Centre consoles, like this Extreme, open up fishing space in the bow and allow anglers to easily follow fish they are fighting right around the boat.THE CONFIGURATIONMoving past hull type, there are a range of topside configurations that may be considered. Hard tops (open-back or enclosed), cuddy cabins, centre consoles, centre cabins, side consoles and dories (open boats) are some of them. The choice is usually governed by the size of the boat and its intended use.

For example, a certain hull-size and weight is needed to sustain a hard-top without making the boat top-heavy and unstable (about 6-6.5m length minimum for a monohull; pontoon or cat hulls, with their extra stability, can be a little smaller). Enclosed hardtop constructions eat up a bit more space than open-back designs, so the hull needs to be longer in the first place, say 6.5m plus.

Given the extremes of weather experienced in NZ waters (harsh UVs in the summer; rain and cold winds almost any time), it is no surprise that hardtops are probably the most popular configuration in boats of 6m and above.

Great to fish from, centre-consoles do have a downside, not offering a whole lot of shelter in tough conditions.Cuddy cabins (runabout/windscreen types) offer some protection and have a whole lot less windage, weight and expense than a hardtop. These are often fitted out with canopies, which may or may not incorporate a rocket launcher. Canopies can fold down for easier shed storage and less windage when towing, but if not well made, can sometimes leak in heavy weather, and visibility when travelling may be reduced.

If purchasing a cuddy cabin without a canopy, one can be purchased separately and installed, both as a temporary or permanent addition.

Another configuration that has been around a long time, but recently gained more popularity with the advent of fishing techniques that involve drifting and lure fishing, is the centre console. This design opens a heap of fishing space in the bow and around the sides, allowing anglers to easily follow fish they are fighting right around the boat. It also makes accessing the anchor easier.

The downside of centre consoles is that there is reduced shelter for the crew and the centre of balance is shifted aft, so the positioning of things like batteries and fuel tank/s may need to be altered to address this. Variations include the side console and the centre-cabin (which is just a large centre console and, again, requires a larger hull to sustain it while still maintaining access around the sides).

Centre consoles seem to be at their best in the north’s warmer, more sheltered east-coast waters, or when jigging or fly-fishing in lakes.

Enclosed hardtops provide shelter for the crew in harsh conditions. This McLay was photographed in 55knots of Southerly on Lyttelton Harbour.LAYING OUT THE BOATProportioning the space in trailer boats can be an issue, so when choosing a boat, you will need to decide where your priorities lie. One major choice regarding the internal layout is whether you want a day boat or an overnighter.

If you don’t intend to do any stay-away trips, there are a lot of fittings you can do without: galley, built-in refrigeration, toilet, shower – in fact, it is questionable if you even need forward berths. They might be handy occasionally for the kids to have a nap on, but you may be better off choosing a boat with an internal configuration that allows more fishing room in the cockpit, or more stowage space.

Bear in mind that forward squabs can be damaged by stowing sharp or heavy items on them and can become wet resulting in mildew and staple corrosion if not properly cared for.

However, if you decide that stay-away trips are high on the agenda, then more space might be invested in comforts like full-length berths, a toilet, fridge/freezer, extensive lighting, a larger battery array, galley / cooker and even a freshwater shower. It is nice to have all the mod cons, but you need a decent-sized hull to fit all these items into, and pockets deep enough to pay for it all.