Issue: June 2005
Although not widely known (outside of a fervent following of fanatic fishos) Bribie Island-based Fisher Boats are perhaps the most innovative builder of aluminium hulls in the country. Take the latest ‘660 Maxi Series’ on test here. It features a 300lt fuel tank encased in a safety capsule, and a self-draining deck, two items of some importance in a small boat destined for constant off shore use. And speaking of which, the Fisher 660 Maxi Series has a 23-degree deadrise, giving ride characteristics unlike the average plate aluminium tinnie. And yet the hull exhibits no tendency to flop from one chine to the other typical of (so called) ‘deep-vee’ hulls. How does this happen ?
With a clever water ballast system that floods when the boat is at rest and quickly empties as it accelerates towards planing. The concept isn’t unique to Fisher and has been around in one guise or another for some time. But Fisher’s execution is different. It consists of a pair of flooding ballast tubes strategically positioned inside the hull and it works remarkably well.
Out on the water, the best thing about the system is that you simply don’t notice it. Sure, the boat rides remarkably well compared to its aluminium contemporaries. But you never perceive the ballast system flooding or draining. At rest, the hull doesn’t feel like a ‘deepvee’ underfoot, it moves no more (or less) than would be expected of a boat its size.
And speaking of expectations, on the water, whether under way or sitting still, it at least sounds like a plate aluminium hull. It’s unrealistic to expect otherwise, especially when Lee Bradford, our test boat’s proud owner, specified a bare bones no nonsense 100 per cent fishing fit out. There weren’t, for example, any seats (at all!) in the test boat.
No seats ? Lee maintains seats get in the way. He doesn’t sit down at sea anyway, so ordered the boat without them. OK, fair enough, it’s his boat after all. Fisher boats are built to individual customer specifications and seats or not, this was one mightily impressive aluminium fishing boat. Those of us who spend a lot of time fishing off shore will be well aware that most of the time an off shore fisho’s highspeed performance is of lesser importance than its low-speed performance.
When we ran up our usual performance figures in the Fisher we expected the big Suzuki four-stroke mounted on its blunt end to perform well. We certainly weren’t disappointed as you can see from the nearby performance table.
Top speed was just under 38 knots, and cruising speeds from 15 into the low 20 knot bracket were achieved from a mere 3000rpm up to barely 4000rpm.
At this, the Suzuki was whisper quiet, and although we had no means to measure fuel consumption at the time, figures this industry leading V6 powerplant is returning in applications indicate outstanding economy in the mid range. Nonetheless, it was when we eased back the throttle to check the Fisher hull’s minimum planing speed that our eyebrows rose dramatically.
At 5.4 knots and 1900rpm, the hull finally gave up the ghost and slipped off the plane. That was with the Bennett trim tabs ‘dug in’ as far as they would go. ‘Must be the tabs that hold it up,’ someone commented. So the tabs were backed off , minimum planing speed, sans tabs, 5.4 knots at 1900rpm!
Fisher’s Col Svennson told Modern Boating the unusually low minimum planing speed has much to do with what he terms a large ‘keel flat’; plus, the planing surfaces offered by the hull’s chines and a pair of strakes each side.
At sea this translates to the boat being able to ease through the worst conditions without continually falling off the plane. Neither does it lower its stern as it rises to a planing attitude, coming up level and simply increasing speed until the wake flattens aft long before you expect it to.
Once planing, the throttle can be pulled back to under 6 knots, with the hull staying ‘up’ and riding level, so the forefoot and chines can do their work. We were impressed. Fisher boats make no attempt to disguise how sturdily built they are. In fact, they rather proudly display it.
From talking to Lee we gather this boat is destined for a hard fishing life and must agree with the hard use areas of the hull and decks being left bare of paint. There was prominent welding in several places and this too had been left au natural. You didn’t need to be a boilermaker to see the quality of the workmanship and while grinding and bogging might leave a nicer finish, there’s no way it can be as strong as a properly executed weld like this.
While somewhat bare bones in finish then, what Lee didn’t skimp on in specifications as fishing amenities. There was a roomy live well set to port in the aft bulkhead. The aft section of the cockpit featured a flooding fish box under the deck. And between the rod rack across the hardtop and the workstation set atop the transom covering board, there was storage for no less than 14 rods.
Inside the centre cabin the bunk was large enough for two people who don’t want to be especially friendly to each other to sleep. No, we don’t like getting too close to our fishing mates either! The helm area features strategically positioned garb bars for travel in rough weather. With the ‘clears’ between windscreen and hardtop in place, the helm area is 100 per cent weatherproof when underway.
Going forward to handle ground tackle stowed in the anchor locker, is easy enough, although the walkway beside the cabin was a bit narrow for fast negotiation by an enthusiastic fisho trying to get a quick cast away. The bow rail stood high to secure anyone going forward, with a split in the centre keeping the anchor warp in the fairlead. A pair of anchor tubes was mounted on the rail too.
Without any seating the cockpit was indeed vast. The sides were right up at hip height, and that other essential of off shore fishing, the ability for your toes to tuck in under where your legs are supported against the cockpit sides, was available around the periphery, apart from a small section in front of the outboard.
As plate off shore fishers go, the Fisher 660 Maxi stands out from the crowd. And yes, people looking at an equivalent fibreglass boat can consider this new Fisher with confidence.
We’ve had quite a bit to say during the test about the match of the 200hp Suzuki to this hull. But it is worth noting that while our comments appropriately, focus on low speed performance, the amount of sheer poke available from the Suzuki at the upper end of the rev range was similarly impressive.
Given the boot at four and a half or five grand, the Suzuki still delivered the proverbial shove in the back and wound up to six in moments. It was an excellent choice for this and similar hulls, that’s for sure.
The Fisher 660 Maxi Series was powered by an extremely quite 200hp Suzuki four-stroke spinning a standard 20′ pitch Suzuki prop.
On the day of the test with two people onboard in light conditions with no discernable current the Fisher/Suzuki package recorded the following rpm-to-speed figures.
RPM to Speed: 1.1 knots @ 650rpm, 5.4 knots @ 1900 rpm, 32.8knots @ 4400rpm, 37.7 knots @ 6000rpm
HULL WEIGHT: 750kg
POWER RATING: 175-250hp
PRICE: $60,000 (approx)
+ Top ride. Fuel tank
– Nothing to report
Words by Warren Steptoe