Should You Get a Tiller Extension for Your Outboard?

Many of us who use a tiller steered outboard motor find ourselves stretching and sometimes contorting to keep a hand on the tiller, while we get in a comfortable position. A tiller extension seems like an attractive option, but there are some down-sides, too. So, should you get one for your outboard?

The tiller extension on this outboard motor made it possible to mount the seats farther forward, improving the boat’s ability to plane.

First, let’s look at the positives. A tiller extension allows you to:

  • Sit farther forward in the boat, which may be more comfortable and often aids in planing.
  • Stand while keeping a hand on the tiller, which is great for many slow-speed tasks like docking, maneuvering while fishing, or anchoring the boat single-handed.
  • Leave your seat and reach farther forward to grab things (decoy bags, tackle boxes, etc.) without taking your hands off the tiller.

But, as with everything related to boats, there are also down-sides. Add a tiller extension to your outboard, and you may have to contend with:

  • Interference from things like passengers, seat backs (see the above picture; when there’s a person in the passengers seat I have to elevate the end of the tiller to steer around them,) and gear.
  • Poor construction; the vast majority of the tiller handles out there are quite cheap and are made with plastic parts that break easily.
  • Some difficulty steering; you have to reach along a much longer arc to port or starboard, to turn the motor all the way in either direction.
  • Some difficulty maintaining slow-speed RPM. With some outboards—though not all, by any stretch of the imagination—twisting the tiller can be a bit tougher with an extension on it. At WOT this doesn’t really matter, but maintaining a no-wake speed can be bothersome.

So, would adding a tiller extension be a good idea in your specific case? That’s a question only you can answer. But if you have issues with a tiller that’s too short, there’s a good chance adding an extension will make your day of boating far better.

Lenny Rudow:
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