Start with Your Prop
When it comes to fishing boat maintenance, I start here, back at the prop. I'm actually going to switch the prop out for the next event that I'm fishing, so I’m going to do a little more than just making sure the prop is tight. Either way, it's a good idea to check in behind here every once in a while just to make sure there's no fishing line or stuff in there that can damage the seals.
For an easier time switching out the prop, the Prop Master Prop Stop and the Prop Master Propeller Wrench never leave my boat — they stay in there all year round. So instead of carrying around a piece of wood that rots or can be awkward to work with, this is light and I can easily fit it in a compartment in the back of the boat. It makes taking the prop off pretty slick and easy.
To use the Prop Stop, you just follow these steps:
Slide your prop stop onto the anti-ventilation plate on your outboard (the horizontal plate right above your prop)
Put the Prop Stop on the starboard side of the motor when you're removing a prop and need to loosen it. Put it on the port side when you're putting a prop on and tightening it.
With the Propeller Wrench in one hand, use your free hand to turn the prop so that one of the blades presses up against the underside of the Prop Stop.
Prop Tip: put your Propeller Wrench on your outboard motor's propeller nut so that the shaft of the propeller wrench is at about 9 o'clock (or 3 o'clock if you're tightening it). This helps give you good positioning and the ability to push down and use gravity rather than push up and fight gravity.
- With your hands on the prop wrench and the blade of the prop pressed against the underside of the Prop Stop, you can then torque the outboard prop nut loose until the nut is off the threads and the prop can be pulled off.
Pro Tip: Especially for anyone who can admit that they aren't as mechanical, when you remove the nuts and washers from your outboard prop, keep them in the same order that they need to be in to go back on in the same way.
Additionally, if you take the prop off, it's always good to check the prop shaft every once in a while to make sure there's no fishing line or other stuff on there that can damage your seals. Just be sure to put your new prop on and put the fasteners on in the correct order, then use your Prop Stop and Prop wrench to tighten the prop.
Not only is this process is an important one for fishing boat maintenance, but it also applies when you're going between different types of water since it can be helpful to switch props for different lake conditions. For example, if you’re going from smaller lakes or rivers where you’ve been using a larger 3-blade prop, you may want to go to a smaller 4-blade prop. For me, this is going to be particularly important when going to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, where I’m going to need more lift instead of speed. Better lift is always better when you're going to rough water and you will need to keep the bow up better and give you a better hole shot.