Tin boats, like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, generally tend to lack the gees that we’ve been accustomed to in a proud 23-foot river-cruiser. But, with a focus on providing a quality craft that’ll make its own place in your family, the Kimple range is set to change all that! Run of the mill aluminium boat you’d think? Guess again!
Built from marine grade aluminium and to the highest European and Australian standards, Kimple pride themselves on the fact that their boats are rivet-free, and that they’re able to combine the strength of aluminium with the finish of fibreglass – and for me, this is a sign of a great product.
Pulling into Tait Marine’s yard in Knysna, the Kimple Bay Fisher 450 was hitched up and ready to go – and lucky for us, we’d also get a glimpse at two smaller, but just as impressive versions – the 430 Catch with a 25 HP Mercury strapped on the back, and the 400 Catch which sported a little 5 HP.
It was evident from the first moment I stepped aboard the Bayfisher 450 why Kimple is gaining popularity at such a rate of knots. Kimple says this craft can accommodate four adults – and it will. But, with a full length of 4.5 metres, a draft of just 1.09 m and a beam of 1.95 m, I would say three full grown men ought to be the limit if you’re looking to fish the lagoon comfortably. Climbing aboard, I first noticed the lushly carpeted floor. Carpeting covers every surface, including the casting platform at the bow, and radically reduces the risk of slipping and falling while fighting that prize fish. If you thought storage space on an aluminium boat is an issue, there’s no concern on the Bay Fisher; concealed in the casting platform are neat storage hatches on either side with lifting rings which are easy to reach and perfect for tackle or bait.
The model we were evaluating for the review had a seat in the bow, but this can be removed to create more space on the casting platform. However, I’d recommend you retain it as it is exceptionally comfortable – even when underway – and perfect for a single angler upfront.
Stepping down from the bow, there is a designated opening in the floor to the portside in which another chair can be fixed for the third angler. Additional storage comes in the form of versatile rubber clamps running along the inside of the gunwales on both sides that are ideal for holding rods, oars, nets or gaffs.
Another useful feature is the short, robust little rails all around the boat, two on each of the port and starboard gunwales. These are perfect for mounting bait boards or rodholders such as the Railblazer holders that were on display on our review model. Also, having the filleting board mounted on the rail means there’s no mess to clean up afterwards as it simply pivots over the side in an upright position and your unused bait and chum goes in the water instead of the bottom of your boat.
The console on the review model was neat and utilitarian with a single gauge, fish finder, cup holder and, mounted on the rail over the console, an anchor light as well as a handy little rubber clamp for your cellphone or any other handheld device that you might want to take aboard. Being a reasonably tall bloke, the steering wheel was a little low for my liking but Kimple assured us that the entire console, skipper’s seat and wheel can be customised to your preferences – so do make sure you check out what feels best for you.
Moving aft, one finds an easily accessible live bait well with cover and a convenient transom step and rear rail. Overall, I was hugely impressed by the interior on this fisher; simplistic, efficient and practical – one can’t wish for much more for a day’s fishing out on the lake or lagoon.
A point about these boats that I do really like is that the customisation isn’t limited to the helm console. Within reason, you can ultimately tailor-make the entire package to suit you and your budget – everything from the boat length to the seat trim can be made to order.
I had had an appendicectomy a week prior to this review (turns out an inflamed appendix is exactly as painful as they say it is) and, confessedly, I wasn’t overly excited at the prospect of getting joggled about in an aluminium boat that morning, especially with the chop we were expecting on Knysna’s lagoon. But when duty calls… However, once we were underway, my fears of having my insides knocked around like pebbles in a tin can immediately subsided as I found the ride to be astonishingly smooth – even with the significant chop we encountered as we neared the infamous and treacherous Knysna Heads.
The amount of thought and sophistication put into the hull design is what makes the difference here. The fully-welded and light but durable marine grade aluminium tolerates and absorbs shocks extremely well and I barely felt a thing as it cut through the water with ease.