Original Broadcast Date: December 27, 2014
On this Fish’n Canada episode, we address a problem most anglers have to confront at some point in their fishing lives.
“What’s the perfect fishing boat for me?” It’s a question Ang and Pete have been asked a thousand times. Well, here are their thoughts: In the world of fishing boats, it seems that there are two major buying groups…
Group #1. We call them “The Conformists.” These are, for the most part, hard working, God fearing, family oriented weekend-fishing warriors. They tend to look for a boat that makes sense. It meets their fishing needs without compromising the needs of others such as family members or friends.
The boats they buy tend to be undersized and underpowered because this purchase must also be fiscally responsible and fit into the family budget. A budget, by the way, that is usually authored by the same person who compiles the “Honey Do” list and holds the key to the vault.
Although generally full of joy and happiness at the beginning, this purchase soon leads to some regrets, a little disappointment, and a whole lot of second-guessing.
Then there’s Group #2. We call them “The Unencumbered.” Unfortunately for these poor souls, they haven’t found true happiness yet or are in-between stints of heavenly bliss and therefore they’ve got only one master to serve: themselves. But here, too, there’s some form of compromise and it usually boils down to money, supply, or both. They generally can’t afford the boat they really want, or their dream boat isn’t available on the showroom floor and they aren’t willing to wait half a fishing season for it to be ordered.
So it’s safe to assume that most of us fall into some variation of group one or two, just as it’s safe to say that there are literally hundreds of combinations and choices that go into making the final decision on the perfect fishing boat.
“Well on this show,” says Angelo, “we’re not going to deal with any of that nonsense. Nope, today we’re going to create and join a third group. We’ll call ourselves the ‘All-In’ group. We’re going to find out what it’s like to build the perfectly uncompromised fishing machine. We can spend money like a Rock Star; we’ve got no time restrictions; we don’t even have a significant other that can interfere with the process. For this project, we are totally unshackled. Well, sort of…”
BUILDING A SUPER BOAT
The first and most obvious decision in creating our Super Boat is, Do we go fibreglass or aluminum? There are gorgeous ‘glass Bass boats out there that will hit over 100 mph on flat water. But most of our fishing rarely takes place on flat water. What we need is a badass high-performance big-water rig that fishes like one of those pretty little metal-flake flash-dancers.
We’re not engineering geniuses by any stretch of the imagination, but we think there might be a reason why fighter jets and commercial airlines aren’t made out of fibreglass. With the constant stress of speed and turbulence, they’d crumble like Melba toast. Even though it’s an alloy, the elasticity of aluminum results in a larger capacity to absorb energy and the Fish’n Canada hot-rod is going to need it.
We spec’d it out and found that H34 aluminum is lighter and stronger than ‘glass, has a competitive edge in performance, and most importantly it’s totally recyclable. Aluminum it is!
Now let’s talk design. In a perfect world we’d love to have the look and feel of a Lamborghini, but the attitude and performance of a tank. Up until now that’s just not been possible in the world of fishing boats. It’s been a constant war between beauty and brawn.
Well, the rules of engagement are about to change.
The base platform for project “FNC1” is an Xpedition 200 aluminum boat package from Princecraft, complete with a fire-breathing Supercharged Merc Verado 250 outboard. With lots of hours on both Verados and the Optimax products through the years, we decided that the ultimate fish’n hot-rod has to have the latest technology under the hood that’s both eco-friendly and performance oriented. Verado it is.
This package retails for about 50 K and comes fully loaded with electronics, trolling motor, tandem axle trailer… all kinds of goodies.
THE MISSING LINK
For five years we’ve been working on a design idea for the perfect fishing boat and now it’s finally coming together. The Xpedition series introduced in 2013 by Princecraft boats was the missing link. Now we’ve got the perfect platform to build upon. When we first saw the specs on this hull, it was very clear this was a performance boat in sheep’s clothing. All we need to do now is strip back some wool and let that big bad wolf out.
As awesome as this 200 Xpedition is—it’s almost too bad we’ve gotta strip it all down—our custom build is going to have some very significant upgrades in all areas. We’ll be hard pressed to keep this baby under 100 Grand.
CALLING IN THE BIG GUNS
This is a very serious do-over with a lot of custom fabrication that’s just not feasible in today’s automated assembly-line boat manufacturing process. So, after consultation with the folks at Princecraft, they gave us their blessings to do it off-site.
“So I called an old buddy of mine, Charles Chuck Michel of AJ Manufacturing,” says Ang. “He’s noted for taking on impossible projects that nobody else will touch, When I told him we wanted to strip a fully equipped boat package to the bare hull and completely redesign it, he laughed and said we were crazy—but then quickly pointed that he specializes in crazy!”
This is the birth of FNC1: the Ultimate Fishing Machine!
DOWN TO THE RIVETS
The next step was to dismantle a perfectly good fishing boat right down to the rivets. As we mentioned earlier, we decided to build our hot-rod using 100% high-grade H-34 aluminum; it’s the strongest, lightest alloy available for this job. We had a pretty good idea of how much extra weight was going to be added in the way of goodies to this boat, so removing and replacing anything that didn’t conform to H34 specs was not optional.
Cost for this step was 50 man hours!
LIKE FISHING FROM THE FLIGHT DECK
After finalizing the overall dimensions and height for the new front deck, cross members had to be engineered and fabricated to hold the new platform in place.
Bringing the deck up to just below the gunnels of the hull would create a higher elevation for a better vantage point when sight fishing in shallow water; increase the usable space below deck in the storage compartments by up to 60%; and increase the overall width of the fishing platform by 10″ on each side. This, coupled with extending the length of the deck by over 20″, means when it’s all said and done it’ll feel like we’re fishing from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.
STATE OF THE ART VESSEL
Extending the front platform will add length to allow an anchor point for a new sleek custom center console to be attached. This will be the most advanced helm and cockpit to ever grace a fishing boat—designed to make FNC1 a state of the art vessel.
Chuck and the boys built something like 9 or 10 tin mock-ups of the console before the real thing could be cut and bent from aluminum. By extending the hull and moving the console 28” back, it will transfer the center of gravity behind the centerline of the hull; this baby is going to get up on the dance floor and boogie like there’s no tomorrow.
To further enhance this bad boy’s ability to run high and fly, we’ve added a 10″ hydraulic jack plate that completely changes the fulcrum of the hull. This Supercharged Verado is going to make FNC1 a true high-performance rod.
SEAT OF OUR PANTS INNOVATION
One of the other significant changes we wanted to make in the cockpit was the seats. A true hot-rod has to have custom bucket racing seats and we found the ultimate solution. Shockwave, a Canadian company out of Victoria, British Columbia is a world leader in shock mitigation seating configurations. Featuring FOX H2O SHOXS, they had the perfect bolt-in custom big water seats.
They’re built to military specs and are used by both the Canadian Coast Guard and the United States Navy for their fleet of special ops and assault craft. And now they can add FNC1 to their already impressive list of performance vessels. This baby is going to be the envy of every big water fisherman!
Cost: 200 hours, 5 Grand and $10,800 in seats.
THE PERFORMANCE OF A TANK
Something nobody will be able to see but is crucial is the installation of an oversized gas tank. FNC1 can now make super long runs down a lake or way up a winding river—and not worry about getting back.
Pete says, “Have you ever blown a breaker or GFI at your house? It’s a pain in the butt and means something’s wrong. There’s no room or time for that out on the water. We had the entire electrical system and electronics spec’d out exactly the way we wanted it. We even installed a totally separate redundant backup battery and circuit system, just in case, ala Nascar.”
SAFETY AND STORAGE
“As an added safety feature and to complete the custom look,” says Ang, “we added a Hot-Foot digital gas pedal, a centre console complete with Merc digital controls, and hand paddles for both lift and trim functions. Both hands on the steering wheel are a must when this hot-rod is dancing on its tiptoes.”
Since there was so much extra space available under the front deck, the team decided to add some additional rod storage with an interesting new twist. This configuration runs east to west instead of north to south and compliments the full-length rod locker on the port side of FNC1.
Because the front of the boat has to absorb most of the impact-energy when FNC1 runs wide open in really big water, there was a definite need to reinforce the already strong factory bow plate. It has to support a big Motorguide Xi5 36 volt long shaft digital trolling motor as well as an extra-large Garmin 10″ GPS sonar unit. That’s a big payload, especially when you crash through a 6-foot rogue wave. Remember, this baby is going places where most boats fear to tread.
THE ULTIMATE FISHING MACHINE
“It’s almost a shame to cover up this beautifully sculptured Aluminum sub-assembly,” states Angelo. “But this is a working platform and we wanted a non-slip, washable surface. So we decided to use this really cool looking checker-plate rubber flooring that also happens to have a UV coating. It looked so good we used it everywhere!”
This was definitely one of the biggest projects Fish’n Canada has ever taken on—lots of hours and lots of money!
The outcome? This is definitely the most advanced boat that we’ve ever run, and we are sure it’s an industry first. It has and will continue to turn heads on a daily basis. By thinking out of the box we feel we’ve created the ultimate fishing machine!