Saltwater Fishing Home PageTM



Tackle Shops
Charters & Guides
SW Reports
Surf Fishing
SW Flyfishing
SW Fishing
SW Boats for Sale
Striped Bass
Boat Ramp
Texas SWF
Florida SWF
Fishing Access
Fishing Cats

SUBJECT: # 25611: Best saltwater outboard motor?

Submitted by Hawgman ( from ARKANSAS on 6/19/03 10:34:00 PM

I'm doing a lot of research for my new bay boat. I'm looking at the 22 ft range and plan on putting a 200hp EFI engine on the back. The boat will be used primarily in fresh water for bass fishing but occassionally it will see use in saltwater. My question, "What is the difference between a standard outboard and one for saltwater?" Second, in the 200hp range what is the best brand? I'm leaning toward a Yamaha but would consider another Mercury or possibly a Suzuki. Any comments are appreciated.

  1. 6/20/03 12:16:00 AM Submitted by Boatdood ( from SOUTH CAROLINA says Saltwater outboards.
    I remember when outboards didn't need that 'Saltwater' decal to go in saltwater. It was a pretty good marketing ploy when it first came out but these days it's practically irrelevant. If you get an outboard with a twenty five inch shaft,it's saltwater as they come no matter the brand.

    Now which brand is better in corrosion resistance is another question subject to much opinion. Personally I'd rank them Evinrude/Johnson, Mercury, Yamaha, Suzuki with not as much difference as there used to be between brands.

    Which EFI outboard would I chose for my own boat? In descending order again; Evinrude, Yamaha, Mercury, Suzuki.

    Four stroke is a different ballgame with fewer players. The only one I have experience with is Yamaha. They seem fine so far but not the guts of a two stroke.

    An interesting side note; As far as oil consumption is concerned in fuel injected two stroke outboards it seems that Evinrude is so far ahead of the competition in reducing oil needs that there isn't even a worthy number two. I'm not sure I understand why the others are still pumping so much oil into an engine with DFI.

  2. 6/20/03 7:10:00 AM Submitted by Nasty ( from NORTH CAROLINA says Stainless steel...
    ...bolts were used more in Saltwater outboards, but as Boatdood stated most if not all are using stainless steel. Personally I would not even consider an EFI rather a DFI for a new engine. The DFIs get much better fuel mileage than the EFIs.

    Personally I rank them Mercury (Optimax), Yamaha (HPDI), Evinrude (Ficth). The Optimax runs circles around the others. Better Top end, fuel mileage and acceleration. Who knows if the company that buys Evinrude will honor the warrenty ???

    Not sure what Boatdood is talking about on the oil comsumption. There were some rumors of high oil consumption on some of the Opti's. I've used 173 gallons of fuel and burned 2.5 gals of oil this past week on twin 2001 225 Opti's. That's 70:1. Anything over 50:1 I would consider excessive.


  3. 6/20/03 2:56:00 PM Submitted by Dunk from NEW JERSEY says Opti Oil Burn..
    I know of a bunch of 20-225 Opti's that live in the 30-40 to 1 range. They are the older ones, 98-99's. It's like they are stuck in the break-in mode. A couple of these guys have had them back to dealer several times and even with new ECU's put on them still burn the oil. They burn so little fuel anyway it's not a big deal and they run perfect so nobody seems to mind.

    The biggest improvement with the saltwater engine was using SS for the steering bib, but as mentioned above all the engines are the same now. I guess they figured it's cheaper to just build them all the same. I wouldn't pass up a good deal on so called freshwater version because the only difference is the deacal on the engine cover these days.

    Nasty, I wouldn't bet my bottom dollar on a Optimax running away from an Evinrude...

  4. 6/20/03 8:02:00 PM Submitted by Boatdood ( from SOUTH CAROLINA says We need a whole new attitude towards oil ratios.
    Fifty to one is dead. That's a thing of the past. Such a rich ratio of oil to gas was necessary for a good many years but with the influx of DFI engines we need a whole new mindset. Conventionally speaking, fifty to one is OK. The lubricating oil is diluted by the gasoline and each new incoming charge of gas and oil washes away the oil left by the last one, and all was well in the two stroke world.

    But now we have DFI. The key letter there is D; it stands for direct. The fuel is injected directly into the cylinder. That's good. It not only reduces pollutants, it reduces fuel and oil usage. You see, when we inject the fuel directly into the cylinder we can control how much, and exactly when. That results in more complete burn and less waste. That's the name of the EPA game. The side effect of the EPA game is that outboards use less gasoline and oil to move our boats around. Well, at least some of them do. Some others have gone on using oil like nothing has changed. What has changed is that gasoline no longer passes through the crankcase washing away the lubricant with each incoming pulse. Today we have nothing but air. Yamaha, Mercury, and Evinrude all use DFI, and in those engines there is only air flowing through the crankcase. No gasoline to dilute or wash away any of the oil. So why are Yamaha and Mercury still injecting just as much oil as they ever have? That, my boating friends, is my question. What's up with that?

    In my opinion the two strokes need to use only the oil they require; anything else is waste. The good two stroke oil is expensive; around twenty bucks a gallon. If we accept fifty to one as OK, then we need one gallon, or twenty bucks, to each fifty gallons of gasoline, or around seventy five bucks. Shucks guys, that's a substantial percentage of our fuel costs. If you look at things from a four stroke perspective they need oil too. But these engines are easily in the five hundred to one range. What am I talking about? Okay, let's agree that the average four stroke engine can use five gallons per hour. Simple math allows for five hundred gallons of gasoline in one hundred hours. That same one hundred hour period would require one oil change, or an average of one gallon of four stroke oil. Our ratio is now one part lubricant to five hundred parts propellant, or five hundred to one. And the lubricant here is cheap stuff: 10W/30, or something like that. If the two stroke is to retain it's crown as the premier powerplant of choice for boats the builders need to get on the stick and reduce oil consumption. Come on guys; we're in a new ballgame here. Shake the attitudes of the past and get in the game.

  5. 6/20/03 8:29:00 PM Submitted by Sal ( from CALIFORNIA says Good post Tom.
    But I think your calculations are off on theoil usage of the DFI. My DFI Evinrude 200 hp uses "far less" oil then my old 91 - 150 - 2 stroke which used 1 gallon per 100 gallons which is 50.1 My DFI uses approx average 100.1 or close to 1 gallon of oil per 200 gallons of fuel. My oil container is 1.8 gallons of oil & I usually run about 350 gallons of fuel through her before the low oil alarm comes on. Sal

  6. 6/20/03 9:19:00 PM Submitted by Tommy ( from TEXAS says Ratio
    Sal, I think you need to refiguire your oil to fuel ratio. 50 gallons of fuel to 1 gallon of oil is 50 to 1. 200 gallons of fuel to 1 gallon of oil is 200 to 1.

  7. 6/20/03 9:36:00 PM Submitted by Boatdood ( from SOUTH CAROLINA says Those guys named Tom/Tommy are real smart posteriors aren't we Sal.
    Hey Buddy, your engine sounds great to me.

    Two hundred to one is what I'm talking about. The fact that the lubricant is not mixed/diluted by the gasoline means to me that we don't need near as much oil to sufficiently lubricate the internals. Based on that, why are two of the big three still pumping so much oil into the powerhead?

    Thanks for the vote of confidence Sal.

  8. 6/21/03 7:02:00 PM Submitted by Chris ( from NEW YORK says strength through advertising
    Excellent posts. expensive 2stroke oil WILL be the downfall of 2strokes SHOULD 4strokes make huge advances in weight, power and cost. As of now, a portion of the extra thousands a 4stroke costs could be put towards the few gallons of oil.

    If fancy advertising is anything to go by, the 4stroke marine powerplant is the greatest thing since sliced bread. what's so great about heavier, more complex, slower and costlier? A 200hp 4stroke has quite a bit less torque(or thrust as i like to say) than a 200hp 2stroke. While torque means very little for top speed, it means everything for getting a boat up and on a plane.

    supposedly the new evinrude e-tec is going to drastically reduce oil consumption as well as noise, maintenance, emissions etc etc. but again talk is cheap, i'll believe it when i see it

  9. 6/21/03 9:48:00 PM Submitted by Boatdood ( from SOUTH CAROLINA says Evinrude has already drastically reduced oil consumption.
    We do not have to wait on E-tec to prove lower oil consumption; the Fichts have already done that. For all their problems they were never excessive oil burners. I'm sure there will be some folks out there that will say maybe they should have used more oil; maybe that would have helped, but the problems were not from lack of lube. My question again, why is it that Evinrude has caught on that less oil is needed in DFI, but Yamaha and Mercury seem to still be pumping the same amount? It's like they are opening the door for the four strokes to kick their butts.

  10. 6/22/03 1:18:00 AM Submitted by Sal ( from CALIFORNIA says I'm with you Tom.
    Yes, Evinrude is eons ahead in oil technology, but why has the other 2 of the big 3 gone to 60 degree engines [ Merc ] & 78 degree engines Yamaha ] in the big engines [ 200 hp + ]while Evinrude stays with the 90 degree engines. Is there an advantage to the 60, the 78, or the 90 ? There must be some reason why the others changed. Sal

  11. 6/22/03 9:17:00 AM Submitted by Boatdood ( from SOUTH CAROLINA says The 60 degree configuration has an advantage.
    In a 60 degree V-6 configuration the engine can fire every 60 degrees of rotation without the need for staggered journals on the crankshaft. Yamaha staggers the journals on theirs to achieve this; Evinrude doesn't worry about it in their 90 degree motor. According to the Japanese that's why their engines idle so much smoother??????

    Other than that, I'm at a loss for any advantage in performance. The ninety degree design does seem to allow more room for exhaust handling, but it makes for a fatter motor. Four strokes prove that most folks don't worry about fat engines.

    I'm still wondering about the oil thing. One buddy of mine with a OX66 Yamaha is happy to get down to 30/1 oil ratio. He was higher. I know that's not a DFI, but another buddy with and HPDI is running around 40/1. I ran a Evinrude 115 for a year and only added oil once. I like a well lubed engine as much as the next guy but it seems to me they might be throwing oil at some other problem.

  12. 6/24/03 7:17:00 AM Submitted by Nasty ( from NORTH CAROLINA says Simple...
    ...Speed requires oil :)

    Mercury Wins 250 Direct Injection Battle

    Dunk, I've seen 2 independant tests that both show the Opti's faster. Also the Opti 250XS holds like 6 speed records for fastest low emission outboard. I called my bookee and the Vegas odds are at 3:1 for the Opti. Bass & Walleye Boats Magazine 250 DFI Shoot-Out

    Mercury Wins 250 Direct Injection Battle --Independent shoot-out determines "best of class" in low-emission outboards Fond du Lac, WI -- According to results of a recent shoot-out between three of the highest-profile outboards on the market, boaters seeking high performance in low-emission technology outboards need look no further than the Mercury OptiMax.

    On the heels of breaking six American Power Boat Association-sanctioned bass boat speed records with Mercury OptiMax direct-injection two-stroke outboards, the 64-year old marine company bested the competition in a three-way shoot-out of 250-horsepower direct-fuel-injection (DFI) outboards run on identical tournament-rigged Stratos 201 Pro XL bass boats with the OptiMax 250XS outboard produced by Mercury Racing. The independent testing was conducted in December, 2002, by Stratos and Bass & Walleye Boat magazine on East Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Florida.

    In an article published in the March, 2003, edition of Bass and Walleye Boat, veteran writer and performance-boat tester John Tiger Jr. gave the nod to Mercury. "OptiMax aced not only the speed trial, but also the fuel economy, midrange acceleration and horsepower contests," said Tiger. "Based on suggested retail, Mercury wins in this respect as well, with a list price of $15, 860. That's almost $2,000 less than Yamaha's $17,620 sticker, and nearly $3,000 less than Evinrude's $18,531 price tag."

    The need for speed In the article, Tiger explained that conditions were less than perfect, having run the on-water trials "between cloudbursts, in near 100 percent humidity." Nevertheless, he said, "Mercury won this event hands down, with a [top] speed of 78.6 mph at 5760 rpm - easily faster than the second-place Evinrude (75.7 mph at 5870) and third-place Yamaha (75.2 mph at 5500 rpm)."

    "Fuel-sipping economy" is what Tiger called it when he wrote "The Mercury achieved the best fuel economy as well. At it's optimum cruise of 32.9 mph (at 3000 rpm), it was pulling down 5.7 mpg. With the Stratos' 50-gallon fuel capacity, that translates to a 256-mile range, with five gallons in reserve." Tiger also noted that all three outboards achieved maximum cruise efficiency at 3000 rpm, with the Evinrude posting a speed of 34.5 mph for 5.4 mpg, and "Yamaha pulled up the rear, with 5.0 mpg at 33.7 mph."

    In a sidebar to the main story, Tiger detailed other advantages to the 250XS, calling it "the most customizable of the three outboards," and pointing out the variety of gearcase, gear ratio, and propeller options offered by Mercury Racing.

    Tiger concluded his article by proclaiming, "Despite the Evinrude's superior warranty and smoothness, and the Yamaha's strong acceleration, the overall performance and economy of Mercury Racing's OptiMax 250XS gives it a distinct edge."

    Well there you have it...

    I think the oil useage depends on how hard you run them. If you are at 1/2 throttle you are going to use less oil than WOT. The Evinrude does seem to burn less oil from what been posted.

    I know you guys are Evinrude guys. The Merc is Top Dog in my book. Don't see too many APBA racers with White motors... Oh my god, faster and cheaper.


  13. 6/24/03 10:44:00 PM Submitted by seahorse ( from ALABAMA says article
    The best thing about the article on 250's when you read between the lines. The 250 XS Merc is a hand built limited production motor that must use expensive Premium fuel. It has a small diameter high speed gearcase so it can be jacked up higher on the transom and the prop was a "lab finished" special $1000 propeller for top performance. All that effort and expense to be ONLY 3 mph faster than a run-of-the-mill stamdard Evinrude that had a much larger diameter standard gearcase and a regular propeller that runs on 87 octane regular.

    The street price of the Evinrude rig was less than the Merc and it has a full 3 year warranty.

  14. 6/25/03 10:37:00 AM Submitted by Nasty ( from NORTH CAROLINA says need for speed...
    ...always comes at a price. The Opti is approx. 5% faster. For this test is was 3 MPH. I seen some that are as much as 6 mph faster. I agree that the 250XS uses Premium fuel but they are priced nearly $3000 lower. Not sure which street you live on. :) 93 Octane is about 12 to 20 cents more here in NC, which means you would have to burn about 25000 gallons to make up the difference.

    The Opti has a non-declining 2+1 warrenty for a full 3 years of protection. Any news of who is buying Evinrude ??? Are they going to honor the warrenty ???


  15. 7/1/03 10:24:00 PM Submitted by seahorse ( from ALABAMA says pricing
    I guess you did not read the letters to the editor the following month when someone wrote in saying why was the Merc price less than Yam and Evinrude, yet the Statos price list showed the Merc $3000 higher. The magazine double checked the prices, and the Merc was higher. So $3000 more plus another $1000 for the lab finished prop, a tank of premium fuel, and you can gain 3mph over the other rigs.

    Yep, that sounds like a winner!

Go to next message
Go to previous message


To post a followup to this subject use the following form:

(Sponsors/Supporters only)

Email Address (mandatory for non-subscribers and non-registered users!):



Advertising/Sponsor Information

Copyright © WMI, Inc. 1995-2017. All rights reserved.
This message board created and maintained by: WebMasters International, Inc. (WMI) address mail to

WMI disclaimer
Privacy Statement