FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
The new Evolution 600 Extreme has all of the elements of true boating legends. Its appearance is beautiful, the interior configuration is exceptional and the hull has all of the qualities of a seaworthy workhorse.
I started writing this test a number of times before it really dawned on me that this beautiful package is fitted out almost exactly as I would if I were to do it myself.
This boat is a ripper. Paul “Junga” Junginger of PM Marine in Bayswater, Victoria, has taken his many years of boatbuilding knowledge and combined it with his offshore fishing experience to produce one of the best offshore fishing boats on the market today. And I don’t make that statement lightly.
The hull has the time-proven elements of a classic. It has a 21-degree deep-vee with a sharp-forefoot entry to cut through the spine splintering slop that all serious fishos contend with on a regular basis. Combine this with a running plank for extra lift, two recessed strakes that aerate the hull and a big reverse chine for stability, lift, grip and direction. Add a well flared bow to assist in exhausting spray and you have a formula for success.
The Evolution 600 Extreme is also a really attractive boat. She has beautiful curves throughout all of the mouldings and a nicely sloping gunwale that accentuates the sheerline. The appearance is enhanced by a well-proportioned cabin with teardrop-shaped windows and an integrated bowsprit that houses a stainless steel plough anchor and Little Annie winch. The look is finished with a big, strong 32mm-stainless steel bowrail, premium-quality rocket launcher/bimini canopy combination, and simple but effective hull graphics.
Our test boat had just returned from a successful sojourn to Bermagui, NSW, where she encountered marlin, kingfish and tuna, and hence, was still fully fitted with outriggers and a full set of Shimano Tiagras. It’s a terrific display of how to rig a trailerable gamefishing boat for maximum effectiveness.
Everything has a place to live on this boat. There is storage everywhere you look. Not only is there storage, there is enormous deck space and a full-length lockable cabin, too.
An onlooker at the boat ramp asked: “How come you guys always test boats on rough days?” I thought the answer was obvious, and yes, we really did get to put the Evolution 600 through its paces. However, sometimes you do start to wonder why you are the only ones out on the bay. Yep, it was a really uncomfortable 25-knot southerly with steep, sharp, metre-high chop to challenge the integrity of both boat and driver.
I am pleased to say the Evolution came through the test with flying colours. She sits really high on the nose, riding well up on its shoulders. I didn’t find visibility to be compromised; however, it does give a great feeling of security, especially in a following sea where you want that bow to stay up in the trough.
Like all deep-vee boats the Evolution 600 likes to get up and boogie. She likes a bit of upward trim whether into a head, or following sea. I did make the big mistake of throttling off in a trough and allowed the boat to wallow without power into the face of the next wave. We did get a bit wet, but the hull easily compensated for my error and at no time did it feel unstable, broach, or cause any cause for concern. A quick tap on the throttle had the peaky 200hp Evinrude E-TEC quickly lifting the nose and returning to a more comfortable planing speed.
The 600 Extreme loves to run downhill in a following sea at around 19mph (16.5kts) and planes easily into a head sea. The big hull rises “out of the hole” at just over 12mph (10.4kts). It was impossible to get other performance figures in the nasty conditions and we certainly never reached anywhere near wide open throttle.
The hull is foam-filled for maximum safety and this really helps deaden any hull noise. Many modern boats have big open cabins that can create a bell, or harmonic effect that amplifies hull noise; however, the Evolution is very quiet. This is aided by the security and noise deadening of a lockable sliding door. The hull is manufactured utilising the industries best practice of a fibreglass underfloor-stringer system and one-piece internal mouldings giving the highest grade of construction integrity.
From the bow back the boat is well designed and laid-out. The Little Annie winch and bowsprit combination provides hassle-free anchoring. Should you ever need to access the bow area there’s a big cabin hatch and small sidedecks. The full-length interior vee-berth accommodates two people and the porcelain toilet is located under a centre cushion between the vee-berths. There is plenty of storage under the bunks and large upholstered sidepockets.
The dashboard layout is simple, effective and attractive. It provides plenty of room for the Lowrance sounder/GPS/plotter combination as well as anchor winch controls, six-gang waterproof switch panel, key start, and both VHF and 27MHz marine radios.
I must say that I wasn’t too fond of the E-TEC iCommand gauges. They are relatively small, unclear and hard to read. More so, I found the menu system a little unclear. Given the benefit of the doubt, it may be a case of teaching “this old dog new tricks”; however, Junga’s suggestion of incorporating the multifunction engine gauges with the Lowrance integrated readout system maybe an answer.
The helm is comfortable and easy to control. The large spoked-steering wheel looks and feels the part and of course, Sea Star hydraulic steering allows effortless directional control. I found comfortable helm control in both the seated and standing positions, but I must admit it was difficult to stay seated in the rough conditions. The Jesus Bar in front of our relatively inexperienced passenger took a white knuckled workout in the rough conditions.
The combination seat boxes house a big five-drawer tackle box on the portside and even more storage under the starboard. Strong 32mm stainless steel footrests are very welcome while seated in the thickly upholstered shell-type seats and the flush-mount engine controls are at the right height and position.
Junga and I are obviously very similar fishos. While there’s an enormous amount of storage onboard, the big flat dashboard areas are most welcome, especially when the crew’s scrambling to re-rig the gear for the unexpected arrival of a target shark, or similar prey. The dash quickly becomes the flat bench space for used traces, lures, sunglasses, hats, gimbals… you name it.
The non-skid deck area is huge. The floor stayed completely dry throughout the demonstration with no discernable water flushing back through the self-draining scuppers. This is one boat that obviously got the self-draining bit right. The working area is completely bordered by thickly padded coamings and toeholds for security in rough water. This feature eliminates the inevitable bruised knees when locked into an extended fight on stand-up tackle. The deck and cockpit is also surrounded by rodholders, coaming racks, sidepockets (strong enough to stand on), and other storage for all of the gear we carry offshore.
KEEPING BAIT ALIVE
An 85lt livebait tank is moulded and plumbed into the port side of the transom coaming. A clear Perspex inspection plate allows you to keep a good eye on the condition of that essential livebait. The starboard transom has a small recessed doorway leading out to a step and fold-down stainless steel ladder.
The work station also incorporates transom cabinets for ease of access to the twin batteries, remote engine oil filler, a nice high fuel filler (well away from any possible water ingress), and one of PM Marine’s famous fibreglass baitboard combinations with stainless steel rodholders. Extra rodholders for bottom bouncing are provided by removable stainless steel snapper racks.
Evolution has followed recent trends by supplying an optional dive door. This is a tremendous feature for access both on land and at sea. It is large enough to boat a large marlin or tuna and will be much appreciated by those who have tried to land heavyweight pelagics over the gunwales. Back on land it becomes a very welcome for loading and is situated at landing height for most floating docks.
Underfloor storage is also huge. There is a large killtank between the front seats, as well as a gigantic tank at the rear that’s capable of holding two large, or four small fishboxes. The standard underfloor fuel tank is 250lt with a 320lt tank available as an option.
The transom layout is exceptional, both inside and out. The keel is extended all the way to the back of the half-pod transom allowing plenty of floatation even if the added weight of a twin-engine rig is selected. The other big benefit is a full walk-up cockpit where you can easily fish right around the engine even with short strokers. Any angler that has lost a trophy fish to the propeller begs for this layout.
From any angle, the Evolution 600 Extreme fitted with the powerful 200hp Evinrude E-TEC is a winner. It is certainly up there with the best as far as its sea-keeping abilities are concerned. The fitout is all fishing, although a change of options would quickly transform it into a more family, or dive-oriented package.
It looks great both on and off the water and has the construction and safety credentials to give peace of mind to the most adventurous angler. Most of all, I liked the layout and selection of equipment, topped off by exceptional storage capabilities. But the big winner for the Evolution is the huge deck-room backed up by a full-length lockable cabin.
It isn’t often that I jump into someone else’s boat and it immediately feels like home. I have come to expect no less from the great range of Evolution boats. Yet somehow I think that the 600 is the best yet.
WHAT WE LIKED
Best Evolution yet
Huge deck room
NOT SO MUCH
Small engine gauges
Price as tested: $105,000
Options fitted: Electronics package, toilet, outriggers, side door, cabin door, anchor winch, snapper racks, spotlights, and more
Priced from: $88,500
Type: Offshore-style half cabin
Length (overall): 6.5m
Weight: 1200kg (hull);
Deadrise: 21 Degrees
Fuel: 250lt; 320lt (optional)
Rec. min. HP: 175hp
Rec. max. HP: 250hp
E-TEC 250 XL
Type: Fuel injected two-stroke
Rated HP: 200hp
Gearbox ratio: 1:85:1
Propeller: 19in Rebel
4/254 Canterbury Road,
Bayswater, Vic, 3153
Phone: (03) 9738 0085
Originally published in TrailerBoat # 254