June 04, 2015
By Dave East
Engines for offshore, inshore, flats and bass boats.
Offshore rig heads for the kingfish grounds with triple G2 Evinrudes.
Every year outboard engine manufacturers look into their crystal balls to anticipate what new products the boating industry needs, as well as what new products the boating public will buy. Sometimes, changes in a product line are brought on just for the sake of change, but there are also real innovations that will make your boating experience better. In recent years, outboard manufacturers have built new engines aimed at increasing their market share. The real benefit to the consumer is that outboard engine technology has advanced and fuel economy has improved as the weight of outboards has come down.
Over the last several months, Florida Sportsman staffers have tested the spring 2015 model lineup from five major outboard manufacturers. It would be impossible to detail each model in one magazine, but in keeping with the spirit of Florida Sportsman Best Boat Magazine and TV series, we've assembled a quick guide to help you choose the right engine for the popular classes of fishing boats.
Remember, too, that if you're looking to purchase a new outboard, either as a package deal with a new boat or to repower an existing boat, take into account more than just the Coast Guard capacities plate. Just because a boat has a maximum horsepower rating doesn't mean that you should simply buy a new motor based on that rating. The old adage of “buy more motor and use less of it” may apply to some boats, while other boats actually run better with less than the maximum rated horsepower.
In other cases, a manufacturer may be trying to hold a price point on a boat, motor and trailer package. The boat he builds carries a maximum horsepower rating of 175, but to keep the price low he installs a 115. The boat will still perform well with the smaller motor but you will have to operate it in the top of its max RPM range. Opting for a larger 150 horsepower outboard, you could get the same fuel efficiency at cruise as the 115 due to the fact that the 150 can be operated at a lower RPM. Just as you should pick a category and style of boat that best fits your needs, you should also pick an outboard motor that is the best match for your boat and style of fishing.
For our survey, we broke down the fishing boat industry into four categories, Offshore, Bay, Flats and Bass. Each manufacturer was asked two questions: Which outboards out of your lineup are best suited for each category? And why? Hopefully, the responses below will assist you in choosing the best outboard.
Yamaha Next generation 4.2-liter big-bore four-strokes are available in 225, 250 and 300 horsepower. The F300 is the lightest in its class and 19 percent faster than many other 300 hp competitors. Backed by Yamaha's legendary reliability and available with the Helm Master fully integrated boat control system in twin, triple and quad-outboard configurations.
Suzuki The new DF200A gives you V6 performance in an in-line four-cylinder powerhead. It's light weight and offers great fuel economy due to the company's Lean Burn Control Technology. A pair of DF200As can be mounted on 26-inch centers which will allow them to fit on offshore boats with a narrow beam.
BRP Better fuel economy throughout the model lineup, when compared to four strokes: 15 percent lower fuel cost, 15 percent longer range. More mid-range torque for powering over large swells in rough conditions. Easier maintenance, no oil change for boats that are kept on a lift. Auto storage protects stored outboards for seasonal Florida boaters or boats that are kept in the Islands.
Mercury The Verado V6 300 offers proven performance and fuel efficiency for large offshore boats. They are available in traditional black and now also white to match your boat. The Verado has a 3-year warranty including 3 years of corrosion protection. Mercury also offers a joystick control exclusively with Skyhook Virtual Anchor, to hold your boat in position.
Honda The BF250 is basically unchanged since its introduction in 2012, but Honda has added a fly-by-wire shift and throttle package. Called IST, for intelligent shift and throttle, the system accommodates multiple helm stations. The BF250 is a VTEC engine, which means it's going to run in its sweet spot, efficiency- wise, somewhere right up until the middle-rocker arm on the intake valve side clicks into place. At that point, a bigger lobe on the crankshaft engages the rockers, increasing the duration and exposure of the intake stroke, effectively increasing horsepower. Honda made waves in the automotive world with this technology some years back, pulling maximum horsepower out of minimal displacement.
Suzuki For a mid-sized bay boat the DF200A is a perfect choice. The four-cylinder engine is light weight but performs like a V6. The addition of knock and O2 sensors helps keep the engine running smoothly using regular 87-octane gasoline. For smaller bay boats, the 115- and150-hp engines are available in a stealthy black matte finish.
BRP The new G2 is 15 percent more fuel efficient when compared to a four stroke of the same horsepower. This will extend the range of a large bay boat. The I-Trim feature automatically controls a pre-set trim angle based on your speed, in most cases better than an average boater. Gear lube is re-circulated through a reservoir under the engine cowl allowing you to easily inspect it and carry a larger quantity of it.
Mercury Mercury's 150 horsepower four-stroke has the highest displacement (3.L) and lightest weight when compared to other 150s. This allows you to hold on plane at slower speeds. QR codes can be found in several places on the engine and controls to assist you in trouble shooting and maintenance, like oil changes.
Honda The BF135 and BF150 4-strokes are based on a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder powerplant that offers the company's proven VTEC configuration for optimal fuel efficiency and midrange acceleration. The Honda engines are also noted for durability, with design features such as 3-Way Cooling to keep cylinders slightly cooler than the block. Of prime concern to bay boaters running multiple livewell pumps, chartplotters and lights, alternator output is a very competitive 51 amps in the BF135, 55 amps in the BF150.
Yamaha The new VMax SHO 150 delivers the exhilarating hole shot and impressive top speed of a two-stroke with the efficient advantages of a four-stroke. With a 2.8-liter powerhead and an overall weight of just 480 pounds, it's the right fit for a bay boat that needs to jump on plane quickly but not draw much water.
BRP When you look at the overall rigged weight of a G2 outboard, which includes the steering system, it is less than a comparable size four stroke outboard with the boat manufacturer's steering system adding into the equation. There is less steering hardware exposed to salt water and the cleaner rigging of a BRP frees up as much as 2 feet of rear deck space.
Mercury The light weight 115 four-stroke has a 2.1-liter displacement to offer more torque and a quicker time to plane. The low profile design will fit under a poling platform and not hit when trimmed up. The 100-hour check takes less than 1 hour to perform. It has the same QR codes and maintenance-free valve train as larger Merc four-strokes.
Honda The BF90 is made to pop a 17- or 18-foot skiff on plane quickly with the company's Boosted Low Speed Torque System. Basically, when you put the throttle down, the system temporarily advances spark timing to within one degree of the knock limit and increases injector timing. Honda engineers also pull some impressive alternator juice from this compact, 1.5-liter, inline 4-stroke: 44 amps, plenty to keep batteries charged.
Yamaha The SHO line has expanded to include the new 115. Weighing in at only 377 pounds the powerhead has 4 valves per cylinder and a single throttle body. Yamaha has a wide range of props both in size and pitch. Add that to the 115 SHO's ability to turn 6,300 RPM and you can set up the boat for a quick hole shot without sacrificing top end speed.
Suzuki A light weight engine is important for a technical poling skiff. The new DF25A and DF30A are electronically fuel- injected but require no battery. They start quickly with a short pull of the rope and have enough juice to charge your battery (if you have one) while running.
Mercury More tournament pros fish with the OptiMax 250 Pro XS than any other outboard; it's considered the gold standard among bass fishermen. It has the Torque Master II gear case. This two-stroke outboard has fewer moving parts and a rocket fast hole-shot plus eye watering top end speed.
Honda Honda offers a range of horsepower choices for bass boats. The smallest of the bunch, a 2.3 hp portable, should turn heads among pond-hoppers. This air-cooled, 1-cylinder engine weighs only 29 pounds, which Honda says is the lightest 4-stroke outboard in America. It has a centrifugal clutch, automatically engaging the prop when the throttle is advanced. Many other Honda portables are available, including Power Thrust models in 6 to 20 hp.
Yamaha Again tapping into the SHO line of outboards, the new 175 SHO turns an average of 5 miles per hour faster than its sibling 150 horsepower motor. The V4 DOHC powerhead has four valves per cylinder, plus twin counterbalancing shafts. Every feature of the V MAX SHO 175 is efficiently engineered for smooth, quiet performance. There is also no need for an external oil tank, saving valuable storage space under the deck.
Suzuki The SS series 115 and 150 are aimed at the angler fishing the local tournaments plus the weekend warriors. These outboards give every fisherman the opportunity to have the same high performance look as the 250 SS, which tournament pros use on their own rigs. Impressive low-end torque and super fast top speeds, with all three models sporting the new SS-trim package.
BRP For the freshwater market, the new G2 has 20 percent more torque. This added torque will plane a bass boat off faster, minimizing vision-blocking bow rise on acceleration. The on-board oil tank requires no under the deck storage.
OVERALL BENEFITS BY COMPANY
BRP Five-year warranty, 5-year corrosion protection, 5-year (500 hours) no scheduled maintenance. Cleanest emissions. Twenty percent more torque; 15 percent better fuel economy; 15 percent faster. Clean rigging. Built-in integrated steering system. No oil changes. No break-in period.
Suzuki Fifty years of innovation. APX gear case for counter rotating or standard operation by simply changing a chip under the cowling. Joystick operation available on 150 horsepower engines on up to the DF300. All-in-one accessory box for scheduled maintenance. The new, light weight, 200A is the perfect choice for re-powering a two-stroke powered boat.
Yamaha Yamaha Outboards has proudly operated in the U.S. for nearly 30 years and their outboards have become synonymous with innovation, performance and legendary reliability. The company offers the Helm Master fully integrated boat control system, with joystick steering, auto trim adjustments and other customizable features. Also, there's the new line of SHO outboards and a wide variety of matched propellers.
Mercury Mercury has been making outboards and sterndrives for over 75 years. This constant evaluation has developed a complete line of two-stroke and four-stroke outboards. The only company offering a supercharged four-stroke and a joy stick control system with position holding, Skyhook Virtual Anchor.
Honda Honda has maintained a loyal following among fishermen as well as owners of commercial workboats and law enforcement fleets, largely because of its engines' durability and reliability. The company has been building marine 4-stroke engines since 1964. In recent years its growing lineup has been distinguished by a 5-year warranty and numerous customer satisfaction awards. FS
First published Florida Sportsman February 2015