Mercury Pro Chase Parsons of Denmark, Wisconsin, might have the best pedigree a walleye angler could ever hope for. His father, Gary Parsons, and uncle, Keith Kavajecz, are giants of the sport by any measure, inductees into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, and certainly on the shortlist for greatest tournament walleye angler of all time.
Chase idolized his two legendary mentors and made the most of the unique opportunity afforded him. Now 36, he has enjoyed great success in his own right during his 16 years as a pro. He, along with his father and his uncle, is a co-owner and co-host of The Next Bite TV show, a nationally televised program that focuses on “Fish with Teeth” – walleye, pike and muskie.
To put it bluntly, Chase has seen more boats, water and fish than probably any three people you know, and he ran a Mercury Verado in various 250 - 350hp configurations from 2006-18. So, when asked about his experience with his 4.6L V8 300hp Pro XS this past season, he predictably had some strong opinions.
It was kind of a no brainer for me with this 20-foot model (a prototype Nitro ZV20) to try to go with one of the new Pro XS outboards simply because of all-around performance. For the tournament angler, speed makes a big difference, but in our world, the midrange is even more important. Because the bodies of water that we fish are so big – we fish the Great Lakes a lot – we’re dealing with four-, five- and six-footers quite often. Having an outboard that has unbelievable midrange helps you climb waves and run big waves a lot easier, and that was one of the things I appreciated from the Pro XS this past season.
The midrange was incredible. The hole shot is very good, and honestly, the fuel economy blew me away. Versus my last Verado, I’m still getting the same top-end performance, hole shot is as good if not better, and the economy is just extraordinary for an outboard that’s 300 horsepower. That’s a big deal for a tournament angler, specifically out here (in professional walleye tournaments) because we fish a lot of the big reservoirs out West. It’s a definite possibility that to get to winning fish; it’s a 90-mile run, one way. This engine pushes my boat in the low 60s for speed, which for a deep vee boat is very good, and it’s still getting really good fuel economy. It just gives me so much more range than what I’ve ever been used to. There are situations now where I may have had to gas up in the past, and now I don’t. It’s just been fantastic.
I ordered mine with the optional Digital Throttle and Shift because that’s what I was used to with the Verado. And next year I’m getting the electrohydraulic steering package as well. The way I view it is I’m going to get all the performance attributes of this new V8 ProXS. Still, I’m going to have literally the same feel as what I had with Verado – that’s a feeling unlike anything other because it’s almost like playing a video game. There are no cables, there’s no clunking, and you can turn the steering wheel with one pinky; the feel of driving a boat is something that Mercury has an advantage over all other manufacturers out there. And these engines sound awesome; every time I turned the key this year, I kind of smiled because it’s got such a cool growl to it. And the maintenance is so much easier. Taking the cowling off to check the oil was just a pain in the butt. Now, these have an access panel (Top Cowl Service Door) on the top where you can get to the dipstick, which is much simpler.
The really cool thing about this Pro XS, or any of the new Mercury V8 and V6 outboards, for that matter, is that they’re going to make any type of hull that you’re looking to put it on that much better. Whether you’re a bass angler, or you have a pontoon or a deep vee fiberglass boat like I have, it’s going to give you great all-around performance. It’s also going to give you fuel economy that you’ve probably never seen from this size of an engine, and just a great overall experience. I couldn’t be happier with the experience I had with mine this past season and I’m looking forward to my next one.