Evolution 652 Enclosed Boat Test

Evolution 652 Enclosed Boat Test

Built by a fisherman with experience in the rough offshore waters of southern Australia, Evolution boats are fast becoming the choice of discerning anglers seeking a high-quality trailerable gamefishing platform that will take them safely and comfortably well offshore. Evolution’s 652 Enclosed plays that role admirably.

Evolution 652 Enclosed Boat Test

Boat Test Evolution 652 Enclosed: SO, YOU WANT AN EVOLUTION
Author and photography: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 127 of BlueWater magazine – NOV-DEC 2017

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

Evolution Boats are much loved for their well-equipped, bulletproof rigs, offering a pure fishing experience. Heading the line-up is the 652 Enclosed, a beefy seafaring beast made for battling big fish out in the deep, with the added security of an enclosed hardtop. Last year, Evolution owner Paul ‘Junga’ Junginger put the boat’s ability to the ultimate test, sending the 652 on a circumnavigation of Australia in support of cancer research.

In 2016, Mark Latchford travelled 16,500km over a three-month journey that took him into the wilds of southern Tasmania, the Great Australian Bight and as far north as Thursday Island. To cross the Bight, he loaded the boat with five 210L drums on top of his 650L tank. Along the way, he battled 45-knot winds and 6m seas off the west coast of Tasmania, donating over $110,000 to charity.

The spin-off of this round-Australia odyssey was that it helped promote the hardy nature of the boats. Evolutions are also the chosen boats for TV fishing show hosts Al McGlashan and Lee Rayner, both of whom spend considerable hours offshore making their shows.

Can Build To Survey

Evolution Boats is one of only a few independent fibreglass boatbuilders left in Australia, with the team carving out a niche market in the recreational fishing sector. They are already well known in their hometown of Melbourne but continue to grow in popularity with dealers in other states. They also build boats to survey and have delivered several models to government authorities around the country.

The trend towards bigger trailerboats has grown in tandem with the success of anglers fishing a long way offshore. Recent times have seen good catches in the bluefin fishery off Portland in the far west of Victoria, as well as significant success with swordfish off the state’s northern and eastern hotspots like Lakes Entrance. Anglers are now prepared to drive to these destinations when the bite is happening, however, to achieve their goals they need a trailerboat capable of tackling heavy weather and large distances out to sea.

With an overall length of 7.02m and tipping the scales at 1800kg for hull only, the Evolution 652 is a beast of a trailerboat and requires a decent tow vehicle to move it around. It also sports a pair of 200hp Evinrude outboards and is well over three tonnes when loaded with fuel and gear. An alloy trailer cuts down on weight, but you should consider the 3500kg limit for most 4WD vehicles when packing for the road.

Rough Sea Ready

For our test run off Eden in southern NSW conditions were quite unpleasant, although it gave us a good idea of the 652’s performance in rougher conditions.

The hardtop is a development of the open runabout version, but it fits the hull so seamlessly you’d think Evolution had designed it as an integral unit from the word go. A raked screen wraps around to the sides without corner pillars to give almost uninterrupted vision when driving. The minimalist roofline gives the structure a lean impression and the dropped bow lends the sheerline the look of a classic offshore warrior.

In this latest version of the 6.5m hull, Junga has made some changes to soften the ride and improve handling. He sharpened the bow just wide of the keel and shortened the inside strake some three metres to improve how the boat moves into a headsea. At the same time, the central planing plank was widened 2cm for better stability at high speed.

In order to reduce friction, the Lectrotab trim tabs have been set into a recessed moulding when not in play. Prominent chines, increasing from nothing at the bow to 16cm wide at the transom, are a significant element of the design and help to give the boat its impressive stability at rest, while deadrise remains at reasonably deep 21 degrees.

Built By A Fisherman

As the hull weight testifies, the hand-laid fibreglass was not spared in the layup and the boat feels rock-solid on the water. Fibreglass stringers are filled with high density foam, as is the void under the floor, for sound deadening, hull stiffness and floatation. The deck layout is also new in the 652 Enclosed and takes advantage of space under the floor for storage, including giant 1.6m long 220L fishboxes and a 140L icebox between the helm chairs.

Twin Evinrudes sit on a short pod-like extension of the hull, with platforms either side for a burley bucket to port and a swim step with ladder on the other.

The cockpit has been carefully designed with a lot of thought given to efficient use of space and having everything to hand when the action starts. Junga talks the fishing talk, and his designs also walk the walk.

In the rough and tumble of serious gamefishing, this boat has been made not only to perform, but also to last. The boat also is packed full of features designed to make fishing and life on board more enjoyable.

One of Junga’s Deluxe bait tables sat centrally at the transom, complete with pressure wash, drain, knife, cup and rodholders and storage under the cutting board lid. Under the table are neatly moulded doors opening to a raised battery compartment where two 80amp start batteries and a 130amp house battery reside.

Self-Draining Cockpit

An additional hold in the floor forward of the battery compartment is large enough for a couple of deck chairs and also provides access to the bilge pump, as well as B175H 1000kw and B150 600w transducers. Although the pump drains the hold and fishboxes, the bulk of stray water self-drains overboard through scuppers at the transom corners.

On either side of the transom are plumbed livebait tanks, including a 60L one to port with two 30cm slimy tubes and an 80L tank to starboard, enabling you to separate squid and fish livebaits. Junga has even fitted a set of blue squid lights under the hull to help with catching the bait.

I liked the way the storage pockets can hold a mass of tackle and are also wide enough in their forward section to house vertical rod storage racks that hold the outfits without them protruding too far into the deck space. The pockets are also far enough off the deck to get a decent toehold underneath.

More Fishing Features

A removable dive door on the starboard side is lightweight 1.9cm Starboard, so it’s easy to move around and store, as well as being great for getting oversize fish on board.

Rails and footholds along the side of the hardtop assist access to the bow, where I found a split rail for easy boarding, as well as a Little Annie drum winch under a hatch and a Sarca anchor on the Evolution’s distinctive, moulded bowsprit.

Riding on the back of the cab is a six-slot, stainless-steel rocketlauncher rodholder and up top are the bases for 4.9m Taco outrigger poles. Rated at 200kg, the roof is also big and robust enough to fit a small sighting platform.

Welcome Shelter Inside

The Evolution’s enclosure also provides weather protection for radios, speakers for the Fusion sound system and LED lights under the immaculately moulded roof.

Sliding windows and a roof hatch provided a good flow of air, even at trolling speeds. However, in the cold conditions of Twofold Bay, I preferred to keep them closed and take refuge in the snug enclosure.

Evolution-embroidered Rae-Line bolster helm chairs are mounted on moulded seat bases and have rear-facing crew seats behind them. Under the skipper’s side is an inbuilt tackle box, while the offsider has a storage space.

Other nice touches include inserts on the hardtop pillars for loose items, a deck shower, a drinks tray that folds out from the port side ahead of the navigator, and a compact galley. There’s also a sink and portable gas burner in the cabin, as well as generous seating around the berths, to help make fishing trips all that more pleasant.

Spacious Dash

Set off with a genuine carbon fibre black finish, the dash features a contemporary look, with ample room for big screens, ergonomic switch placement and a place for a mobile phone. A 30cm Simrad NSS Evo screen is dwarfed in the space so there’s room for any of the maximum-sized screens currently on offer, or alternatively you could install a second screen alongside.

An 18cm I-Command screen takes care of engine information, which is easy to read and comprehensive. The trim tab controls are easily reached, while the anchor switch is nicely out of the way on the side. The engine controls are recessed, so they fall to hand readily, but are positioned so they don’t get unintentionally activated when moving around.

Engines With Grunt

With a 35km/h wind and 2m swell unsettling conditions offshore, we sought some calmer water for speed runs and fuel-use figures before heading wider out.

The 2-strokes are renowned for their low-down grunt, and the G2 200hp HOEvinrudes more than lived up to that reputation. They rocketed us out of the hole and onto plane at about 2500rpm and 28km/h. Although we ran out of relatively calm water before I could wind it right out, the 652 was able to manage 92km/h (50kts) and we still had 600rpm to the redline. Junga told me he had squeezed nearly 110km/h out of it, and I can easily believe it. I was certainly impressed by the way the hull stuck magnetically to the water and ran smoothly and predictably right through the range.

The best economy was at 3000rpm, with a consumption of 42L/ph and speed of 46km/h. This gave a range of 295km from the 300L tank with 10% reserve. Push it on to 4000rpm and speed goes up to 66km/h for a consumption of 78L/ph and a 228km range.

Dry And Stable

Out on the ocean past Boyd’s Tower, the Evolution handled well and took the sloppy conditions in its stride. While running between 30 and 40km/h in a sweet nose-up stance, the flared bow threw spray well wide of the boat. There was some thumping on landing over some of the bigger swells, but progress was so sure and stable that itinstilled plenty of confidence in the hull’s ability.

The 652 Enclosed is all about getting to wide grounds in safety and comfort. As well as having plenty of room to comfortably fish a crew of three in the cockpit, the enclosed helm also affords excellent protection in nasty conditions.

A basic setup with a 250 Evinrude, Lowrance HDS8 sounder, rocketlauncher rod rack and trailer will set you back $129,000 for a soft top. That also includes standard features like the livebait tanks and tuna tubes. For an enclosed model fully loaded like the test boat, the price increases to $193,500.

Just add your selection of fishing tackle and you’re good to go!

Highlights

  • Very robust build with heavy-duty fittings.
  • Contemporary styling of a trailer gameboat.
  • Lively performance with outboards to 400hp.
  • Lots of fishing room, plus welcome weather protection.

Capacities

  • People: 6
  • Rec. HP: 225-400
  • Fuel: 300L
  • Water: 60L

General

  • Type: Monohull enclosed cabin
  • Material: GRP
  • Length: 6.5m (7.2m LOA)
  • Beam: 2.49m
  • Weight: 1800kg (hull only)
  • Deadrise: 21 degrees
  • Recommended power: 225-400hp

Engines

  • Make/model: Evinrude Gen2 200HO
  • Type: V6 fuel-injected 2-stroke
  • Weight: 253kg
  • Displacement: 3441cc
  • Gear ratio: 1:85:1
  • Propeller: 50cm four-blade

SPECIFICATIONS: Evolution 652 Enclosed
Options fitted: Engine upgrade, radios, 1kw transducer, outrigger bases and poles, plumbing in livebait tanks, plumbed slimy tubes, sliding cabin door, dive door, wrap, a third battery, squid lights and more.  

Evolution 652 Enclosed Boat Test

Boat Test Evolution 652 Enclosed: SO, YOU WANT AN EVOLUTION
Author and photography: John Ford
Manufactured by: Evolution Boats

This boat test ran in ISSUE 127 of BlueWater magazine – NOV-DEC 2017

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