The recent debut of an Evinrude E-TEC 15 HO is especially good news for Evinrude dealers in the northern fishing markets, who have not had a trolling kicker to sell to walleye anglers for more than three years. Instead they have been rigging a Mercury or Yamaha 15 next to a big, new Evinrude E-TEC V6, since the smallest motor in the current Evinrude line is a 25.
The 15-hp Evinrude will be the first direct-injected two-stroke motor in this horsepower range. But don’t mistake the E-TEC 15 as a real “kicker” outboard you’re going to carry down to the dock. This motor is intended almost expressly for trolling duty, offered only with a 20-inch shaft, only with electric/rope starting, and only with power trim. You choose between tiller and remote steering. The motor shares its 578cc, twin-cylinder powerhead with the Evinrude E-TEC 30/25 that debuted in 2009, and is in fact just that same motor “detuned” to about 15 horsepower. This gives the Evinrude a 65 percent displacement advantage over its key rival in the kicker market, the 351cc four-stroke Mercury 15 ProKicker.
All that displacement should allow the Evinrude to deliver a wallop of bottom-end torque for a motor at this rating, just the ticket for pushing a heavy fishing boat into the wind, for example. But, at 177 pounds with remote steering, the Evinrude weighs about 45 pounds – that’s 34 percent – more than the Mercury. Worried that your transom might not handle the load? I suggest you check with the boat manufacturer. An Evinrude spokesman does point out that a transom designed to handle a trolling kicker and a four-stroke main engine, which may weigh 60 to 130 pounds more than a two-stroke Evinrude E-TEC 200, for example, should also be able to handle the weight of the E-TEC 15. That may be true, but it’s unfortunate a trolling kicker has to weigh this much.
The design of the Evinrude powerhead does position more of the motor’s weight over the transom, which reduces the apparent mass of the motor leveraged on the transom. It also has a heavy-duty transom bracket and the same trim system used on larger Evinrude models, which is robust and fast-acting, and probably also contributes to the motor’s stout weight. The charging system delivers 7 amps at trolling speed and a category-leading 15 amps above 1500 rpm. The motor will idle down to 620 rpm in gear for super-slow trolling, and the Touch Troll feature lets the angler electronically adjust motor speed in 50-rpm increments. The standard four-blade, 7-pitch prop is designed to deliver good thrust in forward and reverse gears. The electrical system self-charges in one revolution of the flywheel, so rope-starting should not present a challenge.
The Evinrude 15 will reached dealers in limited numbers in May, according to BRP, and then be in full production as a 2011 model a few months later. After speaking to people at BRP, I got the distinct impression that this E-TEC 15 is a stop-gap solution for a few dealers who need a trolling motor, but one that they are pleased with. I also think BRP is anxious to debut the smaller-displacement, lighter motors with E-TEC that I know they have been working on for a few years. I don’t know if it’s a soft economy or technical issues that are holding them back. Until last year we could still buy a two-stroke Yamaha 15 that only weighed 79 pounds.
And I’m still wishing for a marvelous little E-TEC Evinrude I can carry to the dock. By myself.
Editor's Note: Charles Plueddeman is Boats.com's outboard, trailer, and PWC expert. He is a former editor at Boating Magazine and contributor to many national publications since 1986.