It was about a year since I last visited Midmar Dam in the Natal Midlands and I looked forward to reviewing the Tug 20 built by Pietermaritzburg’s Outdoor Marine. Midmar is a picturesque venue where one can always find a nice fishing spot and calm water to throw a lure for that elusive Bass.
I met Dane Whitehorn (son of owner Philip) and Vernon Landsburg at their shop in town and we towed the Tug 20 to the launch site at Midmar. Towing was effortless, although she is a 12-ft boat with a 1.70 m beam. While largely multifunctional, this boat is essentially a bass boat.
The Tug 20 Bass has a longer than normal front deck which is carpeted while the rest of the floor is raised as it is a wet deck. The front deck is really spacious and never felt cramped, with plenty of room to move around in. Admittedly, we did not have an electric motor up front which takes up some space. This model has proved to be more popular than the other models built with the same hull. There is a conveniently-placed battery cavity in the front deck and a facility for fitting a sneaker motor. In the centre is a stand up console which features a windscreen and grab rail. A handy box/seat behind the console offers both comfort and storage space and can hold a 25-litre jerry can for fuel. The gunnels are high enough to feel safe as one moves about from side to side. For a bassversion, pedestal seats can be mounted in the front and rear. There are two rear boxes on either side in front of the transom and the port side box conveniently has plumbing for a live bait well.
A 25 HP 4-Stroke Yamaha motor was fitted to this review boat and sporting a 10.5-inch propeller she planed easily enough. In fact, even with two adults on board we planed in less than five seconds. This 565 cc motor starts so smoothly and is so quiet one can hardly hear it running. These motors are choke-less and automatic, ensuring quick starts in all conditions. There is a multipoint fuel injection system which offers excellent reliability, high performance, sure starting and smooth, comfortable running.
The Yamaha control box was mounted on the right side of the console and all cabling is under deck. This is a good feature on a small boat because often the cabling litters the deck. This under floor cabling is really well done, considering the Tug 20 has to conform to specific safety regulations and has over 50% foam-filling in the hull. The controls were easy to use in and out of gear, and being a cathedral hull she sat like glue on the water. The water roughed up a bit by late morning but there was no annoying hull slap. She turned out to be very stable cornering left and right. This model did not have a fish finder, which is an absolute must when bass fishing – not only for finding fish and depth but structures under water as well. The overall finish was good and it is little wonder they are such popular value-for-money-packages. The trailer was well made and recovery of the boat was really easy.
Various options of the Tug 20 are available depending on your needs. There is a Commercial Tug which is slightly heavier than the standard boat due to the fact that the hull has an extra layer of fibreglass to it. The deck is thicker and comes with a front moulded deck, no centre bench seating and two boxes at the rear for storage. This model has been used for weed spraying and a 500-litre chemical tank can be mounted in the centre, as one of its commercial options. The Estuary Tug is the standard hull with a custom-made deck that stretches from the front to two-thirs of the way back, and is fully carpeted. Hatches can be inserted from the top into the boat with rod storage under deck. This is purely for fly fishing and estuary use and offers a lovely stable platform from which to do your thing. The Tug 20 is all things to all men and she can be custom-designed according to individual needs. The boat as tested sells complete for R89 995, including VAT. For further information, call Outdoor Marine Pietermaritzburg on (033) 394 8851, or visit www.outdoormarine.co.za