it is often the solitude of fishing that captures many anglers’ imaginations. i know i have always enjoyed fishing solo: for me, it forms the basis of my fishing roots. i can recall hours and hours roaming estuaries in my small aluminium boat, soaking up a full day’s uV light back when it was considered ‘healthy’.
When I first stepped onto the anglapro bandit 444, i could feel that childish enthusiasm reignite. its sheer simplicity and incredible amount of deck space for its size sparked my imagination and immediately made me wish we had longer on the water for the test.
I had brought a fishing rod with me, and once i rounded the Port Hacking ocean entrance and started to feel the swell-pulse passing under the boat, i found it difficult not to point her east, put the throttle down and leave the team from Good Times Marine behind. The anglapro bandit 444 strikes me as a real workhorse. its high and wide gunwales, coupled with 3/4mm plate-sides make the boat very sturdy for its size. This also improves its ride, as its plate-sides impart less flex and contortion on the hull than many other small aluminium boats. The width of the gunwale topsides also allow for the anglers to easily fit extras aboard, like downriggers, extra rod holders, bollards, and so on.
One of the ideas behind anglapro boats that I really like is their acceptance that every angler is different and therefore they make each boat fully customizable. The bandit I stepped into had a small console with storage space inside, port and starboard welded side-pockets, an anchor well and a plumbed live-bait tank. a single pedestal seat behind the console made for comfortable driving, and the dunbier trailer that comes as part of the package means you’re underway as quickly as you want to be.
The conditions of our test day were magical, but not ideal for testing how the hull performed under the pressures of a messy outing. To get some idea, we needed to venture from the glassed-off waters of the Hacking, and head to its mouth, where small swells at least confirmed the clanging and banging associated with most aluminium boats has been kept under wraps in the bandit’s construction.
With the current economic climate, the boating industry has had a very tough year. This means those who are looking to buy a boat are looking more closely at this style of aluminium centre-console and side-console fisher. Those who are very tight of pocket are able to start off with the basics, while additional extras that contribute to comfort and fishability, like bow and side rails, fancy paint jobs, sounders and chart-plotters, side pockets and hydraulic steering are there to slap on if desired. The list of optional extras available with this boat is actually too long to list here.
Almost the only thing the consumer can’t have a say in with this boat is the hull construction. This is a benefit more and more boating companies are seeing fit to option into their packages. every angler is different and requires different things from their boat. We are living in a time when dollars matter, and by selecting options from a list, rather than having unused features forcibly fitted to your rig, the savings can be substantial, and no valuable onboard space is wasted.
The bandit package comes with a punchy little suzuki 40hp four-stroke outboard, which seemed well matched to the bandit, and powered it along quite nicely. a possible increase to the maximum-rated horsepower of 50 could have made things even more fun, but that might just be me.
The bandit 444 is a light boat by modern standards, and thus opens up a range of options for towing by a variety of vehicles. Modern Boating magazine is currently in arrangement with good Times Marine to use one of these great little tinnies as a work boat, and i for one will be happy to see others in the team tow the boat from a to b. in the past, my hefty Land cruiser and i have been the office’s designated trailerboat drivers, since no-one else has cars with the capacity to safely tow larger boats around. The bandit range does consist of both smaller and larger models than the one we tested, with 4.2m boats at the smallest and lightest end of the spectrum, right up to more 6.4m versions.
I found the 444 to be a happy middle-ground, and plenty of boat for the applications of the inshore angler.
Most of the guys going for this boat and package are looking for a zippy spacious number to take around their local bays, harbours and estuaries, with the ability to also head offshore for a shot at bigger pelagic and demersal species when the conditions are right. in this, the anglapro range has delivered. affordability, customisation and a thoroughly enjoyable ride contribute to a range of boats that deserve some serious attention.