Stabi-Craft 490 RBB Test

Stabi-Craft 490

Stabi-Craft 490 RBB Test

The smart metallic paint job gives the Stabi-Craft 490 a sleek appearance.
The smart metallic paint job gives the Stabi-Craft 490 a sleek appearance.

Having had a great run from the little Stabi-Craft 430 for over a year, I was very keen to try out its big brother the Stabi-Craft 490 RBB.

For those familiar with the hugely popular Stabi-Craft 430 the floor space in the bigger 490 is a full foot wider. The boat sits a foot higher on the trailer, and again, although not a full cuddy cabin design, there is a good deal more storage space up front for all your extra fishing gear, lunch, wet weather gear, and so on. My lasting impression is that although only 600mm longer than the 430, the 490 is a much bigger and more substantial boat!

The 490 RBB (Rigid Buoyancy Boat) is constructed from marine grade aluminium. It has an overall length of 4.9 metres (16’1″). The internal beam is 1.42 metres and the overall height on its Watercraft galvanized trailer is 2.1 metres.

Stabi-Craft 490The 490 RBB is manufactured at Stabi-Craft’s factory in Invercargill. The 490 along with other models in the Stabi-Craft range, is exported overseas, notably to Australia and the Pacific Islands. It could indeed be argued that Paul Adams, and the boys at Stabi-Craft, have been largely responsible for the enormous growth in popularity of the rigid-hulled pontoon boat among recreational anglers and boaties.

The alloy pontoon Stabi-Craft boat offers a considerable weight reduction of almost 50 per cent over a similar sized fibreglass craft. This has several serious advantages; much lighter towing, smaller motor required, better economy, and considerable durability. The great thing about the 490 is that after a day’s fishing you can attack the cleaning both inside and out with the hose!

As a fishing boat, the 490 has much to recommend it to New Zealand anglers. This is a very safe boat. The pontoons are 2.5mm thick and the hull 3.5mm.

Furthermore, the pontoons are internally divided into watertight compartments, as is the space between the alloy tread-plate floor and bottom of the hull. Even when totally full of water to the gunwales the 490 still floats. Indeed you would need a hacksaw or angle grinder to make a number of holes before you could sink it!

Stabi-Craft 490The dry weight of the 490 is just 270kg and the towing weight a mere 630kg. On a long trip to the coast, to the Marlborough Sounds, the Canterbury high country lakes, or the lakes of the Central Otago, this is a real bonus. A medium sized car will pull the 490 no problem. This same lightness also makes the 490 a breeze to handle when pushing-off from the beach around the lake, or when launching and retrieving.

The current 490 model incorporates all the features that have evolved in over a decade of alloy pontoon boat construction. These include: the (optional) racy paint finish (this paint is a two pot oven baked finish the really sticks to the surface), twin helm swivel seats with storage (great for fishing sitting down while facing into the cockpit), storage shelves in the bow and in the raised side gunwales, super tough slightly tinted wraparound screen, and extended gunwales and raised transom.

The self-draining anchor locker on the 490 is reached by climbing around the sides rather than through a forward hatch. The idea is to hold onto the top of the screen and then straddle the bow and sit down. Interestingly, I have only ever used the anchor on the 430 when fishing for salmon at McIntosh’s near the mouth of the Waimakariri River. We would drift fish when sea fishing, and when fishing on the lakes we either troll or drift and cast!

The 490 tested was supplied by the Power Boat Centre in Christchurch and was fitted with a 60hp Yamaha 2 stroke outboard with its own internal oil tank. To me, this motor was surprisingly quiet and smooth and was easily capable of pushing the 490 along at an effortless 30 knots.

The shape of the Stabi-Craft 490 pontoons provide extra cockpit space.
The shape of the Stabi-Craft 490 pontoons provides extra cockpit space.

We fitted the 6hp Johnson motor to the 490’s auxiliary bracket (which I understand is an optional extra) for a spot of trolling on Coleridge and this worked a treat. We picked up three salmon in a short time!

The recommended motor size is 60-70hp and coupled with a 6hp auxiliary you would definitely have the perfect setup for any lake fishing.

I reckon the Stabi-Craft 490 is everything the small boat angler could wish for: excellent safety and handling in rough water, lightweight for towing, good looks, and general toughness and durability that will never let you down!

Standard Features: Anti-glare dash, Bow storage shelves, Cable cover, Extended transom with boarding step, Marine grade alloy, Molded wraparound screen, Raised side gunwales with storage, Rubber fendering, Self draining anchor bin, Stainless steel fairlead, Steering (rotary), Self bailing valves, Transom handrail, Twin helm seating with storage, Walk around bow access, Wide chequer plate floor.

Optional Extras: Access hatch, Auxiliary bracket, Canopy Navigation lights, Oar storage, Paint & decals, Rear boarding ladder, Rod holder, Side seats. Specifications:

Length overall: 4.90m. External Beam: 1.92m. Internal beam: 1.42m. Deadrise 18deg. Tube thickness 2.5mm. Hull thickness 3.5mm. Hull weight (dry): 270kg. Approx. tow weight: 630kg Max hp: 75hp

Recommended hp: 60-70hp. Max safe loading: 7 adults

Cockpit space: 3.17m. Overall height on the trailer: 2.1m. Price as rigged: NZ$22,416. Boat: $ 8,948 standard (excluding axillary bracket) Motor: Yamaha 3 cylinder 60hp $8.991 Watercraft galvanized trailer: $2,550 Manufactured by. Stabi-Craft Marine. 345 Bluff Road. Invercargill. Ph 03 218-8428 Fax 214-2428

Boat Supplied by Power Boat Centre. 401 Ferry Road, Christchurch. Ph 03 389-1146 Fax 03 389-1932

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