I spent the better part last Friday at the recent Minneapolis Boat Show, and I saw some amazing watercraft – everything from kayaks to huge cabin cruisers. With the exception of the kayaks, people consistently asked about adequate propulsion on most boats. Every boat has a motor as part of a package. Yours truly witnessed some amazing deals at the show, but that could have been because the motors were smaller than the boat’s hull was rated. I ran into Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer Gary Roach at the show and asked his criteria for matching a boat and motor.
“I get a motor right at the top of the rating,” Roach said, “for a few reasons.” Gary likes fishing big water and when he’s traveling long distances, the bigger motor will get you there faster. There is a trade-off in additional fuel, but he is willing to suffer the consequence for the extra speed.
Roach also takes plenty of individuals out fishing and has lots of gear. Adding weight to the boat requires a bigger motor to get that boat on plane quickly. Load a boat to maximum weight with a marginal motor, and you’ll just plow water.
And then there is resale. Roach turns over his boats annually and he believes buyers prefer a boat with a motor big enough to handle almost any situation.
Will smaller motors work for some anglers? “Sure,” Roach said, “but make sure you are in that situation. If you want a boat for the cabin on a smaller body of water you may not need a motor that hits the top end of the hull rating. You can save money if your situation is one that allows you to stay on the low end of the curve when it comes to motor size.”
With kayaks the propulsion conundrum is whether to paddle or peddle. Brad Nelson from Hi Tempo Water Sports out of White Bear Lake had a booth with many different models of Hobie kayaks. They use a peddle system called the Mirage Drive and were allowing show visitors the opportunity to try this propulsion method in a large pool near their booth.
“Once you try the Hobie Mirage Drive you realize this is a great way to move a kayak,” Nelson said. Hobie realizes how important the fishing market is to kayak sales with the introduction of kayaks specific to fishing. Their Pro-Angler models are showing up in large numbers on lakes, rivers and reservoirs all over the country. They’re an excellent big-water watercraft.
There were paddle kayaks at the show, too. For anglers on a budget, the paddle kayaks are lower in price yet still have a lot of the fishing options like rod holders and molded areas for sonar.
Bottom line, the size of your pocketbook and the type of water you traverse will dictate the propulsion system you choose.
For a complete rundown of some of the top new boats on the market, click here.