We love the opportunity to do a bit of head-to-head testing at Fishing Monthly. It puts us in the same position as a customer – what’s the best product for me and my application?
We had the opportunity recently to take a couple of the smallest Bar Crusher boats for a drive on a wild and woolly day on Western Port; the cabin (490C) and open version (490WR) of the 490 hull.
Apart from being able to check out the features and performance of these hulls, it was great to be able to spend some time with Bar Crusher's Peter Cleland to hear first-hand some of the history and theory behind the brand.
All of the Gen2 Bar Crusher boats work on a standard theory. A Delta Flare planing plank holds a water ballast feature. This sub-floor tank fills up at rest, dropping the chines lower into the water and making the boat more stable. It also allows the hulls to be built with a deeper vee in them, dealing with the perennial plate boat problem of ‘banging’ in the rough water.
And test that feature we did on the test day. Confronted by a nasty 20-25 knot sou’westerly we took the pair on a decent run through sheltered and open parts of the estuary.
My opinion? For the first part of the trip, I braced each time a pothole opened up before the 490WR. By the end of the run, it was business as usual – shooting the breeze with Peter Cleland as we traversed the bays and channels.
The ride wasn’t 100% dry, as is to be expected in such conditions! Quartering the seas, the inevitable spray blew back across the craft. Dressed in a GoreTex rain suit, this wasn’t a problem. I’ve been to enough rodeos to know what open boats are like in nasty weather.
Fishing Monthly’s Peter Jung made the trip in the 490C cuddy cabin model, and arrived at the destination warm and dry.
And that’s the difference between the two boats. The 490C is more resistant to the weather and better set up for dropping a spread of baits, while the 490WR is exposed getting there, but super efficient when the lure casting begins.
Both of the test boats were fitted with 60hp Suzuki outboards. They’re quiet, reliable and ridiculously fuel efficient, getting 4km per litre burned at 4200rpm. That’s value for money at the petrol pump right there. Prop set-ups were spot on, maxing out a 5800rpm.
Both models arrived on an Australian-made Easytow trailer, single axle and fitted with Bar Crusher’s Bar Catch launch and retrieval system. This is a real time saver when it comes to getting the boat on and off the trailer. For two-person launching, it’s ridiculously quick and for solo launch and retrieve, it’s like having a second set of hands.
“Once I told a guy at a boat show that we could launch or retrieve a boat in 30 seconds. He didn’t believe us, so we made a video and could actually do it in 20,” Peter explained, proud of their invention.
“Bar Crusher is all about being the quality option in the market,” Pete explained as we ran across the bay. “We make them from 5083 aluminium plate and take great care with our welding and fittings. The Rigideck floor is fully sealed, so that nothing can find its way under it and we take pride in the way that we aim to build a better engineered boat.”
Indeed, depending on options, these rigs weigh in at around $35,000 to $40,000 (Victorian market).
Our opinion? Buy the 490C if you’re a bait angler or the 490WR if you’re a lure caster.