Is there such a thing as an all-purpose boat? KEVIN SAVVAS reckons his Dad’s boat, an Anglapro Bandit 444 Pro, comes close.
The “cross over” boat segment has really gained momentum over the past few years. For those not familiar with this type of boat, a cross over boat is really a do-it-all craft that is just at home traversing calm sheltered waters as it is fishing inshore reefs. Offshore anglers are now looking for boats that will allow them to fish for bream up a creek and bream specialists are trading in their bass boats for craft that will allow them to head offshore to chase snapper. Anglers are looking for more flexibility, and with that comes greater demands on a boat’s capabilities.
The growing list of 4m to 5m centre consoles hitting the market in both tin and fibreglass is testament to this trend. One particular craft is making a real splash – the Anglapro Bandit 444 Pro.
I have personal experience with this boat as my father bought one off the guys at Goodtimes Marine at Taren Point, Sydney, about a year ago. The reason my Dad opted for this craft over a host of others at the time was a combination of price point and build quality. Together, it made for a sensible choice, considering he was on a tight budget, but looking for a fully loaded boat with all the mods and cons – not dissimilar to most buyers out there, I’m sure. Dad actually bought this boat on faith.
I heard some good reports circulating about Anglapro and encouraged him to buy the boat as it fit his needs perfectly in terms of layout and design. It wasn’t until the boat hit the water that the decision to purchase it was vindicated. The boat goes a long way to bridging the gap between the ride quality of a ’glass boat to one made from aluminium. That’s a big statement coming from someone who owns a ’glass boat!
However, let’s not get too excited. After all, it is an aluminium boat, and as such does possess the characteristics inherit in the material. While the 3mm sheet thickness throughout the entire boat does alleviate most hull slap it does still exist, although it is quite minimal for a 4.5m boat. The second factor is water spray. While no open boat is completely dry, no matter what manufacturers will tell you, the unsophisticated hull shapes of aluminium mean it’s difficult to keep water out. Dad opted for the aftermarket inclusion of reverse chines and this goes a long way to sorting out the the problem. Unless you’re driving quarter on to the wind, which is the bane of all open boats, the boat remains fairly dry, however, I would strongly encourage Anglapro to make the reverse chines a standard feature. In saying that, the Bandit certainly is the best example of this style of boat that I have fished in.
In terms of layout, the Bandit 444 is brilliant in its simplicity. It possesses exactly what lure chuckers are after – raised casting decks and 360 degree manoeuvrability – while giving some security to offshore jaunts via good freeboard height, a predictable ride in swell and stability at rest via an impressive 2.2m beam. It’s this versatility that led me to name Dad’s boat “Kurt Gidley”. Kurt is the ultimate utility rugby league player who doesn’t really specialise in any position but can do it all very well. You can depend on him to get the job done no matter the situation, and this really epitomises Dad’s boat.
To maximise internal space, the centre console has been designed quite narrow while remaining functional. This allows excellent walk-around capabilities that will appeal to sport fisherman loaded up to a rampaging fish or a crowded boat so people can move freely. To add a nice touch of class the console has been moulded in fibreglass, making it easier for the home handyman to fit up their own electronics. Dad opted for a Lowrance Elite-5X colour sounder to complement his fishing.
The front raised casting deck is a fairly standard affair sporting the usual storage hatches for things such as tackle and safety gear. Another option is a plumbed 100 litre livewell which should suit the catch & release fanatics or the budding tournament guys who are looking for a more utilitarian vessel outside of comp time. There’s a pedestal base up there as well for those who like to fish seated up the front. On the checker plate bow there is a decent sized recessed anchor well that Dad created a carpeted lid for. This allows him to gain extra height for sight fishing, much like a poling platform. Also a bow mount electric has been installed to offer more flexibility with the types of fishing he can do.
Aft of the console are two pedestal seats which come standard plus an option of a folding lounge for additional seating. This isn’t a bad idea as seating is minimal in this boat and the lounge can be tucked away to increase fishing room when not in use. Underneath the seat and rear bulkhead is room for batteries. My camera case and tackle bag are also stored to help keep the deck uncluttered. There are also two side pockets for additional storage such as gaffs and nets. Dad actually fitted up some vertical rod holders to his side pockets to store rods while not in use or in transit. One suggestion we would make to Anglapro would be to improve the facility to store rods as most lure fishos like to carry an arsenal with them. Is saying that, Dad did opt for no gunwale rod holders. He also opted not to have the standard bowsprit with roller.
At the stern of the boat is the facility for two 30L plumbed livewells. Dad has one plumbed and uses the other as dry storage to give more scope to carry food and drinks. On the transom is a convenient boarding ladder for those who like to go for a dip when the fishing gets slow. Powering the craft is one of Suzuki’s lightweight 60hp four-bangers and it’s a match made in heaven. While I’m biased towards Suzuki four-strokes as I’ve owned one for many years now, the fuel economy coupled with the excellent performance means this is a cheap boat to run yet remarkably efficient. Dad uses under 20 litres a trip, and in the current economical climate, that sort of miserly fuel consumption is highly appealing. With a 60 litre under floor fuel tank, the Bandit has tremendous range if heading offshore is your thing.
The boat planes at just under 4000rpm and cruises nicely at 4500rpm while achieving speeds of 17 knots. At WOT, the Suzuki revs at 6000rpm and pushes a respectable 27 knots of performance with two anglers and fully loaded with fishing gear. In my opinion that’s sufficiently fast enough for the average punter.
The boat was supplied on a Dunbier trailer and was optioned with a bow mount plate, a Minn Kota RT55AP electric motor with CoPilot, painted hull, rear folding lounge, an additional pedestal base, two upgraded plush pedestal seats and Lowrance Elite-5X colour sounder. The package came in around $35,000. That’s excellent value when you consider there is no more to spend or fit out. This fishing machine is just as capable of catching fish in calm backwaters as it is chasing fish on inshore reefs. That’s some feat for a small trailerable boat.
Anglapro Bandit 444 Pro
Fit out: ****
Overall finish: ****