• Published:August 20, 2018
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You want your outboard-powered boat to run 5 mph faster? Of course you do!

There's not an angler on the face of the planet who doesn't wish his or her boat ran faster - and that includes triple- and quad-engine center consoles that already do a pretty darn good job of boiling the water.
Funny thing is, with a little bit of work and attention, most boats could actually gain somewhere between 3 and 5 mph. Here are five different methods you can use to raise your boat’s speed by up to five mph.

1. Reduce Weight

Ever wonder why the first time you sea-trialed your boat it hit 50 mph, but a year later it struggles to break 45? Weight is the key. We pile all kinds of gear, some of which goes unused for years, into our boats and all of that extra baggage takes a toll. Then, we fill up freshwater tanks and (ugh) holding tanks. And on top of it all, many of us are running boats with layer upon layer of bottom paint, which also adds weight.

Let’s take a 26-footer that weighs 5,000 pounds, for example. When you got the boat you loaded in a tool kit comprehensive enough to disassemble the boat (40 pounds), two Danforths and a wreck anchor (75 pounds) a spare rode and chain (50 pounds), all kinds of crazy fishing gear (50 pounds), some spare parts (25 pounds) and assorted extra foul-weather gear and clothing (50 pounds). Then you painted the bottom (20 pounds), filled the 25-gallon freshwater tank (200 pounds), and now the 20-gallon holding tank is half full (80 pounds). Your boat weighs 590 pounds more than it originally did, a weight increase of more than 10 percent. Take a serious assessment of what you need, what you use, and what you can shed. Cut that excess weight by half, and your boat will gain a few miles per hour.

2. Swap Your Prop

Most boats are sold with the prop matched to a new boat that’s in ideal condition. And after a season or two of use (due to weight gain, bottom growth, etc.) quite often the engine isn’t going to spin into the upper range of the motor manufacturer’s recommended rpm.

This is really easy to assess. Just look up the recommendation on the manufacturer’s website, then run your boat full-tilt and see where you’re at. If the max rpm range is 5,500 to 6,000, and your boat spins at 5,400, you can drop an inch in propeller pitch (each inch of pitch equals 200 to 300 rpm). If it’s spinning at 5,300, you may be able to drop two inches. And as you reduce pitch and your propeller spins faster, your boat will go faster, too.

Note: make sure you don’t take it too far, and exceed that maximum rpm recommendation. Do so, and serious engine damage could occur.

3. Engine Trim

It’s amazing how many people never bother to properly trim out their boat once it’s on plane. After achieving plane, you should trim up in small increments. RPM will go up and so will boat speed until the propeller begins to ventilate and you hear a howling sound coming from the engine. At this point, the prop is sucking in air and your speed will fall. Trim back down just a hair, until the howl goes away as ventilation ceases and you’ll be at the ideal trim to maximize speed.

4. More Modifications

While the tips mentioned above are the easiest, most cost-effective ways to boost your boat speed, there are several more time consuming and/or expensive things you can do on top of them. Try having the bottom “blue-printed” (modified so chines and strakes are smoothed-out and sharpened). Use props with different cupping, rake, and blade configurations. Add a jack plate, if applicable to your boat.

There are also some common-sense measures that you can take which won’t have a huge impact on their own, but when added together, may make a noticeable difference. Putting up lots of canvass and full wings, for example, will increase wind resistance that will slow you down. Shifting the weight in your boat forward or aft may have an effect, as the boat’s center of gravity changes. And simply closing off the seacock on a livewell with a high-speed pick-up will have an effect, if the well normally floods as you run.

While any one of these measures will probably have a minimal impact, if you work on each one at a time and optimize your boat for speed, you should be able to net an increase of up to 5 mph.