Video: Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop review

By: Tim van Duyl, Photography by: Nathan Jacobs, Video by: John Beirouty

The Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop has been a favourite of ours for a long time and with the Formosa Tomahawk Hardtop, the heavy-duty Offshore hull adds strength and dependability.

This Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop’s best attribute is probably the one that matters most – its suitability as a fishing boat. One look at the proportions, the layout, the fixtures, and you know the Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop is no pretend fisher; it’s the real deal. The long cockpit, which is a proper self-drainer, the almost vertical cabin and the no-nonsense construction make a promise we couldn’t wait to test. Once aboard we found a good-sized bait station with livewell, a good set of wide coamings and a fair array of rod holders – that box is well and truly ticked.


Hardtop Formosa Tomahawk

Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop boat
The 580 Formosa Tomahawk underway with a new 175hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 outboard motor.

The overall looks of the Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk with optional hardtop will not win over the latte-drinking posers of the world but will impress a practical thinker and engineer. The forward-positioned cabin opens up dancefloor space and the sharp rake of the windscreen maximises the internal space.

The forward berth is small – not grown-up friendly but it will work for children or to rest your legs. Its real value is storage, part of which is dedicated to a cassette toilet complete with neat privacy shield designed out of the squab. It simply lifts in an arc on its hinge and is held in place by a short strap to conceal users from the cockpit.

Seating on the Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop is high, to match the tall cabin ceiling that’s about 1.9m from the floor. The dash is semi-custom, the boat’s owner, Paul, working closely with Duncan at Formosa to create a bespoke pod for his chosen screens – a pair of the exceptional Lowrance HDS7 marine electronics.



Hardtop interior of Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk

The self-draining deck on the Formosa 580 Tomahawk Hardtop is a massive plus for fishing offshore. This does, however, have the effect of shortening freeboard, with the tops of the coamings sitting above the knee rather than mid to top thigh as is the trend with most other offshore fishing boats.

The high seats offer great visibility through the ’screen while the side windows are wide enough to poke a head through for launching and retrievals. Grab rails are well placed and the standard rocket launcher is easily accessible. Access to the bow is best through the large front hatch though there is a long roof-mounted grab rail to work with. Getting back onto the boat is made easy by a solid ladder, while the transom is a walk-through with door to keep the swell at bay. The ergonomic highlight of the 580 is the bait station which is a great height to work at and solidly mounted so it doubles as a great grab point when the going gets rough.


Stability at rest

Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop

The Formosa 580 Hardtop features a defined pair of reverse chines that run along three quarters of the hull’s length. They rise up at the bow, where they work well as spray deflectors. Fully welded into the join where the hull meets the sides, they are aggressively angled to grip the water in turns and to push back against rock and roll at rest.

The reverse chines coupled with the relatively shallow 18.5 degree deadrise mean it’s not an unstable platform at rest, while underway it delivers a ride that’s both stable and dry.


Quality of finish

Transom and bait station on Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk

A welded alloy fishing boat built to a budget, we weren’t expecting a Dickey Boats level of quality and what we found was an honest approach to boat building, with unground, exposed welds throughout. Some additional attention to Sikaflexing around the windscreen was needed but that’s a simple job to remedy. Paint work was exceptional with the look of the two-tone metallic a particular highlight.


Handling and ride

Formosa 580 Offshore on the water

The nature of the design compromises the hull’s handling, but all boats are a compromise in some way. The cabin-forward strategy maximises available space but adds weight over the bow. This weight forward is somewhat noticeable at rest, with the bow in the waterline more than most boats, which takes away some stability. But it’s more noticeable underway as the helm is in front of the waterline even trimmed out and the weight of the hardtop and driver drags the nose down. It is not an issue that needs to be rectified; while moving weight back would fix it, that would intrude on the massive cockpit. Better to simply accept the 580 Offshore is not an offshore racer with deep V and fine entry; it’s designed to be pointed where you want to go, get you there and fish.

Steering is by way of integrated power-assist built into the 175hp E-TEC outboard motor. The level of assistance is adjustable three ways, controlled easily by the engine gauge. In turns it was easy to use and never felt like it was struggling against the high-torque E-TEC.


175hp E-TEC G2 outboard motor

Evinrude E-TEC 175 G2 outboard motor review

We went to Altona for two reasons: the Formosa and what was hanging off the back. This was our first look at the new G2 175hp E-TEC from Evinrude. The Trade-a-Boat team knows the G2 well but only in the 3.4L variant available from 200 to 300hp, and launched in 2014. We have tested them all, including in twin installations, (head to to read about them) so when the new 2.7L version landed, we were hanging out to give it a spin.

Like its big brother, the 2.7L G2 is a direct injection two-stroke. As expected it had more grunt down low than any competitor I’ve driven and delivered decent fuel economy all wrapped up in futuristic looks, epic warranty and low service costs. For a full run-down, head to my engine review a few pages on.


Standard equipment

Side pockets on Formosa 580 Tomahawk

The Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop is well spec’d and ready for engine rigging from the factory, with hydraulic steering, rear lounge, V-berth cushions, a 200-litre fuel tank, plus paint and graphics to round out the looks. From there it’s down to personal preference and customising your boat to your fishing style and needs. We would add an electric anchor winch and a kill tank, as Paul has, and the frankly excellent bait board with tank option. Paul went further, with the custom dash pod complete with Lowrance HDS7s, the well-thought-out head arrangement and of course the hardtop. Trailers can be arranged from local dealer to a buyer’s needs – ‘ours’ is on a Mackay tandem alloy that Paul says tows well.


Value for money

Formosa 580 Tomahawk Hardtop on boat trailer

Is the Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop package, as tested, good value? That’s a difficult prospect as you are closing in on base prices for a Surtees 610 Gamefisher, one of our favourites. At a touch over $78,000, the tested package had more than $40,000 added to the hull-only price. This might seem a lot but then the E-TEC outboard price is over $22,000 and the alloy trailer is nudging $10,000. Building a package from scratch, including a hardtop, could see you on the water for a bit over A$63,000 which for a six-metre hardtop, is good value for money.


The verdict

Transom on Formosa 580 Hardtop

This particular Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk HT represents its owner well. A solid base to begin with, Paul has turned his into a ready-to-go fisher with power to burn on the transom and high-end electronics. Built like the proverbial, it will last a lifetime and, importantly, has the space to take mates with ease. 



• Masses of fishing room.

• Great bait station.

• Good factory inclusions.



• Some finishing details.

• Heavy in the bow attitude.


Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk HT specs

Formosa 580 Offshore Tomahawk Hardtop price: $31,311

Hull only, priced from



Hardtop, two-tone metallic paint, burley bucket, V-berth infill cushions, kill tank, additional welded rod holders (2), seat boxes, toilet, LED cabin light, Boat Catch, USB socket, seat box hatches, Viper winch plus some customer-fit extras






MATERIAL Aluminium



BEAM 2.45m

DEADRISE 18.5deg

MAX HP 175

WEIGHT 790kg (hull only ex. hardtop)







MAKE/MODEL Evinrude E-TEC 175 G2 outboard motor

TYPE Direct-injection two-stroke V6



WEIGHT 245kg (25in leg)


PROPELLER Rebel 18x15.375in



Cranbourne Boating Centre

Phone 03 9998 4651

Web Cranbourne Boating Centre


See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #488, February / March 2017. Why not subscribe today?


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