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When Matthew Jones decided to test the Stabicraft 1850 Fisher in New Zealand's Foveaux Strait he thought he'd ticked all the weather boxes. Then everything turned unexpectedly foul, and the Stabi's safety and ride credentials were tested to the limit.

Stabicraft 1850 Fisher

The 1850 Fisher is one of Stabicraft's oldest still-current models, and with good reason: it's bloody popular, both in New Zealand and Australia. The 1850 Fisher is the bigger brother of the 1750 Fisher (previously 509 Fish'r), and between the two of them they're providing a safe adventure platform to over 300 boaters on both sides of the Tasman.

Since its launch in 2008, this endearing Stabi has answered to a few different call signs, beginning life as the 529 Fish'r, before becoming the 1850 Fish'r and now answering to 1850 Fisher. The name changes were necessary to provide consistency across the Stabicraft range, so as not to confuse the brand's ever-expanding overseas export markets.




Stabicraft recently celebrated 25 years in business but these Kiwis are not resting on their laurels. At the Stabicraft factory in Invercargill, on New Zealand's South Island, staff are encouraged to speak up if they feel there's a better way of doing something. I'm told around 250 of the staggering 400-odd suggestions are implemented each year, with the end result being happy staff, an efficient factory producing quality workmanship and, of course, happy customers.

The boats are built to order and come with a wide range of standard items and optional extras. Stability and safety are of the utmost importance, and while Stabicraft has made no excuses for sacrificing looks, each passing generation has seen a step up in the aesthetics department.

Stabicraft also employs a full-time compliance person to ensure current models meet New Zealand CPC, Australian Builders Plate and American Coast Guard standards. In the near future the intention is to also earn the tick of approval from the stringent American Boat and Yacht Council.

While in Invercargill for the test, I also had the pleasure of receiving a guided tour through the Stabicraft factory. After witnessing the attention to detail and pride that gets poured into the 600 or so boats that roll out of the factory each year, I was certainly impressed.




As a Fisher model, this boat has the interests of the hunter-gatherer at heart, with uncluttered fishing space, easy clean-up, practicality, stability and safety high on the priorities list. Dropping the anchor at your chosen fishing spot is made easy through the fold-back windscreen and front hatch, which should ease back strain (and crew complaints) come retrieval time.

Navigation lights, combined with a removable anchor light on the transom, allow for extended fishing before sunrise and after sunset. A 100lt underfloor fuel tank frees up extra space under the transom for gear storage or additional tote tanks if you're on a serious adventure. Further storage is available in the bow under the cabin top, although bear in mind that only a rail separates this area from the cockpit, so gear stored here could get wet in adverse conditions.

Cleaning up after a fishing session is easy thanks to the checkerplate floor and selfdraining scuppers. The floor is completely sealed, affording underfloor buoyancy, with the trade-off being no underfloor storage to store the catch. An insulated icebox would be a better option and there's plenty of real estate to keep one in the cockpit.

In the interests of both safety and cleanliness, the battery is raised off the floor and neatly hidden behind a vinyl flap in the transom.

Our test boat was kindly on loan from a customer. It didn't have any electronics fitted but I'm told the dash can take a seven-inch screen. A serious fisho may want to option additional rodholders, livebait tank (complete with a window and pump) and rocket launcher.




Making sure the family enjoys boating as much as you do is a smart move, and the 1850 Fisher has a few features to keep them happy. A move towards a more family-friendly orientation has seen a change to a fibreglass bonnet (instead of aluminium as used on earlier models), offering smoother lines and a softer composition. 

An optional skipole / baitboard can also be fitted, with the passenger's seat providing a good spot to keep a watchful eye on the antics out back. Storage is available below and the plastic base has been carpeted for a better finish and added comfort. The transom jump seats look like a fun place to sit on a summer's day and boost the seating allowance to accommodate five thrill-seekers. Optional external gunwale handrails should also make life easier once back at the ramp.

Getting back onboard after carving up the wake should be hassle-free owing to the sturdy boarding ladder and low-profile transom. Skis and fishing rods can be stored out of the way in the side parcel shelves, although some sort of lining would be advisable to stop them rattling around.




Despite my best laid plans, I somehow managed to arrive in Bluff smack bang in the middle of a freak weather event at the height of summer. The front page of the Southland Times read: "Season turns topsy-turvy. Twister clouds, hail, snow and rain hit south". Trust me, this was not the kind of headline that I wanted to see just before venturing into the treacherous waters of Foveaux Strait!

Someone who was with me during the test day who definitely wasn't worried about the bad forecast was Tim van Duyl from Stabicraft. While his official title is "marketing coordinator", he's also passionate about product testing, and has quite a talent for launching Stabis skyward. With that in mind, I had little hesitation in requesting more of the same; he happily obliged, all the while trying to hide his excitement.

Watching him blissfully launching the Stabi off swells looked like a lot of fun and I was eager to experience the thrill first hand. 
With the maximum rated horsepower bolted to the back, good performance was expected and was certainly forthcoming. The abundance of torque, combined with the ergonomic helm setup, smooth responsive steering and buoyant stability, provided plenty of capacity to conquer the rough stuff.

At no time did this boat feel out of its depth as it gracefully took everything thrown at it with no complaints. High-speed airborne landings were surefooted and overall quite gentle on the knees. Unfortunately, the speedo called in sick on the test day and, as the customer didn't have any electronics fitted, no performance figures could be recorded. If I had to take a punt I'd say this boat was capable of around 65kmh (35kts).

This tough and tenacious rig was supplied on a Stabicraft multi-roller trailer complete with submersible LED lights. Getting it in and out of the tide was as simple as sliding it off and driving back on again.




The 1850 Fisher is one of Stabicraft's most popular mid-range models. It strikes a sweet spot between ample cockpit space for the serious fisherman / diver and enough comfort and safety to take the family out for a memorable day on the water, while still remaining affordable, functional and easily towed.

Stabicraft likes to look after its customers, which is clearly evident in the fact that one of them handed us the keys to his pride and joy for this test. He may well have thought twice if he knew what the weather was going to be like, but at least he can rest easy knowing that his boat passed with flying colours.

Note: this boat was tested in New Zealand conditions.






Price as tested: $42,810 (ex Northside Marine,  Boondall, Qld)
Options fitted: Belting up paint incl. cabin, transom corner seats, stainless skipole, rear boarding ladder, port side king / queen seat, external gunwale handrails, drainage socks (pair), graphics package
Priced from: $36,695 (Ex Northside Marine,  Boondall Qld)




Type: Pontoon-style family / fishing boat
Material: Alloy
Length (LOA): 5.6m
Beam: 2.15m
Weight (dry hull): 535kg
Weight (package): 950kg
Deadrise: 17.5°




People: 6
Min HP rec: 90
Max. HP: 115
Fuel: 100lt (underfloor)




Make/model: Yamaha Saltwater Series 115CETOL
Type: 115hp oil-injected, V4 two-stroke
Displacement: 1730cc
Engine weight: 165kg
Gear ratio: 2.00:1




Stabicraft, 345 Bluff Road, Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand, Web:

Story and photos: Matthew Jones
First published in TrailerBoat #282


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