Worst Scenario Boat Performance

Smooth ride after the F'n'R prop adjustmentMany of you Bass Fishermen reading this may wonder what I mean by Worst Case Scenario! In my case, my POP’S Marine, 1999 Mercury powered, Bass Cat Cougar had about  2 ½ year’s ago received  a totally different demand of performance as my use and performance demands on my boat had changed from tournament fishing to guiding on the Upper Chesapeake Bay/Susquehanna Flats and Potomac River.  Both bodies of water are large and can be rough at times with 3 to 4 foot waves, and shallow creeks that especially on low tide can be very shallow with only 2 to 3 foot of water to get up on plane unless you want to idle out of them which takes up valuable time on the water to get from one place to another. So as I made the following changes and demands of performance to my boat, which I was perfectly happy with its performance during my years of tournament fishing in these waters and conditions, was no longer the well performing boat that it once was.

The changing conditions that I had put on my boat were;
(1) I now needed a floating tackle store, as I need a large variety of baits and a large enough quantity of these baits to supply 2 to 3 clients for a full day of fishing. As well as enough rods & reels for them to fish with. Now keep in mind this is a boat that might be on the Potomac River today and on the Upper Chesapeake Bay/Susquehanna River tomorrow, changing the tackle load for the different days and bodies of water as I would do during my tournament fishing days is not an option and still have time to sleep and prepare for the next day.
(2) I now need to keep both fuel tanks full as it is not easy to know exactly how many times I may run a specific route for my clients to fell comfortable learning to run the various routes that I am teaching them.
(3) Many times my clients will want to keep their fish in the livewell until the end of the day for pictures. This is not a change from my tournament fishing demands but, it is a heavy load that I cannot do away with to help offset the other weight demands I have added to the boat.
(4) Additional Safety/Coast Guard required items that I must keep onboard as I am now a Licensed U.S. Coast Guard Captain operating a boat that is for hire.
(5) Now, for the most Important and Valuable weight demand, my Clients! instead of myself and my partner on the boat, many times it is myself and two clients and occasionally myself and three clients and any items they may need to bring onboard as well. And remember I still need to be able to get up on plane in the shallow creeks as fishing time is valuable to me and my clients.

The F'n'R boothNow the question is how do I fix the performance of my boat and after much research I decided that if anybody could accomplish the task it was Robbie Patterson at Real Deal Propellers. After talking to Robbie we both decided that this was a perfect scenario to test his new F’n’R prop. The new F’n’R (4 blade) props dual blade profile design blends two completely different propellers into one prop. Giving you the "Hole Shot" bow lift and weight carrying capabilities of a round blade propeller and at the same time providing "Mid-range Acceleration" stern lift and top end speed of a surface piercing performance propeller. The result you get from combining these two very different blade styles creates a propeller with surpassed handling and stability, Quicker hole shot, Harder acceleration and Higher top end speed as a result of a lower slip ratio from the new F’n’R prop. So on a hot summer morning I meet Robbie at Sanderson Marine (1-888-261-PROP) as they are the exclusive dealer for the new F’n’R prop.

The weather conditions on this hot summer day were; Air temperature 92 degrees, humidity from 10:00am to 2:00pm was between 92 and 100%, Water temperature 93 degrees. Depending on how you look at the weather conditions they were not the best conditions for boat performance but great for a realistic scenario of how my boat is used. Keep in mind the very hot and humid air affects the optimum performance of the engine. All speeds during the testing were recorded using a Stalker radar gun and confirmed with GPS. Hole shot times were measured from 0 to 30 mph.

Now for our test results;

My boat is a 1999 Bass Cat Cougar with a 225 Mercury EFI 3.0l outboard, 6" manual jack plate, Guide loaded, Full livewells, Full tanks of fuel. Myself and two persons onboard, I think it is important to note that we were not known to miss any meals.

With my 25 pitch 4 blade Mercury Trophy prop, our best run was;
5500 Rpm’s att 61.1 mph
5500 Rpm’s wtt 63.7
Holeshot , 14 seconds
10-12 lbs of water pressure

Now with no other changes but an F’n’R prop swap;
25 pitch F’n’R prop
5600 Rpm’s att 64.2
5600 rpm’s wtt 67.0
Holeshot, 15 seconds

I quickly noticed how much stronger a bite the F’n’R prop had. The best way I can explain it is, I felt like I had been driving a two wheel drive vehicle in the snow and now changed to a four wheel drive vehicle. Even though this was not the final performance I was looking for on this pass it already felt much better.

We raised the jack plate 3/8 of an inch, the only change for this run,
5600 Rpm’s wtt 67.5
Holeshot, 13 seconds
But the water pressure was low 8-10lbs.

After some calculations Robbie decided that we needed to go back to Sanderson Marines shop and raise the jack plate another 3/8 of an inch, add an Allison fin and put on water inlet scoops to raise the water pressure, a must at this point.

Now with the same 25 pitch F’n’R prop;
5600 Rpm’s att 65.5
5600 Rpm’s wtt 67.0
Holeshot  was better but not great, 10 seconds
Water pressure was up (Great) at 15+ lbs
Enough of an improvement that I was happy, but Robbie was not satisfied and wanted to try to get it better.

Robbie changed the prop to a 25 pitch F’n’R prop w/light cup
5800 Rpm’s att 64.6
5850 Rpm’s wtt 66.0
Robbie noticed a smile on my face as we ran an 8 second Holeshot!
Water pressure still good at 15+ lbs

Now we decided to make a little change in the amount of weight on the boat by pumping out the livewell (the only change for this run)
5900 Rpm’s att 65.5
5900 Rpm’s wtt 67.0
Holeshot, 6-7 seconds, (A fun boat to drive again) I was definitely happy with the performance on this run.
Water pressure still good at 15+lbs
We made several very tight 90 degrees turns while up on plane and boat handled excellent, I was surprised how well the F’n’R prop held it’s bite in the water.

We decided to make a run with one more change and that was to take one person off of the boat, for a total of two persons on board (myself and one more). Now keep mind the objective was to get the boat to perform better under the load requirements of my guiding, not for extreme speed. I pressed down on the hot foot and in about ¼ of the distance we had been using for our testing the boat was up on plane and running 70 mph, very stable handling, and the boat had much more power to go, but I stopped as I was happy with the results and the boat is not going to be used at these kinds of speeds.

Since the initial testing and set-up of my F’n’R prop and the original version of this article that I wrote for the September 2005 issue of Woods & Waters magazine. My F’n’R prop has continued to provide the same level of performance in the real world of my guiding as it did during the testing and set-up. I have noticed better fuel economy with the F’n’R prop and I never thought that my Bass Cat Cougar could possibly improve in the rough water handling department, when the Upper Bay gets rough the F’n’R prop holds it’s bite and makes boat handling/control a breeze!

For more information and pricing on the F’n’R prop you can contact Robbie Patterson at Sanderson Marine, phone# 1-888-261-PROP or www.sandersonmarine.com .Sanderson Marine is the exclusive dealer for the F’n’R prop and keep in mind this is a custom prop and there is generally a waiting list. Also you can be assured that Robbie will make sure your boat is set-up correctly even if the right prop for your boat is not his new F’n’R prop, as I stated in the article I would have been happy with my boat’s performance earlier in the testing but Robbie continued testing and setting my boat-up with different props until he felt it was the best we could get this Worst Case Scenario!

Thanks & Good Fishing,
Capt. Karl Bunch

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