By: Kevin Smith

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Kevin Smith sees how the Haines Group's new Signature 502DF compares to its close cousin, the 502RF, he tested one year ago.

Haines Signature 502DF

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #280, April 2012

About 12 months ago I tested the Haines Group's Signature 502RF (Runabout Fisher), which turned out to be a little cracker on the water (see TrailerBoat #268). That model recently spawned the Signature 502DF (Day Fisher) - a similar boat but with a different top-deck design and several extra features.

What's the main difference? Well, for a start there's a redesigned console / bow area. The 502RF tested last year had a walkthrough to the bow with stowage compartments below on either side. The DF has the same walkthrough, but with a built-in mini-cab section. Personally, I prefer the DF setup as it's a great place to shelter from the elements (especially for the kids) and it can still be used for storage.



Just like the RF, this one has a smart and tidy layout, with a nice, compact false-transom setup providing a livewell, transom door and fold-away rear lounge, with open access below to all the plumbing and the battery.

The gunwales are nice and high, which does afford a little more protection, and certainly helps keep the kids in the boat rather than out. The gunwales also have good-sized sidepockets, rodholders and Tallon Receivers, with neat rod racks fitted on either side.

The deck area is a speckled non-slip affair with a centre carpet running forward. There's a decent-sized deck hatch between the seats, which are mounted on seat boxes with open storage beneath. A nice touch is the white beading finish on all the open edges of the boat - it just adds that extra touch of class to the boat's interior.

The 502DF sports a port and starboard dash, with a glove / icebox fitted on the passenger side, a walkthrough section to the bow, large hinged screen and decent space for electronics on the skipper's side, all protected by a bimini cover.

The only thing I might change would be the position of the Garmin GMI 10 gauges. Were it up to me, I'd fit them next to the sounder rather than behind it, as I couldn't see them clearly when seated.

Let's now take a closer look at the 502DF's main point of difference to its 502RF sibling, namely that open-plan cabin. It's not huge inside, but it's still sufficient for some form of protection, and also has plenty of space for gear.

If you have small kids the DF format is simply more practical than that of the RF.

The DF has the same walkthrough section, with a side-opening hinged top that gives you full access to the bow and anchor. It's a great idea, as it saves you from having to clamber over windscreens to get to the anchor hatches.
Overall, this is a smart and spacious layout; it's comfortable, but it also serves as a great fishing platform.




Like the RF model tested previously, this DF was fitted with a Suzuki 90hp four-stroke. These hulls have the patented Signature variable deadrise hull, which delivers a thoroughly pleasing ride.

The DF's ride is smooth, soft and pretty dry; it's also fairly stable for a boat of this size. Unfortunately our test day within the Gold Coast Broadwater was flat, but I'd tested the RF in rough conditions and it performed exceptionally well. The DF shares the same hull, so I can't see any reason why this model's performance in less-than-ideal conditions would be any different.

When I tested the 502RF I remember having to contend with a gusty northerly that was almost entirely head-on for the ride home. Considering the conditions the boat rode exceptionally well, and I drove most of the way seated instead of standing. After a 15-minute ride I stepped off the boat, dry and far from battered.

With the 90hp the 502DF was gutsy enough out of the hole and topped out at around 33kts (61kmh) at wide open throttle (WOT). As I mentioned, it was dead calm in the Broadwater on the day, so I resorted to some tight figure-of-eights to create a reasonable wake and get some idea of how it handled in the chop. In these conditions, it once more maintained a very comfortable ride that was stable at speed, and also handled well into tight turns. It was comfortable to drive when standing or seated and on the water it felt very safe indeed.




This 502DF is a little winner for family fishing and boating enthusiasts, and as well as being a decent all-rounder, it also comes with a truckload of accessories fitted as standard - far too many to mention. At $49,280 (as tested), the Signature 502DF is a quality boat with a super finish for a competitive price.



On the plane...

Comfortable ride
Quality overall finish
Walkthrough to bow a good feature
The mini-cab is simple but practical
Rod racks in the sidepockets on either side


Dragging the chain...

Gauge panel positioned a bit too far back
Could do with a few grabrails as standard







Price as tested: $49,280
Options fitted: Bimini, glovebox / icebox in dash (lockable), folding aft lounge seat, hydraulic steering
Priced from: $39,990




Type: Deep-vee family / fishing crossover
Material: GRP
Length: 5.25m
Beam: 2.13m
Weight (hull): Approx. 525kg
Weight (total package): Approx. 1300kg
Deadrise: 21-33° variable




People: 5
Min Rec. HP: 70
Max. HP: 115
Fuel: 100lt




Make/model: Suzuki DF90 ATX
Type: 16-valve, DOHC, four-stroke
Displacement: 1502cc
Engine weight: 158kg (extra-long shaft)
Gear ratio: 2.59:1
Propeller: 17in




The Haines Group
140 Viking Drive
Wacol, Qld, 4076
Tel: (07) 3271 4400

Originally published in TrailerBoat #280


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