The walkaround layout is very compelling to the serious fisherman. Walkarounds, with their 360-degree access and ability to accommodate various types of fishing, are one of my favorite designs. This version, the Release 46, makes a great drift boat for kite-fishing and deep-dropping, but still trolls effectively.
For the serious kite fisherman, a walkaround offers all the benefits of a center console on a larger inboard platform, as well as some accommodations and shelter from the weather up front. Needless to say, it’s also a safer boat for the family to help you tie up at the dock, since your kids won’t have to walk around on an exposed deck.
However, there are very few walk-arounds longer than 35 feet. Previously, one of the drawbacks was the loss of interior cabin space and seating on the helm deck due to a lack of beam; most walkarounds were either built as one-offs or used a hull plan originally designed for a convertible. And while there are some nice, properly executed sub-35-footers out there that fill a niche, until now no one had really stepped up with the intention to build a larger walkaround and make it capable of traveling.
Release Boatworks solved those problems — and several others — with the introduction of its new 46, spending a great deal of time and effort on the design, layout, materials and construction methods of the company’s initial offering.
At first glance, the Release 46 exhibits all the attributes of classic custom boats. She sports a rakish, unbroken shear, transom tumblehome, and a blend of teak, paint and brightwork that denotes a custom-built convertible — yet she comes with the fishability that only a walkaround design can provide. The Release 46 is a composite boat, built with an infused hull that utilizes vinylester resins and a blend of multidirectional fabrics, including Kevlar, below the waterline and a 1½-inch Corecell core in the hull bottom. The company uses 1-inch Corecell in the hull sides and carbon fiber in the stringer system for additional stiffness.
Powered with a pair of Cummins QSM11-715 hp diesels connected to Zeus drives, the 46 boasts performance specs worthy of tackling any of the line-class records on the books. In the hands of the right crew and angler, the Release 46 just might rewrite the record books.
The additional speed and agility that come with the pod drives are just the right attributes required to chase big fish on light line. Make no mistake — the pods on the 46 can make a poor boat handler better around the dock and in most other close-quarters situations, and they also give a knowledgeable boat driver an incredible tool when fighting fish. The Release 46 backs, spins and turns to give chase faster than almost any angler could gain line. The really neat thing about a boat with pods is the ability to make slight shifts forward, backward or sideways to get to a hooked fish. This maneuverability allows you to keep fishing with your kites up — even when hooked up — and significantly reduces the time between hookup and release.
Operating the 46 is a pleasure, since she offers excellent visibility when accelerating and coming up onto plane. Release positioned the helm well forward, so you can see ahead over the bow at all times — something that can’t be said for many express boats. Surprisingly, I didn’t mind the forward helm for fishing either, although I would probably run the boat from the tower anyway so I could see the corners and crew on a big fish.
The 46’s hull performed nicely — though we tested her on a very nice day with less than 10 knots of easterly breeze. She clips along with little effort and very comfortably at a 2,000 rpm cruise, making 29 knots and burning a tad over 42 gph. Push her up to 2,300 rpm and she’ll give you 34½ knots but will increase her burn to a bit over 66 gph. At wide open she’s ripping along at 37½ knots and burning 76.9 gph. If I was going to run her, I would basically lock in at the 1,800 to 1,900 rpm range so I could keep her under 40 gph and still make between 25 to 28 knots — a darn good clip on any boat, and you won’t be beating up the boat or the crew.
The large cockpit space found on the Release 46 offers a great working platform. A molded-in 48-gallon livewell in the transom holds three 8-inch tuna tubes when it’s not keeping the pilchards ready to deploy. Two large hatches in the aft cockpit open on rams to expose the Zeus drives below for ease of service. An excellent livewell sump box in the lazarette uses four pumps to feed the transom livewell and the portable on-deck wells.
The cockpit also holds a pair of 7-foot insulated in-deck fish boxes, which is something that few pod boats can do since the top of the drives eat up space under the cockpit. This gives you an idea of the size of the cockpit on the 46 — she has plenty of room. The gunwale height is just right for fishing and dealing with fish next to the boat.
You’ll find plenty of space when walking forward around the helm deck to get to the bow. To help ease tying off, the boat has pull-up spring cleats forward and aft, as well as two pull-up bow cleats.
The 46 we tested was festooned with 30 gunwale-mounted rod holders around her perimeter. We’re talking plenty of baits in the water and plenty of room for the rods and kite rods. You’ll also find two pressurized 10-gallon feeder wells forward, as well as a huge anchor locker for plenty of rode and chain. Our test boat came with a windlass and anchor chute — great features that make it easier to anchor up and catch bait on the patch or lock up on a wreck.