The Signature 580F with Suzuki 140hp 4-stroke in Moreton Bay, Queensland
Looking for a purpose-built sportfishing platform ? IAN MACRAE thinks this new, ready-to-fish Signature is a beauty.
For more than 45 years I've had the opportunity to chase fish all around the world as a fishing and boating writer. I love all types of fishing but prefer boat fishing.
Having fished from hundreds of boats, set-up by different people with different ideas about what was needed for their particular fishing style, I've established a formula for what I require in a fishing boat.
I've set-up a few boats for myself over the years and have always started with a bare hull that's shown proven capabilities. I've then added to it until I get a fishing platform that suits me perfectly.
It was a pleasant surprise when I met up with the team from Haines Signature on the Gold Coast and discovered their new boat was pretty close to what I'd call an ideal sportfishing platform.
Note I said sportfishing platform, not offshore sportfishing platform; although in the right conditions I'd have no qualms about taking this boat 'wide'. With an length overall of 5.8 m and a beam of 2.32 m, this is quite a roomy cabin, but for a long run back from the Shelf with a strong southerly pushing from behind, I'd prefer an extra metre or so, just to be on the safe side. It would be a different story in the tropical waters of the Barrier Reef, the 580F would handle conditions up there with ease.
The first thing to grab my attention (apart from the six rigged rods sitting in the bimini-mounted rocket launcher rod rack) was the boat's striking blue hull. Haines Signature calls this new colour Vapour Blue and it stands out in a crowd. But looks aren't everything, and while this boat has all the goodies, the question is how well do they work together ?
With the boat backed up to the beach, boarding from the sand onto the swim platform and through the small transom door into the cockpit was simple. The flat cockpit floor made it obvious this boat was designed for three anglers: skipper, navigator and rod man. You could fish four if you were only bottom bouncing, but things could get tight.
The hull's high freeboard and raised side pockets allow anglers to get their toes in-under the gunwales and brace against it when fighting big fish. There are four stainless steel rod holders in the gunwales (set at the right angle for trolling) and the rear cleats are recessed to lessen the chances of line snag, as are the gunwale grab rails. Throw your gaffs and ropes in the deep side pockets and your rods in the rocket launchers, and the cockpit floor remains open and uncluttered.
Tackle box trays sit in a locker next to the navigator's seat, but the highlight is the removable bait work station that sits on the ski pole. This station features cutting board, drink holders, bait wells and hook and sinker holders. It's a good set-up for cubing up yellowfin tuna. The 580F also has a live bait tank, icebox, rubbish bin, deck wash and under-floor fuel tank.
For the skipper
The seats for the navigator and skipper are mounted on pedestals but only the skipper's slides backwards, so the boat can be driven comfortably while standing. The 580F features a Humminbird 787c sounder/chartplotter with full instrumentation for the Suzuki four-stroke mounted on the transom, but there's still plenty of room left on the dash for all those other electronic trinkets we seem to collect these days.
Vision from the skipper's seat is uninterrupted from either the seated or standing position and the sturdy grab rail around the windscreen will come in handy on a big day. And forget the need for the 'anchor bitch' the 580F is fitted with a Muir anchor winch.
There's a bulkhead between the cuddy cabin and the cockpit and a lockable by-fold cabin door. The cabin has good seated-head height and two fishos could curl up in their sleeping bags for the night. A large hatch in the foredeck gives access to the anchor well if things jam up while you're pulling up the anchor.
The cabin is lined, there's good storage under the vee berths and there's a Portaloo to keep mum and the kids happy. In theory you can take the rods out, leave the bait station at home, use the bait well as an ice box and have a classy cruiser for a family of four.
On the water
We tested this Haines through the Gold Coast Seaway in a one-metre swell. The 580F's Signature Variable Deadrise Hull ironed out the bumps and delivered a soft, dry ride. A powerful, quiet and smooth Suzuki 140 hp four-stroke provides the power and has more than enough low-down torque to rocket the hull out of the hole and onto the plane effortlessly. The motor responds instantly to the throttle without shutter or vibration.
The hull tracks straight and shows no tendencies to broach coming back into the Seaway in a following sea. Once inside on calm water we can throw the boat around like a ski boat. I'm sure the ski pole will provide plenty of family fun for those into skiing or towing water toys.
But there's no denying that this boat is capable of heading out to the bluewater a bit wider, even if you'll have to pick your days. And I'm sure that any new buyer will start venturing further afield as their confidence in this top hull/motor combination grows.
As an all-round fishing vessel, this boat is perfectly rigged and ready to go. And with a price tag under $60,000, she represents pretty good value for money.