The Best Motor for My Boat

Matt Straw

Choosing an outboard shouldn’t happen until you have a serious discussion. With some experts. Like yourself.

The owner is the only one who knows how the outboard motor will be asked to perform, and where it’s going to operate. We all know tournament anglers have different needs and preferences than weekend warriors and anglers with big families. But whether it’s a high-performance bass boat or a pontoon, we all want to know how to select the right outboard motor with the perfect prop, the correct shaft length, the optimum amount of power, and the proper rigging. And everybody wants to save money on gas and oil.

Mr. Ry Landry addresses those concerns for people all the time. It’s his job. Landry is Product Education Manager for Yamaha Outboard Motors, where he’s been working for the past 11 years. “I’m responsible for product information that’s not service related,” Landry said. “That involves talking to consumers and the media, doing internal training, and training for OEMs.”

One of the first decisions an owner is looking for is reliability. It is one of the top concerns of all outboard customers. “Reliability starts here,” Landry said. “That’s our motto. We’re pretty confident in our reliability. I was just in Belize where all the outboards you can find are Yamaha, and most have high hours of operation. Commercial fishermen, water taxis, fishing guides, tour guides—most all of them have Yamaha engines.” Reliability is why so many lodges up in Canada have switched to Yamaha engines over the past decade. Getting a mechanic up there or transporting a motor for repairs can be very expensive.

The next and much easier decision to make in today’s market is choosing between a 2-stroke and a 4-stroke, Landry says, is easier than picking a prop. “We don’t see many 2-strokes these days,” he said. “Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, and Mercury don’t have 2-strokes anymore. Only Evinrude has it. The advantage of the 4-stroke is power. The torque curve is beneficial during the hole shot and midrange cruising, with great fuel efficiency. All of Yamaha’s portables from 2.5 up 25 HP are 4-strokes today.

Fuel efficiency is a hot topic and another concern Landry often discusses with consumers. “It’s easier for engineers of cars than engineers of boats,” he said. “Internal combustion burns so much air to burn so much fuel to produce so much torque. So, it’s a mechanical thing. Yamaha engineers looked at the design and shape of the lower unit in the water to reduce friction, and we now have the most efficient lower unit we’ve ever had in terms of displacement. Measuring friction—drag analysis—is done on computers. Engine design has also increased the compression ratio on some of our engines from 9.6:1 to 12.2:1—a significant improvement in fuel efficiency. Other technologies have helped, too.”

A new technology from Yamaha to help with fuel efficiency, on select models, is replacing conventional steel cylinder walls with plasma fusion—a micro-textured surface that’s 60 percent harder and lighter than steel—means increased displacement without increasing powerhead size, less weight, and decreased friction, all of which increase fuel efficiency. If deciding between new and used—new may cost more but should have better fuel efficiency, saving money over time.

The next consideration would be to figure out what performance you are looking for. “Powering a boat is a tough thing,” Landry says. “Water provides a lot of resistance. Far more than air, so it takes far more power to get a boat up to 60 mph than a car. So, choosing the right outboard motor for your boat isn’t something to take lightly. Talk with a Yamaha dealer, whether buying there or not. Tell the dealer what the boat will be doing most and where it will be used. Is it a family boat? Fish alone a lot, or with friends and family? How fast do you need to go? Will you be pulling a water skier? Ask, a Yamaha dealer will help you prioritize what you want from a motor and a boat.”

One of the newest challenges for prospective outboard buyers is choosing between mechanical and digital controls. “If it’s a new motor, one nice option to consider is digital controls,” Landry said. “Mechanical controls are good old-fashioned cables for steering and speed. Digital has no cables, just sensors, and wires. Digital controls transmit signals to the engine. The engine’s computer instantly processes speed, steering, trim, and other signals. Without cables, a boat has some room for other kinds of rigging. Some people prefer mechanical, though, so control options are something to think about.”

A tiller handle is a manual control that comes standard on most portable models and can be added up to a F115. But to have the choice of digital or mechanical on a larger unit, you need to pick a motor that has the capability you want. The Yamaha V6 4.2L engines and I-4 4-stroke engines for instance, are available with either mechanical or digital controls.

A famous boat rigger once told me the average walleye boat he rigged had more electronic density than the fighter jets he worked on in the Navy. That was more than ten years ago and electronic density has increased tremendously. If you’re part of the bass world, you want a motor with a decent alternator. Alternators on Yamaha V-MAX SHO models, put out 46 amps at 1000 rpm and 50 amps between 2500 and 6000 rpm. You can power a full array of depth finders, GPS units, and radar with that much power. If electric accessories are your thing, ask about amp output on the motor being considered.

Some people get confused about the shaft length required on the lower unit. The cavitation plate, directly above the prop, should be even with the bottom of the transom pushing both prop and skeg below the hull. Shaft length on an outboard is measured from the inside top of the mounting bracket to the bottom of the cavitation plate. Any transom that measures 14- to 17-inches requires a 15-inch “short shaft” outboard. A 17- to 18-inch transom could go with a 15- or 20-inch shaft, depending on how it’s mounted. Any 19- to 22.5-inch transom is best fitted with a 20-inch “long shaft” outboard. And a transom 22.5- to 27-inches tall should be matched with a 25-inch “extra-long shaft.” (Yamaha F-Series outboards now offer the option of an “extra-extra-long” 35-inch shaft.)

“Making sure you get the right shaft length can be as easy as talking to the dealer,” Landry said. “Transoms have different holes for adjusting the height of the engine up or down. Those additional holes for bolting the motor on can be used to level the anti-ventilation (cavitation) with the bottom of the hull, but positioning can get tricky. It depends on how and where the customer is planning on using the boat. In the Texas gulf, many boats need jack plates to raise and lower the engine because they fish in very shallow water.”

Tell the Yamaha dealer where you plan on using the outboard. If buying from a private owner, consult a Yamaha dealer anyway—so that the setup is consistent with the way you boat and fish.

The final choice to make is one that takes in a ton of factors. “Picking a prop requires careful consideration,” Landry says. “Talk to the dealer of the brand of boat you have or go to yamahaoutboards.com. We have a prop configurator that allows you to type in your boat type, length, and weight so you can pick a prop that fits specific needs a little better. It also helps a customer figure out what they need for better speed, a better hole shot, or better fuel efficiency during the type of use the engine will see most. Then they can start looking at things like a 3-blade versus a 4-blade prop, or whether it should be a ventilated prop.”

Check out yamahaoutboards.com for answers on brand new product, prop selection, rigging, maintenance requirements, new technologies and more. You’re the expert for your needs, so you might as well own it. Now that you know a little more about how to choose the best outboard for you, use it to purchase your new outboard.

How To Fillet A Fish In 5 Super Simple Steps

How To Fillet A Fish In 5 Super Simple Steps thumbnail

Knowing how to fillet a fish is essential if you like harvesting your catches. Some say this is the worst part of the whole fishing experience, but the chore becomes tolerable when you think about those tasty fillets you get to eat later.

What You’ll Need To Fillet A Fish

The task of cleaning fish is simple if you have the right equipment. I suggest starting with a good cleaning table set at the right height to minimize back strain from bending over too much.

A cleaning board is a must. I recommend either a store-bought model or a flat scrap piece of lumber (avoid using treated wood though to prevent any chemicals from soaking into your fillets).

A sharp fillet knife is essential to cleaning your catch and I always use an electric knife whenever electricity is available. I have been using an American Angler model for years and it has been very dependable. My model came with two blade sizes: an 8-inch model for crappie and walleye and a 5 1/2-inch version for bluegill. I have found that the 5 1/2-inch blade works best for me cleaning crappie because it gives me a more precise cut than the 8-inch version which also tended to tear the meat after I had cleaned about five or six fish.

Get The Right Knife For The Job

How To Fillet A Fish

They say that a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife. While I’m not sure about that, I do know that a sharp knife is key when filleting fish. Having a thin and easy to manage, sharp blade will help make this entire task much less cumbersome.

A bowl for holding the fillets while you are cleaning a mess of fish is also a must. I prefer using a glass bowl from an old mixer my wife discarded because it’s easier to clean and remove any blood stains from the bowl. Once you have the right equipment, follow these five easy steps to clean your catch.

5 Easy Steps To Fillet Your Fish

How To Fillet A Fish

Lay the fish on the cutting board or some type of flat, hard surface. Grasp the fish by its mouth and place the knife’s blade behind the fish’s gills and cut inward and downward towards the head until the blade reaches the backbone. Be careful not to cut into the backbone.

How To Fillet A Fish: Step 1

Turn the knife 90 degrees towards the tail and glide the blade along the backbone. Make sure your blade stays on top of the back and belly fins and cut through the fish’s rib cage. Try to avoid cutting into the backbone so it’s better to cut too shallow into the fish rather than too deep. Continue to cut through the body towards the tail and then exit the blade at the base of the tail.

How To Fillet A Fish: Step 2

With the fillet still attached to the tail, flip it away from the fish and position the knife on the thin portion of the fillet. Hold the fish and slice between the meat and skin to remove the fillet. Run the blade at a shallow angle to avoid slicing through the skin and making sure to cut as close to the skin as you can to get the most meat for the fillet.

How To Fillet A Fish: Step 3

Move the fish away from the fillet to work on removing the ribs from the fillet. Position the tip of your knife at the top of the rib cage and cut downward along the rib cage all the way to the bottom of the fillet. Angling your knife and slicing close to the ribs guarantees you will retain the most meat on your fillet. Then carefully remove the rib cage from the fillet.
Set the fillet aside in some type of a bowl, turn over the fish and repeat steps 1 through 4.

How To Fillet A Fish: Step 4

Lay the fish on the cutting board or some type of flat, hard surface. Grasp the fish by its mouth and place the knife’s blade behind the fish’s gills and cut inward and downward towards the head until the blade reaches the backbone. Be careful not to cut into the backbone.

How To Fillet A Fish: Step 5

Turn the knife 90 degrees towards the tail and glide the blade along the backbone. Make sure your blade stays on top of the back and belly fins and cut through the fish’s rib cage. Try to avoid cutting into the backbone so it’s better to cut too shallow into the fish rather than too deep. Continue to cut through the body towards the tail and then exit the blade at the base of the tail.Lay the fish on the cutting board or some type of flat, hard surface. Grasp the fish by its mouth and place the knife’s blade behind the fish’s gills and cut inward and downward towards the head until the blade reaches the backbone. Be careful not to cut into the backbone.

Finishing Up

After cleaning all the fish, I rinse off the fillets with tap or lake water and rub off any blood or scales sticking to the fillets. If I feel any small bones in the fillets, I trim those out with a conventional fillet knife. Some of the fillets go straight to the frying pan while others are stored in the freezer. I place a certain amount in a Ziploc freezer bag and mark on the bag the number of fillets and the date of the catch for future reference.

Winterize your boat: The motor

How you handle your outboard in the winter depends to a large extent on how you use it. If you occasionally fish when it’s warm, that’s one thing. If you let it sit for three or four months, that’s another.

Industry experts say that for the occasional user the two big things are proper warmups and keeping water out of the lower unit.

Proper warmup
Experts define proper warmup as letting your motor run at idle for a few minutes before you blast off towards your favorite fishing hole. You want the thermostat to open and water to run through the system so that the motor is being cooled properly. You’ll know this is happening if water is running out of the telltale port (pee hole).

What happens when you blast off too quick is that the motor gets hot and then when the thermostat opens the cooling system pushes cold water against hot metal.

Do not run the motor if the telltale port isn’t peeing water after a minute or two. That’s an indication that something is wrong. Have it checked out by someone who knows what they’re doing.

Keeping water out
Keeping water out of the lower unit is easy enough if you trim the motor down and let it drain before you leave the ramp, and if you always store the motor trimmed vertical. Getting all the water out is simple if you just look around for a pothole in the gravel, asphalt or concrete and position the motor over it before you hit the trim button. That’ll open up enough room to get the motor all the way down.

Do not, under any circumstances, run your motor dry to get the water out of it. It only takes a few seconds to overheat one, and once that happens you’ll need to check your bank balance and head towards the local dealership with your hat in your hand.

Another common problem with running outboards dry is that the impeller gets damaged by the heat. It doesn’t always show up right away, but it will show up sometime in the future.

If you store your boat outside, some experts recommend wrapping the lower unit with plastic as an extra protection against the weather. If you do this, make sure it’s tight. Otherwise you could actually trap water around the lower unit and make matters worse.

Storage tips
The situation is more complicated if your boat is going to sit all winter. There are all types and designs, makes and models of outboards. Each one is different, and the new outboards are very different from the older ones. Some require fogging and removal of the plugs. Others require nothing more than what was described above for occasional use.

The thing here is to get accurate information about your exact motor. A good place to start is the internet, but make sure you know what site you are on and who’s providing the information. Manufacturer sites are reliable and will give you good information. Be wary of discussion boards and private sites, however. Some of the stuff that’s posted on them is good, but much of it is nothing short of crazy. Unfortunately, a lot of the time it’s hard to tell the difference.

You’ll also want to check with a local dealer who has a good reputation and who services your make of motor. They’ll be able to give you good information and will have whatever parts or products you need to properly winterize your motor.

Of course, you’ll need to drain all the water out of your lower unit, make sure it’s full of grease — never store one empty — and store it in the vertical position.

If you take care of your outboard, it’ll give you hundreds and hundreds of hours of reliable service. If you don’t, it’ll frustrate you and make your fishing a chore instead of a pleasure.

Fishing trips are great for your mental health, new study says

If you’re feeling down or burnt out, it might be time to get back into nature.

According to Niels Eék, psychologist and co-founder of mental wellbeing and self-development platform Remente, spending time in nature may be the key to good mental health.

“Several researchers have looked into the health benefits connected to spending time out in nature. One study specifically, which was recently published in BioScience Journal, found that daily exposure to nature can, among other things, help reduce feelings of stress and even improve your self-esteem, for up to seven hours. Reconnecting with nature can also help you become more mindful and present in the moment,” Eék said in a statement.

A study from the University of Michigan suggests that being in nature not only improves your mood for the time, but also has positive long-term effects when it comes to depression and memory.

Moreover, a study from the University of Michigan suggests that being in nature not only improves your mood for the time, but also has positive long-term effects when it comes to depression and memory, as well as decreasing the risk of certain cancers and high blood pressure.

So what should you do to boost your mental health effectively in nature? Well, there is always camping, biking and hiking, but some experts believe the best way to take care of your mind is to go on a fishing trip.

An Australian survey funded by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Scheme reports relaxation and stress relief are the main benefits people get from recreational fishing, according to reps for Fishbrain, a mobile app and social network for people who love to fish.

The free app has attracted millions of users who have discovered fishing as their newfound self-care hobby. The app uses an interactive map to allow users to find the best places to fish, as well as record their catches, plan trips, share tips and techniques, and purchase the latest gear.

“Fishing is one of the most popular sports in the world and one of only a few truly global hobbies,” Johan Attby, CEO and founder of Fishbrain, said in a statement “With data and sophisticated technology at its core, and an engaged community as its heart, Fishbrain has become a social network that both inspires and equips users across the globe to have more fun by fishing smarter, not harder.”

So it’s easier than ever to go fishing, even if you’re a newbie, without the added stress of not catching anything.

Fishbrain’s users can attest to the mental health benefits of fishing. “Fishing has become critical to my mental health. My job as a sales/production manager can be quite stressful at times, and nothing relieves stress and centers me like fishing,” said Gabe Beaudry of Central Oregon.

“Going fishing outdoors increases your vitamin D, which helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, keeping your bones and teeth healthy. It boosts your immune system and has been linked to fighting depression,” added Chasten Whitfield of Cortez, Florida.