The increasing popularity of longer, faster center-console fishing boats is fueling the drive for more powerful outboards.
By Game & Fish Editor in Chief John Geiger
Yamaha just upped their outboard game by announcing a new 425-horsepower motor for saltwater anglers. The 5.6-liter V8 XTO is the largest Yamaha on the market.
Mercury Marine earlier this year showed off their new V8 400-hp engine. But the biggest boy on the block is 7 Marine's new 627-hp monster.
Yamaha's V8 XTO
That behemoth, called the 627sv, has an all-aluminum block, weighs 1,094 pounds dry, displaces 376 cubic inches, and can push a big boat at astounding speeds. The 627sv was released in February.
Outboard manufacturers are responding to increasing popularity of large, fast open-cockpit center-console fishing boats. These vessels are changing the face of offshore fishing. Anglers are able to get farther offshore, quicker, and fish places they had not in the past.
Off Florida's West Coast, anglers are now able to access Louisiana's oil rigs in a reasonable amount of time with multiple 425-plus outboards on the transom of sleek boats like Yellowfin's 42 Offshore, Contenders, Freemans or a 53-foot HydraSport SueÃ±os.
Northeastern anglers off the East Coast can now access distance canyons in less time, and that opens new opportunities for bluefin tuna, makos and marlin.
The new Yamaha outboard, unveiled this summer, has many impressive new innovations in addition to speed. The Yamaha XTO actually is excellent at going backwards.
Anglers know there are many times when you must go in reverse fast. Backing down on a game fish to let the angler gain line is a huge part of offshore tournament fishing.
A new exhaust-gas relief system lets the V8 XTO Offshore propellers bite clean water â€” that is, exhaust is now released above the cavitation plate so the prop pulls at "new" water, not aerated, exhaust water like all other outboards do. The result is an immediate response and power like never before.
"It's amazing how responsive this outboard is," said Capt. Sean Gill, who has run charter boats on the East Coast. "More speed is always better. And I love being the first boat on a spot. But when I first backed down with this motor, I was frightened. It's so powerful."
Gill also noted several new upgrades to Yamaha's Helm Master system, which puts control of the outboards into a joystick, but also uses complex computer algorithms to control boat positioning. Helm Master is made for multiple-outboard setups and adjusts the position and speed of each motor automatically to match joystick input.
Yamaha's Helm Master
"If you're drift-fishing, working jigs over a wreck or fishing live bait at the surface, you can now set your boat to follow patterns and variations to keep you in fish longer," said Gill.
A few other innovations from this massive new Yamaha include electronic steering, which is an industry first. This eliminates hydraulics completely, and I noticed it frees up a lot of room in the transom area â€“ which can be taken back for storage or a larger cockpit, where we anglers spend an awful lot of time!
Although hidden from view, the new direct injection system delivers its fuel-air mixture not to the intake, but directly into the cylinders. That increases responsiveness and torque.