At just under $24,000 on a trailer and powered with 75hp Mariner two-stroke, there's room to budget for any extras of choice. You're getting a lot of boat for your money, however you put your 529 Northern Fisher together.
In an era of bells and whistles, this no-frills no-nonsense centre console is a rare blank canvas on which to create your ultimate fishing boat.
Stacer set out to build a no-nonsense, no-frills fishing boat with the 529 Northern Fisher and in a marketplace where every tinnie we test gets more and more flash, I'm pleased to report they've presented us with exactly the kind of boat so many of us actually fish from.
The first step in the right direction is the lack of paint. It saves significant cost, and there's a case to be argued that your money's better spent on electronics and fishing tackle than cosmetics. Beauty, as they say, is skin deep, and what Stacer has done here is provide more of a base to build your boat from, than a 'turn key' package could do.
It's notably short of fancy bits, which means you're free to fit out your boat your way; I, for one, prefer things this way. Why get stuck with fittings you'd rather be without ?
That said, the fittings Stacer do supply with the Northern Fisher are the kind they could do more cost-effectively at the factory than could be done aftermarket. That's a centre console, bow rail, side decks, the deck and casting deck.
If you don't fish with live bait, you can lose the bait tank when ordering. Personally, I'd also lose the side pockets. The console is fitted with stout grab bars in recognition that there are times when you need something solid to hang onto. Ergonomically, the wheel is nicely positioned to drive standing behind it, a fair dinkum necessity when access to many fishing spots entail lengthy runs across choppy water.
No doubt a lot of Northern Fishers will end up with an icebox or fish box behind the console doing double duty as a seat, the choice is up to you. There's an ideal site forward of the console for another fish/ice/storage box if required.
Up front, the deck is raised about 250mm, which increases the flat uncluttered area available for fishing substantially. It also raises your eye level when standing there, and provides more stowage underneath. The anchor well in the short foredeck, divided bow rail and the simple yet robust anchoring bollard, are all well done.
A lot of people will fit spray dodgers around the bow rail, and I guess that's why it's high enough to do so. Some may feel a lower rail would be better.
As you find quickly enough when setting up any boat, everything costs. That certainly applies to siting the battery in the bottom of the console. Our test boat had the battery in a plastic box aft against one side of the engine well (to utilise the leads supplied with the motor). Extending them would cost more, but would, in my opinion, be money well spent. It would leave the entire cockpit unencumbered, and that's the best way for any type of fishing.
That freedom is why I'd do without the live bait tank on the full-height engine well. It's an extra cost option, anyway. But then, I'm no bait fisher and perhaps those who do fish with livies might differ.
A 70L side deck filled underfloor fuel tank is standard in the Northern Fisher. People with long distances to travel, or whose fishing involves multi-day trips will be happy to hear that a 118L tank is optional. Four flush deck rod holders complete the 529 Northern Fisher's equipment list. Rod storage, shade tops, and tackle storage are all left up to you.
In terms of rough water performance you can't expect too much of a moderate deadrise aluminium hull and that's exactly what the Northern Fisher delivers. Treated with common sense, the high sides and full height engine well maintain levels of safety commensurate with the hull type, and that's reasonably high given that we're looking at an 18-footer.
Swinging an 18in pitch prop, the Northern Fisher surprised with a top speed well over 30 knots, 33.9 knots to be exact, indicative of a real advantage of big tinnies: their ability to travel distances without towing a fuel bowser behind. This (surprisingly) high top speed, albeit lightly loaded when we tested it, indicates there's some room to load the boat without compromising its basically miserly nature.
At just under $24,000 on a trailer and powered with 75hp Mariner two-stroke, there's room to budget for any extras of choice. It's worth saying yet again that many of us would prefer it this way, because however a boatbuilder sets up a boat, many people will be unhappy with certain aspects and ultimately face changing them anyway.
Remember: this is a 5.5m hull! You're getting a lot of boat for your money, however you put your 529 Northern Fisher together.