Evolution 600 Extreme Boat Test

Following on from the successes of their previous models, Evolution Boats have come up with another winner. As Rick Huckstepp found across Victoria’s turbulent waters, the 600 Extreme is not only well designed for offshore gamefishing, it also handles challenging conditions with style.

Evolution 600i Boat Test

Boat Test Evolution 600 Extreme: AN EXTREME SPORTFISHER
Author and photography: Rick Huckstepp

This boat test ran in ISSUE 79 of BlueWater magazine – JUN-JULY 2010

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

The name ‘Evolution’ keeps bobbing up in gamefishing circles all along Australia’s east coast. At any Bermagui NSW tournament you will find more than a handful of these boats mixing it with the big boys, going wide in the hunt for pelagics.

Both the Evolution 550 and 650 models from this Victorian boat building company are absolute gems when it comes to small boat handling in the big seas often seen in that part of the world.

With their new addition to the range, the Evolution 600 Extreme, the manufacturer claims to have taken the best of both of these models, which first graced a boat show at Melbourne in July 2009. Since then, these boats have been turned out in good numbers.

Surprisingly Dry

Certainly, if some of the great sea-going attributes of both the 550 and 650 were included in this new model it would be good news all-round. They’ve been very successful hulls. But the proof is in the pudding, so I headed to Victoria’s Port Phillip Bay where they regularly experience weather changes, usually for the worse. Once there, a week of hot and calm conditions turned to an 18-knot south easterly which blew into the outgoing tide from the river and turned the shallow bar into a mess. Perfect! We had chop to over a metre to play on, and there was plenty of it over the shallow bar and further out into the windswept open waters.

There is usually a point in any boat when the ride becomes hard. This can be due to the direction of chop, the speed that it is driven by the wind, the speed or trim of the boat, or the angle at which the chop is approached. That point was difficult to find in the 600 Extreme until excessive bow-up trim was used when running into the steep chop. Then, the crests of the waves were hitting the hull well aft of the forefoot. A sensible trim angle had this boat slicing nicely through those crests and with wind coming over the quarter, the ride was surprisingly dry.

This ‘dryness’ may be put down in part to the design of the strakes which, as may be seen in the images, have a reverse angle as does a typical reverse chine. Subsequently, no solid sheets of water were pushed airborne out from the forequarters. Instead, a small amount of spray came from this area and all the solid sheets of water exited well aft. Of course, if you were silly enough to be standing in an aft corner when underway at speed, and the boat was pushing the envelope, you might still get wet.

The Extreme’s manoeuvrability in changing conditions was brilliant. We pushed it hard into the sea and ran along and over the steep chop. We then pushed it at various speeds with a following sea and all the while the hull performed faultlessly. It has plenty of shoulder well forward on the chine to keep the bow up out of the chop during hard turns, but not an excessive amount that would make it pound on oncoming waves.

The forefoot deadrise angle on the 550 and 650 models has been modified for the 600 hull to make it sharper, giving exceptional directional steering and a soft entry. Dead in the water, on the drift, the reverse strakes and wide shoulders in the forequarters added substantial stability, which is great for anglers when moving around the boat.

Power For Safety

With Evinrude’s 200hp ETEC on the transom, the hole-shot speed was excellent; just what you need for climbing over an oncoming swell that is threatening to crack across a bar. It’s also good for maintaining position on the back of a swell when approaching a treacherous bar crossing on the way home.

The hull and power combination is a good match, with plenty of torque. Top end speed is reputed to be around 45 knots at 5,400rpm, but this was something we declined to test on the day due to the lumpy conditions. Instead, we decided to fully investigate the 600 Extreme’s mid-range ability in tough weather. We weren’t disappointed!

Off the plane and at trolling speed, the hull sits solidly in the water and puts off small pressure waves that provide good clear-water ‘windows’ to position your trolled lures and baits. I have no qualms about that aspect of the hull design as it has already proven itself with catch statistics at gamefishing hotspots such as Narooma and Bermagui.

View From The Helm

With the clears in place and the zipper portals open, there is still plenty of ventilation at the helm. Without clears, there is full panoramic vision, with little obstruction. A large-cabinet GPS/depth sounder will flush-mount in the high brow of the dash. And with a Lowrance HDS8 fitted there was enough room to mount the instrumentation for the engine without it being blocked from view by the wheel. This might not be the case should the larger HDS10 be fitted, so a little forward thinking before the hole-saws are employed should keep the important dials in full view.

A short lip across the aft end of the dash top will keep goods and chattels from sliding to the deck. Any water that reaches this area will quickly drain on the passenger side. The helm area is quite spacious, with plenty of room to lay out charts and other paperwork. Underway, over the rough stuff, there is sufficient elbow room to work the helm, and for a passenger to hold tight. The hydraulic steering fitted made controlling the boat child’s play.

Plenty Of Storage

There are plenty of stowage areas in the Evolution 600 Extreme. The upper cockpit pockets are set well back, while those just above the deck protrude a little further out. This allows tackle trays and other gear to be stowed without getting mixed up with gaffs and tag poles that may be mounted there.

Overnight stops by the roadside while en route to your bluewater destination can expose your gear to pilfering. So, the sliding moulded-fibreglass door to the lockup cabin should give some peace of mind while you catch up on sleep. The cabin also features a macerator toilet under a bi-fold lid in the forward section of the leg-well. And there’s the usual stowage space under the bunk cushions. Two adults could squeeze in here for a sleep between hot bites, and the inclusion of an infill over the leg-well would make it even more comfortable.

Let's Go Fishing

Some deft trimming of the coamings in the design stage has opened up the cockpit nicely. Once you have the obligatory rod holders in place, wide coamings on an offshore sportfishing boat gobble up valuable space and become pointless, so the manufacturer has done well here.

The depth of the side pockets remains the same along their length, and your feet have plenty of room underneath to help maintain balance when fishing. Typical of Evolution boats, both pockets are widened over a short part of their length to allow for the positioning of a vertical rod stand. This is a handy addition for carrying heavy tackle on long and rough sea journeys. It’s a much better idea than drowning them in the gunwale rod holders or having that weight swing from the overhead rocket launcher. The racks are capable of holding a couple of 50W reels, or up to five smaller outfits, on each side. When carrying bigger reels in the racks, it would be a good idea to use reel covers to protect them from damage if they bang together when underway.

And when you want to drag a big gamefish aboard, the starboard-side marlin door will make life easy. It lifts up with little effort. This style of entry, incorporating a removable step ladder, is much favoured by the scuba-diving fraternity. Another access area is via the short transom entry gate, which is a standard-fit nylon hinged door. For those not wanting to stow a full moulded side door during a trip, the 600 Extreme is supplied with a nylon panel to provide a safety fence, robust enough to take your weight if leaning against it.

The usual restrictions on tackle stowage have been alleviated on the Extreme, thanks to the tackle drawers in the base module of each swivel seat. Each seat is capable of holding five of the large Plano-style plastic boxes. With rear opening doors, access is quick and easy for those in the cockpit.

There is a small hatch in the deck between those two seats that leads to a 100-litre ice box. Another large hatch, near the transom bulkhead, extends under to the stern and can hold a couple of fish tubs for the catch. To give you an idea of volume, it has housed a 64kg yellowfin tuna when both tubs were removed!

The hull is built with fibreglass stringers and the void in the hull around intrusions such as tanks and holds is foam-filled for buoyancy. This conveniently makes all under floor compartments effective ice boxes. Not only that, the usual amplification effect that comes with a hollow hull has been dulled, dramatically reducing ambient water noise.

The cockpit is a nice place to be on the 600 Extreme. It’s big and roomy, with a practical live bait tank complete with viewing window and bi-fold lid. The bait rigging table, midships on the transom, doesn’t interfere with anglers in the corners, and it can be removed if need be.

If you need to move around on the bow – to deal with a multiple hook-up perhaps – there is plenty of sturdy 32mm rail to hang onto. And the big Stress-Free anchor winch, buried in the anchor well, will take all the angst out of pulling up the ground tackle when reef fishing.

All up, the Evolution 600 Extreme is a well designed mini-gameboat which I found faultless. It comes from good lineage and has maintained the seagoing manners of its recent ancestors.

Highlights

  • Very soft ride when punching into steep chop.
  • Dry ride, even with wind on the quarters.
  • Good gunwale height for fishing.
  • The lift-out door helps with boarding from water or docks.

Capacities

  • People day: 6
  • People berthed: 2
  • Fuel: 250 litres (optional 320 litres)

General

  • Hull and topsides: GRP
  • Length overall: 6.5m
  • Beam: 2.49m
  • Draft: 0.6m
  • Deadrise: 21-degree
  • Weight: 2.4 tonne wet on aluminium trailer

Engines

  • Make: Evinrude ETEC
  • Model: 200HO DHL
  • Type: 6-cylinder fuel injected 2-stroke
  • Rated hp: 200hp
  • Displacement: 3279cc
  • Weight: 231kg
  • Gearbox ratio: 1.85:1
  • Propeller: 19-inch Rebel

SPECIFICATIONS: Evolution 600 Extreme
Options fitted: Toilet, outriggers, side door, cabin door, anchor winch, snapper rod racks, spot lights, rear step with ladder.  

Evolution 600i Boat Test

Boat Test Evolution 600 Extreme: AN EXTREME SPORTFISHER
Author and photography:  Rick Huckstepp
Supplied by: Evolution Boats

This boat test ran in ISSUE 79 of BlueWater magazine –  JUN-JULY 2010

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