Formosa Barra Pro 5m
By Kane Dysardt
From billabongs and rivers to tidal flats and inshore reefs, the new Formosa Barra Pro is a versatile fishing platform well suited to a broad spectrum of conditions encountered in northern Australia. While it comes as no secret that I already have a bit of an affinity with Formosa boats as an owner of a custom fitted 580 Tomahawk, when the invite came through from the guys at Quality Marine to test drive their latest creation, I jumped at the opportunity to put one through its paces. Now let’s be honest, on first impressions the less than shapely lines of the Barra Pro’s bull nosed bow don’t exactly engender images of the vessels wave piercing capabilities. However to be fair, the Barra Pro is based on the popular V- nosed punt design, traditionally built for calm water applications. Looks aside these initial thoughts were quickly put to rest after a stint at the helm and contrary to my first impressions I was pleasantly surprised at the soft dry ride the hull provided. While the water was flat as a tack in Darwin Harbour on the day of testing, I made it my mission to hit every boat wake in the area. Much to my crews displeasure i punched through the wakes at a variety of different angles and speeds and never once felt that wet slapping feeling you generally get with punts. Im guessing this must be attributable to the extra weight of the plate aluminium construction and a modest amount of “Vee,” which gives the boat a comfortable dry ride in the chop while not sacrificing shallow water performance. At rest side-to-side stability is good and the hull easily handles three people standing on one side without giving you the feeling you were going to roll. While the test boat was fitted with cable steering as standard, it still provided superb handling capabilities when undertaking tight manoeuvring. I cranked the Barra Pro hard over at speed and only experienced a little blowout and cavitation at the very end of the turn. This could easily be addressed by fitting a stainless prop with better cupping. Designed with low profile sides, front and rear casting decks, rear pod, electric motor mount and console steering, the Barra Pro is not only an excellent lure fishing platform it is obviously built to handle a variety of boating conditions on and off the water. Unlike most off the shelf punts the hulls are constructed of plate aluminium with 4mm bottoms and 3mm sides with longitudinal stringers throughout, which is above the industry standard.
Roominess is one of the most important aspects of any fishing boat. Formosa have obviously designed the Barra Pro with this in mind and did everything they could to achieve an oversized front casting deck, which they accomplished by incorporating a more aggressive bow flare. Not only does this flare increase fishing space but it also gives passengers a dryer and more comfortable ride.The front casting deck holds a generous amount of room to store a large esky and batteries for an electric motor plus a heap of other gear to keep the cockpit free and clear without losing accessibility. The rear casting deck can house a plumbed bait tank (optional), tackle and batteries. Other standard inclusions are an 80 litre underfloor fuel tank, ladder, 32mm thick grab rails and removable seat positions. There is also plenty of floor space to house a rod storage box (optional). The test boat was fitted with a 90 Suzuki which powered it along nicely, launching out of the hole effortlessly without any significant bow raise and reaching a top speed of around 60kms/hr in quick time. This is important when fishing shallow tidal mud flats on a falling tide when you really need to get up on the plane quick smart over the shortest distance possible. For the speed freaks out there, the 5 metre Barra Pro is rated to a maximum of 115 horsepower which should see it travelling at a top speed somewhere around the 70km/hr mark. Aided by Suzuki's new lean burn technology and significant under floor fuel capacity, this setup is perfectly suited for traversing the Top End’s big tidal rivers.
Along for the test to take photos for NAFA was Editor, Alex Julius. He too was seriously impressed with the Formosa Barra Pro 5m. “I can’t believe how much room there is in this boat,” he told me. “And the ride is much smoother and drier than you’d expect given the hull width and the shallow dead rise at the transom. It’s a clever design and great value, if you ask me,” Alex said. Well said Alex; I couldn’t agree more. To sum it up then, in a nut shell the Formosa Barra Pro range offers durability, versatility and affordability, making it an attractive option for anglers who demand functionality and bang for their buck.
Formosa Barra Pro 5.0 tested courtesy of Quality Marine (Address).
10 Farrell Crescent Winnellie Darwin 0820 NT Australia. Contact Theo or Harry on Phone: 08 89 472066 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.qualitymarine.com.au
BOAT – Formosa Barra Pro 5.0
BUILDER – Formosa Marine
MATERIAL – 4mm bottoms, 3mm sides
LENGTH – 5m
BEAM – 2.2m
HULL WEIGHT – 430kg appx
DEADRISE AT TRANSOM – 7deg
FUEL CAPACITY – 85L
MAXIMUM POWER – 115hp
MAXIMUM ENGINE WEIGHT – 200kg