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Gear Check: Shocking Lessons Learned About Onboard Power

Bite the bullet and pick quality marine batteries and a reliable charging system to maximize fishing time on the water.

Gear Check: Shocking Lessons Learned About Onboard Power

From left, the Optima Blue Top marine battery and the Minn Kota MK345 Precision Charger.

When working tight cover—such as wood—your trolling motor is of paramount importance, as it helps you position yourself for the perfect cast.

Your boat batteries and their charging system are critical for optimal trolling-motor operation. Without them, you’re dead in the water.

A few years ago, I installed my second onboard charger ($175) and third battery set ($110 per battery). Within a year, they both were dead.

After decades of fussing with marginal lead-acid batteries and sketchy chargers, I decided to bite the bullet and replace the entire system with quality components.

After much research, I decided on Optima Blue Top marine batteries ($289; and a Minn Kota MK345 Precision Charger ($339;

The Optimas are fantastic, allowing me to fish up to three days on a single charge. Once back home, I simply plug in the onboard charger and a couple hours later my batteries are back online.

The Minn Kota MK345 Precision Charger is a three-bank unit with an impressive output of 15 amps per bank for super-fast charging. Additionally, it charges any type of battery, whether AGM, gel or flooded lead-acid.

Both the Minn Kota charger and batteries are installed in the boat's bow, so they take a thorough beating, and both have performed flawlessly under these conditions. After a year and a half of trouble-free service, I can say without hesitation that the system was worth every penny.

— Dr. Todd A. Kuhn

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