SoCal’s Migration to Go-Fast Fishing Boats

These ain’t your granddaddy’s fishing boats. 

Quintuple and quadruple outboard rigs, once unheard-of, can now be spotted in just about every marina. Go to a boat show and nearly every hull you see will be stacked with the absolute maximum power rating. Cruise to the fishing grounds at 20 knots and you’ll have your doors blown off by boats racing by at twice that speed. Go-fast fishing boats have become the boat to have. Just what in tarnation is going on?! 

The new Invincible 43′ Open Fisherman is a mean, fast, fishing machine. Image courtesy of Invincible Boats.

Demanded, or Demented? 

Truth be told, the need for speed isn’t just a SoCal thing and these go-fast fishing boats have been gaining in popularity nationwide for years. Every minute spent cruising is a minute spent not fishing, and the biggest complaint among anglers who own boats is that they don’t have enough time to use them in the first place. Naturally, every angler on the face of the planet wants to maximize their limited, treasured fishing-time. So even when you go to ports that are just a few miles from the offshore grounds, you’ll see plenty of fishing boats boasting so much raw power that they make an F1 car look like a wimpy little sissy crybaby. The bottom line? We all want to get to the fish, wherever they may be, asap. Period. 

Read Next: Fishing Catamarans – 5 Hot New Models

The biggest reason why we’ve seen people make such a dramatic migration to these boats in recent years is because they can. Consider that just a couple of decades ago, a 250-hp outboard was “big” and a boat that cruised at anything over 25 mph was “fast.” Today, we have outboards like the Mercury V12 600-hp Verado, literally more than twice the size of that old “big” motor. Meanwhile, a 25-mph cruise seems utterly lethargic. 

The Everglades 455CC. Image courtesy of Everglades and Luke Brown Yachts.

Outboards grew bigger as the demand for larger outboard boats grew (just look at the ratio of outboard boats to inboard boats in the 30- to 50-foot range being sold these days), and every time outboard manufacturers upped the ante, boat manufacturers made even bigger boats. They could handle ever-more horsepower, and they could stack more outboards along their massive transoms. Bigger bred bigger in an arms race of sorts that continues to rage on today. And critically, people actually bought these rigs, crazy as a 1,000-plus-horsepower outboard boat seemed. So builders kept building them — and continue to keep pushing the limits. 

Builders like Regulator have always been known for seakeeping abilities, not speed. Yet this 41 can run on quad 425s, cruise in the mid-40s, and get well north of 60 mph. Image courtesy of Regulator boats.

Tech Rules 

A number of technological advancements have made these monster outboards possible, but in a recent interview with BoatU.S., Mercury Marine VP of product development and engineering Tim Reid made it clear that much of the ability to reduce weight while boosting horsepower boils down to advancements in computer aided design.

“Today’s calculation speed and fidelity allow engineers to run through many optimization simulations to extract every ounce of excess material to lighten the engines, yet meet all durability requirements. Typically, a new engine block undergoes more than 40 iterations to optimize its structure and exceed endurance targets including all thermal, cylinder pressure, piston skirt, and shaking stresses.” 

Tim Reid – Mercury Marine VP of Product Development and Engineering

Along with engine tech, boatbuilding tech has been progressing at a notable clip. The days of over-powered boats shaking their stringers loose are (mostly) behind us, thanks to techniques like vacuum infusing the stringers and hulls together into one solid unit. Critical stress areas are now beefed up with super-fabrics like carbon fiber, Kevlar, and Innegra. And countless innovations in pieces and parts ranging from digital switching to LED lighting mean there are fewer parts failures resulting from the vibrations created during high-speed runs. 

Welcome to the Valhalla V-55: 55’7” LOA, 15’6” beam, close to 50,000 pounds, up to 3,000 horsepower… and 70-plus mph.

Net Result 

What happens when you put tech and demand together? You get boats like the SeaVee 340Z, which can handle 1,350 horsepower, or about 40 horses per LOA. You get boats like the Freeman 42 LR, which can take 1,800 horsepower in the form of quad 450s. And you get boats like the Valhalla V-55, which can — this is not a misprint —stack quintuple V-12 600s on the transom to produce a mind-bending 3,000 horsepower outboard boat. All of these models can cruise in the 50s and hit top-end speeds exceeding 70 mph. 

The Freeman 42 LR is undoubtedly one of the hottest boats to hit the water in recent years… and it can top 70-mph. Images courtesy of Freeman Boatworks.

With boats like this, that three-hour run just became an hour and a half. Total cruising time for the day is reduced by three hours, and on a 12-hour adventure, that means you’ve just boosted your fishing time by 25 percent. You’ll get to the early bite earlier, and fish the afternoon bite later. You’ll probably see your catch rate go up accordingly. So, when will you be signing on the dotted line for one of the go-fast fishing boats? 

Lenny Rudow …has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades, and has authored seven books. He is currently the Angler in Chief at Rudow's FishTalk Magazine, is Electronics and Fishing Editor for BoatUS Magazine, and is a contributing editor to several other publications. His...