I recently had a chance to chat with professional bass angler Dave Wolak, who was at a Yamaha event on Lake Oconee in Georgia, where I was set to test some aluminum fishing boats and pontoons. I found Wolak down at the dock cleaning out with his Ranger Z521 Comanche, which he told me he was about to sell in preparation for taking delivery of a new rig.
“Now that I’m ready to sell it, I sort of wonder why,” he told me. “This has been a great boat and there’s nothing wrong with it. I got all of my stuff out and cleaned it up and it still looks like new.” I suppose Ranger wants to see its sponsored anglers in the latest-greatest.
When I attended the media introduction for the Yamaha V MAX SHO motors last November (Outboard Expert Nov. 22, 2009) I had a chance to talk to 2008 Bassmaster Classic winner Alton Jones, who was pretty frank about what he felt were the shortcomings of the two-stroke Yamaha V MAX outboard he’d been running. He was mostly disappointed that the Mercury-powered boats were faster, and that he was not getting great fuel economy. He was optimistic the new four-stroke V MAX would improve both conditions.
And here was Wolak, fresh from a season that saw him put 200 hours on a V MAX SHO 250. So, keeping in mind that the man is wearing a Yamaha cap, I asked him how he liked the motor. Big surprise…he loves it! Sarcasm aside, Wolak, who’s a thoughtful 34-year-old with a master’s degree, did offer some interesting comments about life with a four-stroke.
“I think this motor has answered every question I had about converting to a four-stroke,” says Wolak. “With a full load of fuel and 250 pounds of tackle, my boat will run about 71 mph and keeps up with the other motors out there. But the way I fish, acceleration is really more important that top speed. It’s not often I have the opportunity or the smooth water to run very far at full throttle, but I’m always over here or over there, maybe just moving a quarter-mile, to a new spot. The Yamaha really lifts this boat out of the hole, so I can zip right to my next spot. Over the course of a day, that saves me time.”
This confirms what I’ve been told by outboard factory service technicians who work the pro tournaments – for all the emphasis on top speed in the bass market, many pros don’t often go there. The techs can tell by looking at the data stored in the motor’s computer.
Here’s another fact: Even on a boat the size of this 21-foot Ranger, storage space is at a premium because a pro carries a lot of gear. When I arrived, Wolak had the rear hatch open and was removing a spare prop he keeps secured there.
“This is another reason I like this motor,” he says, kneeling on the aft deck. “No oil reservoir. I run these Power Pole anchors, and I used to have a hard time fitting the pump for that system back here along with the oil tank and the prop. Now I’ve got lots of room, and I’m not spilling oil in my boat and hauling jugs of oil around in my truck. The four-stroke saved me hundreds of dollars this year on oil and gas.”
Even the pros like to save a few bucks on gas.