Review: Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC-HT

By: Kevin Smith, Photography by: Kevin Smith

Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 02 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 02
Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 04 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 04
Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 07 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 07
Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 09 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 09
Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 12 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 12
Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 13 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 13
Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 14 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 14
Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 16 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 16
Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 17 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 17
Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 21 Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC HT 21

With the 580 Tomahawk HC-HT, Formosa expands its range to include a half-cabin with a hardtop.

In the plate boat market the Formosa brand of locally manufactured aluminium fishing boats is  well-recognised and commonly seen one on the water. Manufactured in Tingalpa, Queensland, Formosa boats not only frequent the local waters of Brisbane, but also appear in many other coastal towns throughout Australia due to their popularity and, of course, really nice quality aluminium build.


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Formosa 580 Tomahawk Hardtop Half-Cab

Like most of the manufacturers, Formosa is listening to the demands and trends of the new-age boaters and so has just introduced a hardtop model to its Tomahawk range. Adding this feature to its already popular 580 Tomahawk Half-Cabin not only transforms the look to a cool one at that, but also adds to the protection and overall strength over what would normally be a standard bimini-styled covering.

A raised gunwale sheer and chine line combined with a graphite coloured two-tone paint, a white interior for coolness, and a big, open, clean layout with hardtop and solid-looking construction makes the Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC-HT look like quite the fishing weapon and a boat that’s going to last for many years.



Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC-HT gunwales

The Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC-HT sports the Tomahawk fastback transom as standard, being fairly wide and deep, thus producing more internal deck space and adding to buoyancy, as well as adding more space to board the boat from in and out of the water.

The deck internals consist of the usual baitboard with rodholders, storage below for batteries and plumbing, and a three-quarter rear lounger. What I do like is that they have incorporated the plumbed live-well into the baitboard, and have the batteries and filter raised off the deck in sealed hatch compartments.

The gunwales are a good height with wide coamings with pillar-styled side ribs for extra strength, as well as side-pockets with toe-lock space below. The killtank is oversized and with deck being a self-draining it’s nice and easy to keep clean. The deck coating on the test boat was a non-slip coating requested by the client and not a standard tread-deck or carpeted deck as usually found on the Formosas, which I must say I do prefer.

Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC-HT killtank

The wide beam on the Tomahawk 580HC-HT runs right up to the cab section before tapering. This keeps the deck and cockpit area nice and wide and gives you a bit more walkthrough space to the cab. The hardtop protecting the cockpit is then also a bit wider than usual and, again, adds to the protection when at the helm.

The seating consists of dual pedestal seat boxes with slide and swivel, along with raised footrests. These are fairly high to compensate for the raised dash section which in turn gives you more head room within the cab. It does feel a bit different when driving, having the higher dash and helm station in front of you, but when seated it works fine.



Formosa 580 Tomahawk on the water

When it comes to ride I have always found the Formosas to be very consistent and the Tomahawk 580HC-HT is no different. Loaded up with a 140hp Suzuki four-stroke outboard motor the Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC-HT has a good holeshot and reasonable top end of around 30kts. For me this is more than adequate as these are not Lightning McQueens on the water, but rather good mid-range cruisers that perform their best at economical cruise speeds of anything between 15-25kts dependant on conditions.

The hulls have above average stability both at rest and when underway at any speed, which stems from the 2.45m beam combined with 17-degree deadrise. You do lose a bit when it comes to high speed in rough conditions, but it’s not a bad compromise at all.

The test day threw a 15-20kt Moreton Bay south-easterly at us – enough to make most people debate going out on any normal day. I found the 580’s sharp entry on the bow to work best into the chop with the trim locked right in, producing a comfortable speed of around 18kts. When trimmed out you do need to get bit punchier on the throttles to maintain the higher speed, something I don’t mind doing to maintain a bit more comfort when travelling at speed.

What I did notice while thrashing it through the chop was just how dry the ride is and that obviously stems from the heavily reversed chines bashing the spray down and out, rather than letting it escape up at an angle and back onto the boat. Obviously you do need to adjust trim to suit conditions – lifting the bow a touch pulls the spray further back and away from the bow.

At low or troll speeds you will appreciate the good stability again, especially when it’s time to pull out the game fishing sticks and head offshore for long days of trolling. More often than not, days offshore start off great, but end up getting pretty choppy, in turn making slow trolling pretty uncomfortable, especially in unstable boats. The Formosa 580 has really good stability, so much so that you would stay trolling a bit longer in choppier conditions.



Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC-HT cockpit

The 580 Tomahawk HC-HT is another nice consistent boat from Formosa but with more space and better protection from the new hardtop. I really do like the way their boats are built and presented – sturdy and neat with big fat constant welds exposed, 4mm bottoms and sides (this hull can be upgraded to a 5mm bottom as an option), welded underfloor structure with longitudinal hull structure, floor-to-side sheet gusseting, pillar style side ribs, fully welded side decks, and 32mm tubing throughout. It definitely gives you a well-built plate boat that’s going to last for a very long time.

Although not ultra-long in length the Formosa 580 Tomahawk half-cab hardtop is actually a boat that probably has more internal space than most similar boats that are longer in length. It’s also not over the top when it comes to towing weight and probably would end up around the 1.5-tonne or so fully loaded, which isn’t too hectic to pull around.



• Top stability

• Big open fishing space

• Extra-sturdy hardtop with clears combo rather than full glass



• Add a few non-slip pads to coamings

• Personally prefer standard deck floors or carpet



Single 140hp Suzuki DF140ATX four-stroke outboard motor















* Sea-trial data provided by the author.




Formosa 580 Tomahawk HC-HT price: $64,500



Hardtop, front and side clears, dual battery, Garmin VHF radio, spare wheel and bracket, baitboard with bait tank, 5mm bottom upgrade, two-tone paint, killtank, Fusion stereo, inshore safety gear (6), 12 months boat and trailer registration, stainless steel propeller, tacho/speedo/trim/fuel gauges, anchor light on hardtop, load share suspension, and 14in wheel upgrade.






MATERIAL 5083 High-tensile aluminium

TYPE Monohull

LENGTH 5.8mv

BEAM 2.45m

WEIGHT 950kg




PEOPLE (Day) 7

REC. HP 140


FUEL 200lt



MAKE/MODEL Suzuki DF140ATX outboard motor

TYPE DOHC 16-valve four-stroke outboard motor



WEIGHT 184kg




Australian Marine Centre

3491, Pacific Highway

Springwood QLD, 4127

Phone (07) 38087333




See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #459, November / December 2014. Why not subscribe today?



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