by Dom Wiseman

American style centre console boats have always remained immensely popular in this market among keen anglers all up and down the coast. They’re easy to fish out of and have enormous space with few impediments to movement. A crucial tick box for any lure casting angler.

Fusion19 (6)

A trip to Mackay and a visit to Reef Marine presented me with yet another new brand I’d never heard of, Fusion. A casual glance and you could mistake it for yet another US centre console, but this one is made in South Africa and takes the concept just a little further in my opinion. You see, any boat is a compromise and while US fishing boats are great for just that, they can, at times lack the versatility for other pursuits. The Fusion 19 at Reef Marine in Mackay promised more.

WHAT YOU GET

The Fusion 19 is styled off the popular Bay Boat design. It’s a low sided centre console with an interesting forward design. At the bow is an optional casting deck or ‘U’ shaped seating arrangement, immediately making this boat family friendly. The hulls employ a 100% fibreglass construction with no timber anywhere. They also come with a 5 year structural warranty. Each boat has full underfloor floatation standard and self-draining decks.

This boat is ideal for the serious lure or fly fisher. It has a nice clean deck layout, with ample storage both fore and aft. Something that can be an issue on all centre consoles in general. Out on the water, we were close to the mouth of the Pioneer River, and I wanted nothing more than to get into some clear, skinny water and jump up on the forward casting deck and cast a flyline at a cruising fish. A low draft of 350mm had me salivating.

Fusion 19

Every bit of space inside the boat is very well utilised. There is storage under the foredeck and on both sides of the stern compartments plus under the floor. Fishermen are well served with a live well and two underfloor kill tanks. Then there’s the centre console which is large but not as restrictive as some centre consoles can be. It has ample dash space for multi-function displays and anything else you think you need. I’d forgo a stereo, but many can’t. In addition, the hatch at the front of the console provides access to a neat place for safety gear and a few extra tackle boxes. The seat at the rear of the console rounds out the storage with room for a 78L esky. It conveniently keep the esky off the floor and out of the way.

The hull also boasts 680mm of freeboard, making the sides high enough to lock the knees when fighting a good fish, but not so high as to hinder your landing of the big one. The side height is also a bonus in keeping the family safe for those special weekend trips.

As you would expect of any quality boat with a fishing slant, there is space for up to 8 rod holders, a deck wash, 4 stainless grab handles, plus the one around the console all as standard.

Optional extras fitted to our test boat included the aluminium T-top, which can be easily folded down, and a ski bar over the motor. The hull colour is also an optional extra.

They market the Fusion 19 as a 5 in 1 boat package. Family cruising, wakeboarding , skiing (it had the optional ski pole fitted), offshore fishing, tournament fishing and estuary and inshore sportsfishing are all at your fingertips. That’s a big call for just one boat, but after seeing her up close and personal and getting out on the water, the design and performance back up the claim.

POWER

When it comes to on-water performance, our test boat was fitted with a 140hp Suzuki outboard, spinning a 20inch prop. On the test day, with an honest 10-15knot wind, this gave us a top speed of 48knots at 6400rpm.  That’s pretty fast for any boat and goes to show the performance capabilities of the package. At this speed, the boat felt very comfortable, safe and stable.

Given this was the very first time this boat had hit the water, some fine tuning with a different pitch prop, possibly a 21 or 22inch, would get even better performance out of this combination. Keep in mind that this hull is rated to a maximum of 200hp. Given our experience, that seems hardly necessary.

Personally, I’d settle for the 140hp that was on the test boat. It was well matched to the hull and pushed the boat easily up onto the plane in no time. With a 150 litre underfloor fuel tank you have a good range and the ability get to some of those destinations that may be a little out of the way.

ON THE WATER

The Fusion 19 running shot

The hull looks sleek, with a nicely flared bow. The entry point is sharp flattening out to an 18-degree deadrise at the transom, It handles well and is very stable at rest.

According to Fusion Power Boats, the design of the hull means that the beam to length ratio is wider than normal. This allows the boat to be stable, get on the plane easily and provides for ample deck space.

An additional interesting aspect of the hull is a very cleverly designed reverse hook which creates a ‘pocket’ or ‘dip’ in the underside of the hull, just short of the transom. This acts like a built-in trim tab, which in turn, gets the boat up on the plane a lot faster, and makes it sit nice and level in the water.

ON THE TRAILER

This is a large boat that requires a launch vehicle of decent proportions. Fully loaded, I’d expect a dual cab ute would be about where you’d want to start, although weight figures were unavailable at the time of testing.

OVERVIEW

This boat is largely ready to go, but as an avid lure and fly fisher, a bow mount electric and a good quality multi-function display would get me on the water. On a good day, offshore fishing and boating will be possible, but a boat like this will be most comfortable in closer to shore or inside the reef.

POSITIVES

Ride is excellent

Storage options

NEGATIVES

No bow casting platform

NUMBERS THAT MATTER

Price: from $69,900

Construction: GRP Fibreglass

Length Overall: 5.97m

Beam: 2.40m

Weight on trailer: N/A

Engine: Suzuki 140hp

Fuel Capacity: 150 litres