Best Boat Outboards, Florida Sportsman

What’s the best boat for you? Whether you’re fishing the flats for bonefish or trout, heading off shore trolling for dolphin, or bottom fishing for grouper, Florida Sportsman’s Best Boat will the information you need to decide which boat is the best boat for you.

Florida Sportsman’s boating editor and trusted selected experts have traveled to some of Florida’s hottest fishing locations to review the latest in outboard technology, as well as run 36 boats in 12 different classes, including flats boats, bay boats, and center consoles.

Today on Florida Sportsman’s Best Boat, we’re taking a look at outboard engines. Our host, Dave East boating editor of Florida Sportsman magazine, will be joined by a group of experts from the four major brands of outboards. Dave will be asking these experts a series of questions and reviewing key features all to help you decide which is the best outboard power for you, and how to care for it.

Welcome to this episode of Florida Sportsman Best Boat, I’m your host, Dave East, boating editor for Florida Sportsman magazine. In the past episodes we’ve been looking at, well, boats. Hopefully we’ve given you some good information and now you’re ready to start looking for your best boat. So now let’s talk about outboard engines. Looking back at the boats we’ve tested through the filming of the series, technical poling skiffs all the way through the big 42′ center consoles, they’ve all had one thing in common: outboard power. Sure, the big sport fish do great with inboard diesel’s, and an IO does really good in a freshwater environment, but when it comes to a technical poling skiff, a flats boat, a bay boat, or center console fishing boat, outboard power is going to be your choice.

The latest technology is ushered in a whole series of outboard motors that are super quiet, very fuel efficient. Long gone are the days of one mile to the gallon. Many of the boats we tested in this series we’re four to five miles to the gallon average. Other benefits are how environmentally friendly these engines are. No more clouds of smoke, no more oil sheens on the water, although I do kind of miss that grouty roar that the outboards used to make, but then I like airplanes and Harley’s too, so I’m probably not the right guy to ask. But when it comes to noise, even the big 350s were so quiet, we often had to look at the RPM gauge just to see if they were running.

Picking the right power for your boat is just as important as picking the boat itself. Start by looking at the manufacturer’s recommended horsepower rating. Look at the hull design, the draft of water that you’re trying to get into, because many boats actually do better with less than the maximum horsepower rating, especially on the smaller boats where you’re trying to get into that really, really skinny water. You might want a smaller engine rather than the maximum that’s allowed.

Once you’ve reached the boats haul speed, stacking a lot more power rarely yields any kind of performance. All you’re going to do is spend more money and more fuel.

We’ve assembled some outboard reps. They’re going to clarify some of these points and tell us more about their product.

David, thank you for joining us on the show. We appreciate it. If somebody has decided on what the best boat is for them, now they have to decide on power.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

And, especially that boat that’s in the 23′ to 29′ range, you really have a choice of single or twin outboards.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

So, let’s talk a little bit about making that decision whether you go with the single large outboard, or a pair of smaller outboards.

Well you know, one of the things I like to tell people, backing up a few years, the single and twin decision used to be a lot about reliability. And outboard engines over the years have become so much more reliable that that’s really not part of the equation anymore. It’s more about the performance that you’re looking for out of a particular hull and how you’re going to use it. Are you more concerned about top speed? Are you more concerned about fuel economy? Are you concerned about running in the mid range? Are you concerned about acceleration? Those types of things play into how much power you hanging on the back of the boat.

You know, the two biggest questions I always tell people that they need to ask themselves is what kind of boat do you have and how are you going to use it.

Right.

Because that dictates everything from the power to the options that you get on the boat to the propeller that you put on the back. So that’s a big consideration.

Pluses and minuses both to a single in a dual engine applications. For the single, obviously, your upfront cost is going to be a little bit less. You don’t have double the rigging, your maintenance is going to be a little bit less because you’re dealing with one engine versus two. Some of the benefits of going with two engines, if you’re going off shore running a long ways, you know you always have those possibilities of striking an object, picking up a bag, something that could hurt an engine. Now you have a second engine to get you back.

Right.

You have that peace of mind, that safety factor. Also, generally speaking a boat with two engines will handle a little bit better. It’ll track in the water. Overall your speed’s probably going to be about the same with the two versus the one.

So with two engines versus one, yeah, you will burn a little bit more fuel, but it’s not double like a lot of people think because you’re actually running a lot more efficiently in the water. Say, like on a boat like this where you’re rated for 300 horsepower, running twin 150s, those engines aren’t working nearly as hard as a single 300, so it’s going to add to the longevity of those engines as well. The durability is going to be there that’s going to make them last, because they’re just not pushing nearly as hard. You’re going to get the same speed with lower RPMs.

So that’s kind of some of the benefits going single versus twin and vice versa.

Well, the first thing the consumer wants to look at is what is the boat rated for, what does the manufacturer say is the maximum horsepower that should be on the boat. Take that into consideration, you never want to exceed that. Then you want to make sure that you have enough horse power to get the job done. Depending on what you want to do is really going to be the key consideration to what you choose ultimately in the power source.

First and foremost, I think a customer should take a look at what the boat’s recommended for. It’s … I like to comfortably power the boat with at least 75% of the recommended horsepower. Now if you’re going off shore, there’s a comfort level where our customers are going to probably twin twin engines. I’ve tested boat’s where if, say for example, a boat will take 300 horsepower, a single 300 will perform just as equally well as a pair of 150s, but then you’ve got to balance off whether or not you want to justify the additional cost for maintenance. You have fuel economy to consider. You’ve got other issues around the docking, performance, or the handling. So it all comes into play with what you want to really go with. But with reliability of everybody’s larger engines nowadays, I feel very comfortable going offshore with a single application.

Up next, Dave will take you through our featured outboards, and talk to the experts. There’s plenty more to come, so stick around for more Florida Sportsman’s Best Boat.

This segment brought to you by Mercury Marine, number one on the water.

For more information on the Best Boat series, pick up a copy of our new magazine, Florida Sportsman Best Boat at newsstands, or visit us on the web at floridasportsman.com.

Let’s get back to Dave, as he helps you decide what’s the best outboard for you.

Hi, I’m David Meeler, product information manager for Yamaha Marine. I want to take a minute and talk to you today about why Yamaha? I get that question a lot, particularly when I’m working at consumer shows. And the answer is really pretty easy. You know, Yamaha is all about innovation. It’s all about reliability and when you take those two and combine them, it equals a very large and very broad product base. Let’s take, for instance, innovation. We were the first ones to bring a V6 4-stroke outboard to market, F225 and the F200. That’s what customers were asking for. They like the smooth, the clean, the quiet of 4-strokes but they wanted more power and that V6 is still in our lineup.

In 2007, we introduced the F350 V8. That engine is still in our lineup. Customers wanted bigger boats, they wanted more amenities, and they needed more power to push it, hence 350. The reliability that’s built into that means that that engine is still with us.

And then we’ve got our newer entries. The 4.2 liter off shore is one example. The 4.2 liters come in two flavors, the 4.2 liter V6 off shore and the groundbreaking Vmax SHO V6. The V6 offshore is available in 225, 250, and 300 horsepower and the Vmax SHO is 200, 225, and 250.

The thing that makes these engines so unique is they’re so very light and so very powerful. They use revolutionary processes, like plasma fusion technology, which allow us to increase the displacement on the engine, but at the same time reduce the weight by taking the steel cylinder liners out of them. At the same time, that plasma surface is so slick and allows so much friction to be reduced in the engine, that the engine is actually more powerful because it’s using more of its power to come out of the prop as opposed to overcoming the friction inside of the engine.

The Vmax SHO, breakthrough engine. We introduced that in 2010 and that’s where we combined the power of a 2-stroke with the amenities of a 4-stroke. The smooth, the queen, the quiet. Now you’ve got the acceleration, you’ve got the fuel economy, you’ve got it all in that engine right there.

The main reason why Yamaha’s tagline is, “Reliability starts here,” We’re all about it. If you’d like to learn more about Yamaha outboards, feel free to visit us at yamahaoutboards.com. You’ll find complete information from the big 5.3 liter V8 F350, all the way down the mighty might F2.5.

I know in smaller boats you really got to take into consideration if you want to go with the Max horsepower or somewhere in between, because some boats actually run better with less horsepower.

Sure.

Than they do with the Max because you have to take into consideration draft, what it’s going to do to the running ability of the boat, is it going to get squirley on the top end.

Certainly that’s true, but, you know, also you should take into consideration the opinion of the dealer that you’re buying the boat from.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

The dealer knows that boat probably better than anybody, as well as the manufacturer of it, so they probably have some pretty good information to dial in exactly what you need on your boat.

What’s more of a concern is what kind of boating are you going to be doing? What kind of fishing? In what kind of water? And what do you really need to boat to do to help you understand what’s the best power source and whether it’s twins or triples or a single.

There again is goes back to what are you going to do with a boat? If you’re wanting to get in really skinny water, absolutely, you might be better off with a little bit less horsepower because it’s going to draft less.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

In the Mercury lineup, one big difference is in our 40, 50, 60 family, we have a 40 horse that’s a three cylinder. Whereas you go to a four cylinder in a 60, even though there’s only 20 horsepower difference, you’re saving weight. I’ve got a lot of guys down in the keys that are running at 40 because it’s another inch or two of draft that they can save. They can get to those spots other guys can’t.

Right.

just because of that factor.

Now I think you’re really getting into the boat manufacturer. He knows best when he develops his boat, you know, as far as how much horse power really needs to get the boat to ride a real well atop rough water, what have you. A lot of times from one engine to two engines, you’ll see a noticeable change in performance, but when you start going from two angels to three engines, now the performance level … The difference is not that much more and yet there’s a lot more significance in costs, you know? I think you find it in smaller boat applications, weight definitely on the transom becomes an issue. So if you can keep the way to a minimum on the transom, the boat’s going to be more efficient through the water, you’re going to have less squat on the transmitter, you’ll sit low in the water. And I think you’re right. A little less horsepower, not necessarily being maxed out, will give you excellent performance on the top end.

A lot of those decisions will be, you know, made at the manufacturer based on the hull style. They’ll have two or three different kinds of power options that you can choose from. But typically, you look at the boat itself, the amount of dead rise and things. When you have more dead rise, it’s harder to keep that boat on top of the water, you’re going to need more horsepower to push it. When you have less dead rise you don’t need quite as much for power. So you have more options there.

And here again, the customer needs to decide is are they concerned with top speed? acceleration? Mid range? That type of thing. If you’re operating in the mid range, a lot of times what I tell people is get more engine and use less of it so that you’re backing off on the throttle and in so doing you’re not putting so much strain on the engines and you’ll get good economy out of it that way.

Up next, Dave will take you through our featured outboards and talk to the experts. There’s plenty more to come, so stick around for more Florida Sportsman’s Best Boat.

This segment is brought to you by the best in class Evinrude E-TEC 150 horsepower outboard engine. Proven power, proven reliability.

Evinrude E-TEC has been outperforming 4-stroke engines for years, but what about the latest 154 strokes that claim to deliver 2-stroke like torque. See the proof for yourself. Get your free DVD now and watch how the 2-stroke Evinrude E-TEC 150 out pulls and out accelerates the 4-stroke competition. See how it wins when it comes to maintenance, ease of winterization, and more. Evinrude E-TEC is the true champion. Go to Evinrude150challenge.com and get your free DVD now.

Let’s get back to Dave, as he helps you decide what’s the best outboard for you.

Hi, I’m Matt Jackson, the Business Development Manager for Mercury Marine for south Florida. I’m here to tell you a few things about Mercury in general and then also some exciting things that we have as far as new product in the market.

Everything we do is marine focused. We make our own props. We even make some of our own alloys that these engines are made out of. One of the new products that we’ve recently introduced that we’re really excited about is joystick piloting for outboards. And we’ve had joystick piloting for sterndrives for several years in the market under the name of Axius, but we’ve recently launched it for outboards. This is available on Verado’s 250 horsepower to 300. You can use it in twin, triple, and quad configurations with single and dual stations.

Some of the neat features about this that some of the other manufacturers out there that do have a joystick piloting system don’t have, we have an item called Skyhook. This is a virtual anchor, so imagine how nice would be if you’re actually heading out and you discover a spot you might want to bottom fist for a little bit, but you don’t really want to drop the anchor. Well with the touch of a button. You can use the engines to hold you right over that spot, whether it be a reef or a wreck. Or even in a different situation, you’re waiting for a bridge to open up or a fuel dock to open up so that you can get in and and add fuel and continue your boating day. Just a touch of a button holds you right there. It’s like having an additional person on the boat right there helping you out.

One of the unique features about this system is an integrated autopilot. We also have way points sequencing, so if you have a series of GPS points that you want the boat to follow, you can actually do that with this system. It will automatically follow that track for you. Nobody else can offer these features.

Then you have the joystick itself. I mean, imagine being able to just with the touch of a joystick, move a boat sideways, spin it in place, just give you that fine, fine tuning on docking a boat. It makes it so much easier to handle the boat, especially in tight quarters. Or if you have somebody that’s not as familiar with driving a boat, it really takes a lot of the stress out of it. It’s something that has just had a huge reception so far and we’re very very excited to bring to the market.

For more information, you can check us out at mercurymarine.com. We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If I have an outboard powered boat, how do I get 2,500 hours out of my engine? What do I need to do to take care of it for it’s longevity?

First and foremost, you need to follow the maintenance schedule in the operator’s manual there. There’s always a very, you know, in depth maintenance schedule that will allow you to get that kind of life out of your engine if you follow that schedule.

One of the key things that most consumers can do is change your oil filters, change your oil, change your gear lube, and just do a visual inspection over all, you know, make sure everything’s tight and is well lubed and maintained.

One of the key things, especially if you’re going to run in saltwater, is you always want to flush your engine after you’ve used it in saltwater. Whether you’ve been in there for a day or a half a day, you want a flush your engine. That is going to be the true thing that’s going to make your engine last the longest when you’re using it in saltwater.

Obviously there’s some routine maintenance that’s really the the lifeblood of any outboard engine. If you’re fishing in saltwater, using the boat in saltwater, brackish water, even if you’re in freshwater, but it’s dirty, sandy bottom, silty, you want to flush those engines every time.

The great thing about the modern engines is they’re so easy to flush. Most engines have a flush port right on this side of the engine. You can plug in garden hose and flush it out right there, get that clean fresh water through there. That’s going to be the lifeblood of the engine.

On a 4-stroke, make sure you change the oil every hundred hours or once a season, depending on which one comes first. Change the gear lube in the lower unit. It’s a good idea even to check that periodically just to make sure you haven’t picked up some fishing line or something that could cut a seal, get water in there, and hurt the longevity of the engine.

These are things that are easy to check yourself, they’re easy to do yourself if you wanted, to or you can take it to an authorized dealer to make sure it’s done right.

Well, you know proper maintenance is always key, but the Evinrude E-TEC engines feature no dealer scheduled maintenance for three years, or 300 hours of operation. But when that time comes, it’s a good idea to have that maintenance done and those maintenance items include things like changing the gear lube, changing the water pump, making sure that’s in proper working order, greasing the fittings, and then send it back out for another 3 years or 300 hours.

But what the consumer can do on their own is make sure that they keep the engine clean, keep marine growth off of it, tilt it out of the water if it’s going to be stored in the water, flush the engine after every use a when you’re in the salt water or brackish water.

When someone asks me why I should choose a Suzuki, I start with innovation. Suzuki is the world leader in 4-stroke technology. We had the first fuel injected 4-stroke, the first V6 4-stroke, and even the first 300 horsepower 4-stroke. And with that innovation you get performance and proven reliability.

Our next generation 4-strokes utilize lean burn technology for improved economy. They are lighter and incorporate things like O2 sensors, NOx sensors, water detection sensors for better performance and reliability.

Suzuki offers 4-stroke outboards from 2.5 horsepower to our flagship 300. All of our outboards from 40 to 300 horsepower are fuel injected and we have just introduced an industry first battery less fuel injected 15 and 20 horsepower models.

When you choose one of our V6’s or one of our mid range models, you get the latest in technology for impressive performance and Suzuki’s legendary reliability and durability.

You find Suzuki outboards available on many new boats and a lot of boat owners offers Suzuki when they want to repower their present boat. Suzuki outboards fit the standard 26″ center to center bolt pattern already in your transom. You can improve the performance of your boat without having to rerig all of your electronics and fishing gear.

All in all, you’ll find Suzuki outboards a great combination of the latest technology, impressive performance, and proven reliability. I’m David Greenwood for Suzuki Marine and have a great day on the water.

Up next, Dave will take you through our featured outboards, and talk to the experts. There’s plenty more to come, so stick around for more Florida Sportsman’s Best Boat.

This segment is brought to you by Yamaha. Reliability starts here.

It’s 200 streamlined horsepower of Yamaha forward thinking. The all new F200 inline 4-stroke. Whether you’re an offshore angler, fine tune cruiser, bay boater, or walleye hunter, the responsive and fuel efficient F200 combines amazing power and versatility in one incredibly compact and lightweight package. The all new F200, legendary Yamaha reliability and the freedom of forward thinking.

Welcome back to Florida Sportsman’s Best Boat. Let’s get back to Dave, as he reviews our featured outboard motors.

Hi, I’m Karl Sandstrom. I’m with BRP’s marketing department. I’m here today to talk a little bit about the Evinrude E-TEC technology. Our Evinrude E-TEC outboards are available from our 15 HO all the way up to the 300 horsepower V6 3.4 liter motor. It’s a technology that features a minimal amount of maintenance, they’re the lowest maintenance engines in the industry, featuring three years or 300 hours of no dealer scheduled maintenance.

That also means that there’s no break-in period. When you buy the engine, take it out the first time. you can run it any way you want. The motor is totally capable of being operated in the way that you choose right from the get go.

Our Evinrude E-TEC engines are some of the lowest emissions engines in the industry. They feature direct injection, and with direct injection we put fuel directly into the combustion chamber of the engine and that allows us to stratify that mixture, only using a portion of the combustion chambers air, so it gets extraordinarily fuel efficient and extraordinarily clean emissions.At idle speeds, our engines develop about 1/50th of the carbon monoxide emissions that a typical 4-stroke in the industry does today.

A lot of people ask us how our Evinrude E-TEC engines can go for three years or 300 hours without any dealer scheduled maintenance, and the answer is we design it from the ground up with that intention. The gear lube and the gear case is designed to be able to hold 25% water in suspension to make sure that, even if there’s water in the gear case, that it can survive and be protected. The seals in the prop shaft and drive shaft and ship[inaudible 00:20:54] area are all designed to last for three years or 300 hours. And the water pumping pillar of the engine is also designed of a material that will allow it to go for 3 years or 300 hours of operation.

Well, thanks for having me today on Florida Sportsman’s Best Boat, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Hopefully we shed a little light on the different brands that are out there and what each manufacturer has to offer. To be quite frank, so many of the motors that we tested are so close in performance, if you’re trying to choose one over the other just based on the performance numbers, that’s going to be a tough choice. I would take into consideration what motor was actually mounted on my boat at the factory, did you test drive it, and how close is your servicing dealer?

Do a little research. Go onto the Florida Sportsman website to the boating page and get on the forum. There’s a lot of good information out there, and maybe even start your own post and ask a question about outboards. You will get a lot of responses.

Thank you for watching and hopefully this episode will help you pick the best outboard for you. See you next time on Florida Sportsman Best Boat.

Be sure to tune in next time to see more of the 36 boats we tested from skinny water capable 16′ technical poling skiffs, all the way to Gulfstream fishing machines in the 42′ center console class.

If you’re stalking bonefish on the flats, [inaudible 00:22:40]’s in the ocean, or if you prefer quality time with the family, let Florida Sportsman help find the best boat for you.

Camera boat provided by Carolina skiff. For more information on the Best Boat series, pick up a copy of our new magazine, Florida Sportsman Best Boat at newsstands, or visit us on the web at floridasportsman.com