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Choosing the Right Prop
From its Oshkosh, Wisconsin, testing facility Merc offered us the use of a 1,900-pound Key West 2020 center-console rigged with a Mercury 150 FourStroke outboard, and a full complement of data acquisition gear. We tested each prop “light” (just the tech on board) and “heavy” (with 350 additional pounds in the boat), always with the 60-gallon fuel tank full.
Stainless steel, three blade, 14 5/8" x 17"
Top Speed/Light: 45.9 mph @ 5,779 rpm
Top Speed/Heavy: 43.5 mph @ 5,534 rpm
0-to-20 mph/Light: 3.8 seconds
0-to-20 mph/Heavy: 4.6 seconds
Max economy: 5.80 mpg @ 3,253 rpm/23.7 mph
To move up to stainless steel, we chose the Tempest Plus, a performance three-blade prop designed to produce good top speed and a popular choice with tournament bass and walleye anglers. The 17-pitch model we tested is actually the smallest pitch offered — a fast bass boat will run a 25-pitch Tempest Plus. To boost speed, the Tempest Plus has aggressive rake to promote bow lift and less blade area to reduce drag. All of those design elements are critical to maximizing performance on an 80 mph bass rig but become less impactful as boat speed slows down. In our testing, I noted that the Tempest seemed to take less trim than the other stainless props and produced a little less lift. But the boat felt really planted and steady in the water and handled well. The Tempest will also be much more durable than an aluminum prop.