REVIEW: Brooker 535C XTD

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WE last tested a Brooker boat in the June issue of Boat Fishing. That particular model, the 420 Pro, was typical of the company’s line up of affordable yet well-built tinnies. With new ownership and long history of boat building, Brooker is going through a transformation with a renewed focus on building boats targeted at estuary sport fishos. The new boats are built with the internal layout, hull design and appearance of a more “premium priced” tinny. Brooker’s latest 535C XTD is an example of the company’s new breed of boats.

Brooker offers the 535C in a standard and premium XTD version. What’s unique is the XTD version features different hull specs with an extra 100mm of freeboard added and double the amount of ribs. So rather than paying more for a few extra options, Brooker is giving you a completely redesigned boat, which is built tougher and is safer for fishing rougher water.

Fishability & layout

The internal layout of the 535 is uncluttered and clean with plenty of space to move about and fish. At the transom, a short pod configuration allows occupants to utilise every inch of available space. The pod doesn’t impede on fishing space if you’re trolling or casting from the transom. A battery sits on the carpeted deck under the transom's gunwale. A small shelf would be useful here to hold the battery, oil bottles and other bits and pieces off the floor. With a wide beam of 2.2m this area of the boat feels extra spacious.

Moving forward and Brooker has placed a compact centre console amidships. Again, this doesn’t impede on available fishing space. There’s adequate room on top of the console for a large sounder unit and shelf storage underneath. There’s also additional storage for lifejackets and other gear inside the box seat behind the console.The console can be folded down if storing the boat inside a low garage. The XTD test boat featured a raised casting platform with loads of storage space inside. There’s also an additional small platform at the bow for stowing an anchor, chain and rode. During the boat test we had three people onboard. At no time did it feel cramped or unstable. The generous floor space would easily cater for three lure and fly fishos with plenty of space to spare.

Performance

Brooker fitted a 90hp four-stroke Mercury engine to the test boat. The maximum rating for this hull is 100hp. The Brooker has a dry weight of 430kg and the 90hp Merc pushed it along with ease. At 4000RPM we cruised at 24 knots; at WOT we recorded 32 knots at 5200 RPM. Plenty fast enough for this style of boat ... The 535 performed well over chop and we remained dry. Tight turns at speed were no problem, either. It proved an easy boat to drive, seeming ideal for all levels of boating experience.

Overall

The beamy design of this hull lends itself ideally to lure and flycasting. To me, the XTD seemed ideal for estuary and limited offshore fishing. The additional freeboard and upgraded internals on the XTD model means you’re getting a quality boat at a decent price. Options such as rod holders, additional storage, electronics, live bait tanks and so on can be customised by the owner to suit individual needs. The standard 535C hull with colour paint, side decals, no electronics (apart from a starting battery), no under floor fuel tank and no casting decks is $31,769. As tested with the XTD additions, you’re looking at $35,644. Pretty good value for such a versatile boat.

Boat supplied by Penrith Marine. More details about the complete range of boats can be found on Brooker's website.

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