Boats come in many different shapes and sizes. One of the most overlooked parts in boats is the propeller, despite being an essential piece that dictates the boat's performance such as top speed, maneuverability, and acceleration. Finding the right one for you can be a herculean task, which is why this guide is here to help you in your search for the best boat propeller.
Our Top 5 Boat Propellers
Here is a list of the top-tier boat propellers that can vie for the title of being the best. As to why they're on a list rather than giving you just one, it's because different boats require different propellers. Now without further ado, and in no particular order, we have the:
1. Yamaha New OEM Prop
This is a nice budget right-hand 3 blade aluminum prop from Yamaha. Measuring at 13.25 inches and diameter and with a 17-inch pitch, this lightweight aluminum propeller weighs in at only four pounds.
It offers a good top speed with ample holding power to boot for aluminum props. As it is an OEM for Yamaha engines, it will not fit most Marine Mercury outboard engines.
Despite complicated numerical model numbers for a boat propeller, Turning Point makes a lot of quality props. This aluminum, right hand, 4 blade propeller type is designed for 40-150 horsepower engines. Given the extra power this prop was meant to use, it is a bit heavier at 5.6 pounds but measures 13.25 inches and diameter and has a 17-inch pitch.
Said to have an unprecedented hole shot for a 4 blade propeller, good stability and handling even when in top speeds and is best suited for watersports, acceleration, and when carrying or pulling loads.
This product is also frequently bought with the Turning Point propellers MasterGuard hub system as the propeller itself doesn't come with one out of the box. Also if you have a Mercury Marine outboard engine, you could use a Flo Torq II, as it is a good set of hubs that allow you to mount this prop on a Mercury engine regardless.
This is an aftermarket aluminum prop designed with two-stroke 4-6 horsepower Mercury Marine outboard motors in mind. For a right-hand 3 blade prop, it is a bit smaller measuring only 7.8 inches in diameter with a pitch of 8 inches. It is also lighter, weighing at somewhere around 1.15 pounds.
It already includes a hub for a Mercury Marine outboard engine so no need for third-party hubs and it should fit most boats.
This prop from Turning Point is a stainless steel prop this time. A left hand 3 blade stainless steel prop, but also comes in a right hand 3 blade version found on the same link above. It measures 14 inches in diameter and is a 19-inch pitch prop.
Has tuned vents for a better hole shot and is an amazing propeller made from 15-5 stainless steel as it only gets stronger as time goes by. Precision tuned by the manufacturer means it boasts high performance and high fuel economy.
Should you have a Mercury Marine outboard engine, the Flo Torq II comes to save you from mounting problems once again.
The Quicksilver Nemesis is a 4 blade aluminum propeller, specifically designed for Mercury Marine outboard engines thus extra hub kits are no longer required. Its diameter and pitch measure 14 inches and 19 inches respectively, and its unique design makes it capable of maintaining the top end speed that rivals a 3 blade stainless steel prop, and yet has the pulling power and strength of a 4 blade propeller.
The aggressive 4 blade design allows the Quicksilver Nemesis to have an added cup and higher rake angles compared to even the best stainless steel propellers. Quicksilver offers a good budget pick thanks to their high-quality assurance, testing, and lift design, ensuring that anyone who uses their props will get what they paid for.
How to Choose the Best Boat Propellers & Things to Consider
This list is simply a review of what we consider to be top tier boat propellers, however, a propeller may be the best for one person yet may not be ideal for another. With so many offerings available and our list just barely scratching the topic, what can we do to find the best boat prop?
Well, we need to keep the following things in mind.
Not all boats are the same, and even if they were, they're probably used for different things. That said, you should find out which of these boats you have and what is your intended purpose for it, so you can make an informed decision regarding the right propeller for you.
Type of Boat
Let's say you already have a boat and engine and are just looking for a propeller to attach to them. You have to consider the type of boat you have, the size of it, and its intended purpose. A larger engine on a larger boat can accommodate a larger propeller with more pitch. Conversely, a smaller engine on a smaller boat can only utilize propellers that are rated for that size.
Think about what matters to you specifically. Again are you just boating or do you need more cruising speed, higher acceleration, maybe more maneuverability, and hole shot? For trolling or slow boating which includes a majority of boats, a different type of propeller would be needed than say, racing or when pulling stuff like inflatables or skis and boards.
The weight is a crucial factor when it comes to propeller choice. Depending on your own boating habits consider the weight of your boat with load and passengers to make sure you choose the right props.
Consider where you usually do your boating trip. Higher altitudes cause decreased propeller performance despite being rated for a certain rpm, thus may affect speed and boating performance.
Taking your boat out on a lake will make its performance feel different compared to at sea level. The higher you go, the lower the pitch of the propeller you're going to use.
A mismatched propeller can cause ventilation problems, such as sucking air into the motor during a revolution or having the motor push air through the propeller due to the speed of rotation above the waterline. To ensure a good boating experience, make sure that the motor-propeller pair you're going to use does not have any ventilation issues.
Boat propeller blades are made with different materials, mainly plastic, aluminum, and stainless steel.
Plastic is the least used material due to the lack of rigidity and durability and is mainly for model boats or single-person boats at most. As rigidity and durability increase along with a material's density, so does its weight.
More weight means a stronger material, and a stronger material can achieve a much faster speed of rotation. This leaves us with aluminum and stainless steel which make up most if not all of the props that you can find on the market.
Aluminum vs Stainless Steel
Let's start with aluminum, it has less weight than the stainless steel props. Aluminum props are less expensive compared to stainless steel propellers and it's good for testing a certain prop design without breaking the bank.
Stainless steel on the other hand is a more durable material and can stand larger forces of rotation or high rpm. These propellers tend to have longer lifetimes, and the extra rigidity means that it is capable of having thinner blades, which in turn have better fuel economy, range, and performance.
Stainless steel can also have a higher pitch and can make higher rake angles achievable. When it comes to the sheer duration of use, stainless steel propellers can stand the test of time, working reliably for a number of years more than aluminum propellers. A stainless steel propeller does come at a premium though.
Number of Blades
There are a variety of options regarding the number of blades a propeller can have. It can range from 2 blade propellers to custom-made 6 blade propellers and surely the right prop must be the one with more blades right?
Well not exactly, and that's because different propellers are made for different purposes, however, there will be a right prop for your specific use.
For simplicity's sake, we'll stick to the three blades and four blades as they are the industry standard, since 2 blade propellers are outdated, and a 5 blade prop or above is custom-built for specific uses which will not matter to us consumers.
3 Blade vs 4 Blade Propeller
3 blade propellers tend to have higher performance in situations with a wide-open throttle due to being easier to drive at a higher rpm this means a 3 blade propeller can achieve a higher top speed.
A 4 blade propeller, on the other hand, lowers your maximum rpm in exchange for better efficiency, acceleration, bow lift, stern lift (depending on prop design), and higher rake than 3 blade propellers.
3 blade propellers are good in terms of a single performance characteristic, but if you want to improve everything about your boat while taking a slight dip in that characteristic, 4 blade props are the way to go.
If you want the absolute fastest top speed propeller with no regard for range and fuel economy, a 3 blade propeller made with stainless steel would be what you're looking for.
This characteristic is complicated on its own but in a nutshell, a poorly designed or thinner propeller blade causes cavitation during each rotation. This has a huge effect on fuel efficiency and can eventually affect the overall performance of your boat.
Diameter and Pitch
Diameter is the size of the propeller and should be considered according to the power output of your motor. A larger motor can accommodate a propeller diameter made for it and smaller, whereas a smaller engine cannot equip a large propeller.
Pitch is the distance traveled by your propeller during each revolution, well theoretically at least. Pitch dictates how powerful your boat moves through water however it is indirectly proportional to rpm, which is to say that a higher pitch means a lower rpm, and a lower pitch a higher rpm.
A propeller though designed for the proper horsepower motor does not necessarily mean that it will fit. So do check which brands work well with each other, that said some kits can be bought to allow you to mate a propeller to a motor of a different brand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will a 4 blade prop make my boat faster?
It depends on what "faster" means to you, if we're talking about top speed then no. But in terms of acceleration, a 4 blade propeller can push more water with every revolution thus making it better in this regard.
What prop makes a boat go faster?
In terms of top speed and assuming your engine drive can handle a high rpm constantly, then 3 blade stainless steel props can make your boat go faster, as they are rigid and durable and can spin at a higher rpm. But in terms of overall performance, 4 blade props are the way to go.
How do I choose a boat propeller?
Think about what boating activity you're doing, what engine you have, and what you want to enhance or change about your boat's overall performance characteristics. Then you can choose the right prop for you. We have an in-depth guide above, so be sure to check it out.
What pitch prop do I need?
It depends on the rpm range you want to operate in and at what elevation the boat is in. Refer to above guide for more information.
How to add cup to a prop?
Have a prop shop do it professionally for you. Balancing the blades and testing the right cup requires the complicated machinery and knowledge.
What size prop do I need for my boat?
Bigger motors can accommodate larger props. As for exactly which one you'll need, choose the prop that fits your intended use case well.
What is the best propeller for a pontoon boat?
Low rake angle, high pitch and small diameter propellers are ideal for most pontoon boats. Aluminum is alright since pontoons don't really have that much weight.
Are boat propellers universal?
If you're asking whether or not a propeller will work on any engine, then yes. However some props may not fit your existing engine and will require third-party hub kits, and even if they do fit, the performance gains you're looking for may end up being sub-par.
Take your time to do your research and figure out what you want in a boat.
Don't focus purely on complicated numbers such as prop pitch, stern lift, gear ratios, and whatnot. Instead, think about what characteristic you want to specifically change on your boat. Then do your research and revert back to this guide on how you can find the best boat propeller.