Review: Sea Fox 220 Viper

By: Kevin Smith, Photography by: Kevin Smith


The 220 Viper from Sea Fox Boats is a jack of all trades with centre console fishing boat appeal.

Manufactured in the USA and distributed by JSW Powersports on the Gold Coast, the Sea Fox Boats brand needs no introduction to Australians. But while these American boats have been around for some time, the new generation of Sea Fox Boats have certainly raised a few eyebrows.

 

Sea Fox Viper 220

Sea Fox 220 Viper

I got to review the 2016 Sea Fox Viper 220 with JSW Powersports’ best man, Jason Hedges, over a full weekend chasing prolific juvenile black marlin off Hervey Bay.

Selected for weather forecast, moon phases and local reports, the four-day weekend in October was locked in. A mellow five to six-hour tow at a leisurely pace delivered us to Urangan (Hervey Bay). Located on the water, there are accommodation options from parks through to decent hotels, and all at really good off-season rates.

Fishing the inside of Fraser Island, well the options are endless; decent estuary fishing and crabbing to the south, some cracker barra and threadfin fishing up the creeks and rivers, and good reef and pelagic fishing all the way north to the tip of Fraser.

For us, the hot-bite of the black marlin had the full crew amped, especially considering they can be sight-fished in the shallows around Watumba Creek and Rooney’s Point.

As a side note, the previous week one boat recorded around 35 black marlin caught and released in one day.

As usual, the weather gods threw a curveball, with the predicted 10-15kt north-easterly breezes instead blowing more like 15-25kt. If the Sea Fox 220 Viper was going to be tested to its limits – not to mention my poor 5m Bonito boat (the camera boat) – then this was it.

 

Layout and design

Sea Fox 220 Viper casting deck

The Sea Fox 220 Viper was designed as a cross-over centre console fishing boat / flats / bass and even semi-offshore type. At a glance the sleek and low-profile 6.8m Viper is a sexy machine to say the least, with a Jetty Grey hull and gunwales, cool white interior decks and matching Jetty Grey T-top, finished off with subtle pastels to the vinyls – even the G2 E-TEC G2 200hp H.O. outboard motor is colour-matched to the hull. It looks fast and, having a 2.5m beam, it also portrays the perfect stable lure fishing platform.

Upon closer inspection, the Sea Fox 220 Viper offers a generous and oversized bass/tournament-style layout, having a full cast-deck up front loaded with dry storage options for gear and tackle boxes, trolling motor plug with harness (12/24/36 volt), lockable rod storage in the bow with gas struts to lids (Pro Package upgrade) as well as a large aerated live well, large insulated fish box, and floor storage with 5gal bucket.

 

Centre console

Centre console on Sea Fox 220 Viper boat

The deluxe console is spacious and gives full protection for two at the helm, in addition to full protection from the stylish T-top. Vision is unrestricted through the large screen. Having an adjustable steering helm and flip-up bolsters gives heaps of room while standing and driving; seated, you can kick back on the comfy padded seating, your feet on built-in footrests.

I really liked the dash set-up. It’ll take a flush-mount Simrad NSS16 combo unit or you could run slightly smaller dual units. The separate side panel for smart-gauges like the Evinrude I-Command as well as full toggle switch panel below is another nice touch.

Stern on Sea Fox 220 Viper

A lockable side-hatch console door leads to a decent-sized storage compartment and head area with Porta Potti. This is a big bonus on a boat of this size and style. Console electronics and helm fittings can also be accessed easily through this area.

In the stern, the Sea Fox 220 Viper has another full cast-deck with a number of innovative features crammed in. I liked the full-length seating hidden below the deck, something generally lacking on centre consoles. It also has another good-sized aerated live-well and heaps of storage space for gear.

 

Handling and ride

Sea Fox 220 Viper on the water

Considering the conditions ahead for the weekend in Hervey Bay, the general expectations of all on board included a gruesome and wet ride. We were going to get smashed on the daily 50-60km ride each way, and that was that – might as well toughen up.

Heading out of the harbour, a constant overnight 15kt north-easterly made one hell of a mess of the bay. Streams of boats with salt-drenched hopefuls limping into the harbour gave a clear indication of what lay ahead.

Sporting the latest 200hp Evinrude G2 H.O. outboard motor with digital controls, the Sea Fox 220 Viper whipped up onto the plane effortlessly and I was impressed at how well the hull sliced and landed off the back of the mongrel one-metre chop. It was smooth, soft and extremely accommodating.

With the trim tabs retracted, the ride was a bit flightier on the bow but still comfortable and dry when heading directly into the chop. Further adjustments with a bit of tab and trim combined produced an even better ride, the bow holding a level plane to the chop and the V of the hull really working to soften the ride. The faster we flogged the Viper, the better it went. Everyone was blown away at just how well the boat performed into the foul conditions, especially when belting at a constant 30kt without having to hold on for dear life.

With a following sea and chop it was a different story – the hull wasn’t as responsive while set with the tabs extended. Like any boat with tabs, you need to work out where they work best and with the following sea the Viper only needed a touch of tab down to maintain comfort and stability.

Another impressive characteristic was the hull’s turning ability – chucking the Viper into turns at high speed the hull more power-slides than carves, similar to high performance bass boats.

Yes, we got wet on a few occasions when quartering the chop but any other centre console would have copped the same in those conditions. Again, considering the three days of abusive conditions, the ride is easy to sum up as it’s that good: fast, smooth, soft as butter, and incredibly stable.

 

Fishability

Rocket launchers on Sea Fox 220 Viper T-top

The Sea Fox 220 Viper really shone in this area, aided by the initial false impression that it was more on the lines of an ideal estuary/bay hull suited to lure fishing, and wasn’t going to be ideal for light offshore use and Marlin fishing.

The experience of trolling for Marlin within the confines of Fraser Island was nothing different to an offshore boat. The spread was easy to space out and having the angled rocket launcher off to the side of the T-top worked exceptionally well as a dual shotgun holder cum outrigger. the engine economy was good too, with a gentle 8.2L/h at six knots.

As for lure fishing, well the fore and aft cast decks have good elevation and combined with excellent stability and great tackle storage options, the Sea Fox 220 Viper is an awesome platform to fish from. Due to the design it lacks internal freeboard but surprisingly it’s not something I really noticed and I would be more than happy to fish offshore on calm to moderate days on the Viper.

 

The Trade-a-Boat verdict

Sea Fox 220 Viper fishing boat

It’s amazing how boats have evolving in design and performance and the Sea Fox Viper 220 is a prime example of ingenuity combined with X factor. Although a centre console that can be used for a number of applications, it’s the kind of boat that’s well suited and set-up to suit lure fishing in marine and fresh water environments.

Bass boats definitely have their place in the market but this machine or style of boat could be the future of tournament fishing. 

 

HIGHS

• Classy finish.

• Combined hull and motor performance / handling.

• Suitability to recreation and tournament fishing.

• Storage options.

 

LOWS

• Marlin went on strike.

• Hatch locks a bit finicky.

 

Sea Fox 220 Viper specs

Sea Fox 220 Viper price: $79,391

Priced from

 

Options fitted

E-TEC G2 200hp H.O. outboard motor; Jetty Grey hull; twin-axle trailer; freshwater wash down; foot mat; extra rod holders; trim tabs with standard switch; T-top; Simrad package

 

Price as tested

$111,254

 

GENERAL

Type Centre console fishing boat / all-rounder

Material GRP

Length 6.8m

Beam 2.5m

Weight 975kg (dry)

Max weight 1496kg

Deadrise 15˚

 

CAPACITIES

People 8 (day)

Rec. HP 200hp

Max HP 250hp

Fuel 235lt

Water 27lt

 

ENGINE

Model Evinrude E-TEC G2 200hp (E200XHAB) outboard motor

Type V6 74° E-TEC DI outboard motor

Weight 244kg

Displacement 3441cc

Gear ratio 1.85:1

 

SUPPLIED BY

JSW Powersports

3 Ereton Drive, Arundel, Qld 4214

Web SeaFoxboats.com.au

Email sales@SeaFoxboats.com.au

Phone (07) 5529 2616

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #476, on sale March 24, 2016. Why not subscribe today?

 


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