Whether you are going to tussle with Top End barra, or just fish the mangrove near home you're going to find great fishing value in the 4.25m Kakadu Karrier.
The dynamic growth of the tinnie boat market in the last two years has been quite phenomenal and only further reinforces the point that Australians just love tinnies. The current tinnie boom has also pointed some interesting changes in the industry, not the least being the emergence of Ally Craft as a major brand. Not so long back Ally Craft was a tinnie brand hardly known outside of its home territory of South East Queensland, but these days the brand is gaining wider recognition through the rest of Australia.
Ally Craft is doing well particularly considering it is a relative newcomer compared to the brands we know well like Quintrex, Savage, Stessl, Clark and so on. Like most good success stories the Ally Craft tale starts out from fairly humble beginnings, builder Murray Cox starting small and building the business up over the last decade. Attention to finish and very good pricing has undoubtedly been the key to Ally Craft's rapid success, but so too an ability to pick market trends.
While many boat-builders like to push their own pet ideas, Ally Craft is happy to let the market do the directing even if this means following ideas set by competitors. A very good example of Ally Craft's ability to move quickly on new ideas is the new Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier. Ironically the company went into the past summer season with a slightly bigger version of this boat, but quickly released the market action was around a smaller sized boat of similar style.
So mid-season saw Murray and his team jumped in and produced the smaller Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier you see here. We tested this boat with sales manager, Bruce Allison not long after its market release. The key to this boat is undoubtedly a pleasing mix of stability and roominess. You only have to look at the accompanying table to see it has exceptional beam and depth for its overall length. Looking at the accompanying table confirms there are a number of models chasing this same market of a wide-bowed, raised floor fishing boat. This is a design concept that grew out of the barra-bass punt market of Northern Australia. The type came about because fishos in these waters found they needed to jump from creek to creek via open water.
While vee nose punts can take small amounts of wind chop they do start to run out of freeboard in a large chop. For this reason the wide-bowed vee-bottom dinghy comes into its own because of it offers extra freeboard and wave-cutting bow entry. The combination of wide bow and raised interior floor makes this style of boat particularly effective in barra and bass territory. In fact it's a great platform for any kind of fishing involving casting lures, salt or freshwater flies.
Not that you'd necessarily use the Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier just for inshore 'sportfishing.' Along the way to the mangroves you could do a bit of traditional bait-dangling out in the bay, or even around the headlands to the bay. Versatility is what this design is all about and as we found during out test, it is capable of handling a bit of rough water when required. While you don't buy this boat for offshore fishing you can consider it for fishing open, exposed waterways such as Botany Bay, Port Phillip and Port Stephens. The same goes for big inland dams, which can also get a reasonable wave fetch at times.
We caught up with the new Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier on the Gold Coast to conduct the following test. The boat was fitted with a tiller-steered VMHDL model Yamaha 40hp which had gas-assisted lift to make it easy to tilt the motor.
This model follows on from Ally Craft's earlier and larger sized Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier. Like the bigger model it has a wide bow, but even more beam for its length to give exceptional interior space. Length overall is 4.25m and beam at 1.94m is not far off two meters. Hull depth, from deck to keel is an impressive 95cm, which ensures there's still reasonable cockpit depth even with the raised floor inside. Hull styling follows the coastal dinghy type with pointed bows and moderate amount of freeboard. However, by making the bow entry a bit wider than normal you end up with more fishing space in the forward end than a normal dinghy. This is feature is further enhanced by adding a raised casting deck within the interior.
The hull itself features a protective keel, small down-deflective chine lips and a clinker pattern to the bottom panels as well the topsides. You'll also find a solid extruded gunwale and welded side decks and bow rail. The latter is a split design that automatically feeds the anchor line into the bow roller. While the bottom is left unpainted the topsides are spray-painted to a fine finish nicely complimented by attractive Ally Craft vinyl graphics. An interesting feature of this design is the inclusion of a proper anchor well in the foredeck with its own self-draining system. This is just one of many features you wouldn't expect to get in a low cost entry-level fishing boat.
Construction details suggest the Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier will be able to stand up to the job it's designed for. Apart from giving you an above average bottom gauge thickness of 2.5mm the Karrier also gives you the added strength of welded side decks and interior framing. From a trailing point of view the Kakadu Karrier shouldn't present much of problem with a dry weight of around 500kg, or about 600kg at most with fuel and personal gear aboard. That puts the rig within the legal range of mid-sized vehicles like the Mazda 626. This vehicle has a maximum recommended trailing weight of 920kg, provided the trailer has brakes.
We had the chance to run this new Ally Craft model over a mix of water conditions in the Gold Coast Broadwater. We even took a peek at some more open water offshore before retreating to the calmer waters off Runaway Bay. Driving the Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier around these waters was a pretty pleasant experience with both of us sitting in a pedestal seat. I found the helm position particularly comfortable since I was sitting back in the aft end of the boat where the ride is easier over the rougher bits of water.
I liked the tiller-steered position, particularly with the padded pedestal seat and being able to mount the seat either side of the motor depending which was most comfortable. Certainly the gas-assisted shock absorber makes tilting the motor very easy and makes a big difference when you are handling the boat on your own. The wide bowed hull does tend to give a harder ride for your crew up front, however probably not as hard as if it was the bows of a vee-nose punt. Overall the Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier handles well and tracks quite true when you are cutting across other boat wakes, and choppy water. The wide, flared bows also provide a surprisingly dry ride.
One disadvantage of steering from the stern is often not being able to see forward because the bow lifts up on acceleration. I'm glad to say this wasn't the case with the Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier. It naturally levels out quickly once it jumps on the plane. We were also quite happy with the at-rest stability and were able to stand up and move around the boat quite safely. The extra weight of the boat and wide bow design helps to make it very steady in the water for fishing.
The Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier comes very well equipped for a small boat. For example the standard boat includes split bow rail, side rails and side pockets as well as a proper bow roller, anchor well and mount plates for navigation lights. The forward end of the cockpit features a raised casting deck with an in-floor locker for spare anchor lines and other gear. There's also a slot for mounting the passenger pedestal seat and a nice curve to the deck coaming so it doubles as a handy footrest when you are seated.
Moving aft we also find two decent sized side pockets and four plastic rod holders for mounting reels. Back aft there is also a small thwart bench, which incorporates the motor well, battery tray and optional live-bait tank. In between is five places to slot the two pedestal seats provided in the standard package. This includes two slots aft so you can steer the Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier either from the port, or starboard side. There were some interesting options including a rear-boarding step on the port side of the transom. This step has its own grab rail and makes a lot of sense if you want reasonably easy access aboard from the beach.
You might wonder where you'd mount a sounder, but my guess is mounting alongside one of the side pockets would be the best idea. This way you could view the LCD screen fairly easily as you quietly trolled along looking for FADs underwater.
With a recommended range between 25hp - 40hp you've got quite a lot of power options with the Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier. You could even go for one of the four-strokes if they catch your fancy. Certainly in some quiet water fishing situations a four-stroke might have a definite advantage over a louder two-stroke. However, you could also consider going for a two-stroke with an electric motor doing close in manoeuvrings.
Certainly the 40hp Yamaha gives you a very good performance with a top speed around 23 knots and a mid-range performance around 18 knots. These figures suggest the smaller motors mightn't give you to flash a performance, but then maybe you'll be happy to go a bit slower provided the boat stays on the plane. The next motor option is a 30hp and my guess is this will give a top speed more like 20 knots and a cruise speed around 17 knots. This is actually not too bad given that this is the speed range of most small tinnies.
Range will actually be quite good on this boat with an above average sized floor tank of 59-litres. This tank comes with a deck filler and is centrally located to help improve boat trim, particularly when you are driving the Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier solo. The battery shelf allows you to fit a second battery, an important feature when you decide to add some extra electronics like a sounder, navigation lights and a pump system for the live-bait tank.
Ally Craft 425 Kakadu Karrier will provide a very nice fishing platform for those who want to try their hand at some inshore sportfishing. It's ability to cope with a bit more chop than a punt will make it a more versatile boat in coastal waters. Admittedly this rig is a bit too big for car topping, but with the right sort of trailer you could use it for that big trip up north. You know the one you promise yourself after you've saw that episode of a River Somewhere. Just imagine the fun you'd have with this boat exploring the river systems of the North Territory and the Gulf.
The roomy interior and high stability makes this a particularly suitable rig for two people to fish from. And for simple bottom-bashing trips you could even have four people aboard. For example, Mum, Dad and two kids all enjoying the pleasure of fishing together as a family. I think Ally Craft will do well with this model given its pricing is very much in the range of the first-time boat buyer. You can buy this boat as a basic boat/motor/trailer package for just $11,750 (Price pre-GST). That includes the Yamaha 40hp we used on our test.
Interesting enough you could get the Yamaha 40hp four-stroke for only $550 more which seems a good deal considering benefits in terms of quieter and cleaner performance. The Ally Craft range is backed up by a national dealership and a two-year warranty on all hulls used for recreational use.
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