Smuggler 590 CC Fishing boat review

Issue: June 2005

Keen fishos will find plenty to crow about when weighing up the pros and cons of a Smuggler 590CC for their next bluewater boat. She’s a 5.9m centre console with a soft riding fibreglass hull and comfortable helm ergonomics, which are so important for off shore operation. But the really good news is her extremely attractive price tag!

Modern Boating used this boat as a camera platform for another test we conducted a few months back. After a morning wide of the Gold Coast on the Smuggler, we returned to the shelter of the Broadwater convinced that the 590CC was excellent value for money.

Centre consoles big enough for genuine comfort at sea are rare in this country and the few that are available are usually imported and expensive. However, with an all up asking price under $40,000 as tested, and under $43,000 if powered by the gutsy Suzuki 140hp four-stroke, the Smuggler 590CC is neither imported nor expensive. So with dedicated fishos in mind we took a closer look at her.

Overall Ride
It was the ride and off shore handling that initially attracted our attention. On the day we used the Smuggler 590CC as the camera vessel, the boat we were photographing was larger, heavier and much more expensive than the 590CC, yet it couldn’t match the Smuggler for onwater performance.

It didn’t matter what angle we attacked the moderate swell that was running at the time, the Smuggler tracked as straight. The ride was pleasantly quiet and comfortable. We loved it, it was as simple as that.

Yet again, the 115hp two-stroke Yamaha mounted on the transom of the Smuggler 590CC reminds the team that traditional two-stroke outboards are far from dead. They continue to provide a good power-to-weight ratio at a much more affordable price than four-strokes. On calm water inside the Gold Coast Seaway the 590CC hit a top speed of almost 40 knots with the Yamaha bumping against the rev limiter at 6100rpm.

The motor was fitted with a 17″ Yamaha stainless steel prop, but the team felt that hitting the rev limiter at 40 knots may indicate that the Smuggler was under propped. But loading her up with fuel and gear would check the speed a little and the 17″ prop may prove to be the correct choice after all.

An upholstered storage locker behind the centre console provides helm seating. This has a waterproof compartment accessed through a hatch set aft. The console is wide enough for two adults to stand behind and the wheel is well placed. It is also angled correctly for the boat to be driven while standing comfortably. This is how centre consoles should be, of course, but few are. A low acrylic windscreen shelters the electronics, but it lacks the stout grab bar that we like to see on all our off shore boats. 

Inside the console is a high-set shelf, which has plenty of space below for extra storage. Storage is always at a premium in centre consoles and this one has more than most. Under the cockpit floor are a pair of fish boxes, so there’s plenty of room to store the catch. 

As far as support for your legs while fishing goes, the 590CC does reasonably well. Aft of the console the cockpit sides provided plenty of thigh support, but go forward into the bow and the chines tuck in while the top deck slopes away making support a matter of hanging onto the bowrail. It’s a bit of a mixed bag in this department, but it is quite common on boats of this type. 

The bowrail is low and well out of the way, but it’s still fairly easy to grab if you need to steady yourself in a hurry. However, it does sweep across the top of the fairlead, which can make it awkward when passing ground tackle and warp underneath the rail when anchoring. The big anchor well with its hinged hatch does help make up for this. 

There are quarter seats in each aft corner of the cockpit, but these have been kept small. Yes, they do provide extra seating, but they also intrude slightly into the interior space. 

The transom is well designed and only when using the shortest of fishing rods are anglers likely to experience any difficulty reaching out over the full height bulkhead in front of the outboard. Removing the quarter seats, even if only temporarily for serious fishing trips, would make the cockpit quite workable. Albeit “without” the shade canopy fitted to our test boat. 

The Modern Boating team often wonders at the logic of restricting the fishing room in centre consoles by mounting canopies on the side decks like this. After all, aren’t centre consoles all about total access right around a boat ?

The team mentioned these concerns to the Smuggler people and they had a straightforward solution. If you want the shade and don’t want to cramp your fishing style, mount the optional T-top on the console, simple.

Setting a Smuggler 590CC up this way, especially if a rod rack and some grab bars were included in the T-top’s design, would make a vast improvement. 

Dividing the bowrail down to the fairlead would also be simple enough. If these two simple changes were done the 590CC would make an excellent light-to-medium duty off shore fishing platform.

Engine Room
A 115hp two-stroke Yamaha, fitted with a 17″ stainless steel propeller, powered the Smuggler. On calm water insider the Gold Coast Seaway we recorded a top speed of 39.7 knots with the Yammie bumping against the rev limiter at 6100 rpm.

In a moderate swell with two adults onboard and half a load of fuel, the Smuggler 590CC/Yamaha 115BET combination recorded the following speed-to-rpm readings. Speed to RPM: 11.8 knots @ 2600rpm, 21.4 knots @ 3000rpm, 32.8 knots @ 3500rpm, 39.7 knots @ 6100rpm.

LENGTH: 5.9m
BEAM: 2.23m
FUEL: 140lt
MAX HP: 250hp
REC HP: 140-150hp four-stroke
PRICE: $40,000 (approx)

+ Offshore ride. Dry ride

? Bowrail

More About Smuggler Boats
Smuggler Boats has been in operation since 1973, and in this time has acquired a reputation for producing high quality custom-made boats. According to the team at Smuggler, quality workmanship combined with a true passion for boating ensures that the smuggler range will withstand even the most discerning tests.

This Queensland-based boat builder now offer a 15-year structural hull guarantee on its entire range, that’s how certain they are that their boats won’t let buyers down.

This extended warranty, coupled with its new “no wood policy” all of its boats are constructed free of any wood, so wood rot can’t be an issue, leaves its customers confident of their purchases.

Words by Warren Steptoe