The Hornet is meant to be a serious fishing boat, but there's an undeniable fun factor.
WARREN STEPTOE checks out the upgrades on a proven performer.
The five-metre '500 Hornet Trophy' is the largest boat in Quintrex's Hornet range. The unique stretch formed bow works at its best in a hull this size. I tested it at Jumpinpin, an area well known for teeth rattling rides in aluminium boats. We found that, as you'd expect from the largest Hornet, the 400-odd-kilo 500 Hornet Trophy hull is clearly the leader in its field.
The rough water ride is very good for an enclosed water lure caster, to a point where it stands out from a pack of classy enclosed water lure casters on offer these days. However, none of the others feature the Hornet hull's fine forefoot, which provides such a good ride.
The only real alternative for a keen lure or fly caster would be one of the imported fibreglass bass boats currently popular with the growing band of dedicated tournament fishers.
Still, it's a fact of life that many Aussie launch ramps are on the rugged side, and almost invariably don't have a beach or pontoon to safely await the trailer. It's not a fibreglass friendly situation and I guess that will be enough to ensure aluminium boats always remain popular.
The Hornet is meant to be a serious fishing boat, but there's an undeniable fun factor. In the test boat, as in every Hornet model equipped with a side console, the helm hides behind a sexy looking windscreen. The wheel and instrumentation are 'sporty' too and given few of us ever concede to grow up, you're not aboard a 500 Hornet Trophy long before you discover how much fun a Hornet can be, even when you're not fishing.
Like other Hornets I've tested, this one had good manners, not just for a 'tinnie' but for any boat. And it could be punted about with verve. Apparently there are actual Hornet owners who don't fish, which seems a damned waste of a fine fishing boat to me, although I could never bag anyone for simply having fun in a boat!
Every new Hornet model comes with improvements over its predecessors and over a decade on, this one shows just how much the originals have been developed. One major step forward has been rotomoulded under deck stowage compartments, which in this boat include a generously sized dry storage (or fish) box at the aft end of the bow casting deck, and a full size (recirculating) livewell under the aft one.
Non-warping alloy core hatches are another and, in this year's Hornets, these have for the first time been fitted with recessed hinges which no longer lurk to grab chunks of flesh from bare footed lure casters. Also new for 2007 is a side console cut away to allow the space beneath to be used for storing things like (always difficult-to-keep-out-of-the-way) tackle boxes.
Then there is Quintrex's new 'M3' transom. Quintrex was one of the first to modify their hulls to support four-stroke outboards with what they called a 'Maxi' transom. That's a good thing, but some people criticised the way it wasted (casting) deck space. The M3 transom addresses that criticism by extending the aft casting deck back into the aft corners, which considerably expands available space. It's about as good a compromise between casting deck space and the safety of a full height aft bulkhead as is possible.
Then we come to an old chestnut: where do you stow your precious rods?
Okay, there's a rod locker on the options list but it leaves plenty to be desired because it leaves your expensive rods and reels all rattling together inside. Frankly, I think it's past time we can expect secure rod stowage in purpose built fishing boats!
I know my harsh words can be directed at Australian boat builders apart from Quintrex. But I must point out one thing imported bass boats have some darn clever rod lockers which secure heaps of rigged rods, often 10 or more.
Apart from this unfortunately too-regular gripe of mine, the Quintrex 500 Hornet Trophy is a great piece of work. Its rough water ride is the leader in its class, and grumbles aside, the neat interior is exceedingly well done.