The answer to this question used to be a pretty easy “no”. Unless you regularly ran through rocky rivers, jet drives on outboard powered fishing boats didn’t make much sense. And inboard jet drives may have a huge advantage when it comes to draft, but since no one built a “real” fishing jet boat, it wasn’t an option. Until…
The Yamaha 190 FSH is a jet-driven inboard, with a center console design, that’s made to fish. Seriously fish. Things like rodholders, a livewell, washdown, and fishboxes are all present and accounted for. And with this jet drive the boat drafts a hair over a foot at rest but next to nothing when it’s up and running. In fact, we scooted across a few flats that were just six or eight inches deep when I had the chance to fish a 190 FSH for a day. (You can see the action, in Got Bait? Marsh Island Mayhem).
Interestingly, there are a few unexpected fishing advantages that popped up. First and foremost, it was awfully nice not to have to worry about wrapping lines around the prop. You never have to work around the outboard when fighting a fish, because there is no outboard. And the transom design, with its built-in swim platform and seating, makes for a great casting spot. It’s also extremely easy to un-hook catch-and-release fish on the stern, since you can get so close to the water.
Fishing aside, the biggest advantage, obviously, is that you get a Yamaha jet boat that’s ready for family time on the water, as well as fishing. Pulling tow toys, beaching the boat in a quiet lagoon for some swimming – all of the usual jet boat fun is fair game. And while propeller injuries are really quite rare, having a jet drive does provide a good deal of peace of mind, for some folks.
Are there any down-sides? Well, sure there are. Like many jet drives, the boat’s on the loud side. Trollers may have a tough time getting used to low speed handling, which is a bit different than it is with an average outboard. And considering that you’ll burn eight or 10 gallons per hour depending on how hard you cruise the boat, fuel capacity is on the thin side at 30 gallons. What about the usual clogging problems associated with jet drives, when used in weedy areas? Yamaha addressed this issue by providing a clean-out port that’s easily accessed from inside the cockpit.
The 190 FSH lists for well under $30 grand, which seems pretty reasonable by today’s standards. So maybe – just maybe – it’s time to consider a jet boat, for a fishing boat.