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Reader question: HP kicker motor or not

By Gary Korsgaden / Guest columnist

Reader Asks: Should I add a small horsepower kicker?

 I have been hashing around your suggestion of putting on a small horsepower kicker motor on my tiller 1890 Warrior. It seems like a lot are simply locked into 9.9 kicker motors. My barge is a 2002 with a same vintage 115 horse Yamaha outboard motor. Since I brought her home I have been busy engineering ways to make the old girl a more efficient fishing machine. You’re the first person that has set up a small motor for trolling. I have my electric trolling motor on the portside of the transom and would like to add a “small horsepower kicker” to the starboard side. Your thoughts! Jerry Brink -Hudson, Wis.


Jerry, on my 1994 Lund Pro V Tiller originally I had a 9.9 horsepower kicker on the starboard side on the rear transom. The engine ran very well and was a welcome addition to those trips trolling for walleyes on lakes like Mille Lac’s and Lake Erie. Loved having the piece of mind of having a second engine in the event my main engine failed. The downfall was the weight on the transom 390# for the two outboards dropped rear of my tiller boat. While back trolling the starboard corner of the transom would take in water on those windy bumpy days. I sold the motor, but realized quickly, I missed the piece of mind that a spare engine afforded, a motor that just sipped on gas with the range of trolling speeds that “kicker engine” offered.

Solution, I added a lightweight 3.5 horsepower four stroke. At a mere forty pounds on the starboard side of the transom I have been pleased on the ease it starts and the ability of trolling speed in ranges of .6 mph to a high of 4.8 mph. Compared to the 90 hp I had been using for trolling, the gas savings has been significant.

Jerry another fact to consider, outboard motor mechanics, will tell you trolling is not necessarily good for larger outboard engines. Long hours of trolling on larger two or four or two stroke engines can cause them to load up with performance robbing carbon. Consequently, if not cleaned out from time to time could cause performance problems down the road. 

To date I’ve been very pleased with my “small kicker engine.” A couple tips to keep them running smoothly,: First, always add a gas conditioner to the fuel. Second, top outboard mechanics recommend that it is not necessary to run the “little guy” out of gas after every use. Third, invest in a high thrust propeller to give you desired torque at the low end. A high thrust propeller will take away top rpm speed. Instead I will add desired thrust at the slow rpms. The engine will run at a lower RPM to achieve the desired trolling speed.

If you decide to go down the road of adding a small horsepower kicker to your 2002 Warrior, confident you will be extremely pleased like I have been.