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Bass and barra anglers can now enjoy the comfort, sophistication and ride of a Haines Signature fibreglass hull in dedicated sportsfishing trim. Hang on to your hats as Rick takes you for a wild ride up NT’s Daly River.

Haines Signature 460SF

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #182, Aug 2004



Seems like every other week a new bass and bream boat hits the market from boatbuilders large and small. While offering scope for personal customisation usually plays a big part in design, bass and bream boats tend to share the same open deck layouts with wide beams for stability. Signature hasn't strayed too far from this tried-and-tested formula in its 460SF, but it does boast a hull that's worth writing home about.

Aluminium has long dominated this section of the market, but Haines Signature has brought together its experience in high-performance ski and fishing boat manufacture to produce a dedicated estuary/impoundment sportsfishing weapon that begs to be driven fast.

While alloy is a tough (and cheap) boatbuilding material designed to withstand the punishment dealt out by anglers fishing in rocky environments, fibreglass hulls generally have a bit more weight to them and, as such, offer a smoother ride.

Fibreglass can be moulded into complex hull shapes with nice rounded edges, improving internal ergonomics. Fibreglass hulls sometimes have foam insulation integrated into the hull skins and are therefore a lot quieter on the water than aluminium. These factors will tip the scalestowards a fibreglass boat over aluminium for many diehard bass, bream and barra anglers.




The Haines Signature 460SF is a boat built specifically with lure and flyfishing in mind. This particular hull has been around for a few years as the 460 Bow Rider, but after a considerable period of research and development, Signature has added a specially designed deck to suit the sportsfishing market.

Despite the deck being raised up to gunwale height, there is a fair amount of hull below the waterline and thus plenty of dry storage under the hatches. Add to this the prominent reversed chines and a decent beam, and you've got excellent stability at rest.

I recently got to see how one of these rigs performed under fire while covering the Barra Nationals on the Daly River in the Northern Territory - a log-strewn river with its fair share of rock bars to trip up the unsuspecting angler. But the Signature proved to be an agile and capable barra boat for its skipper Gary Quinn - a plate-alloy boatbuilder and Suzuki dealer based in NT.

His demo rig accounted for plenty of fish and lots of high-speed kilometres on this waterway. Gary added carpet to the deck to minimise glare and also included a few fishy features like rodholders and extra sounders for tournament angling.




The maximum recommended horsepower for this rig is 90, but as Gary is a bit of a speed freak and an experienced driver, he had his 460SF loaded with a 140hp Suzuki four-stoke on the back. Note: this power option is not officially available from Haines Signature dealers and is not recommended by the manufacturer - 90hp is the limit on this model.

Having so much weight on the transom did have its downsides, however it really only misbehaved between 4000 and 5000rpm, where some porpoising was evident. Typical seating arrangements for long-hauling up these tropical rivers is three across the back - two on the passenger seats and one on the aft deck, so it makes sense not to overload the transom any further than necessary.

We tested this boat's payload capacity well and truly with four big blokes weighing a total of 430kg, and every nook and cranny in the boat was filled with gear for a full week chasing barra.

A spare tote tank stowed under an aft hatch and was needed to supplement the main 65lt underfloor tank for our two days' fishing. The fishing zone for this tournament is about 40km long, and it is not unusual to traverse its length twice in a day, chasing fish and riding the tides.

A hatch in front of the engine well held the single-crank battery, and while a mounting pod on the bow provided for an electric motor, the second battery for it would have to live in a forward compartment. A bulkhead hatch in front of the rear casting deck held more trays for tackle - a high point of the 460SF was the amount of dedicated storage for lures and rods.




The helm was sensibly laid out with a flush-mounted sounder directly in front of the driver and another on a swivel bracket for an angler standing in the cockpit. A third was located on a purpose-built fascia on the port forequarter.

Seating was both comfortable and easily relocated around the various spigots scattered over the deck.

The portside coaming featured a neat tackle locker in which rigged rods could be stowed. Another stowage section is located under the full-width step up onto the forward casting deck. Rodholders were strategically placed about the coamings with one for the skipper recessed into the console.

Custom rod racks were also fitted to the inside of the coamings in the cockpit, while the console was fitted with two drinkholders and a soft vinyl pocket on its front for odds and ends.

Two big moulded livewells are found in the front deck, but during the competition one was used as an icebox for drinks. Forward of these, another hatch opened to access the anchor well, which was more than large enough to hold the necessary rope and chain for use on rivers and dams.




I watched this rig fishing the Daly River for five days before taking it for a spin. During that week I noticed how stable the platform was when people were leaning out to land big fish.

Getting aboard didn't change my mind either. It is a rock-solid platform, and while it looks congested with three anglers aboard, in reality there was plenty of room - provided you kept on top of the housework and didn't leave gear lying about the place. The sunken drivers' cockpit was also roomy.

A 30km run upriver through the wash of 44 other barra rigs showed this hull to be very dry, with next to no spray coming
over the front or forequarters. With no fourth seat available, this writer parked his lemon-and-sarse on the cockpit deck and felt reasonably comfortable launching over the wash at 70kmh.

I dropped off our other two anglers and took Gary for a run upriver and reached a top speed of 80kmh at 6200rpm. This rig is apparently capable of 47mph (80kmh) with a four-stroke 90hp Suzuki, which feels bloody fast in such a small boat!

Even though this rig was packing another 50hp on the back, it was propped for economical cruising speeds rather than fast hole-shots or higher top-end speeds. The 460SF has Haines Signature's patented variable-deadrise hull, deep forefoot and strakes for grip in turns. All up, it handled predictably and proved well suited to the conditions up north.

The 460SF - while purpose built for inland impoundment and estuary fishing - does lend itself to being a small family skiboat if you want to keep your water babies happy.

It proved to be a well-thought-out, stable and soft-riding platform - all sought-after characteristics in boats below five metres. In my opinion, this rig is one of the best-performing bass boats under five metresI've ever driven.




Intelligent interior layout and storage solutions: built to fish 
Great stability at rest
Good ride and great handling
Neatly finished throughout




Acceleration affected by propeller
No dedicated provision for twin  batteries in the stern
Some porpoising due to engine weight






Price as tested: $36,700 with Suzuki DF140TL four-stroke EFI

Options fitted: Rod racks, five flush-mounted seat bases, livebait tank plumbing, three padded seats, side console, lockable tackle hatch, three Matrix sounders, GPS, carpet, tandem trailer, deluxe instrumentation, hydraulic steering, custom propeller and driving lights

Priced from: $14,000 (bare hull only)




Material: Handlaid fibreglass
Hull length (overall): 4.74m
Beam: 2.09m
Deadrise: 33-21° variable
Rec/max hp: 90
Weight: 440kg
Towing weight: 1000kg




Fuel: 65lt
People: Four adults




Make/model: Suzuki DF140
Type: Four-stoke EFI
Rated hp: 140
Displacement: 2044cc
Weight: 186kg
Gearbox ratio: 2.38:1
Propeller: 21in stainless




GS Marine, 30 Toupein Road Palmerston, NT, tel (08) 8932 7300, email or visit

Haines Marine Industries
140 Viking Drive, Wacol, Qld,
tel (07) 3271 4400, or visit


Find Haines Signature boats for sale.


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