Blog by Nick Ohlrich

I’ve wanted a kicker for awhile and finally broke down and bought one last year.

A kicker is a small outboard, usually 5- to 15hp, which sits next to your main motor. Many guides and sport anglers have them, but after purchasing one and using it I am completely convinced it is worth the extra money.

Safety First
Fortunately I’ve never been in a situation where your main and only motor breaks down and you find yourself floating downriver with only a paddle. If you have a kicker in this situation, your problems are greatly alleviated; you may not be able to motor upriver if the current is strong but at least you have power and can navigate downriver to a bank or put in.

Unfortunately I’ve been in this situation: line in the prop. Part of my safety speech every morning goes over avoiding getting line and fish in the prop, but sometimes things happen and my prop has the ability to look like a bird nest from time to time. With a kicker, problems are solved easily: kill the big motor, fire up the kicker and head to shore. This is much easier than leaning out of your boat picking line out of the prop while floating downriver. The big deal with line in the prop is there is potential for that line to get sucked into your seals and destroy them, causing a couple hundred dollars of repair work and time off the water, especially if braided line is the culprit.

Drift Technician
Back-trolling is a very popular means of presentation to fish on the Kenai. The kicker shines in slow water where your big motor just left in gear is too much thrust for the desired speed. The result is in gear out of gear, repeat. Not only is this more challenging to acquire the proper speed but it is also harder on your big motor and racks hours at low RPMs. I also love using my kicker while dead-drifting for trout in areas like Rainbow Alley and the Washboards. Another added bonus is the kicker is much quieter than your big motor.

I run the Mercury 9.9 Pro kicker with electric start and trim. I absolutely love it and will always put a kicker on any boat I get in the future. It gives me a sense of security in case Murphy and his law show up, and also more diversity and ease when dealing with different presentation issues for fish.


Nick Ohlrich is co-owner/guide for Alaska Drift Away Fishing. For more info check out their website at or contact them at or 1-877-999-8677.