Choosing a trolling motor for your boat

This past weekend at the Mid-Canada Boat Show in Winnipeg, I engaged in fishing-related conversations with many people every day.
The most common question people threw at me was “what should I consider when choosing a trolling motor for my boat?”
Despite the slow economy, boat sales actually were good over the weekend, based on reports I heard from multiple dealers.
Many of the people who purchased boats had rigging on their mind and from an angler’s point of view, a trolling motor is an important tool.
Trolling motors come in three general models: 12-volt, 24-volt, and 36-volt. A regular deep cycle battery kicks out 12 volts, so you have to understand that 24-volt motors run on two batteries and 36-volt motors require three deep cycle batteries.
The more power, the more thrust capability the motor has, and they generally will have a longer life.
I run a 36-volt system on my 20-foot Lund Predator boat and I cannot run the batteries out in a day no matter how windy it is. Quite a change from the old days when we would kill two or three single batteries in a day with our 12-volt motors.
The most important aspect to consider when choosing the proper trolling motor is the boat’s size. Fourteen- to 17-foot boats generally can get by on a single battery, 12-volt system that includes motors with thrust sizes from 36 pounds to 55 pounds.
An 18- or 19-foot boat definitely should consider a 24-volt system with motors that have a thrust range of 60-80 pounds.
Finally, 20-foot and larger boats really should take advantage of the power three batteries provide in a 36-volt system, often having more than 100 pounds of thrust.
If you are serious about fishing, it will pay off in the long run to purchase the best trolling motor you can afford.
The advantage the higher thrust motors provide is more power. These motors often can generate enough power to meet the anglers’ needs without having to run on a high setting, which will drain batteries quickly.
As a bass angler who spends a lot time fishing in shallow water and weeds, a higher thrust motor like the Minn Kota Fortrex 101 on my boat can eat through the weeds when I turn up the power.
One consideration is the amount of room in your boat. Some boats only have room for one or two batteries, so often times creativity is needed to make a second or third battery fit.
Beyond the voltage requirements, there are two different styles for operating a trolling motor: power-driven models and cable-driven models.
One is turned or directed with power; the other is turned by cable, using a foot peddle.
Generally, bass anglers prefer the cable-driven models because of their speed and maneuverability in tight quarters, like around docks or in thick weeds. Power-drive models are more popular among walleye anglers that tend to do a lot more straight-line trolling.
Both motors have advantages. Cable-drive motors need to have the operators’ foot on the peddle to operate while power-drive models only turn when directed to and can be run automatically.
Just take my advice. If you are a bass angler or do a lot of casting, you want a cable-drive motor like a Minn Kota Maxxum or Fortrex. If you are a walleye angler who does a lot of trolling, then the Minn Kota Power Drive and Terrova motors may suit your needs better.
A new product for 2010 from Minn Kota is called the i-Pilot. It is a wireless GPS trolling system that can be used with the Power Drive and Terrova models.
It is a motor upgrade that allows anglers to save trolling routes or waypoints, among other things. To further clarify, the i-Pilot will allow you to save the exact route of successful trolling passes.
If you find walleyes on a specific trolling pass, you easily can repeat that pass every time you hit the water. You also can save a waypoint if you come upon a school of fish, a drop-off, or any other type of specific spot.
The motor will use GPS technology to hold within five feet of the exact spot you saved without you having to do a thing.
Talk about making fishing easy!
Trolling motors, like everything else in the fishing world, continue to improve and they can increase your fishing success.
For more information, drop by your boat dealership and they will be able to help rig your boat with the proper trolling motor to meet your needs.

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