Over the years, the faithful Merry Fisher has proven itself to be the archetypal hybrid for those looking to combine family recreation with decent fishing ability on a single, affordable, outboard-powered platform. It has achieved very widespread popularity, both with cruisers who fancy a spot of fishing and with anglers who want to get their family and friends involved in boating by means of a less specialist, more crowd-pleasing package. Naturally though, there are still those who would prefer to tweak that hybrid balancing act in one direction more than the other - and both in terms of its standard configuration and its optional packages, the Marlin edition enables you to achieve exactly that.
The ‘Marlin’ approach
The new Merry Fisher 795 Marlin does much more than add a few boxes and rod holders to the established Merry Fisher mix. Though it shares the same hull as the mainstream 795, it is a very different boat with a very different mix of abilities. In place of the bulbous forward quarters and the raked screen of the classical Merry Fisher’s cruiser-style structure is a robust, upright wheelhouse, orbited by deepset walkaround decks. Both freedom of movement and passenger protection have been notably uprated - and with a useable bow, as well as lateral walkways and a big aft cockpit, the boat’s external deck space has also been significantly increased.
That feels particularly evident in the aft cockpit – not so much because of any physical expansion of its footprint, but because of the way it’s configured. It features a sliding table at the transom, enabling you to make the most of every available inch of cockpit space when you’re on the water, before sliding it forward to lift the engine when you’re back alongside. Rather than compromising space with permanent furniture or complex mouldings, it also uses a trio of folding bench seats, one aft and one on either side, to create a place for six or seven people to rest their bones without spoiling the cleanliness of the cockpit space for keen anglers. The protruding wood trim on the gunwale tops above the two side benches does dig you square in the back when you sit down but some simple cushions would sort that out in very short order.
The deepset bow deck also looks like quite a valuable asset. It comes with a two-man seat recessed into the coachhouse roof, plus an elevated guardrail, a flat, easily navigable walkway and a step-through bow. While the bow on the traditional 795 feels a little bit elevated and precipitous, the forward space here enables this Marlin model to cope with the rigours of fishing and the practicalities of seamanship, while still offering guests a place they might feasibly want to linger with a glass of wine and a good book.
Inevitably, that generosity of external space reduces the volume and versatility of the internals. Here, in what Jeanneau calls the ‘Fishing Mode’, the 795 Marlin features a three-part sliding aft door to bring the saloon’s trio of revolving pod seats into closer union with the big aft cockpit. With a pair of sliding side doors for the navigator and the Skipper, this layout also enables the saloon occupants to enjoy some shelter, but still achieve rapid access to the side decks if a rod demands some attention.
In the ‘Family’ rather than the ‘Fishing’ variant, those sliding aft doors are replaced with a solid bulkhead, sandwiched between a pair of benches – one inside, facing forward toward the rest of the saloon occupants; and one outside, facing aft toward the rest of the cockpit passengers. It also features an aft dining station that can be converted into a large sunpad. But whichever fit-out you favour, those in search of a dedicated cruising companion will still get better value out of the conventional 795, with its broader saloon and its ability to add a second convertible double berth to the permanent one in the bow.
Though it’s capable of around 32 knots, the optimum cruising speed on the Jeanneau Merry Fisher 795 Marlin is between 18 and 22 knots, where (with a 10per cent margin safely in hand) the range from the 280-litre tank hovers around the 145-nautical mile mark with a fuel flow rate of about 35 litres per hour. That’s not a radical level of efficiency, an especially extended range or an especially rapid cruising speed, but it’s perfectly serviceable on all counts - and with its 400kg saving over the standard 795, courtesy of its pared back topside mouldings, it also feels usefully nimble when the seas get up.
Despite a rather wobbly foot brace, the helm position is also very sound. The overhead sunroof and the two sliding doors are useful assets both for light and visibility, particularly in a hard turn, when the hard top might otherwise obscure your view. And in a pleasing nod to the commercial-style, four-season boats of the Nordic regions, there’s also room above the screen to mount an easy-view row of dials and displays. The only bone of contention is the throttle. Although it’s positioned in exactly the right place on its own dedicated mounting point, it is extraordinarily long. Once the trim is set in predictable seas, it’s not a problem, as you can slide your hand down the shaft and brace it against the throttle base. But it’s the longest I’ve ever seen and as it operates through a cable, it can also feel a bit sticky and unrefined.
In standard guise, the Jeanneau Merry Fisher 795 is a cruiser and a fishing boat in one. In Marlin format, it adds a little four-season SUV to the mix, retaining the capacity to cruise and to fish but altering the means by which that hybrid versatility is achieved. There’s really nothing in it in terms of price differential, so it all comes down to what you want. The 795’s broader saloon with convertible dinette makes it a better cruiser; and whether you spec it for fishing or for family, the Marlin’s deliberate sacrifice of internal volume for external space and mobility makes it a better angling companion. As for the rest, it’s all much as we have come to expect of Jeanneau’s Merry Fisher fleet – and that will come as very welcome news to its many loyal fans.
Jeanneau Merry Fisher 795 Marlin specifications
LOA: 7.17 m
Beam: 2.8 m
Weight: 1,750 kg
Maximum power: 200 hp
Engine: Yamaha F200
Fuel capacity: 280 litres
Water capacity: 100 litres
People capacity: eight
For more advice on choosing a fishing boat, read Dave Barham's guide to fishing boats. See the Jeanneau power boat listings on boats.com.