Catching Up With Trolling Motors

Modern trolling motors have evolved into highly sophisticated angling tools.

By Ed Harp

In times long past, selecting a trolling motor was simple. Then things started to change. Major improvements were made to the power systems. Motors became more efficient, options began to appear and even deep-cycle batteries started getting better. Heck, with some systems, anglers could fish all day in a johnboat.

As time went on, things got even better. Twenty-four-volt systems began to appear in response to the needs of anglers running the bass boats that were appearing on the market. After that, 36- and even 48-volt systems began to show up.

Anglers with some technical skills could add a temperature gauge to their unit. Portable depthfinders were popular for a while. The transducer could be attached to the back of your boat or, in some cases, to the bottom of your electric motor. After that came units with autopilots, remote controls and GPS navigation. All of this from one electric motor. Who'd have thunk it?

Now, of course, the options that can be added to your electric motor are many. If you haven't replaced or upgraded your electric in a few years, take time to see what's available.

Before you do, however, give your needs some thought. Not your wishes, mind you, your needs. First consider your power requirements. Both major manufacturers, MotorGuide and Minn Kota, have charts available on their Web sites and in their literature to help you make that decision.

Next consider shaft length. How long is long enough? Factors such as boat weight, typical loads and general operating conditions will help you make this choice.

The real question is: Will this item help me catch fish? If you're a serious tournament angler or professional guide, the answer may be yes.

And finally, spend a fair amount of time selecting your batteries and your charger. Make sure you have enough battery power to run your motor all day on the water and enough charger to have that power replenished in time for the next day's fishing.

Minn Kota Maxxum Pro


In September 2004, Minn Kota ( introduced its Maxxum Pro. This motor combines high power with reliability and simple operation.

The motor is offered in two power classes. The 24-volt system will generate 80 pounds of thrust, while the 36-volt model will generate 101 pounds. That's a lot of power, especially if you're pulling a heavy fishing boat or spending long days on the water in high wind or heavy current.

Both models come in shaft lengths of 42, 52 or 62 inches. Shaft length is a choice every new purchaser should carefully consider. A shaft that is too short will pull out of the water under rolling conditions, while a shaft that is too long will generate unnecessary drag.

The Maxxum Pro comes standard with the new Weedless Wedge 2 propeller. It also features Minn Kota's exclusive Lift-Assist. Powered by a gas-charged spring, this feature helps the angler get his motor into or out of the water with far less work. Anglers who have used the Lift-Assist say it reduces the effort required to raise and lower an electric motor by up to 50 percent.

For 2005 Minn Kota also has a full line of more conventional trolling motors, built-in transducers, depth and temperature electronics, as well as GPS systems, several charging systems and many useful gizmos and gadgets.

MotorGuide Sonar Ready

Most notably, the new "Sonar Ready" motors are now available from MotorGuide. According to information from the company (, they offer a new and improved coupling between the transducer and the depthfinder.

Of course, the first to pioneer this technology was Pinpoint. Their units were considered revolutionary at the time. Then, in 1999, MotorGuide acquired Pinpoint and the results are beginning to show.

Their systems work by individually tuning the built-in transducer to a specific sonar display. According to the company, its system virtually eliminates interference even in 36-volt systems, which are known for such problems. MotorGuide offers a wide variety of adapters that match the transducer to the sonar display. The adapters retail for around $25 and are available for use with Bottom Line, Eagle, Garmin, Humminbird, Low-rance and Pinpoint. Others could be available by the time this issue reaches you.

MotorGuide also carries a host of ancillary products, including a full line of electric motors of varying power levels, depth and temperature electronics, and GPS systems. They also offer several charging systems and other electronic devices.

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