A few weeks ago, I was testing props on Wisconsin's Lake Butts des Morts (yes, that’s Hill of the Dead in French) for a future story and spotted a crew from the Mercury test center in Oshkosh running back and forth in a very fast Ranger bass rig with a big Verado on the transom. Turns out they were doing some final testing on the new Verado 250 Pro, the first Mercury four-stroke designed specifically for the bass boat market. The motor was announced officially on Oct. 20, and should be reaching dealers and boat builders soon.
The biggest news is that the Verado 250 Pro is available with an optional DTS Hot Foot throttle control, which I think is the first digital foot control. This should be a hit with the high-performance bass crowd, which prefer the foot throttle so they can keep both hands on the wheel. Of course, steering control is less of an issue with the 250 Pro, as it’s also equipped with the same power steering system used on other Verado models. Note that Yamaha did not make a digital control available on its new four-stroke V MAX SHO bass motors because no foot pedal was available. (Yamaha does offer DTS on its offshore version of the same motors.) Also note that the Verado 250 Pro cannot be rigged without DTS, although you can opt to just use a control lever for shifting and throttle and skip the foot feed.
The 250 Pro is a direct response to the new Yamaha V MAX, which I reported on last year (“The New Yamaha Four Stroke V Max”). But unlike that all-new outboard, the Merc is sort of a re-tuned version of the existing 2.6-liter, in-line six, supercharged Verado. It’s either a tuned-up Verado 250, or a detuned Verado 300, which makes about 270 horsepower. There are no published specs yet, but Merc tells me that the only mechanical difference between the Verado 250 and the 250 Pro is the 1.75:1 gear ratio, slightly taller than the 1.85:1 gears used on the standard Verado 250. Any other tuning was done electronically within the engine’s ECU. The result is a motor that pulls a little harder out of the hole, according to Merc, and produces faster top speed, thanks to the taller gear ratio. This version of the engine is also designed to make optimal power on 91 octane fuel, although it will run just fine on plain old 87.
At 635 pounds dry, the Verado 250 Pro weighs 130 pounds more than the Yamaha V MAX SHO 250, not an insignificant difference, even on a big 22-foot bass boat. I think the full effect of the Verado’s heft will depend on the shape and weight of the boat it’s pushing. One person who’s been involved in testing the 250 Pro told me that when both motors were run on the same boat, the Yamaha was a little quicker out of the hole, while the Mercury was faster. Both motors have the same gear ratio, but the Merc throttle range tops out at 6400 rpm, compared to 6000 for the Yamaha. The Yamaha is also only offered with a 20-inch shaft, while Mercury will offer the Verado 250 Pro in either a 20- or 25-inch length, so it can be rigged on bigger multi-species and bay boats.
It’s supposed to snow here in Wisconsin tomorrow, so it might a while before I get to sample the Verado 250 Pro. Every other supercharged Verado I’ve run has impressed me most with its immediate mid-range punch. I can imagine on a fast bass rig that might be a real kick in the pants. And remember, the faster you go, the more time you have to fish. Or something like that.