Fishermen rely on their outboard engines to supply the power needed to get from the dock to their hotspots and back. But of course, each angler’s requirements are different, depending on the waters they fish, the size of the boat, and their speed and performance expectations.
Several new and improved outboards for 2008 appear below, but check out all your options at your dealer’s showroom, or on the manufacturer’s websites, before you make a final decision.
The big news from Suzuki is big, as I found during testing at the press introduction of its new engine on Table Rock Lake. The new Suzuki DF250SS (Photo 1) is a 250-horsepower, four-stroke hotrod.
Regardless of whether it’s pushing a big bass boat or a saltwater rig, the four-valves-per-cylinder V6 250SS, with big-block 4-liter displacement and Suzuki’s Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC), provides lots of power, extremely quick hole shots and a great top-end ride. And, all with the fuel economy, reliability and emission features of a four-stroke.
A powerful 32-bit computer with high-performance programming, an extra-large dual intake and Suzuki’s multi-stage induction system were all developed to enhance the engine’s breathing characteristics based on operating speeds are other features.
Two intake manifolds per cylinder deliver the optimum fuel/air charge from hole shot to top end, and variable valve timing provides strong low- and mid-range torque. Suzuki also developed a 20-inch shaft combined with an aggressive lower unit that reduces hydrostatic drag. Despite its sleek appearance, it delivers a final drive ratio of 2.08:1 for lightning-quick hole shots.
Also from Suzuki this year is a DF9.9 High Thrust four-stroke with a new power tilt system—a first for a Suzuki outboard of this size. The kicker can quickly and easily be raised or lowered with the push of a button on the tiller handle, or by remote control.
The high-thrust four-blade prop make it a good choice for low-speed trolling on heavy salmon and multi-species boats.
Yamaha Marine Group grabbed the spotlight in 2007 when it introduced its massive 350-horsepower four-stroke outboard. The monster features 32 valves in eight cylinders that total 5.3 liters of displacement, and was built to power the largest off-shore fishing boats.
As a follow-up this year Yamaha also launched the next generation of its venerable VMax line, dubbed Series 2 (Photo 2).
It includes models from 200 to 300 horsepower and now features a Yamaha Three-Year Limited Warranty.
Series 2 outboards continue to be based on the proven 3.3-liter, 76-degree V6 block, and are equipped with a second-generation 1,000 psi High Pressure Direct Injection system, plus a number of enhanced component designs.
Among other things, piston shape was redesigned to optimize contact with the cylinder sleeve; the fuel map for each Series 2 engine has been re-programmed to help reduce combustion and exhaust temperatures; and the oil injection schedule has been recalibrated, based on engine speed and load, to provide a more precise amount of oil for any given engine setting.
Overall, the Series 2 improvements were meant to make the popular VMax line even more dependable.
Yamaha also launched a high-power V6, sports-style four-stroke outboard, the new F225TLR. With a 20-inch shaft the outboard is an excellent match for many popular bay boats, pontoon and fish-and-skis that require lots of horses and short shaft.
Yet, it’s also a good choice for bass boaters who prefer four-stroke power. The heart of the new 225 is a compact 60-degree, 3.3-liter block, equipped with Variable Camshaft Timing, which dramatically increases low- and mid-range torque. Plus, a redesigned air intake system, coupled with Yamaha’s multi-point electronic fuel injection, delivers easy, instant starts, fast acceleration and a great top-end.
Finally, two new 9.9-horsepower four-strokes, the F9.9F and T9.9G, are the smallest and lightest of their class. Similar in size to Yamaha’s two-stroke 9.9, the four-strokes weigh in at 91 pounds for the F9.9F and 104 pounds for the T9.9G, high-thrust version.
It employs a higher gear ratio and Yamaha’s optional Dual Thrust prop to provide the muscle needed to control heavier boats.
Tohatsu Outboards And Nissan Marine
Tohatsu Outboards and Nissan Marine announced the addition of a new 20-horsepower four-stroke to their line (Photo 3), replacing the current 18-horsepower model and splitting the difference between the manufacturers’ 15- and 25-horsepower engines.
Tohatsu’s and Nissan’s first 20 four-stroke features a sure-starting CD ignition system, as well as many of the features the 18 had offered—visual and audible low oil pressure warning and manual-start decompression.
The new outboard is an obvious choice for anglers who want quiet, four-stroke power for an aluminum jon- or modified v-hull boat up to about 16 feet.
Mercury Marine enters 2008 with a number of new offerings. Two new engines have been introduced into the OptiMax family—the OptiMax 175 Pro XS (Photo 4) and the OptiMax 250, while the four-stroke Verado line expands to include new 200- and 300-horsepower models.
Following in the successful footsteps of its direct-injected 3-liter predecessors, the 225 and 250 Pro XS engines, the new 175 Pro XS delivers the same type of performance in a 2.5-liter package that weighs in at 431 pounds. Developed in coordination with engineers and technicians at Mercury Racing, the new engine features carbon fiber reeds, a higher injection pressure and a high-output 60-amp alternator.
Mercury’s 250 OptiMax features the exclusive Verado gear case with heavy-duty components for durability, corrosion resistance and performance. Dual pickups provide a steady flow of cooling water, even in elevated running positions.
On the four-stroke side, Mercury also began production of two new Verado models—an in-line four-cylinder 200 and an in-line six-cylinder 300.
At 510 pounds, the Verado 200 is the lightest four-stroke available, making it a good choice for freshwater aluminum and saltwater bay and flats boats.
Conversely, the 300-horsepower model is big and brawny, and meets the growing trend toward larger fresh- and saltwater boats that require more muscle.
Both new Verados are beneficiaries of series-wide upgrades Mercury made to all outboards in the line, such as incorporating stronger, lighter forged (rather than cast) pistons; eccentric grooved crankshaft main bearings for improved oil retention; and an all-new intake cam profile which improves air flow and a stronger top end.
Evinrude continues to tweak its E-Tec series of powerful, yet environment-friendly outboards.
For 2008, the line-up is headed up by the largest, most powerful E-Tec yet—the new 250-horsepower High Output (Photo 5).
The beast boasts 3.4 liters of displacement, providing more power to bring heavy loads on plane, faster hole shots and increased top-end.
The engine was designed to be as turn-key and maintenance-free as possible, according to product manager Karl Sandstrom. For example, a one-piece inner exhaust combines 24 pieces into a single cast piece to eliminate the possibility of leaks. Water intake screens are easy to remove and clean. And a multi-point oiling system ensures overall lubrication for longer engine life.
The 250 HO’s high-speed Lightning gear case is another innovation. Built to be even more robust than ever before, the newly designed case also houses gears made with the Vacuum Arc Remelt process that removes impurities from the metal for added strength and durability.
Enhancements across the E-Tec line include unique iridium spark plugs, enhanced calibration and a patent-pending fast-rise inductive ignition system for smooth running throughout the rpm range.
Honda offers a full line four-stroke outboards, covering 17 power levels from 2 to 225 horsepower.
The company’s largest outboards are based on its reliable automotive power plants. For example, the versatile BF150 (Photo 6) uses the same engine that powers the Accord and CR-V.
The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder features power enhancing and fuel saving systems, such as Variable Valve Timing and Electronic Lift (VTEC) and Lean Burn Control (LBC). VTEC automatically adjusts valve lift, while LBC regulates fuel flow to match engine rpm for optimum power and efficiency.
Honda’s latest move was to offer a full five-year warranty on every engine in their lineup that’s purchased new from a participating dealer through March 31. The coverage is non-declining, and fully backed by the manufacturer.