Mako Craft 480 Review

Issue: August 2006


Plenty of features and a soft-riding hull make this boat an angler’s delight.

When the Stessl family created their new boat building company Mako Craft, they brought a blast of fresh air to aluminium fishing boats.

Right from the outset, Mako Craft showed their opposition how fishing boats could and should be done. And the new Mako Craft 480 Outer Edge is no exception.

The boat bears the long and convoluted title of: ‘480 Estuary Tracker Tournament S/C Saltwater Series’. Outer Edge is then tacked onto the end. So I’m sticking with Outer Edge.

Outer Edge actually refers to a new hull design from Mako Craft involving significant changes to its now familiar Estuary Tracker hull. The standard 3mm bottom is replaced with 4mm high tensile material. And the standard 2mm sides become 3mm ‘plate’ aluminium.

The Mako Craft Outer Edge sides are 100 mm higher than the original. And if you inspect them closely you’ll note subtle changes where the chine curves from entry outwards to become the hull’s shoulders, before running aft. Reshaping the bow allowed a steeper deadrise angle to be formed, which is carried through to the transom where a deadrise of around 19 degrees replaces the 12 to 13 degrees of the original.

It makes for a significantly softer riding hull, apparent once you hit the water. We used (an admittedly smaller 4.4m) original Estuary Tracker as a camera boat for this test and the softer ride of the Outer Edge hull was immediately noticeable.

An Outer Edge hull is much more comfortable when travelling across open water, yet it gives little away in terms of stability when standing up casting or slow trolling. Particularly in the north where fishing often demands coastal hops, the new Outer Edge hull is a mighty attractive proposition. And of course, the south has plenty of big estuaries and bays too.

It’s the fishing features that won me over with this boat. If you don’t fish and compare a 480 Outer Edge with its peers, the subtle differences might seem unimportant. But if you do fish, this boat stands out from the crowd.

A good example of this is the ‘tournament’ livewells onboard. Few come with the big overhanging lip seen here, which stops water slopping out. Some of the biggest names in aluminium have boats where copious amounts of water slosh from their livewells.

Tim Stessl proudly showed me the roomy ice box built into the 480 Outer edge’s aft casting deck. He explained that it’s quite simple to build iceboxes using insulated panelling.

Stepping back for a moment, the new Outer Edge is one great looking tinny. Paint work and graphics are another area where Mako Craft has stepped ahead of the crowd.

This boat comes with a side console and the passenger’s seat is mounted inboard of a rod locker along the portside the only thing I wasn’t impressed by.

Admittedly, this locker is better than most. Its carpeted interior, plus the tube running under the foredeck to fit the longer rods, is currently in vogue. But while it’s better than most, it still leaves prized gear bundled up in a heap.

Fragile graphite rods and expensive reels have spread through the fishing scene right along with the soft plastic lure phenomenon, and while fragile expensive gear might be out of sight inside a rod locker, it’s not necessarily out of harm’s way.

The aft casting deck is set lower than the one on the bow and there’s big storage lockers each side of the ice box. The aft bulkhead is carried at gunwale height with the motor mounted outboard on a lower shelf. It’s pretty standard stuff these days, but well done nonetheless. In the portside of the covering board there’s a smaller livewell to keep live bait.

Between casting decks there’s a lower footwell for comfort when travelling. The console itself (in our test boat) was crammed with electrical circuitry supplying a radio, stereo, sounder, GPS, and digital instrumentation for the 80 hp four stroke Yamaha powering the rig.

Mako Craft ‘s Tim Stessl quickly sprang to the defensive about welds around the console’s periphery. He pointed out they usually grind these smooth (apparently some people do take past criticisms to heart!) but the owner of this boat insisted the welds be left alone.

While talking finish, apart from a weld or two visible here and there, the paintwork and general finish on the 480 Outer Edge is as good as production tinnies get  and not far behind some full custom jobs.

In the bows the casting deck sits just below gunwale height making loads of room for stuff underneath. The 100lt tournament-type livewell can be built as an icebox instead, according to Tim.

While inspecting below decks I was pleasantly surprised to find the interior carpeted. It made the 480 Outer Edge one of the quietest tinnies I’ve ever ridden in, and avoids conflict between stringers inside the hull and stowed gear. Presumably this would be a labour intensive and expensive option, but the deadening of the usual metal hull noises was great!

Right in the bow, an anchor well is set flush into the deck. Fly fishers will be pleased with a lack of bollards (it’s inside under the hatch) and other such line snagging devices in the entire bow area.

Our test boat ran a 55-pound thrust Minn Kota Riptide on a bow mount, they’re essential equipment for contemporary fishing techniques and appropriate for a truly excellent contemporary fishing boat.

Mako Craft was founded by Tim Stessl and his sister Nicola Stessl in June 2005 with their own backing and experience, after working in the family business with their parents Alf and Dianne Stessl for the past 13 years. The decision was made to start Mako Craft when Alf decided it was time to retire from Stessl Boats.

An 80hp EFI Yamaha four stroke creates a balanced hull/power package. Top speed was 30.7 knots at 6000 rpm. But it’s the mid to low rev cruising speeds that deliver the best fuel economy.

With two adults onboard in relatively calm conditions the Mako Craft produced the following performance figures.

1.8 – 500
7.1 – 3000
15.4 – 3500
19.2 – 4000
23.2 – 4500
26.1 – 5000
30.7 – 6000

LENGTH: 4.8m
BEAM: 2.05m
MIN HP: 60hp
MAX HP: 115hp
PRICING: $30,000


+ 19-degree deadrise; Forward casting deck 
– Some welds