Savage’s largest Jabiru Pro will be just the tinnie for fishing folk who want to get into some serious flat water sport fishing.
Savage is a brand that hardly needs any introduction to TBF readers. It’s been a household boating brand for over a century and arguably, an icon brand for trailer boaters.
These days Savage is part of the giant Telwater Group in Queensland after leaving its original home in Victoria. The brand has gone through quite a metamorphosis since the move to sunny Queensland and definitely has a stronger emphasis on fishing with models like the all-new 485 Jabiru Pro featured here. This is a great-looking tinnie with stylish, smooth plate alloy topsides that give it a very modern appearance.
As the name suggests, the Jabiru Pro is designed for some serious level tournament fishing, however, that’s not to say it won’t suit relaxed Sunday fishing. Indeed, fishing folk who want to get into the lure-flicking lurk will love this boat.
The casting decks and stability
of the 485 Jabiru Pro make her a beaut choice for lure or fly fishing
on rivers and coastal estuaries.
You can also mount an electric trolling motor and position yourself right up on your quarry.
The raised casting decks mean two anglers can work either end without getting in each other’s way. This a great feature for many fishos and why they might want to check out this new Savage offering.
Telwater expects their new 485 Jabiru Pro to be a big seller this year, and I reckon they’re on the money with a price bracket under $30,000. This is an affordable fishing package, especially at a time when offshore fishing is turning into a lottery and chopped up by marine parks. After all, with this rig you’ve got a whole lot of options from inland impoundments through to coastal estuary systems.
The shallow punt under body means you can slip the Jabiru into really ‘skinny’ water and catch fish you can’t reach with your big runabout.
For many anglers too, the 485 Jabiru Pro appeals because they can fish waterways closer to home, and save heaps on fuel cost.
Here in Sydney we’re finding the harbour and tributaries are fishing far better since authorities got rid of commercial fishing. So switching from offshore to inshore fishing starts to make sense.
The smaller size and lighter weight (450kg of the 485 Jabiru Pro certainly makes her easy to handle, easy to tow and cheap to run. On the downside you don’t have quite the big rear lounge, or cabin space for family days but it won’t matter if you just want to go fishing.
Frankly, I expect quite a trend to small sport fishing rigs like this as people cut back on spending and reassess their fishing priorities.
Our test boat was supplied by Blakes Marine of Western Sydney and came fitted with a single axle trailer, Evinrude 75hp ETEC and a Garmin Fishfinder. Price ready-to-go is $28,765 but you can shave a few thousand off by going for a smaller, cheaper two-stroke.
Design: Savage helped to pioneer the modern inshore sport fishing scene with the Jabiru vee-nose punts. This was a groundbreaking design and it proved you could make a punt that bridged the gap between calm rivers and semi-open waters.
With this new generation Jabiru Savage delivers a vee-nose punt that travels well in a light to moderate amount of wave chop. However, the sharp Vee bow quickly flows to an almost flat-bottomed so this boat comes very quickly to the plane and moves fast with modest horsepower.
This boat measures 4.85m overall and has a beam of 1.95m. You also have an internal hull depth of 85cm so she has enough freeboard to handle semi-open waterways like Sydney Harbour, or Pittwater.
The unpainted bottom has ribbed strakes and small down-deflecting chines so she delivers quite a clean, dry ride on bay waters.
You’ll notice the bow entry is quite wide, which enhances stability for the bow casting deck allowing you to cast from the front of the boat with a surefooting.
The hull isn’t something you would want to take out in really rough bay water but rather operate in calm to light wind chop.
Our test boat looked a beauty on the trailer with her smooth plate alloy topsides finished in black. There are also vinyl decals to enhance the boat's overall appearance. However, if you want to really stand out from the crowd, Telwater also offer vinyl ‘wrap graphics’ that look terrific on the new smooth topsides.
Taking a closer look aboard the Jabiru you find a well-finished product with carpeted interior and rounded side coamings that look very professional.
Within the cockpit there is a raised casting deck at the bow and stern plus a side steering console offset to starboard. This layout keeps the entire portside of the boat free for fishing.
One of the outstanding features of the 485 Jabiru is the full-length rod storage locker down the portside of the cockpit. This gives you a place to keep your rods locked away. Anyone who has travelled a bit with their boat will know how easily rods and reels get stolen at caravan parks and motels.
There’s also plenty of under-deck stowage that anglers will really appreciate. There’s a huge stowage locker under the bow casting deck with carpeted floor. This is a good place to stow your tackle boxes and personal kit bags, and can also take a battery for the bow thruster motor.
You also have extra stowage space in the rear casting deck, however, this is mostly filled by the live bait tank, batteries and engine oil reservoirs.
The low sides of the Jabiru make it easy to step aboard. The checkerplate foredeck makes a natural step if you were boarding from a dock, however, I’d like to see a transom step if you have an older age crew.
Structurally, Jabiru impresses with its robust internal framing and 3mm bottom and 2.5m 9 (plate) alloy sides. This makes for a strong boat and one that comes with internal foam buoyancy to Basic level.
You also get marine plywood floors in the cockpit for added strength plus a 70-litre fuel tank to support the maximum 75hp rating motor. The Jabiru is rated to carry four people with two fold-down Savage seats provided as standard.
As with all Savage craft the Jabiru is covered by a three-year warranty and available as a ready-to-go package from Savage dealers.
For trailing you are looking at a loaded road weight of about 950kg. This keeps the 485 Jabiru Pro comfortably within the range of cars like the standard four-cylinder Camry or Mazda 6 sedan plus smaller SUVs like the Subaru Forrester.
Performance: The past summer was pretty forgettable weatherwise but at least for this test we got a ray of sunshine. And the TBF team had smiles on our faces as we took this new speedster for a squirt on Pittwater.
With her maximum fire-power of an Evinrude 75hp ETEC the 485 Jabiru blew out of the hole like a US ballistic missile! She was soon doing close on 40 knots when going flat out with one person aboard.
Even at 35 knots the Jabiru felt very, very fast and you are covering ground much quicker than your normal tinnie.The added speed makes this a hugely fun boat to drive and gets you more places than your fishing club mates.
We see a lot of US imported boats trying to capture this growing flat fishing market, however, I believe it’s the Aussie rigs like the 485 Jabiru Pro that get closer to what local fisho want. We don’t want to be doing 50 knots and we really don’t need super fancy electronics and push-button seats.
The beauty of the Jabiru is that it’s so versatile. It can take on just about anything from chasing flatheads over the local sand flats, or going after trout on an alpine lake holiday.
The boat also handles well. The 485 Jabiru slips over small chop easily and slaloms through fast turns in a safe, smooth manner. That said, you have to be aware of the limitations of this hull and not try to jump really big boat washes or swell. The latter will cause a very hard landing indeed!
The boat will actually run better with the weight of a passenger, and/or electric motor and battery up front.
I was surprised how little the Jabiru’s trim is affected by the side steering position. At rest, the skipper’s weight does cause some lean, but at speed the pressure of water on the bottom seems to keep the boat very level and running true to course.
Helm position is very comfortable and gives you a nicely padded pedestal seat, sports steering wheel and windscreen shelter. The dashboard has room for the Evinrude I-Command gauges and a small Perspex glovebox. You also get a drink holder, switch panel and room for a compass. Space is pretty tight but you can bracket mount a Garmin Echo 100 sounder above the dash.
Power: The 485 Jabiru is rated for single, long-shaft motors from 60 – 75hp in either two, or four-stroke. With the maximum power of an Evinrude 75hp ETEC we got the following results:
3000rpm 20 knots
3500rpm 24 knots
4500rpm 31 knots
5500rpm 38 knots
This confirms the test rig had power to burn, however, it would also ensure she’d still run very fast with two or three passengers aboard. By the way, the Evinrude 75hp is an in-line three-cylinder motor that packs an impressive 1295cc of power and is effectively the same motor as the bigger ETEC 90hp motor.
Alternatively, you could strap on a Yamaha 60hp or 70hp two-stroke and still get pretty good speed results. These cheaper motors will also obviously reduce the price.
The 485 Jabiru also comes standard with an in-floor (70-litre) fuel tank with deck filler alongside the helm station. You also get a rear battery, master switch, fuel line filter, bilge pump and navigation lights.
Deck layout: The Savage Jabiru is well set up for a mix of coastal/inland river/lake fishing. You get a strong checkerplate foredeck with Tee bollard for the anchor and mooring. There’s space to stow the anchor under the foredeck and behind this a huge bow locker with Velcro tabs.
The boat comes standard with a bow thruster plate and rod locker.
The cockpit also has side grab rails, a low grab rail over the windscreen and a rear live bait tank and tackle box storage. The low console means it doesn’t interfere too much with fishing and effectively, you could fish 360-degrees around the boat.
There are four seat slots in the cockpit floor, one being for the driver position. However, I think it’s an oversight they didn’t include one up on the for’ard casting deck. You could then either mount one of the seats, or better still a short bum-seat.
Verdict: Our team really loved this Jabiru and were very reluctant to give it back to Alan Blake after the test! It’s just a fun, fast boat to drive you just want to keep going and going. I’ve owned jet skis but I reckon the Jabiru speedster is just as much fun and has the added benefit of giving you room to fish and take along a few mates.
This package can also be scaled to suit your wallet so if you have a really tight budget you can strip back the cost by going for a basic, tiller steered motor and forego the colour topsides and rod locker. However, anyone contemplating the move to a flatwater sport fisher should try and stretch the dollars for this fully-tricked version tested here. She’s such a fun boat and you won’t regret it!