Buccaneer has been building the Billfisher range since 1990, starting with the Billfisher 237, a boat directly aimed at the fishing market. It was for those that still wanted a fibreglass boat, with the benefit of a walk around layout that was purpose designed for fishing. This was something that you could not get in any alloy boats and even today is a rarity. It was also a very bold move by designer/builder Gerry Gerrand who targeted a very specific sector of the market that at that time was dominated by US imports.
Over the years Buccaneer, lead by Gerry Gerrand, a man with a penchant for fishing, has refined the Billfisher range, with new models and upgrades to better suit the changing market. As the designer of the Billfisher range, Gerrand has brought his fishing experience to bear and every model has been given his personal touch. A boat designed by a fisherman for fisherman!
In 2013, Buccaneer made a decision to change the branding of the Billfisher and market them as a separate identity. Today it is Billfisher, by Buccaneer and the sole dealer for the brand is Tauranga based Master Tech Marine Ltd.
The change in marketing direction has not changed the development programme and late last year a new Billfisher 565 was added to the range. This now consists of three hulls; 565, 650 and 735, with the 650 and 735 available in softop or hardtop variants.
Changes for the Better
The Billfisher 565 is a redesigned of the Billfisher 550, but retains the same hull which is also the same hull used for the very popular Buccanner 565 Classic. However, while the hull has not altered, there are quite a few changes above the waterline. Most significant is that the new Billfisher 565 now comes with a full inner liner, something that has progressively over the years been incorporated into most Buccaneer models. This has the added benefits of being able to foam fill cavities for extra buoyancy and offer extra strength to the boat. There are some construction changes to make the boat more rigid, such as a bigger keelson and especially in rough water you can really feel the stiffness in the boat.
The fully moulded cockpit is self draining into a sump, which expel any water through the bilge pump and over the side. The newly moulded liner has also increased the width of the cockpit sole, which now offers some toe-kick space under the side shelves. The shelves are now much longer than on the previous 550 and provide far better rod storage.
The cabin also benefits from the new full inner liner, which has created a small lip between the cabin and cockpit so when you are washing out after a days fishing the water does not slosh back into the cabin. Internally nothing has changed with two large single berths and the usual infill to make a larger double. Storage is under the squabs and in side trays, with provision for an either a chemical or electric flush toilet. While a solid grp guillotine or folding style door is an option if you want the ability to lock the cabin, the boat comes standard with a privacy curtain.
I was surprised at the room in the cabin, with sitting headroom for three and interestingly the bunks are even longer than those in the Buccaneer 605 Exess.
The helm remains unchanged with a split level layout that suits your choice of instruments, be it analogue or digital. However, there is a trend towards having MFD displays on the dash that display all the necessary engine management and navigation data, from the speed, rpm and fuel usage of the engine to the gps, fish finder and plotter. Our test boat was set up with a Garmin GMY20 for all the engine data and a Garmin EchoMap 70 fishfinder/gps combo. There is space for up to a 10” MFD screen.
A BEP switch panel and GME GX600D VHF are mounted either side of the hydraulic helm, with the trim tabs rocker switches above and in easy reach when driving. There is still plenty of space for your auto anchoring controls and maybe even a rode counter. A boat like the Billfisher 565 is going to go out chasing the bigger fish in the deeper water so a windlass is a must have item. Buccaneer have made some improvements in the bow area with a dedicated moulded base for a windlass, with plenty of fall to run a fully auto system.
The standard seating package of twin pedestals on alloy tube bases is a great set up, offering which maximum fishing space. I would like to see a couple of removable jump seats either side of the engine well, which would then give you seating for four when required and can be removed when your fishing. Down aft the transom area is devoted to storage lockers and a place to hide the batteries. In a boat this size there’s not much space for a built-in live bait tank, so the option is a transom mounted tank and even tuna tubes.
This keeps it out of the cockpit and doesn’t encroach on your working space inside. The cockpit sole is covered in 3M tread deck, so it’s easy to clean and wash out. Storage is provided in an aft under floor space that is also a perfect catch bin. Forward of that is a 165 litre alloy fuel tank. Working off the fuel data on the Garmin, the Suzuki 115 was using 23 lph @ around 30mph, and at 5500 rpm the speed was 35 mph with a fuel burn of 32 lph, so the range at cruise speed is substantial.
Available as an option, the fold down stainless steel rocket launcher with eight rod holders also incorporates the bimini. It keeps the sun off and is mounted, so it does not get in the way of your fishing. Access from the cockpit around the side decks to the bow is quite easy and with the growth in soft baiting it makes your fishing space even greater. Being able to walk forward when you’ve got a big Trev or Kinghie on is a real bonus and that’s where walk around boats come into their own.
115 Nice Match
For the test, we had a Suzuki 115 (21” Powertech 3bld stainless prop) which is a nice horsepower match for the Billfisher 565 and gives a top speed on mirror smooth water of 43mph @ 5800 rpm. Back in 2000 when we ran the Billfisher 550 with a Yamaha 115 (17” 3bld stainless prop) we recorded 45 mph @6000 rpm, so there was very little difference.
The boat is rated from 90 hp through to 150 hp, which would give you a maximum speed range from 37 mph through to 55 mph. Even though the water conditions were calm, with no wind and very little swell, even at the harbour entrance, I have experience this hull in rough water as a friend of mine owns one and I have done a number of fishing trips with him. The 23 deg deadrise comes into play in the rough water and helps provide a soft ride.
The deep flared bow sections push the spray aside and keep the nose up in the following seas. I did find the trim tabs very sensitive and responsive when setting the right trim of the boat.
The 115 Suzuki is based on the same 2044cc powerhead as the DF100 and DF140 and packs plenty of punch. The engines share the same dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, tuned intake manifold and 4-into-2-into-1 exhaust system. An overall 2.59:1 gear ratio and a big diameter 14” prop provides heaps of low down torque for instant acceleration and excellent top-end performance. Even the engine cover features a large induction port to provide maximum airflow for maximum power.
Overall the ‘new’ Billfisher 565 is a boat that is perfectly designed for fishing and yet still offers enough comforts and appointmentstomakeitafamilycruiserwhenrequired.