; overshadowed by the size of the aft coamings. I was actually a bit sceptical about whether such a small outboard could push this hull, but that notion was soon blown away when the throttle was pushed down.


With so much hull surface in the water on which to plane, the 389 had good holeshot. Acceleration was fast out to 49kmh, at which time the ’Rude was showing 5700rpm on the tacho.

I was also sceptical about how this hull would handle the chop. Such aggressive chines over a wide beam usually adds up to a jarring ride, but we couldn’t trip it up. A glass-smooth Moreton Bay offered nothing upon which to test it properly, but we had plenty of wake to play in.

Surprisingly, the higher the wake and the more airborne the 389 became, the softer it landed. Work that one out! There must be a strong correlation here to the amount of air under the hull that cannot escape those big chines during landing.
Under aggressive handling, the Stabi-Craft sits with a very flat attitude, so there is plenty of inertia to contend with on full-lock high-speed turns, with no slippage or cavitation when the engine was fully trimmed in.

A run out to the swell on the South Passage saw this boat keep up with its big brother (659XR) without any troubles.
When travelling at high speed through this type of water, standing is a good proposition. A grabrail over the top of the windscreen would be handy.

Minimal spray was generated over the front of the boat even though some of the swells over which we were planing were more than a metre high.


The anchor well is an open affair, and access to it is over the screen or by walking around the forequarter coamings. A permanently set-up anchor system that could be operated by accessing the cleat in front of the windscreen would be an advantage when setting up the 389.

A handrail over the top would reduce the anchorman’s reach into the anchor well, though. Perhaps a rail on the inside of the windscreen might serve the purpose better.

Stowage inside the cabin is ample, though a fence of some type would be handy to prevent gear vibrating across the deck toward the stern.

The seat modules are attached to the side of the boat, so cleaning this rig is easy: water flows under the seat bases to flush the deck via two simple but effective scuppers.

The central section of the cockpit was chequerplate, while the outer edges sloped up to form part of the hull’s V-section. These two upward-sloping sections were straight aluminium plate, and while it was comfortable enough to stand at the coaming and fish even though our feet were unable to get underneath the gunwales, it could be a slippery situation with water and fish slime added to the equation.

Some non-slip paint or carpet glued here should be a priority for the new-boat buyer.

Fuel is stowed in tote tanks under the full-width engine well, and engine oil for the E-Tec is located in its own reservoir under the engine cowl. I was impressed by the smoothness and smoke-free running of this revolutionary two-stroke outboard.

The engine well featured a couple of drain holes that would allow for a dribble at best — they need to be upgraded in my opinion.

Aboard the camera boat and watching the 389 Fish’r head out across the bay with two aboard, this boat looked like some kind of optical illusion. It is a small boat that’s big on workspace and oozes safety.

With so many attributes in its favour — along with the fact that Stabi-Crafts feature positive buoyancy — it’s little wonder these boats are workhorses for so many government departments.


Price as tested:

Options fitted:

Priced from:
As above

Length (overall):
160kg dry hull only
Towing weight:
About 400kg
Rec/max hp:

Tote tanks
Four adults

Two-stroke fuel-injected twin-cylinder
Rated hp:
Gearbox ratio:
13.75 x 15in

Leisure Marine, 3242 Old Cleveland Road, Capalaba, Qld, tel (07) 3245 5111, email boats@leisure-marine.com.au,
visit www.leisure-marine.com.au, or call Stabi-Craft on 1800 178 224

First published in TrailerBoat #185

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