It was one of those days that makes you feel glad to be alive: beautiful sunshine, a cloudless sky and a moderate breeze from tile southeast -- just enough to ruffle the water. We fished two identical boats out of Naples on Florida's southwest coast. This opportunity to profile identical boats with different engines promised to be of real interest.
The Mako 221 proved to be a stable driftfishing platform without much roll for a 22footer. Predictability -- the characteristic I like best in a boat -- was ill great evidence. There wasn't a moment when the 221 didn't do exactly what I expected. High-speed turns carve nicely without throwing you out of the cockpit, and the trim tabs make all the difference in the world. What a remarkably smooth ride when you drop that bow just a touch. In fact, tile range of tab adjustment is exceptional and not so responsive that you need to keep tapping the switch back and forth to get the running attitude you want. Rather, response is slow enough to be able to adjust efficiently. All in all, the Mako 221 offers a superbly dry, smooth ride.
As you might expect, when running a Mercury 150 OptiMax and a Merc 200 EFI Offshore side by side, the EF1 smoked on start-up, and the OptiMax didn't. The EFI was also louder. Other differences included tile 2(X) sporting a prop with 2 inches more pitch than the t50, meaning it takes a bigger bite of the water, getting up on plane /aster and idling at a faster speed. In fact, the 200 proved to be too fast for trolling live halt.
I believe the emphasis on top speed is nothing more than a marketing gimmick for most boats, here's why: I achieved a top speed of 44 mph on the 200 with a time to plane at a hair over two seconds. Top speed with the 150-hp engine was 40 mph, taking four seconds to plane. The 2(X) is noisier, less fuel-efficient and heavier. So for 4 mph you sacrifice a little time to plane and a lot of fuel. But here's the interesting reality, check: You can cruise comfortably at 31 mph at 4,000 rpm with the 200 and 30.3 mph with the 150 -- only 0.7 mph difference. Also, the ISO OptiMax will supply a 35- to 40-percent savings in fuel -- double that at trolling speed -- and uses half the oil. It seems a no-brainer that a 150, whether an OptiMax or standard engine, is the better choice for this Mako.