550F
  • Versatile fishing boat great for offshore fishing trips or cruising around with the family
  • Increased beam at 2.41m for greater stability at rest
  • Massive 180L fuel tank
  • Larger deck area with walkaround access to the bow
  • Extra side storage for fishing or leisure gear
  • High gunwhales for a more comfortable fishing experience
  • Loads of space and added features

Configurations


Take a Tour


Specifications


Length 5.5m
Beam 2.41m
Deadrise 21­–33°
Fuel (standard) 180L
Berths 2
Power outboard 115–150HP
Transom height 25"
Max outboard weight 240kg
Hull weight approx. 1,000kg
Towing weight (dry) approx. 1,780kg
BMT length approx. 7m
BMT height approx. 2.33m
BMT width approx. 2.41m
Max people 7/630kg
Max load 850kg

Haines Signature 550F - Fishing Monthly Magazine Review BACK


Steve Morgan from Fishing Monthly Magazine took the new release Haines Signature 550F for a spin, and it's safe to say he was pretty impressed. Calling it "a boat for the people", Steve said it was a "great entry level boat you can get in to for under $60,000". Standout features: "beamier, walkaround, fantastic steel work".

Watch the full review - Fishing Monthly Magazine 550F boat test

Haines Signature 550F - The Captain Mag Review BACK


Search for Silver - The Captain goes north in search of silver scales and soft-riding battleships.

Trying to fish a new location is tough at the best of times. Trying to catch a mulloway in one day at a new location is serious Hail Mary shit. Still, we had the gear and knew of a couple of promising honey holes around the southern tip of North Stradbroke Island. All The Captain needed to accomplish the mission was a decent boat.

The rumour was that The Haines Group was covertly beavering away on a new Signature hull design. Although the staff was tight-lipped about the project, we’d heard through the grapevine that it was going to be a sub-6m fishing outfit. After bribing an unnamed source with rum and the promise of fresh jewfish cutlets, we were handed the latitude and longitude of this secret new boat. The map was on a scrunched-up napkin delivered under the cover of darkness.

By the time we arrived at the mystery coordinates, the sun had already started rising. There she was, though, sitting solitary on the abandoned boat ramp, polished gel coat and shiny 32mm stainless glistening in the morning light. We grabbed the rods, soft plastics and a handful of jig heads before approaching cautiously. Dubbed the 550F, her curvaceous lines gave the impression of a family runabout, not the deep-vee dynamo we’d been dreaming of. However, a quick peek over the gunwales and it was clear there was another dimension to this saltwater battleship.

INTO THE DRINK

We slid the 550F off the trailer and into the somewhat murky Gold Coast waters. One thing that quickly became apparent was the amount of fishing space and stylish innovation that this ride offered. The juicy external beam of 2.41m gives way to a massive working deck space with storage aplenty. We were fully laden with fishing and camera equipment, but if we hadn’t packed the boat ourselves, we would never have known it was there. Another lesson from the Haines factory on form and function.

With the mulloway mission starting to take shape, we pointed the 550F north and zagged our way through the Broadwater. Her bow-up attitude came to attention with a touch of trim as we carved our way around the sand bars and oyster racks. By the time we arrived at North Straddie, the current was roaring – it was going to be tough without an electric engine. We relentlessly peppered the snaggy shoreline with soft plastic missiles, but the 3-4 knot drift beat us into submission.

DEEP BLUE

Frustrated and fishless, we headed into the deep blue to see how this variable dead-rise hull performed in the swell. With 21 degrees at the transom and 33 degrees at the bow, on paper the 550F certainly had the credentials of a blue-water brumby. Not to mention that her predecessor, the 543F, was a classic among fishos. There was only one problem, we had to cross the Jumpinpin Channel to get out to sea. This notorious strip of water mightn’t look like much from a distance, but with an incoming swell and a roaring outgoing tide, it was going to be touch-and-go.

We punched the throttle on the 140hp Suzi and made our way through the channel. The 550F lapped it up. After getting some wind under the chines, it was clear she was just as predictable in the air as in the water. The hull was soft riding through the chop and landed smoothly without too much vibration coming off the tops of waves. That said, we did send the anchor light flying off its bracket on one of the larger “bumps”.

Having safely navigated the channel – albeit with a broken anchor light – we steamed further out to sea where we spotted pod after pod of humpback whales. We watched in awe as these giants cruised up the coast in search of warmer waters. They had the right idea – there were clearly no fish around here…

(OK, OK, maybe it was just our skills!)

SUPERIOR INTERIOR

After splashing around with the whales for an hour or so, it was time to roll up our sleeves and check out the innards of the 550F. Apart from the aforementioned extra-wide beam of 2.41m, the first thing that grabs your attention in this boat is the dash. The contrasting black-and-white design gives it a sportscaresque feel, and when matched with the flipforward helm station, it’s also practical. This innovation makes installing electronics (like the whopping 12” Furuno, twin Suzuki gauges and switchboards fitted to the 550F) much easier. It also removes ugly wiring from the inside of the cabin by incorporating a separate one-piece helm moulding with latches and hinges. Inside the cabin there’s a beautifully upholstered vinyl V-berth with good headroom, storage below and chunky side pockets – the kind of interior design and functionality even your missus would approve of, although you’ll probably never take her.

Back out on deck, there’s a handy icebox capable of holding a few snapper. However, you’ll probably spend more time catching marlin and tuna with the whopping 177L fuel tank. If The Captain owned this boat, he’d definitely be investing in a big esky or fish chiller bag. On the topic of gamefishing, there’s a live bait tank on the port side and a starboard transom dive-door, both of which would come in handy out on the shelf. The 550F also dominates in the gunwale sidepocket department. They’re deep, solid – and one of the few deep-vee boats The Captain’s been aboard with practical horizontal rod storage. The 550F is a boat of the people. Haines has taken all the feedback on board and built a rig to suit a variety of needs.

EMPTY-HANDED

We arrived back at the boat ramp with some explaining to do. No jewfish cutlets for our secret source. The fishing mightn’t have gone to plan, but the 550F definitely did. It’s a versatile fishing boat, which the wife and kids will love. It’s safe, stable, soft-riding and loaded with innovation. There’s also peace of mind in the 10-year warranty and strong Haines Signature pedigree.

PROS & CONS

PROS

  • Delicious design
  • Epic dash configuration
  • Huge internal freeboard
  • Thick and sturdy 32mm stainless rails and canopy structure
  • No sharp edges, with neatly recessed handrails and cleats
  • Great cabin access and headroom for a sub-6m boat
  • Extra-large side-pockets with plenty of toe room underneath

CONS

  • No horsepower hero
  • Throttle position set too far back
  • And sorry about that anchor light – maybe it was time for an upgrade?


Read the full review online: Search for Silver – 550F Signature

Watch the video to take a tour of the 550F with The Captain Magazine

Haines Signature 550F - Boat Sales Review BACK


All-new fishing cuddy cabin to replace Signature's all-time best-selling model

The Haines Group has launched a new cuddy cabin to replace its long running 543F. Bigger, wider and with a greater fuel range, the new 550F is a worthy successor to what has been one of the company’s all-time best-selling models. We tested this excellent new family fishing boat with power from Suzuki’s evergreen 140hp four-stroke outboard.

OVERVIEW

- A hard act to follow

During the 2016 Gold Coast Marine Expo, leading fibreglass trailerboat manufacturer, The Haines Group, debuted a brand new Signature model called the 550F. The new rig will ultimately replace the brand’s mid-sized and very successful 543F cuddy cabin – although the two boats will be sold concurrently for a period.

The new model needs to be a success, as the 543F and its forerunners, the 542F and original 540F, are regarded by many people as modern classics; hundreds having been sold over a period spanning two decades.

The original Haines Signature 540F was released in 1997. Subsequent models have all been based around the same, very soft riding variable deadrise vee hull, but with modifications and tweaks to the cabin and interior layout. The new 550F is not a further improved version of the 543, but an entirely new boat – albeit with a longer, wider hull that is based on the larger 575F.

Following the Gold Coast Marine Expo we were given the opportunity to test the new 550F to see how it compares with its predecessor.

PRICE AND EQUIPMENT

- Budget friendly for families

The Signature 550F has been designed as a budget-friendly family fisher. The standard or basic boat package is priced within reach of most people at just under $57k with a Suzuki DF140ATX (extra-longshaft) four-stroke outboard and tandem axle Dunbier trailer.

In achieving this excellent price The Haines Group has had to omit a few features, but the basic boat still has plenty of equipment – including a vee berth, open-plan forward cabin, curved, safety glass windscreen, dual deluxe, height-adjustable pedestal helm chairs, a decent-sized rear cockpit with side-storage pockets, starboard side live bait tank, and a compact, space-efficient rear transom layout with plenty of cockpit freeboard.

The test boat was rigged as a demonstrator with plenty of optional equipment. This included the overhead bimini with front and side curtains, rocket launcher rod rack and stainless-steel framework, deluxe, folding transom bait board, raw-water deck wash, live-bait-tank plumbing, bow rails, passenger moulded-side-storage compartment, recessed cockpit lighting, hydraulic steering upgrade, porta-potti toilet, transom steps and boarding ladder, two-tone hull and deck, a fold-down (and removable) rear bench seat, and a Furuno NavNet TZTL12F multi-function touch screen display with 600w through-hull transducer and Australia-wide mapping.

Packaged with the same Suzuki 140hp four-stroke and tandem-axle Dunbier braked trailer the test boat package comes in at $79,990. This is a fair bit more than the standard boat price, but that is the whole point. With such a large range of options, customers can pick out, and pay for only the gear they really want – and leave the rest behind.

INTERIOR LAYOUT

-  If it ain’t broke....

The design and layout of the interior does not differ greatly to the 550F’s predecessor. When you are on to a good thing stick to it, right?

Having made that comment, the helm and dash area has received a make-over. There is now a separate fascia moulding that can be folded/hinged out from the top (see pic) for ready access to the wiring for servicing and easy installation of after-market electronics gear – such as the big 12in Furuno display fitted to the test rig.

This also means there is no messy or exposed wiring behind the helm in the cabin; it is all neatly contained in a recess behind the new fascia moulding.

Other dash features include a port side glove compartment and a black painted finish to the top of the dash to reduce glare and reflection from the sun beaming down through the curved, safety glass windscreen – a nice touch.

We made mention earlier that the standard pedestal helm chairs are height adjustable. Well, they also swivel 360 degrees, slide fore and aft, and have a front, flip-up bolster so you can easily adjust the seat and helm position to drive while standing up - or sitting down.

We found the side-mounted Suzuki throttle lever to be positioned a little too far aft, and there were no footrests. The general layout of the helm was otherwise excellent.

Like its predecessor the new 550F has a half bulkhead separating the helm from the forward cabin area. You gain access to the cabin by ducking under the dash on the port side, after which the cabin opens up nicely. It is roomier than it looks from the outside, with ample headroom above the near full length vinyl upholstered berths.

There is storage space in two shallow underberth lockers, a small sub-floor locker, and in the surrounding cabin side pockets – which are wide enough for stowing inflatable life jackets, clothing, towels, etc.

The side pockets are nicely padded so you can sit in the cabin and lean back comfortably. Not sure about the cream colour of the upholstery, however, as we expect it will be difficult to keep clean.

Cabin options include an in-fill board and cushion to convert the two single berths/seats into a reasonably sized double berth. A porta-pottie chemical toilet can also be fitted under the centre berth cushion.

A fibreglass hatch in the forepeak provides easy access to the foredeck for anchoring, though you can also climb around the cabin sides.

The cabin hatch has a single gas strut which holds it securely open so you can climb up through it. It needs the strut as the hatch is large and doubles as the lid for the anchor well.

It will be easy enough to anchor the boat manually while standing in the forward hatchway, although the large anchor well is set-up to take an optional electric anchor winch, operated from the helm.

Like the rear cockpit, the cabin ceiling and surrounds have a flow-coated fibreglass finish to keep costs down – though carpet is optional.

COCKPIT AND TRANSOM

- Efficient, safe, space saving design

We have always been fans of the compact transom layouts used with Haines Signature’s fishing boat models. Back in the late 1990s, when most other brands were persisting with ugly full and half-pod outboard wells to gain cockpit fishing space, John Haines opted for a much simpler approach.

Instead of moving the outboard well further aft, Haines reduced the size of the outboard well, then compensated for the smaller size by hinging the top part of the transom wall so that it folded forward. This then provided the space needed for the powerhead of the outboard when it was fully tilted.

A variation of the original John Haines compact transom/outboard well has been retained for the new Signature 550F – and it works a treat. The design is taken once step further with the new model, in that the optional bait board fitted to the test rig is also designed to fold down. This way the bait board does not need to be removed to fully tilt the Suzuki 140hp outboard.

The short, compact design of the transom enables an angler to stand and fish over the stern — and over the top of the outboard engine — thereby reducing the risk of entangling a fishing line around the outboard leg and propeller.

The rear cockpit itself is spacious and uncluttered. There is space for three anglers, 750 – 800mm high cockpit freeboard and the full-length side storage pockets are elevated above the floor to provide foot rails underneath.

Horizontal rod racks for smaller outfits are built into the side decks, above the side storage pockets.

Four included stainless steel rod holders (with caps) are flush-fitted into the relatively narrow side coamings, which also have recessed hand rails and stern cleats.

A neat feature for fishermen and family buyers is the optional three-quarter width padded rear bench seat. It folds out and down from a flush position in the rear transom wall. With the padded back-rest/transom bolster, the seat is comfortable and can also be removed as required.

The 550F can be set up for live bait fishing as it has a good-sized bait tank at the transom on the starboard side. The tank is semi-circular in shape with no hard edges to damage baits. Plumbing is optional.

The transom door over on the port side is another option, as are the rear boarding steps and ladder.

The 550F does not have a proper kill tank (due to the up-sized 177l underfloor fuel tank), but there is a square shaped, insulated icebox under the floor between the pedestal helm chairs.

ON THE WATER

- New hull, proven variable deadrise design

Haines Signature’s VDH or Variable Deadrise Hull has been a key feature of all Signature models stretching way back to 1992. The design was introduced with the launch of the classic Signature 492F and has always been very effective with small- to mid-sized Signature models — including the new 550F.

On the water, the new model is comfortable in chop, stable at rest and underway. It is wider in the beam than its predecessor and has a broader keel plank for quicker hole-shots and more stern lift, which in turn now allows it to carry heavier outboards engines, albeit to a maximum weight of 220kg.

The 550F is a good handling, well-balanced boat. It can double as a social ski rig as it is manoeuvrable at speed, quick to plane from a stand-still, and it corners tightly and without cavitation from the Suzuki 140hp four-stroke.

We achieved a top speed of 35.8 knots with the in-line four-cylinder, four-stroke Suzuki on the transom, which is about perfect for this boat package.

Unsurprisingly, the Suzuki was most economical when running at 4000rpm and a speed of 19.5 knots. At this point, the smooth-running 140hp four-stroke was burning 15.2 litres per hour for a maximum range on the 177l fuel tank (less 5 per cent for line losses, etc) of 215.72 nautical miles – more than enough for a full day’s fishing offshore.

VERDICT

-  Ripper new family/fishing cuddy and worthy successor to a classic

Haines Signature has not re-invented the wheel with its new 550F, but the new boat package is an excellent craft, with significant improvements over its predecessor. The new hull is wider, better balanced, and has more lift and buoyancy in the stern. It is more stable, yet retains a comfortable ride.

The 550F is also a very usable boat, and an excellent all-rounder. It is big enough for serious coastal fishing trips, yet small enough for a family to handle at the boat ramp and out on the bay or harbour.

LIKES

  • Excellent all-round performance
  • Good stability
  • Deep, uncluttered cockpit
  • Space-saving transom layout
  • Competitive base price


NOT SO MUCH

  • No helmsman foot-rest
  • Battery on floor, not elevated
  • Cream berth cushions may be difficult to keep clean


RATINGS
Overall rating: 4.74/5.0
Mechanical/equipment: 4.6/5.0
Packaging and practicality: 4.9/5.0
On the water performance: 4.7/5.0
Value for money: 4.8/5.0
X-factor: 4.7/5.0

PERFORMANCE - SPEED

3.5kts (6.5km/h) @ 1000rpm
4.5kts (8.3km/h)@ 1500rpm
5.3kts (9.8km/h) @ 2000rpm
6.4kts (11.8km/h) @ 2500rpm
7.1kts (13.1km/h) @ 3000rpm
12.6kts (23.3km/h) @ 3500rpm
19.5kts (36.1km/h) @ 4000rpm
22.5kts (41.6km/h) @ 4500rpm
26.9kts (49.8km/h) @ 5000rpm
30.6kts (56.6km/h) @ 5500rpm
33.7kts (62.3km/h) @ 6000rpm
35.8kts (66.2km/h) @ 6300rpm (WOT)

PERFORMANCE – ECONOMY

1.6 l/ph @ 1000rpm
2.6 l/ph @ 1500rpm
4.5 l/ph @ 2000rpm
8.2 l/ph @ 2500rpm
10.4 l/ph @ 3000rpm
14.4 l/ph @ 3500rpm
15.2 l/ph @ 4000rpm
18.2 l/ph @ 4500rpm
27.5 l/ph @ 5000rpm
32.1 l/ph @ 5500rpm
42.2 l/ph @ 6000rpm
46.3 l/ph @ 6300rpm (WOT)

MAXIMUM RANGE ON 95% OF 177l FUEL TANK: 215.72nm @ 4000rpm

Specifications: Haines Signature 550F

Price as tested: $79,990 including Suzuki 140hp extra-longshaft (25in) four-stroke outboard, Dunbier tandem-axle braked trailer, bimini top with front and side clears, stainless-steel rocket launcher, hydraulic steering, Furuno NavNet TZTL12F multi-function touchscreen display with 600watt through-hull transducer and Aus wide map, two-tone gelcoat to hull and deck, bow rail, coaming passenger-side storage box, boarding steps and ladder, recessed cockpit lighting, live bait tank plumbing, deck wash, folding rear lounge, deluxe bait board, chemical toilet, upgrade to stainless steel propeller and boat and trailer registrations.

Priced from: $56,990 including standard boat with Suzuki 140hp extra-longshaft (25in) four-stroke outboard, Dunbier tandem-axle trailer, boat and trailer registrations.

Hull length: 5.5m
Beam: 2.41m
Hull weight: 1000kg
Towing weight:  1,780kg (dry)
Deadrise: 21 – 33 degrees
Maximum power: 150hp
Maximum engine weight: 220kg
Engine as tested: Suzuki 140hp four-stroke outboard
Fuel: 177 litres
Length on trailer: Approx. 7.0m
Height on trailer: Approx. 2.33
Maximum Persons: Seven

Supplied by:
The Haines Group

Read the review online:

Haines Signature 550F Fishing Boat Review

 

Haines Signature 550F - Fish & Boat Magazine BACK


If you have ever been out to dinner with a Haines Signature owner, you would know that the conversation never strays too far from their beloved boat.

More than once, I have found myself paired up wtih a walking, talking Haines Signature enthusiast and the amount of info they can unleash on you in one sitting is quite amazing.

Undoubtedly, Haines Signatures have one of the best reputations in the boating market and my day out reviewing the 550F shone some light as to why...

Read more of this Fish and Boat reivew via their website: Review - Haines Signature 550F

Videos


Upholstery colours


Personalise your Siganture

Signature™ boats and Nautolex are proud to be associated with the PreFixx range of maritime seat vinyls - standard on all Signature™ models. Unsurpassed cleanability and wear from a marine seating fabric, PreFixx protection offers you the latest technology to remove stains that could never be removed before. With a test proven abrasion resistance, PreFixx protected products protect you from high maintenance costs and from frequent reupholstery costs. PreFixx protected Nautolex materials - cleanable with strong, active solvents without damage.

Primary Upholstery Colours
Secondary Upholstery Colours
Stitching Colours

Hull colours [Gellcoat]


Trim colours


Personalise your Siganture

Standard Cloth Trim Colours
Upgrade Colours
550F

Features

Optional Extras

Configurations

Specifications

Length 5.5m
Beam 2.41m
Deadrise 21­–33°
Fuel (standard) 180L
Berths 2
Power outboard 115–150HP
Transom height 25"
Max outboard weight 240kg
Hull weight approx. 1,000kg
Towing weight (dry) approx. 1,780kg
BMT length approx. 7m
BMT height approx. 2.33m
BMT width approx. 2.41m
Max people 7/630kg
Max load 850kg

Haines Signature 550F - Fishing Monthly Magazine Review BACK

Steve Morgan from Fishing Monthly Magazine took the new release Haines Signature 550F for a spin, and it's safe to say he was pretty impressed. Calling it "a boat for the people", Steve said it was a "great entry level boat you can get in to for under $60,000". Standout features: "beamier, walkaround, fantastic steel work".

Watch the full review - Fishing Monthly Magazine 550F boat test

Haines Signature 550F - The Captain Mag Review BACK

Search for Silver - The Captain goes north in search of silver scales and soft-riding battleships.

Trying to fish a new location is tough at the best of times. Trying to catch a mulloway in one day at a new location is serious Hail Mary shit. Still, we had the gear and knew of a couple of promising honey holes around the southern tip of North Stradbroke Island. All The Captain needed to accomplish the mission was a decent boat.

The rumour was that The Haines Group was covertly beavering away on a new Signature hull design. Although the staff was tight-lipped about the project, we’d heard through the grapevine that it was going to be a sub-6m fishing outfit. After bribing an unnamed source with rum and the promise of fresh jewfish cutlets, we were handed the latitude and longitude of this secret new boat. The map was on a scrunched-up napkin delivered under the cover of darkness.

By the time we arrived at the mystery coordinates, the sun had already started rising. There she was, though, sitting solitary on the abandoned boat ramp, polished gel coat and shiny 32mm stainless glistening in the morning light. We grabbed the rods, soft plastics and a handful of jig heads before approaching cautiously. Dubbed the 550F, her curvaceous lines gave the impression of a family runabout, not the deep-vee dynamo we’d been dreaming of. However, a quick peek over the gunwales and it was clear there was another dimension to this saltwater battleship.

INTO THE DRINK

We slid the 550F off the trailer and into the somewhat murky Gold Coast waters. One thing that quickly became apparent was the amount of fishing space and stylish innovation that this ride offered. The juicy external beam of 2.41m gives way to a massive working deck space with storage aplenty. We were fully laden with fishing and camera equipment, but if we hadn’t packed the boat ourselves, we would never have known it was there. Another lesson from the Haines factory on form and function.

With the mulloway mission starting to take shape, we pointed the 550F north and zagged our way through the Broadwater. Her bow-up attitude came to attention with a touch of trim as we carved our way around the sand bars and oyster racks. By the time we arrived at North Straddie, the current was roaring – it was going to be tough without an electric engine. We relentlessly peppered the snaggy shoreline with soft plastic missiles, but the 3-4 knot drift beat us into submission.

DEEP BLUE

Frustrated and fishless, we headed into the deep blue to see how this variable dead-rise hull performed in the swell. With 21 degrees at the transom and 33 degrees at the bow, on paper the 550F certainly had the credentials of a blue-water brumby. Not to mention that her predecessor, the 543F, was a classic among fishos. There was only one problem, we had to cross the Jumpinpin Channel to get out to sea. This notorious strip of water mightn’t look like much from a distance, but with an incoming swell and a roaring outgoing tide, it was going to be touch-and-go.

We punched the throttle on the 140hp Suzi and made our way through the channel. The 550F lapped it up. After getting some wind under the chines, it was clear she was just as predictable in the air as in the water. The hull was soft riding through the chop and landed smoothly without too much vibration coming off the tops of waves. That said, we did send the anchor light flying off its bracket on one of the larger “bumps”.

Having safely navigated the channel – albeit with a broken anchor light – we steamed further out to sea where we spotted pod after pod of humpback whales. We watched in awe as these giants cruised up the coast in search of warmer waters. They had the right idea – there were clearly no fish around here…

(OK, OK, maybe it was just our skills!)

SUPERIOR INTERIOR

After splashing around with the whales for an hour or so, it was time to roll up our sleeves and check out the innards of the 550F. Apart from the aforementioned extra-wide beam of 2.41m, the first thing that grabs your attention in this boat is the dash. The contrasting black-and-white design gives it a sportscaresque feel, and when matched with the flipforward helm station, it’s also practical. This innovation makes installing electronics (like the whopping 12” Furuno, twin Suzuki gauges and switchboards fitted to the 550F) much easier. It also removes ugly wiring from the inside of the cabin by incorporating a separate one-piece helm moulding with latches and hinges. Inside the cabin there’s a beautifully upholstered vinyl V-berth with good headroom, storage below and chunky side pockets – the kind of interior design and functionality even your missus would approve of, although you’ll probably never take her.

Back out on deck, there’s a handy icebox capable of holding a few snapper. However, you’ll probably spend more time catching marlin and tuna with the whopping 177L fuel tank. If The Captain owned this boat, he’d definitely be investing in a big esky or fish chiller bag. On the topic of gamefishing, there’s a live bait tank on the port side and a starboard transom dive-door, both of which would come in handy out on the shelf. The 550F also dominates in the gunwale sidepocket department. They’re deep, solid – and one of the few deep-vee boats The Captain’s been aboard with practical horizontal rod storage. The 550F is a boat of the people. Haines has taken all the feedback on board and built a rig to suit a variety of needs.

EMPTY-HANDED

We arrived back at the boat ramp with some explaining to do. No jewfish cutlets for our secret source. The fishing mightn’t have gone to plan, but the 550F definitely did. It’s a versatile fishing boat, which the wife and kids will love. It’s safe, stable, soft-riding and loaded with innovation. There’s also peace of mind in the 10-year warranty and strong Haines Signature pedigree.

PROS & CONS

PROS

  • Delicious design
  • Epic dash configuration
  • Huge internal freeboard
  • Thick and sturdy 32mm stainless rails and canopy structure
  • No sharp edges, with neatly recessed handrails and cleats
  • Great cabin access and headroom for a sub-6m boat
  • Extra-large side-pockets with plenty of toe room underneath

CONS

  • No horsepower hero
  • Throttle position set too far back
  • And sorry about that anchor light – maybe it was time for an upgrade?


Read the full review online: Search for Silver – 550F Signature

Watch the video to take a tour of the 550F with The Captain Magazine

Haines Signature 550F - Boat Sales Review BACK

All-new fishing cuddy cabin to replace Signature's all-time best-selling model

The Haines Group has launched a new cuddy cabin to replace its long running 543F. Bigger, wider and with a greater fuel range, the new 550F is a worthy successor to what has been one of the company’s all-time best-selling models. We tested this excellent new family fishing boat with power from Suzuki’s evergreen 140hp four-stroke outboard.

OVERVIEW

- A hard act to follow

During the 2016 Gold Coast Marine Expo, leading fibreglass trailerboat manufacturer, The Haines Group, debuted a brand new Signature model called the 550F. The new rig will ultimately replace the brand’s mid-sized and very successful 543F cuddy cabin – although the two boats will be sold concurrently for a period.

The new model needs to be a success, as the 543F and its forerunners, the 542F and original 540F, are regarded by many people as modern classics; hundreds having been sold over a period spanning two decades.

The original Haines Signature 540F was released in 1997. Subsequent models have all been based around the same, very soft riding variable deadrise vee hull, but with modifications and tweaks to the cabin and interior layout. The new 550F is not a further improved version of the 543, but an entirely new boat – albeit with a longer, wider hull that is based on the larger 575F.

Following the Gold Coast Marine Expo we were given the opportunity to test the new 550F to see how it compares with its predecessor.

PRICE AND EQUIPMENT

- Budget friendly for families

The Signature 550F has been designed as a budget-friendly family fisher. The standard or basic boat package is priced within reach of most people at just under $57k with a Suzuki DF140ATX (extra-longshaft) four-stroke outboard and tandem axle Dunbier trailer.

In achieving this excellent price The Haines Group has had to omit a few features, but the basic boat still has plenty of equipment – including a vee berth, open-plan forward cabin, curved, safety glass windscreen, dual deluxe, height-adjustable pedestal helm chairs, a decent-sized rear cockpit with side-storage pockets, starboard side live bait tank, and a compact, space-efficient rear transom layout with plenty of cockpit freeboard.

The test boat was rigged as a demonstrator with plenty of optional equipment. This included the overhead bimini with front and side curtains, rocket launcher rod rack and stainless-steel framework, deluxe, folding transom bait board, raw-water deck wash, live-bait-tank plumbing, bow rails, passenger moulded-side-storage compartment, recessed cockpit lighting, hydraulic steering upgrade, porta-potti toilet, transom steps and boarding ladder, two-tone hull and deck, a fold-down (and removable) rear bench seat, and a Furuno NavNet TZTL12F multi-function touch screen display with 600w through-hull transducer and Australia-wide mapping.

Packaged with the same Suzuki 140hp four-stroke and tandem-axle Dunbier braked trailer the test boat package comes in at $79,990. This is a fair bit more than the standard boat price, but that is the whole point. With such a large range of options, customers can pick out, and pay for only the gear they really want – and leave the rest behind.

INTERIOR LAYOUT

-  If it ain’t broke....

The design and layout of the interior does not differ greatly to the 550F’s predecessor. When you are on to a good thing stick to it, right?

Having made that comment, the helm and dash area has received a make-over. There is now a separate fascia moulding that can be folded/hinged out from the top (see pic) for ready access to the wiring for servicing and easy installation of after-market electronics gear – such as the big 12in Furuno display fitted to the test rig.

This also means there is no messy or exposed wiring behind the helm in the cabin; it is all neatly contained in a recess behind the new fascia moulding.

Other dash features include a port side glove compartment and a black painted finish to the top of the dash to reduce glare and reflection from the sun beaming down through the curved, safety glass windscreen – a nice touch.

We made mention earlier that the standard pedestal helm chairs are height adjustable. Well, they also swivel 360 degrees, slide fore and aft, and have a front, flip-up bolster so you can easily adjust the seat and helm position to drive while standing up - or sitting down.

We found the side-mounted Suzuki throttle lever to be positioned a little too far aft, and there were no footrests. The general layout of the helm was otherwise excellent.

Like its predecessor the new 550F has a half bulkhead separating the helm from the forward cabin area. You gain access to the cabin by ducking under the dash on the port side, after which the cabin opens up nicely. It is roomier than it looks from the outside, with ample headroom above the near full length vinyl upholstered berths.

There is storage space in two shallow underberth lockers, a small sub-floor locker, and in the surrounding cabin side pockets – which are wide enough for stowing inflatable life jackets, clothing, towels, etc.

The side pockets are nicely padded so you can sit in the cabin and lean back comfortably. Not sure about the cream colour of the upholstery, however, as we expect it will be difficult to keep clean.

Cabin options include an in-fill board and cushion to convert the two single berths/seats into a reasonably sized double berth. A porta-pottie chemical toilet can also be fitted under the centre berth cushion.

A fibreglass hatch in the forepeak provides easy access to the foredeck for anchoring, though you can also climb around the cabin sides.

The cabin hatch has a single gas strut which holds it securely open so you can climb up through it. It needs the strut as the hatch is large and doubles as the lid for the anchor well.

It will be easy enough to anchor the boat manually while standing in the forward hatchway, although the large anchor well is set-up to take an optional electric anchor winch, operated from the helm.

Like the rear cockpit, the cabin ceiling and surrounds have a flow-coated fibreglass finish to keep costs down – though carpet is optional.

COCKPIT AND TRANSOM

- Efficient, safe, space saving design

We have always been fans of the compact transom layouts used with Haines Signature’s fishing boat models. Back in the late 1990s, when most other brands were persisting with ugly full and half-pod outboard wells to gain cockpit fishing space, John Haines opted for a much simpler approach.

Instead of moving the outboard well further aft, Haines reduced the size of the outboard well, then compensated for the smaller size by hinging the top part of the transom wall so that it folded forward. This then provided the space needed for the powerhead of the outboard when it was fully tilted.

A variation of the original John Haines compact transom/outboard well has been retained for the new Signature 550F – and it works a treat. The design is taken once step further with the new model, in that the optional bait board fitted to the test rig is also designed to fold down. This way the bait board does not need to be removed to fully tilt the Suzuki 140hp outboard.

The short, compact design of the transom enables an angler to stand and fish over the stern — and over the top of the outboard engine — thereby reducing the risk of entangling a fishing line around the outboard leg and propeller.

The rear cockpit itself is spacious and uncluttered. There is space for three anglers, 750 – 800mm high cockpit freeboard and the full-length side storage pockets are elevated above the floor to provide foot rails underneath.

Horizontal rod racks for smaller outfits are built into the side decks, above the side storage pockets.

Four included stainless steel rod holders (with caps) are flush-fitted into the relatively narrow side coamings, which also have recessed hand rails and stern cleats.

A neat feature for fishermen and family buyers is the optional three-quarter width padded rear bench seat. It folds out and down from a flush position in the rear transom wall. With the padded back-rest/transom bolster, the seat is comfortable and can also be removed as required.

The 550F can be set up for live bait fishing as it has a good-sized bait tank at the transom on the starboard side. The tank is semi-circular in shape with no hard edges to damage baits. Plumbing is optional.

The transom door over on the port side is another option, as are the rear boarding steps and ladder.

The 550F does not have a proper kill tank (due to the up-sized 177l underfloor fuel tank), but there is a square shaped, insulated icebox under the floor between the pedestal helm chairs.

ON THE WATER

- New hull, proven variable deadrise design

Haines Signature’s VDH or Variable Deadrise Hull has been a key feature of all Signature models stretching way back to 1992. The design was introduced with the launch of the classic Signature 492F and has always been very effective with small- to mid-sized Signature models — including the new 550F.

On the water, the new model is comfortable in chop, stable at rest and underway. It is wider in the beam than its predecessor and has a broader keel plank for quicker hole-shots and more stern lift, which in turn now allows it to carry heavier outboards engines, albeit to a maximum weight of 220kg.

The 550F is a good handling, well-balanced boat. It can double as a social ski rig as it is manoeuvrable at speed, quick to plane from a stand-still, and it corners tightly and without cavitation from the Suzuki 140hp four-stroke.

We achieved a top speed of 35.8 knots with the in-line four-cylinder, four-stroke Suzuki on the transom, which is about perfect for this boat package.

Unsurprisingly, the Suzuki was most economical when running at 4000rpm and a speed of 19.5 knots. At this point, the smooth-running 140hp four-stroke was burning 15.2 litres per hour for a maximum range on the 177l fuel tank (less 5 per cent for line losses, etc) of 215.72 nautical miles – more than enough for a full day’s fishing offshore.

VERDICT

-  Ripper new family/fishing cuddy and worthy successor to a classic

Haines Signature has not re-invented the wheel with its new 550F, but the new boat package is an excellent craft, with significant improvements over its predecessor. The new hull is wider, better balanced, and has more lift and buoyancy in the stern. It is more stable, yet retains a comfortable ride.

The 550F is also a very usable boat, and an excellent all-rounder. It is big enough for serious coastal fishing trips, yet small enough for a family to handle at the boat ramp and out on the bay or harbour.

LIKES

  • Excellent all-round performance
  • Good stability
  • Deep, uncluttered cockpit
  • Space-saving transom layout
  • Competitive base price


NOT SO MUCH

  • No helmsman foot-rest
  • Battery on floor, not elevated
  • Cream berth cushions may be difficult to keep clean


RATINGS
Overall rating: 4.74/5.0
Mechanical/equipment: 4.6/5.0
Packaging and practicality: 4.9/5.0
On the water performance: 4.7/5.0
Value for money: 4.8/5.0
X-factor: 4.7/5.0

PERFORMANCE - SPEED

3.5kts (6.5km/h) @ 1000rpm
4.5kts (8.3km/h)@ 1500rpm
5.3kts (9.8km/h) @ 2000rpm
6.4kts (11.8km/h) @ 2500rpm
7.1kts (13.1km/h) @ 3000rpm
12.6kts (23.3km/h) @ 3500rpm
19.5kts (36.1km/h) @ 4000rpm
22.5kts (41.6km/h) @ 4500rpm
26.9kts (49.8km/h) @ 5000rpm
30.6kts (56.6km/h) @ 5500rpm
33.7kts (62.3km/h) @ 6000rpm
35.8kts (66.2km/h) @ 6300rpm (WOT)

PERFORMANCE – ECONOMY

1.6 l/ph @ 1000rpm
2.6 l/ph @ 1500rpm
4.5 l/ph @ 2000rpm
8.2 l/ph @ 2500rpm
10.4 l/ph @ 3000rpm
14.4 l/ph @ 3500rpm
15.2 l/ph @ 4000rpm
18.2 l/ph @ 4500rpm
27.5 l/ph @ 5000rpm
32.1 l/ph @ 5500rpm
42.2 l/ph @ 6000rpm
46.3 l/ph @ 6300rpm (WOT)

MAXIMUM RANGE ON 95% OF 177l FUEL TANK: 215.72nm @ 4000rpm

Specifications: Haines Signature 550F

Price as tested: $79,990 including Suzuki 140hp extra-longshaft (25in) four-stroke outboard, Dunbier tandem-axle braked trailer, bimini top with front and side clears, stainless-steel rocket launcher, hydraulic steering, Furuno NavNet TZTL12F multi-function touchscreen display with 600watt through-hull transducer and Aus wide map, two-tone gelcoat to hull and deck, bow rail, coaming passenger-side storage box, boarding steps and ladder, recessed cockpit lighting, live bait tank plumbing, deck wash, folding rear lounge, deluxe bait board, chemical toilet, upgrade to stainless steel propeller and boat and trailer registrations.

Priced from: $56,990 including standard boat with Suzuki 140hp extra-longshaft (25in) four-stroke outboard, Dunbier tandem-axle trailer, boat and trailer registrations.

Hull length: 5.5m
Beam: 2.41m
Hull weight: 1000kg
Towing weight:  1,780kg (dry)
Deadrise: 21 – 33 degrees
Maximum power: 150hp
Maximum engine weight: 220kg
Engine as tested: Suzuki 140hp four-stroke outboard
Fuel: 177 litres
Length on trailer: Approx. 7.0m
Height on trailer: Approx. 2.33
Maximum Persons: Seven

Supplied by:
The Haines Group

Read the review online:

Haines Signature 550F Fishing Boat Review

 

Haines Signature 550F - Fish & Boat Magazine BACK

If you have ever been out to dinner with a Haines Signature owner, you would know that the conversation never strays too far from their beloved boat.

More than once, I have found myself paired up wtih a walking, talking Haines Signature enthusiast and the amount of info they can unleash on you in one sitting is quite amazing.

Undoubtedly, Haines Signatures have one of the best reputations in the boating market and my day out reviewing the 550F shone some light as to why...

Read more of this Fish and Boat reivew via their website: Review - Haines Signature 550F

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