ONE FLASH BASS
You would be on the money if you made the statement that there is no shortage of bass boats around. In fact, there almost seems to be a glut of this type of sportsfishing boat.
While they are loosely referred to as ‘bass boats’, it might be time to change their title as, due to drought and over-consumption of freshwater from this continent’s impoundments, anglers have taken to the brine in droves. Perhaps ‘bream boat’ would be more fitting.
With many of the production line boats in this country having an each way bet with bowriders that make a reasonable fishing platform when not required for family wake boarding, there are a couple of models that are hardcore to say the least.
The 490 ProStrike from Haines Hunter is one such boat that is capable of putting in the hard yards, and when it comes to an estuary sportsfishing boat you would be pressed to find another more dedicated to the cause.
While only 4.9m LOA, nearly every centimetre of this boat deck is fishable and that occupying the forward half boasts a swag of hatches in which a plethora of tackle may be secreted.
Typically flat and flush, the decks are moulded at the edges with a gentle rise. This allows one to stand at the edge without the foot getting restricted causing an overbalance and, when stood upon, pushes the body weight back toward the centre of the boat. It is small differences such as these, that are not apparent at a glance until one gets aboard to use the boat for what it was intended, that go a long way toward making it the ideal fishing machine.
This boat was fitted with a Minn Kota Rip Tide electric outboard which folds at an angle down on top of a specifically designed gunwale on the port forequarter. To its right, a raised brow in the forward coaming held a Lowrance LCX515 dual-frequency colour sounder.
Centrally located at the forward end of the deck is a removable hatch that exposes a deep, removable module which is a rebate that holds the foot control for the Minn Kota. The top of the foot control, when used in this rebate, is level with the rest of the deck which means one can operate the electric outboard without having one leg higher than the other causing imbalance.
On each side of the forward casting deck long hatches are located and supported on gas struts. These have the capacity to store medium landing nets and tackle boxes, and are neatly carpet-lined. While these open outwards, a central hatch opens from the aft-end up and it, too, is hinged and supported by gas struts. The Minn Kota batteries are located in the forward section of this compartment and there is plenty of room in the aft end for more tackle boxes, waterproof and safety gear. With hatches closed, a retractable strap is pulled from the starboard coaming and it Velcro-attaches to the carpet. This is a rod stowage system that alleviates the need for rods to be stowed vertically when on the plane and working around low overhead timber.
Stepping down into the cockpit, three comfortable seats are located full beam inside. The central seat base removes to access a waterproof hatch which opened to dry stowage space while the seats on each side are fixed.
The console is a neat module with a raised brow. We found the curved tinted windscreen quite high and it need not be being a deflector in the main rather than an actual screen that required looking through.
The layout of the dash was neat and featured a Paulger press-button, keyless ignition. Lowrance’s LMS-527Ci GPS chartplotter/dual-frequency sounder was flush mounted and a unit slightly larger than this model would fit if need be. The fitted unit features an internal antenna which negates the need for more clutter on the dash and for comforts sake, Sea Star’s hydraulic steering which features their five-position sports hub that can be tilted up and down.
A rack for vertical stowage of rods was installed on the port side of the starboard-side console with a base for the rod butts to fit into, fixed to the cockpit deck. The gear shift, located on the inside of the cabin liner, is low profile and its operation is smooth with minimal mechanical noise coming from the gearbox on the 150hp HO Evinrude E-TEC.
The throttle is the foot pedal type and comfortable to use.
The aft casting deck featured a maze of stowage compartments beneath the gas strut operated hatches. A large compartment, centrally located in the forward section, runs across the beam. It is a live fishwell of about 150lt that has a removable, perforated wall to separate the competition catch and with that out of the picture, a 20kg barra could survive in here.
Importantly, it has a reverse chine inside the rim that turns back the water sloshing around, which would otherwise wet the backs of occupants when in their seating positions. The rim of this and other hatches here, is raised to prevent water ingest from rain or spray, with the low sections between acting as a common gutter to get the water back over the transom.
Directly aft of the live fishwell, two hatches open inwards to provide access to the batteries. Between these and the engine well, another wide, hinged and carpeted section lifts up to allow access to the fuel and oil filler beneath. This lid slopes upwards as it goes back and this allows for angler comfort without creating another trip mechanism for those moving about the deck.
Two long hatches either side open to a pair of compartments under each, while the one in the aft starboard corner has a removable bin which allows access to the bilge.
Rounded brows in the aft corners allow one to disembark via a step moulded in the transom.
The E-TEC and 490 ProStrike combination is a nice marriage and the performance of both is very smart indeed. The engine was mounted on a Solas jacking plate and when wound up to full throttle, the tacho showed 5500rpm and the GPS speed-over-ground registered 69kmh. These engines are quiet and until you actually hear them running, you tend to think they would be noisy being two-strokes. Far from it and they compete very well against four-stroke motors for smoke-free, smooth and quiet running. Generally speaking, they tend to be lighter than their four-stroke equivalents.
The 490 ProStrike hull is very soft riding and dry to boot with only minimal spray coming over the forequarters and most of what we experienced was due to oncoming wind.
Holeshot is brilliant and high-speed turns at full lock doesn’t faze this rig. And with leg tucked in, it hooks around with ease, exhibiting no slippage.
Dead in the water, this hull draws a shallow draft making it a great flats boat, and moving about on deck while fishing, exhibits very stable qualities.
All-in-all, this is a very professional rig and Haines Hunter gets full marks for the R&D that has gone into maximising space and having a rig that can handle open water at speed with a very high level of comfort.
And with a trimmed windscreen to suit the seated height of the common skipper, this rig gets full marks!
WHAT WE LIKED
Awesome handling at speed; would make a good small ski boat
Soft ride in big estuary chop
Stable and all usable deck space
NOT SO MUCH
Many will find the wind deflector too high but at high speed it does come into its own
Haines Hunter 490 ProStrike
Specifications: Haines Hunter 490 Prostrike
Price as tested: $57,202
Options fitted: Minn Kota, retractable rod strap, bum seat, hydraulic steering, deck lighting, under-seat dry stowage, gas struts, and jack plate
Priced from: $47,900
Length overall: 5.22m
Weight: 580kg (hull only)
Rec/max HP: 150
Rec/max transom engine weight: 225kg
Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC 150HO
Type: Loop-charged V6 two-stroke
Propeller: 23in Raker
90 Kortum Drive,
Burleigh Heads, Qld, 4220
Phone: (07) 5576 8811
Fax: (07) 5576 7722
Website : www.hinterlandmarine.com.au
Originally published in TrailerBoat #226