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2021 Makocraft 531 Canyon Console review

Twin-engined Makocraft 531 Canyon Console hits the mark for reliability in remote fishing locations

Makocraft’s latest Canyon Console models are available with single or dual four-stroke outboard engine power. These impressive plate alloy centre console boats come in three sizes – 531, 561, 591 and 631.


Given the heralded reliability of modern four-stroke outboard engines, these days few boaters and anglers fit twin engines to craft less than 5.5 metres long. So rare are twin-engined small boats nowadays that I can’t remember the last time I tested one.There is good reason for this. Modern four-stroke outboard engines are extremely reliable and dependable. They rarely break down, and when they do it is usually due to battery failure or poor-quality fuel

Smaller, sub 5.5-metre trailer boats don’t usually run that far offshore either, so fitting two engines, and the significant extra cost involved, including maintenance, is generally seen as overkill.Having noted the above, if I was buying a boat to fish remote coastal offshore waters, or crocodile-infested estuary and river systems of the far north, I would most certainly consider fitting twin outboard engines to my boat. Trouble is, few small boat makers these days even offer their boats with the option of twin engines.A rare exception here is Makocraft. The latest Canyon Console models from this established boat maker can be rigged with single or dual outboard engines.

We welcomed the opportunity to test the first of the new dual-engined Makocraft models, the entry-sized Makocraft 531 Canyon Console with a pair of Tohatsu 60hp four-stroke outboard engines bolted to the transom.

Price and equipment

Makocraft dealers have single-outboard engined Makocraft 531 Canyon Console packages starting from $44,980. This price gets you a standard, whitepainted hull, an extra-longshaft 115hp four-stroke outboard engine and a single-axle galvanised steel trailer.The base package is a little bare on features and accessories, but keeping the standard features to a minimum keeps the initial outlay quite low.

That sub-$45,000 price point is a bargain for 5.3-metre boat, particularly for one with a hull length (without including a bowsprit or boarding platforms) of 5.3 metres, but more on this bug-bear of mine later.It can also be argued that with a more expensive, feature-laden package you will pay for accessories you will not want or need.Anglers will certainly want to add lots of gear and accessories to the base boat to prep it for fishing, but that is the point. The options list for the 531 Canyon Console is extensive; you can pick and choose only the equipment you want.

Key options included hydraulic steering; Dunbier alloy trailer upgrade; 9,0-inch fishfinder/GPS combo unit; GME VHF radio; alloy framed soft-top bimini; Minn Kota bow-mounted electric trolling motor; stereo system with speakers; bolt-on bait station with rod-rack; transom live well, transom door; boarding ladder; helm seat box with reversible backrest; 150-litre underfloor fuel tank; and a cockpit floor kill tank.

Hull and engineering

The Makocraft 531 Canyon Console is a heavy-duty aluminium boat. The hull, topsides and transom are all made from 4.0mm thick 5083-grade plate alloy. There’s even an option to go to 5mm, though I think that is unwarranted.As tested, the boat comes with a standard plywood floor carpeted for protection. A fully welded self-draining checker-plate floor is an option.

Beneath either of those two floor options is a grid, or matrix, of longitudinal stringers and full height cross bearers to provide ample hull strength and rigidity.Vacant hull spaces are foam-filled to achieve a Basic flotation standard.The Makocraft 531 Canyon Console is 5.3 metres long. Importantly for transparency to potential buyers, this length is the centreline distance between the rear transom wall and the stem of the boat at the prow.This length represents the true hull length of the boat. It does not (and should not) include the bowsprit or any steps or platforms which protrude beyond the transom wall.Disappointingly, many Australian fibreglass and alloy boat builders are now naming (or even re-naming) their boats for their overall length including bow rails, bowsprit, boarding platforms as opposed to the actual hull length.

Design and layout

The interior layout of this versatile fishing boat is excellent. There’s nothing revolutionary about it, but it just works.An elevated bow casting platform (280mm above the main floor) is ideal for anglers to stand and chuck lures into schooling fish, while the extra height provides better visibility for spotting bait balls and fish activity.Two lockers below the forward deck floor cater for safety gear and the batteries for the bow-mounted Minn Kota electric trolling motor.

The forepeak has a carpeted anchor well with recessed bollard, bow roller, and bow rails.The centre console helm station is positioned up against the casting deck, forward of the boat’s centreline. It is 800mm wide with a broad fascia topped by a folding windscreen to make it a bit easier to fit this boat into a garage at home.

Extra engine gauges for the second outboard engine meant there the panel lacked the space to flush-fit a fish finder, so the unit in the test boat was bracket-mounted overhead.The optional stainless steel steering wheel is centrally mounted below the fascia panel, while the dual level throttle box was well placed alongside to starboard.The surrounding space caters for the stereo head unit, switch panels, and GME VHF radio.

Overhead, the optional soft-top bimini provides decent shelter from the sun and rain, while the alloy tube frame supporting struts make for excellent grab rails.Notably, the top half of the bimini and frame is removable so you can more easily fit the boat into a garage.Storage compartments abound. As well as the bow storage lockers, there is a shelf and a storage nook under the console, an optional kill tank aft, and space behind the enclosed transom wall for the battery and other gear.

Cockpit side storage pocket take care of deck lines, fishing nets and accessories, while the optional helm seat box with reversible backrest provides another storage space for life jackets and other safety gear.There are a number of fishing-specific options for the Makocraft 531 Canyon Console. Our test rig was fitted with a decent-sized port side live well, a removable bait board/bait station, and half a dozen plastic rod holders (welded alloy rod holders are optional).The cockpit aft of the helm seat box is only 1.05m long, but that’s enough space for two anglers to move about comfortably.

The internal freeboard is uniformly high with the wide coamings located between 620mm and 660mm above the floor.Note the high, flush transom wall, designed so anglers can stand and fish comfortably over the stern of the boat.

On the water

On the water, I would rate the Makocraft 531 Canyon Console as comfortable, secure, safe, and seaworthy. These are the attributes you want in a coastal offshore fishing boat; I would be more than happy to fish a dozen miles offshore in this capable craft.If I was using this boat mainly to fish offshore I would also be tempted to fit the two Tohatsu 60hp engines as tested. The boat would be a bit quicker with a single 115hp four-stroke, but the reliability factor of having two engines should not be discounted.

We recorded a modest top speed of 29.3 knots with the twin Tohatsu outboard engines. However, the engines were propped to provided excellent mid-range performance, and it certainly felt strong accelerating onto the plane from trolling speeds.Notably, we were also able to plane the Makocraft on just one of the two Tohatsu units, giving this boat the ability to return home at a reasonable pace in the event of a problem with the other engine.


At 5.3 metres, the Makocraft 531 Canyon Console is the perfect size boat for a mix of inshore and offshore fishing.It is large and seaworthy enough to fish offshore, yet it is still small enough to work in estuary, river, and freshwater impoundment fishing applications.Most people will be happy with a single 115hp four-stroke outboard engine for this boat, but don’t discount the twin set-up. Yes, it’s more expensive, but having the second engine will give you peace of mind to fish remote locations.

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