But non-fly fishers shouldn't get stuck on the name along the side of this boat. It's a 'sportfishing' boat, which includes fly fishing.
Issue: July 2003
Today's fishing boats have entered an unprecedented era of sophistication when even boats, which traditionally have a 'rough tough' image ' like the so called 'barra' boats for example ' are seen in ever increasing numbers out on the water wearing fancy paint jobs. It's about here that the average Aussie fisho's tunnel vision about fishing and aluminium boats loses the plot. Apart from those whose boat habitually wears a patina of red dust from being towed over dirt roads, the facts are that there is a strong case to be argued for fishing from fiberglass boats.
Anyone who has the slightest intent to go fly fishing is going to be better served by a fibreglass boat, because of one, simple inarguable fact. A fibreglass hull is so much quieter on the water. Compared to a fantastic plastic, every tinnie suffers the one thing all the flash paint and stretch forming in the world can do naught about ' the sound of water slapping against metal and the way a metal hull seems to magnify this sound. The test boat bears the name 'Flycaster' and was developed by Kevlacat with the assistance of one Gavin Platz.
Gav, is the originator of the iconic Sunshine Coast Saltwater Fly Fishing Expo, a part time fly fishing guide extraordinaire and full time purveyor of fine fly tackle and wise words regarding fly fishing from his store 'Tie 'N' Fly Outfitters' on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Kevlacat's Flycaster is based on a trihedral 'whaler style' hull the company used to market as the Suncoaster. That's right, it's not a power catamaran like other Kevlacats. The Suncoaster was around some years ago and although it was a reliable workhorse it never achieved great popularity.
This was probably because its centre console layout wasn't all that hot and partly because few of the fishos who might buy a centre console would ever consider a firbeglass one. Actually, I fished from Suncoasters a fair bit around Mornington Island a few years back and managed to boat a string of national records for queenfish, longtail tuna, giant trevally, golden trevally, and the giant herring Mornington Island is famous for. That was in the past, but I should point out that the process involved plenty of banging about in the Birri Fishing Resort's Suncoasters. And several trips out to the Rocky Islets, some 25km offshore.
These experiences give me considerable amounts of that greatest giver of wisdom ' hindsight. In short, while not the driest nor the softest riding hull I've ever fished from, the Suncoaster hull ' the hull used as the basis for Kevlacat's new Flycaster ' is actually a reasonably dry and soft riding one. Maybe not the best of either of those things, but quite reasonable at both, considering that this makes it remarkably better than nine tenths of the tinnies that fishos love so much. On top of that, being a trihedral and thus having a fairly square shouldered hull, it is quite roomy inside and stable at rest. It always appealed to me as a hull that cried out for a better layout.
A point that Kevlacat apparently agreed with, because that's exactly what a Flycaster is. Kevlacats, or at least their offshore fishing powercats, have long been regarded as great fishing boats, but this one is probably better than that, it's brilliant. Fly fishing is obviously its focus, but as boats of its genre tend to be, the Kevlacat Flycaster has much to offer other types of sheltered water and inshore lure/fly fishing. From the current rage on lure fishing for bream, or busting Queensland's monster impoundment bass, to tropical barra fishing and fly fishing for inshore tuna, the Flycaster's high casting decks fore and aft make it easy.
There was a time ' and not all that long ago ' that the Flycaster would have been called a bass or a barra boat, depending on where geographically the opinion was being offered from. However, it was conceived and built on Queensland's Sunshine Coast where the inshore fly fishing for various tuna species is world class, so it wears the Flycaster tag. Thanks to Gavin Platz's input, a detailed inspection finds pedantic attention to exactly that - detail. There's absolutely nothing to snag errant fly lines and the casting decks are set only a few centimetres below the gunwales to stop stray line blowing overboard.
The mooring cleats are of the pop-up variety, the hinges and catches are all flush mounted and great effort has been devoted to the safe storage of rigged fly rods along each side ' with the reels safely locked away from flying spray and thieving fingers. Concession to other styles of fishing takes a little searching out, but is most definitely there. For example, what was the engine well on the original Suncoaster now serves as a fish bin, so you can take home an occasional feed. The bow casting deck has a locker on each side, which can house several baitcasters, or spin sticks, again safely below decks, plus there are other non-fly fishing fitments such as a pair of live bait tanks.
These are located underneath the bucket seats set aft for use while underway and their feed pump can be used as a deckwash at the turn of a tap. The lower deck featured a glass bead non-slip finish and the casting decks were carpeted. The 'slot' in the bow deck behind the 'lean' seat houses an icebox ' not seen in our photos ' and a threedrawer tackle box is recessed underneath the aft casting platform. A sump equipped with a 2000gph bilge pump easily takes care of any water draining off the lower deck. Our test boat had one of Furuno's stateof- the-art GP-1650WF C-Map compatible GPS/sounder units set into the console dash panel. An ice box insulated with 50mm of foam is mounted in the front end of the console.
There is a space behind this at the bottom of the console that is accessible via a waterproof hatch making more dry storage. Our test boat was set up as a side console, although Kevlacat told me they can easily set it centrally if an owner prefers it that way. The Kevlacat Flycaster's outboard has been moved outboard onto an aluminium pod. The test boat was powered by a 90hp Honda four-stroke, which ' beautifully engineered though it may be ' is a big heavy motor. All credit to the Flycaster hull that it trimmed flat at rest despite 170-odd kg of silver bullet hanging off its backside. A 90hp outboard is Kevlacat's maximum power rating for the Flycaster.
Lightly loaded as we were, we thought the Flycaster was overpowered to a point where conditions on the day didn't allow us to run our normal performance figures and suggest that only people intending to carry the heaviest of loads would ever need this much power. Kevlacat recommend a 70hp outboard for the Flycaster and we agree that a 70 or 75hp motor would be ideal. Every fitting on the entire boat is top quality, but that's the way Kevlacat build boats and we'd expect nothing less. But non-fly fishers shouldn't get stuck on the name along the side of this boat. It's a 'sportfishing' boat, which includes fly fishing and certainly doesn't preclude it with small details the way so many of its peers do. Few boats indeed are as well adapted to contemporary tastes in fishing as this one.
Words by Warren Steptoe