Evolution 600 Apex Extreme Boat Test

A lot of hard-core Australian trailerboat anglers have chosen the Evolution 600 Apex Extreme as their preferred gamefishing rig. BlueWater correspondent and host of fishing show Strikezone TVAlistair McGlashan is one of them and when he recently took delivery of a new hardtop version, John Ford rode along to discover why he favours these boats above all others.

Evolution 600 Apex Extreme Boat Test

Boat Test Evolution 600 Apex Extreme  : EXTREME FISHING
Author: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 105 of BlueWater magazine – SEPT-OCT 2014

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

It was a day off for Alistair McGlashan when I met him at Rose Bay wharf in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, so I was a bit surprised to learn he had spent the morning chasing kingies with a crew of three mates. So closely is Al’s life intertwined with fishing that even when not filming for his television show, he takes time out to relax by dropping a line somewhere. Talk about a busman’s holiday! It’s a lifestyle that many of us would envy and Al himself reckons he hasn’t worked a day since taking up his career as a fishing journalist 19 years ago.

Al takes his job very seriously and has developed a safety backup plan with his wife, Rachel, to make sure his trips to sea are well-monitored. As well as radios and an iPhone, there is an Inmarsat phone onboard for when roaming far out off the coast.

The daily procedure includes letting Rachel know the coordinates of where he is headed by phone or VHF and keeping that information current throughout the day. If Rachel hasn’t heard from Al by 8.30pm she alerts authorities to mount a search. Thankfully, that has not had to happen so far.

Al’s relationship with Evolution goes back several years to the first 600 series, a progression of the original 550 that got the Victorian boating scene talking about Evolution owners Melinda and Paul ‘Junga’ Junginger’s innovative new brand of dedicated fishing boats. Al’s new Strikezone will be his third Evolution, all of them 600s.

These days there wouldn’t be many fishing tournaments along Australia’s east coast without at least one Evolution in the fleet. Their popularity has been earnt through the combination of a big cockpit, good sea handling and well-engineered construction.

Better Hull Design

Standout features of the new Apex model are a substantial hardtop and modifications to the hull that produce a better ride than previous versions. Junga has also heeded criticisms of the
original hull’s harshness into some seas, changing the mould to soften the running strakes, as well as introducing a sharper entry. The result is an even better ride into a head sea without sacrificing any of the boat’s superb ability in a following sea.

As the boat pulled into the wharf it appeared bigger than its specifications would suggest. Its 6m length easily handled four hefty fishermen, with plenty of room for my bulky camera gear and body as well. When filming for his show, the boat’s capacity is put to the test with a complement of fishing crew, as well as a sound technician and a video cameraman.

The hardtop gives the boat a roomy feel and has been designed to integrate smoothly with the lines of the original 600. Sturdy, stainless steel tubes support the double layer of moulded fibreglass, and a ladder inbuilt into the bar work allows easy access to the roof for spotting fish or filming (to a maximum weight of 200kg).

In this overhead structure is a waterproof space for radios and lighting, and it’s a natural base for aerials and the radar.

As yet there isn’t a fully enclosed version, but the well-fitting clears did a good job of keeping the chilly autumn wind at bay and can also be opened up for better air flow in warmer conditions.

Plenty Of Space

Even with wide coamings the cockpit has loads of space, taking advantage of the 2.49m beam – only a centimetre inside Australia’s maximum legal width for towing trailerboats.

According to Al, the 600 Apex Extreme is the perfect size for a combination of storage space and room for fishing, and yet can still be easily towed to distant destinations quickly when fish come on the bite.

To have a good look around and for the speed runs we offloaded most of the crew onto the jetty where they competed with a bunch of school age children to catch the biggest yellowtail.

Most of Al’s boat is standard, although he had a hand in suggesting a few of the modifications. For example, the Extreme has a 320L fuel tank (Al’s actually carries about 345L) to replace the standard 250L of the runabout version. It’s in the electronics department that things on Strikezone get interesting, but we will come back to that shortly.

The Evolution’s cockpit design is all about fishing. It’s an open space with a diamond pattern floor for grip and ease of cleaning. Most of the water and muck from the powerful deckwash flows out the scuppers of the semi self-draining deck, with the rest cleared by automatic bilge pumps. The majority of the underfloor area is taken up by the large fuel tank but there is room for a deep central fishbox at the rear.

Along the starboard side are storage bins and a dive door with a simple starboard panel to close it off. There is the option of a moulded, floating panel that looks more integrated, but which occupies more storage space when not fitted. Al told me it was important for the door to be located on the driver’s side so the skipper can see the action when a big fish is being hauled aboard.

On the port side, the storage pocket is long enough for gaffs and rods and has vertical rodholders designed so the rods clear the sides when travelling. Typical of the strong build of the boat, all of these pockets have been constructed to withstand the weight of brawny fishermen wanting to use them as steps onto the gunwales. (If they pass the Junga test then they should work for anyone).

Down at the back is a no-nonsense flat transom with a plumbed 80L livebait tank with see-through panel and light on the port side. To starboard is a small doorway that Al is thinking of replacing with a second bait tank as the dive door is most often used when boarding. Batteries live off the deck behind strong, moulded fibreglass doors and there is a padded coaming and good toeholds for fighting fish.

Fishing-Friendly Features

For power, Al has moved to a 250hp Yamaha 4-stroke, which is the maximum power suggested, although there is room for a twin-engine setup if desired. Al said he liked the torque power of the 4.2L 4-stroke, as well as the electronic controls that allow easy gear shifting when fighting fish.

Other standard fishing features include tackle drawers at the transom and in seat boxes, rocket launcher rodholders, 27meg and VHF radios, LED lighting, boat catch, anchor winch and ground-tackle, twin five-slot vertical rod racks and a Lowrance HDS10 sounder/GPS with 1kw transducer.

It’s at the helm that Al’s boat departs from the standard offering. Instead of the single 25cm screen, the dash is decked out with a wish list of electronics, meaning Junga has had to modify his standard design to fit a 35cm Furuno TZ touchscreen into the dash. This unit takes care of maps, radar, autopilot and onboard cameras. It can also connect to the internet through a phone to display sea surface temperature and weather charts.

Although the TZ can also be used for sounding, Al has a separate bracket-mounted Furuno FCU295 Bottom Command unit that displays information from two transducers set at different frequencies in a split-screen format. The first is a 2W 60-110khz system that is useful when there are other boats nearby blocking out frequencies, and the second is a 1kW 50khz wide beam unit.

Obviously such high-power equipment uses a lot of power and it was found that dedicated heavy-duty 8mm wire was required to cope with the current flow. When at sea the boat is kept running most of the time or started regularly to charge the batteries.

Lock-Up Security

To keep expensive equipment safer when away from home, the cuddy cabin has a lockable sliding door and is fitted with an alarm. In most Apex Extremes there would normally be enough room for a couple of crew to rest on the vee-berth, but Al’s boat is chock-a-block full of fishing and camera gear. It has also been fitted with his secret weapon to keep crew happy: a three drawer pie warmer. Luxury!

To ensure the camera equipment stays dry, the front hatch on Al’s boat has been done away with, meaning anyone going forward needs to make their way around the side, which proved to be quite easy and safe with good handgrips and sufficient footholds.

With fly-by-wire control, the Yamaha slotted effortlessly into gear and was soon planing us at around 12kts and 3000rpm. Not bad considering the 75 per cent fuel load, three blokes and a massive amount of gear. Once it was on the plane, the boat had no trouble getting us to 23kts at only 3500rpm. Al reckons he can maintain a cruise speed of 27kts at 4000rpm in most reasonable seas for a fuel burn in the low 40Lt/h range.

Across the harbour chop the boat was soft and stable, turning as asked, feeling tight and sounding quiet in the hull. Much of this rigidity and confident handling is down to a hand laid fibreglass hull, with lots of weight and strength along the keel line. Foam filling under the floor keeps things quiet apart from the healthy hum of the V6 4-stroke.

Confident Handling

The rest of the crew were happy to be collected for a run out past the heads and down to a likely kingie spot near Bondi. Five-up was no trouble for the ride and everyone had plenty of room, with three in the cockpit hanging onto the hardtop supports. The ocean had a lazy one-metre swell running and a bit of slop coming back from the cliffs. However, the boat handled this well at 22 to 25kts, with only the occasional slight bang when a wave hit unexpectedly.

There were no kingfish to be found on the wreck, but the time fishing showed off the impressive stability of the hull and the ample room for anglers to drop a line. Then, as we were about to move, we noticed a small hammerhead shark lazing on the surface. It wasn’t long before a live mackerel attracted his attention and within a few minutes he was alongside for some photos and a quick release.

It’s no wonder that the 600 Evolution is regarded as one of this country’s favourite hard-core trailerboats. It is a very accomplished sea boat, with plenty of room to move and a safe, predictable ride. The new 600 Apex Extreme reflects Junga’s own passion for fishing and boatbuilding and it’s great to see his boats evolve into even better versions as time goes by.

Obviously the price for such high-end weaponry does not come cheaply. With a starting price of around $120,000, the hardtop might not be for everyone, not to mention the $35,000 worth of electronics on Strikezone. However, those who can afford the entry price will not be disappointed.

Capacities

  • People: 6
  • Rec. HP: 175-250
  • Fuel: 320L

General

  • Type: Fishing monohull hardtop
  • Material: Fibreglass
  • Length: 6m (6.5m LOA)
  • Beam: 2.49m
  • Weight: 1200kg
  • Deadrise: 21°

Engines

  • Make/model: Yamaha F250
  • Type: V6 direct injection 4-stroke
  • Weight: 255kg
  • Displacement: 4200cc
  • Gear ratio: 1.75:1
Evolution 600 Apex Extreme Boat Test

Boat Test Evolution 600 Apex Extreme : EXTREME FISHING
Author: John Ford
Supplied by: Evolution Boats

This boat test ran in ISSUE 105 of BlueWater magazine –  SEPT-OCT 2014

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

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