Sailfish 450 Fly Review

Issue: January 1999

Built by Sailfish Catamarans at Alstonville in NSW, the 450 Fly is an exceptionally robust, soft riding, stable and extremely efficient, estuary and backwater fishing boat.

Manufactured from 3mm plate aluminium, you can understand the basis for its strength and robustness, as well as part of the reason for its soft ride and extreme stability at rest and underway. The other factor contributing to this ride is the punt configuration which starts by forming a ‘tunnel’ arrangement each side of the keel up front, gradually flattening out as it runs aft.

Consequently, with the rigidity and strength of the plate alloy construction, you have a hull that has inherent lift to get on top of the water, with plenty of beam for almost the entire length.

Plate construction is rarely used on boats below 5 metres these days, as manufacturers find it hard to compete on price with the mass production techniques of the pressed sheet builders. However for specialised boats such as the Fly 450, where the buyer is particular about his needs and is prepared to pay a premium, then there will always be a call for smaller plate alloy boats.

The 450 Fly, as tested with the 25hp Honda 4 stroke, was the major prize in a trailerboat fishing tournament last year, and it stirred up quite a bit of interest. Measuring 4.5 metres overall and with a beam of 1.8 metres for most of the waterline length, this open fishing platform has plenty of space to move about and fish. There’s front and rear casting platforms, with plenty of storage underneath, as well as side pockets. There’s a small built-in tackle box, a high targa-style cutting board across the rear, navigation and cockpit lights, bilge pump, bait casting rod holders and, of course, an anchor well.

The fuel tank is not built in, relying on using portable standard fuel tanks which sit on the battened plate platform under the rear seat. The hull is rated for engines in the 35-50hp range so it was surprising to see this unit rigged with less than the manufacturer’s recommended rating, with a 25hp 4 stroke Honda. However this engine was adequate, providing a solid 21 to 22 knots with two adults on board. To get the boat on to the plane quickly and easily it did need the load to be distributed forward, because with two adults towards the rear the hull it struggled to breach the hump.

But once up and away, the Sailfish Fly is a very easy riding boat. There is a little bit of wind blown spray in some conditions, but not much different to what you would expect from any other open boat, and the hull turns quite flat with a good grip on the water. No doubt more power would be better for the hull, but the 25hp Honda did just suffice.

Story by David Toyer.