West Virginia Bass Federation - FISHTAILS
 FishTails: Jan. 2000

Yamaha Fishing Pro Jimmy Bell

Let's go fishin'! with Yamaha Fishing Pro Jimmy Bell
'Which motor to use?'

Being a professional walleye angler and an avid bass angler, I'm often asked to explain the difference between bass and walleye boats. A bass boat is designed for speed and for use as a casting platform. A walleye boat is a tool to be used in many ways depending on the situations you are in. When bass fishing, you move the bait with your rod and reel. When walleye fishing, you use the boat and motors to move your bait.

Learning to use your main and kicker motors to maneuver your boat in these different circumstances can be the difference between a great day of catching fish and a day spent casting. The difference between a great walleye angler and a good one is often measured by boat control.

In tournaments, I constantly rely on my two Yamaha motors - a VMAX 175 and a T9.9 four-stroke, high-thrust kicker - to maneuver my boat. During different situations, I may choose one motor over the other. Here's why:

Calm conditions or conditions where I want to move my bait slow are two areas where the T9.9 shines. If I am working a break where I need to move slowly while dragging a bait, my T9.9 fits the ticket. It is quiet and can change the boat's course easily when there is no wind trying to push the boat around.

My T9.9 kicker would also be my choice if I want to back troll - using the engine to move the boat in reverse. Back trolling can be very useful if you want to keep your bait in a precise spot. It's always more effective to pull a long object than to push it.

Where this all changes is when the winds and waves pick up. Once the winds pick up, I always opt for my main motor. When it comes to boat control, wind is the one factor that frustrates most anglers because they try to control their boat with the kicker. With the kicker mounted on one side of the transom and not at the center point, once the bow starts to swing from the wind it becomes very difficult to regain control. Using your main motor gives you control. A larger prop turning along the boat's centerline allows you to stay in control and stay on structure.

With all of the new technologies that Yamaha has put into their motors, trolling with the main combustion engine should not be overlooked. There are many times that speed is the trigger for the fish. Trolling at speeds up to 5 mph can trigger a fish into grabbing a bait. Next time the bite gets tough, try speeding up instead of slowing down, you may be pleasantly surprised.

For more fishing tips and information on Yamaha, visit