The Need for Speed

Michigan Wheel ad from 1976.

For those of you speed freaks, here’s a blast from the past that might have you reminiscing the days when you really had to work to make your boat the fastest on the water. Although Michigan Wheel is still in business, I hadn’t thought of them for probably 20-plus years until I saw this ad in a 1976 vintage Bassmaster Magazine.

Think about that folks. Back in 1976 most boats were powered by 85-hp machines and very few had anything above a 150. Still, bass anglers were doing everything they could to get every ounce of speed from their machines and one of the easiest and least expensive was to re-prop your motor.

Michigan Wheel was one of the first companies to target the bass industry offering a wide array of performance props along with custom balancing and tweaking. Not only did they offer stainless steel, which holds its shape better under the stress of high rpms, they were experimenting with lacquer coatings to decrease the friction of the prop while it rotated in the water.

Gone are the days of checking out all the cool props at the ramp after a long day of fishing. When was the last time you saw a Michigan Wheel or a Cleaver or a Chopper Prop on a bass boat? Gone too are the days of the over-the-hub exhaust props that took 100 yards to plane out but when they finally bit, knocked you onto the back deck.

  • In the mid 70’s, these props were used on overpowered 15′ hulls with short shaft 150 Mercs. Popular boats that come to mind that were using with this set up in Florida, are Allison, Hurst,Ranger 155, and Challenger.

    The passenger has to crawl up front to get the boat on plane but they were fast.

    • It’s pretty crazy when you think about it isn’t it Bob? I fished a Top Six event on Lake Mojave in 1981 and was paired with a guy that had a 17-foot Ranger. The Merc cowling said 150 but the guy said it dyno’d at over 200. We drew 50-something out at Katherine’s Landing (David Dam at the far downstream end of the lake) and by the time we got to the south basin we had passed all the other boats ahead of us.

      That was a crazy day. Here we launch at the far end of the lake and I draw a guy who wants to go to Eldorado Canyon some 55 miles up the lake. In order for us to get on plane, I had to sit on the bow and then when it came down I had to navigate over the 50-gal bladder tank he had in the bottom of the boat. I have no clue how fast the boat was but we passed everyone else like they were standing still. We used 75 gallons of fuel that day and didn’t get bit. The team that won fished 10 miles from the ramp. That day taught me a good lessons: Bladder tanks suck, Chopper props suck, gasoline costs a lot of money and the fish are a lot closer than you think…….