How many ways can Formosa serve up its popular 580? John Ford reports on the tasty new tournament version.
REVIEW: FORMOSA 580 DUAL CONSOLE
• Great fishing layout
• Flexible transom design
• Very good handling and soft ride
• No grab rail over console (is an option though)
• No bait tank (is an option though)
Imagine if you will that the fishing has been great and there are keepers in the tank that will go down well with a couple of cold ones by a campfire. But the weather has come in and it’s a long blast back across the lake to the ramp and your mate, the driver, is intent on getting the boat up to warp speed tucked in behind his protective side console. He’s warm and dry.
Not you though. The spray blasts your face and dribbles down the back of your neck to finally soak your bum and douse any enthusiasm for life.
What gives with Aussie boat designers? How about a thought for the poor, long-suffering passengers?
Well at least someone is on your side because Jason Graham from Aussie Boat Sales must lie awake all night thinking about how to improve things and to come up with more ways to utilise the fabulous Formosa 580 hull. Working closely with the factory, he’s already dreamed up the 580X which combines the best of fishing and tubing, and now he’s convinced the team to make a tournament-style fishing boat with loads of room and improved passenger comfort. The design is based on elements from other boats in the range, particularly the Barra Pro, and takes the different iterations of the popular 580 hull to ten.
Taking a page out of the American bass boat playbook admittedly, but doing it with a hull that’s as comfortable offshore – both under the bum and from a safety aspect – as it would be snuggling into the mangroves up a lazy river. A Skeeter might be quicker to the first bite, but in a choppy sea it can be a bit of a handful. The Formosa can do both and more. Like perform as a family fun boat or even as a place to camp, because it’s been designed to take a swag on both the foredeck and in the cockpit.
Things are mixed up a bit for the new boat by using the 5.8 Sea Rod V2 hull rather than the Tomahawk in the original 580X we tested last year. It utilises the same overall design with wide chines and sharp V, but differs by having a flooding keel with four separate chambers, a timber instead of the metal floor and the option of different transom layouts. Boasting a brilliant Mandarin finish with white trim it looked sensational splashing mists of the spray against the early morning light of Pittwater in Sydney’s north. However, if you think the loud colour might frighten fish, then choose from some 40 or so optional shades, as well as a selection of fishing themed graphics to suit all tastes.
Starting with a plate hull formed from a high-tensile 5083-alloy sheet, the boat is a beamy 2.45m on its nearly 6m length, including a stumpy bowsprit. Bottom and sides are a beefy 4mm and the 18.50 deadrise is deep for aluminium construction. Sides are high and that fastback stern features the very useful folding wave breaker that can be lowered to create an open rear section for casting or raised in the ocean when at rest to stop any slop coming on board from the following sea.
The hull is neatly finished and looks well proportioned. Welds are smooth and craftsman-like and the paintwork shines with a deep consistent glow. Marine Accessories faux teak covering on the side decks, floor and casting platforms imparts welcome attention to detail and a reassuring, soft feel underfoot. All the marine ply flooring is well disguised under the grey waterproof carpet with properly secured edges. The twin consoles are basically looking but don’t occupy much space, which is good, but I would prefer to see a set of optional grab rails over the acrylic glass windscreens.
The casting deck in the bow has three hatches for a separated livewell and storage as well as a cradle for the battery for the self-deploying 80lb Ulterra Minn Kota, which is mounted on a stout, welded bracket. At the forepeak is a hatch over the anchor well and a low rail protecting the bow roller. More for aesthetics than anything, the test boat has no side rails, but they are a standard feature and might add some security when standing on the casting deck in a howling gale.
A boarding ladder, big enough for a giant, adorns the portside swim platform and a spring-loaded pin keeps it in place. It’s heavy-duty for sure, but maybe something a tad subtler would avoid getting lines tangled when bringing in that tournament-winning barra.
Swivelling and folding upholstered bucket seats sit on metal bases with built-in tackle boxes and I found extra storage in a locking glove box in the console and at floor level. On the driver’s side is a simple dash with room for a 5in Garmin screen for the Honda engine, a switch panel, a Fusion sound system and a Garmin VHF radio. A 10in Garmin combination GPS/sounder sits on top of the dash and while it’s vulnerable to the weather, it wouldn’t take much to make up a waterproof cover for the whole console to protect it.
Having driven a number of these 580 hulls in various guises, I was prepared for the soft ride and precise handling and, if anything, the low weight of the forward casting deck adds a more balanced feel across the nasty chop that the 18kt westerly was whipping up. We copped some spray across the wind at speed as you might expect, but in a more sedate mode, the screens kept us protected and dry.
Maximum power for the 580 is 175hp but the 150hp Honda fitted was a good mix and gave us a top speed of 33.5kts at the 6000rpm wide open throttle. The four-stroke Honda has grunty low-down power and accelerates aggressively right through the rev range, delivering optimum economy at 4000rpm with a fuel use of 16.8lt/h and a range of 161nm at 20kts.
As tested with the electronics, Minn Kota and on a Redco Alloy Series trailer, the new Formosa will set you back $65,000. It’s an adaptable and safe combination that will have you fishing in any number of estuary, dam and offshore locations, and with good economy and range, it will handle runs to distant secret spots. The large open transom would make it a great dive boat and there’s even a bimini for keeping the sun off and getting the family onboard to drag around some water toys. If nothing else, it should close down any arguments about who’s getting the dry seat on the way home.
Engine and electronics upgrades, and alloy trailer
PRICE AS TESTED
MATERIAL 5083 Alloy
TYPE Planing monohull
LENGTH 6m (overall)
REC. Max HP 175
MAKE/MODEL Honda BF150
TYPE Fuel-injected dohc four-stroke outboard
RATED HP 150
GEAR RATIO 2.14:1
PROPELLER 16in Solas three-blade
Formosa Marine, Qld
Aussie Boat Sales ACT & NSW
Phone Jason on 0433 531 226
Check out the full review in issue #503 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boat news, reviews and travel inspiration.
Original link: https://www.tradeboats.com.au/tradeaboat-reviews/boats/1805/review-formosa-580-dual-console