Review: Surtees 650 Game Fisher

By: Norman Holtzhausen, Photography by: Norman Holtzhausen

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Has Surtees Boats made its best aluminium fishing boat yet with the new Surtees 650 Game Fisher?

The Surtees 650 Game Fisher is a great addition to the Surtees aluminium fishing boat fleet and definitely fills a minor gap in the range. The open cabin works well, providing shelter but also not getting in the way of the fishing. The ride is, as usual for Surtees, fantastic and the build quality excellent.



Surtees 650 Game Fisher

Although Surtees Boats has a pretty comprehensive range, customer feedback indicated that Surtees had a slight gap in the mid-range between its Surtees 610 and 670 Game Fisher models. The 610 Game Fisher is legendary, with its open-back cabin and large fishing space that has earned it multiple awards and is one of Surtees’ best sellers. However some customers want to go slightly bigger in cockpit and cabin space but do not wish to have the fully enclosed cabin of the 670 Game Fisher, even though the bigger model is another fantastic boat that has also earned its share of awards.

And so the Surtees 650 Game Fisher has evolved. Surtees started with the Surtees 670 hull and reduced the overall length by 200mm. It was then configured with an open-back hardtop cabin producing a boat with the cockpit space of its bigger sibling but without the space-consuming features that are only really needed for extended trips.



Surtees 650 Game Fisher dash

Full-length squabs and a zip-up cabin curtain make for a comfortable night out at a suitable anchorage, and the forward cabin is fully carpet-lined for warmth and quiet. Space under the centre infill could be used for locating a toilet if required.

A large polycarbonate hatch provides light in the cabin and easy access through to the bow area. The test boat has a freefall anchor winch fitted to control the large Rocna anchor hanging off the bowsprit. This boat had little in the way of electronics fitted, leaving a blank page for the future owner to install their choice of package.

The hardtop cabin is open at the back and the optional canvas extension canopy was fitted to provide an additional shaded area. While this does impinge slightly on access to the eight-rod rocket launcher on the roof, we could still reach these from the clip-on seats.



Surtees 650 Game Fisher transom

Surtees Boats abound with practical and thoughtful little touches. Each of the rodholders in the wide gunwales has a recessed cupholder alongside it. We all know the problem of sinkers swinging wildly while grabbing a new piece of bait and this is a perfect solution to the problem, providing a place to safely drop the sinker. Of course a cold (or hot!) beverage could be stored there at other times.

Another great optional extra fitted to the review Surtees 650 Game Fisher boat was a cubby box in each gunwale, with closing waterproof lid. This is perfect for softbaiting or lure fishing. We have all seen baitboards covered in a hazardous variety of lures and hooks, as you change these out trying to find the day’s winning combination, and this cubby box keeps everything safely out the way while still being convenient for instant access.

Rod holders on Surtees 650 Game Fisher

Inside the cockpit are more innovations: moveable rodholders and stow-away seats. No boat ever has enough rodholders, or at least never in the right place. The builder’s system allows rodholder modules to clip securely onto the parcel tray and be moved to where needed. The same system is used for the foldup seats enabling everyone to have a place to sit while the boat is underway, but easily removed and stowed away when the fishing is hot.The treadplate floor is covered in a tube mat and comfortable on the feet.

The transom features a plumbed livebait tank under the step-through and the standard glass (not plastic) viewing window makes it easy to see the state of the baits. The remainder of the transom is a long storage locker for the batteries, with a sturdy aluminium hatch cover that swings down to form a bench seat.



Surtees 650 Game Fisher turning

The review boat had a 150hp Honda VTEC four-stroke outboard motor hanging off the Portofino-style stern and is right in the middle of the rated horsepower for this model. A large diver-friendly ladder on the port side folds flush against the boarding platform and transom when not needed.

It was a calm sunny day when Adam Dyck, marketing manager for Surtees Boats, backed the trailer into the water at the boat ramp and I took the controls. Thanks to the renowned Surtees quick-hitch trailer catch I could slip the boat off its trailer without him having to get out of the vehicle, by simply powering gently forward to disengage the hitch then reversing off the trailer.

In Surtees’ NZ home waters, the Whakatane bar in particular has a fearsome reputation. This is one place you want a reliable, responsive outboard motor with plenty of torque and the Honda ticks all these boxes. Just two days before our trip the bar was unpassable, but on our test day it was as flat as a pancake and we hardly noticed it heading out for a play.

One of the difficulties of reviewing a Surtees is that generally I can’t find anything new to say about the ride of the hull, because it is traditional Surtees. In other words, smooth-riding at speed thanks to the 20-degree deep-vee deadrise, while the flooding ballast chamber gives it the stability of a much shallower hull at rest. This particular model has a massive 320lt water ballast capacity and when the boat comes to a stop the benefit of this can be clearly felt as the hull settles and stabilises.

Surtees 650 Game Fisher on the water

Within a few seconds any rocking is noticeably smoothed out and the boat becomes a perfect fishing platform. The huge cockpit suits up to half a dozen fishos doing their thing, and would be perfect for a number of divers as well. When we powered up to head on our way the ballast tank emptied quickly thanks to a breather in the anchor well, and we were soon hurtling along on the plane.

This is where the super-deep-vee hull comes into play, slicing through rough water and waves and making a smooth ride. Surtees calls it a non-pounding hull and it certainly lives up to its claim. It also becomes very efficient with a small wetted area, enabling excellent fuel economy.

Turns are smooth and predictable and the downturned edge to the chine actively keeps spray to a minimum. Surtees provides a shutoff gate for the ballast tank, enabling it to be kept full underway. If conditions are particularly rough this helps to smooth out the ride by the extra weight.

The Honda 150 VTEC motor seemed perfectly suited to the boat, with excellent holeshot performance and speed. We didn’t measure performance but easily achieved over 30kts, and Honda’s BLAST (Boosted Low Speed Torque) meant it responded instantly, even from idle. With Honda’s lean-burn technology the 200lt underfloor fuel tank should be good for somewhere close to 200nm at optimum speed.



Surtees 650 Game Fisher underway

The Surtees 650 Game Fisher is a great addition to the Surtees Boats range. The ride is, as usual for Surtees boats, fantastic and the build quality is excellent. If you are in the market for a boat of this size you won’t go wrong with the new Surtees 650 Game Fisher.



• Great ride, non-pounding and stable at rest.

• No need to get your feet wet when launching and retrieving.



• Canopy extension slightly obscures rocket launcher.



Surtees 650 Game Fisher price: $84,000 (price as tested)



MATERIAL Aluminium: 5mm bottom, 4mm sides

TYPE Monohull aluminium fishing boat

LENGTH 6.5m (7.9m on trailer)

BEAM 2.39m

WEIGHT 1400kg (BMT)





REC. HP RANGE 100 to 170

FUEL 200lt



MAKE/MODEL Honda BF150 VTEC outboard motor

TYPE Four-cylinder 16-valve fuel-injected petrol four-stroke outboard motor


WEIGHT 217kg



Surtees Boats

2909 State Highway 30, RD2, Whakatane

Phone 07 322 8461



See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #253, May / June 2015. Why not subscribe today?

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