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Yamaha’s Helm Master EX is the latest iteration of its joystick control system for outboards. It includes a range of upgraded features — including smoother, quieter operation that benefits anglers — but the big news is the system is now available for a single outboard.

Having used Helm Master from its earliest variants, I have watched it morph into a control suite that’s virtually indispensable for outboard fishboats. Once you try it, you won’t want to own a boat — or go fishing — without it. However, the system was only available for boats with two or more outboards. Helm Master EX changes that.

The new system includes refreshed digital electronic engine controls and joystick, digital electric steering and an autopilot. These components allow it to perform most of the functions associated with multiple-engine systems. It is compatible with Garmin and Raymarine electronics through a multifunction display interface, and has a handheld remote for operation away from the helm.

Helm Master EX is a good fit for smaller center consoles and bayboats, and is available as orginal equipment, or it can be installed by qualifying Yamaha dealers as part of a repower. It works with single F-Series outboards from 150 to 425 hp equipped with digital electronic control. The key to its simplicity is the electric steering unit, which eliminates hydraulic pumps, hoses and servos.

Yamaha's redesigned digital electronic engine control. 

Yamaha's redesigned digital electronic engine control. 

Among the system’s angling-oriented features is FishPoint, which automatically maintains a position using minimal engine rpm. FishPoint can also hold the bow or stern into the prevailing current/wind. DriftPoint maintains the boat’s heading and allows a natural drift regardless of current and wind, and also maintains a specified drift speed. DriftPoint Track maintains heading while guiding the boat along preselected waypoints. Position, direction and speed in all modes can be adjusted incrementally by joystick taps.

One of the few things Helm Master EX can’t do with a single outboard is move the boat sideways. That maneuver is limited to multiple outboards. You can thank physics for that — at least for now.

The system’s capabilities are extensive, even more so when used in conjunction with the autopilot functions. To learn more about Helm Master EX, check out the resources at

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