You are an avid owner of your pontoon boat, and you just love taking it out on a boating trip. Despite this, something feels off and the first thing you notice is the OEM props and wonder whether it is the best pontoon boat propeller simply because your boat came stock with it.
So is it? Well, that's a bit difficult to answer in a nutshell, so we're going to talk all about props and pontoon boats in this article to ensure that you have all the right information and can make an informed decision when choosing the best propeller for your pontoon boat.
With that in mind, we've created this list of the best boat propellers available for pontoon boats along with an in-depth discussion on how to choose the right boat props for pontoon boats.
Top 5 Boat Propellers for Pontoon Boats
We get to start off with a boat propeller from the manufacturer Qiclear. This is a three-bladed prop made of high-quality aluminum and as it is designed to be used as an outboard propeller it has a 13 1/4 inch diameter with a pitch of 17.
With its convenient hub design, this boat propeller can fit a massive range of 60, 75, 90, 100, 115, or 125 hp Mercury Marine engines and is perfect for a high-performance pontoon.
The interchangeable hub also allows this aluminum prop to fit any other outboard motor within this power range provided you have the appropriate hub kit installed.
The Quicksilver Nemesis is a four-blade aluminum propeller designed for Mercury and MerCruiser engines specifically for pontoon boats. The dealer has a lot of options for this propeller in particular ranging from a 9.3-inch diameter with an 11-inch pitch all the way up to 14-inch diameter with a 23-inch pitch so you have a lot of props to choose from for your pontoon boats.
The larger diameter and high pitch prop also mean higher rake angles, less drag, and good cruising speed even at lower RPMs giving you the best boat control only aluminum propellers can provide. Although they do have low pitch propellers for a more relaxing pontoon boat speed.
These are made for 25hp to 250hp Mercury Marine engines, and the intense blade design gives it a high rake angle and increased cup for maximum holding.
This stainless steel pontoon boat prop from Turning Point has a 14-inch diameter with a 19-inch pitch. The innovative prop design allows high rake angles that give a nice amount of boat lift, also the tuned pitch angles minimize slip and help increase fuel economy and performance.
If you want a pontoon boat with good speed control especially at cruising speeds
Another prop for pontoon boats offered by Quicksilver. This aluminum prop has three blades and the low pitch design means it is designed for a lower unit outboard engine with a range of 4-6 horsepower.
Low pitch, low rake, low power propellers made of a light and sturdy yet quality material like aluminum offer you a nice fuel-efficient low noise setup.
The relatively low rotation speed of the propellers means that it isn't too difficult to drive this specific prop thus any engine should be able to use this prop provided you keep the RPMs under control.
This prop has three blades and is made for pontoon boats with Mercury outboard engines between 25 to 60 hp. This is a 10.75-inch diameter with a 12-inch pitch prop which is best for high power and high-speed pontoon boats.
What is unique about this prop in particular compared to other propellers listed previously aside from the number of blades, is the OEM hub kit included specifically for Mercury engines. This alone makes it one of the best propellers in terms of convenience and compatibility for pontoon boats.
How to Choose the Best Pontoon Boat Propellers?
Here's a list of a few things to consider when choosing from among the top boat propellers available. Now I cannot stress this enough, but you always have to think about the purpose of the pontoon boat in the first place as a single pontoon can't do everything, but with a specific setup in mind, you now have the appropriate criteria to pick the best prop for your pontoon boat.
Good quality boat props can either be made of plastic, aluminum, or stainless steel, anything other than these are either a special case prop or absolute rubbish.
Plastic propellers are the cheapest and relatively immune to corrosion, however, due to the softness of the material it is also easily damaged and flexes a lot thus cannot be used on more powerful motors not to mention that this flexing also affects other performance factors of pontoon boats.
Aluminum propellers are the next tier above plastic and although it comes at a bit of a higher cost than a plastic prop this propeller is sturdier and can allow larger diameter higher pitch props at a much higher recommended rpm for those high power engines that can handle such a prop.
Finally, we have propellers made of stainless steel which only grow stronger and harder as it ages. This is hands down the best material for speed, power, control, fuel efficiency, and longevity. The only disadvantage that stainless steel propellers have is that they are quite pricey regardless of the number of blades, a stainless steel one will almost always be more expensive.
Diameter and Pitch
These are the numbers you usually see that accompany props. before deciding on what you want, consider the type of activities that your pontoon boats will be doing.
For the diameter, a proper balance must be struck between engine power and prop diameter. A prop with a larger diameter will be able to move more water thus affecting speed and handling, but too large of a prop will make the engine run harder while spinning slower again affecting the pontoon boats' performance. Too small of a prop and it will run at high speed again overtaxing the engine and may even move a lesser volume of water than if it were spinning at a slower speed.
Pitch dictates how angled the blades are and is the theoretical distance that a propeller will move through the water in one revolution assuming ideal conditions. So a 17-inch pitch prop will move 17 inches through the water in one rotation provided there is no boat to push.
Pitch gives pontoon boats their signature acceleration and power and will decrease the RPMs your engine can put out. This is actually needed, as a prop with too small of a pitch will just spin really fast without pushing your boat and you will notice a lack of speed. If you find your RPMs too high while lacking power, then you will need a higher pitch, consequently if your rpms are too low, then you might need a little less pitch.
Does propeller thickness matter for pontoon boats as surely a thicker one will be stronger and, therefore, better right? its actually the opposite, a thinner blade is a lighter blade and will cut the water better and more efficiently, with that said a thinner blade will receive more damage in the event that it collides with something.
For simplicity's sake, pick the thinnest one you can for each of your pontoon boats and try not to hit things with it.
Number of Blades
When it comes to the number of blades more isn't necessarily better.
Three-bladed props are generally easier to drive because of the relatively smaller footprint thus it allows you to spin it at a much higher RPM. Thus when attached to a proper engine three-bladed props can be amazing when it comes to high-performance usage as it allows you to get to a much higher rpm and top speed at full throttle
Four bladed props on the other hand are a bit harder to drive due to the extra volume of water it pushes due to the prop design and thus will operate at a slightly lower rpm at full throttle than the 3 blade props and consequently at slightly slower top speeds, but it makes up for better acceleration, better fuel efficiency, maneuverability, and overall performance.
For starters, RPM means revolutions per minute and is essentially a measurement for how fast the rotation of a prop is. For proper compatibility of props with the engine, rpm has to be taken into account. Make sure that the propeller can handle the power the engine can output according to the specified manufacturer RPMs.
Rake, Slip, Hole Shot, and Cupping
all these are very technical terms that precisely describe a propeller's characteristics and by extension the theoretical performance that pontoon boats can do.
Rake describes the angle at which the propeller pushes the water and as pontoons work better with lower rake angles since they drag less air underwater for the speeds a pontoon boat usually operates at.
Slip describes the difference between the theoretical capability of the prop from the actual. Most props have a slippage of around 10%-30% and this means that a 10-inch pitch prop with 30% slip will only move 7 inches forward in reality.
Hole shot is in essence acceleration. It is the time it takes for your boat from dead stop to be up on plane and moving. Acceleration is mostly favored when towing things such as wakeboarding and other forms of water sports.
Cupping is similar to pitch, but the angle lies at the end of the prop blade or the so-called trailing edge. it describes the power and grip on water the propeller has and is directly related to pitch so a differently pitched prop must also have a matching cup.
Another thing to consider will be the boat's weight. Even if you opt for the best three-blade prop with stainless steel blades, your top speed may still be lacking depending on the number of passengers and equipment you carry while boating.
As an added consideration the recommended rpm your props have should be taken into account depending on the boating capacity.
Engine compatibility means you have the right set of hubs and washers for the prop and engine combo that you have. Horsepower and RPMs aren't the only things you should look at while mating the prop to your engine. The hubs are a primary consideration as they decide whether or not the prop can even fit your pontoon boat's engine in the first place.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose a pontoon boat propeller?
First of all consider what you want to do with your pontoon boat. If money's no issue, pick a four-bladed stainless steel propeller and it should suffice for most pontoon boats.
Of course, you could also talk to a professional boat guy that does this for a living but will more or less give a piece of appropriate advice in line with this article.
Is a 3 or 4 blade prop better?
Well that depends on what you intend to do with your pontoon boat and this point just has to be reiterated.
For maximum speed pick a 3 blade prop but if you want a more maneuverable pontoon boat with better acceleration, control, and overall performance then a four-bladed prop is the best prop for you. Find a much more comprehensive answer to this question above!
What all of this boils down to is that the best pontoon propellers have qualities that matter to you specifically. You need to clarify what you mean by a faster boat, or a better boat, or maybe you just prefer a different propeller than the OEM one. Do you want a higher top speed, acceleration, maneuverability, or fuel-efficiency?
No one can tell you what the best boat prop is but if you're feeling a bit lost, we've written this guide to help you figure out exactly what you want.
In summary, in order for you to pick the best pontoon boat propeller for your money, you only have to consider your needs and compatibility with your outboard motor.