UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

Timeline: Hummin’ along

Remember a decade ago when the best electric trolling motor was a 24-volt model - two batteries - that generated 55 pounds of thrust? In retrospect, you might also remember how battery power, though a huge improvement over the oomph supplied to glorified eggbeaters a decade before that, was lacking for a full day's worth of pedal-to-the-medal maneuvering. Since then, advances in trolling-motor design have made for far bigger blasters so energy efficient that deep-cycle batteries often have enough juice left to go another couple of days. Beyond the parameters of power and run time, among the features on new-and-improved electrics are composite shafts that bend but don't break, die-cast marine-grade aluminum elsewhere in the construction for greater durability and the option for compass-driven remote steering with either a foot pedal or a remote control. Minn Kota Power DriveDepartment of energy How did we get here? Consider the department of energy on Minn Kota trolling motors, which has hastened the move in power regulation and delivery from a speed coil to pulse-width modulation. Trolling motors of yore, if you remember, clicked from one speed to another under the guidance and direction of a speed coil. A speed coil, however, is analogous to driving a car with one foot on the gas and another on the brake - an inefficient method of voltage management that turned excess energy into heat, a stumbling block to trolling motor longevity. "Heat is the enemy," says Joe Brown, brand manager of Minn Kota Trolling Motors. "Heat is a bad thing." On the other hand, pulse-width modulation, that stems from Minn Kota's mid-90s release of Maximizer technology that has become standard on the company's motors, diminishes excess heat by more efficiently delivering the electrical current needed for a given amount of power. Trolling motors no longer click from one power level to the next due to infinite variability that comes with pulse-width modulation; turning down the rheostat for less power is like letting your foot off the gas on an automobile. Minn Kota Maxxum ProWith greater energy efficiency, today's trolling motors have therefore gained greater power with multiple batteries that have replaced a single 12-volt power source for higher thrust. Back in 1995, the nascent move to a 24-volt Minn Kota was delivering a maximum 55 pounds of thrust; a comparable modern Maxxum generates 80 pounds on two batteries. Truth be told, two batteries back then was a big deal. For that matter, the forthcoming '06 Maxxum Pro Bow-Mount supplies a hale and hearty 101 pounds of thrust on three batteries. Furthermore, Lift-Assist, a system of gas-charged springs, cuts the weight in half when lifting it from the water and will be added to select Riptide saltwater bowmounts for '06. Performance and durability If energy efficiency and, in turn, greater power are hallmarks of modern trolling motors, additional upgrades round out the Minn Kota repertoire for better performance and improved durability. For instance, the division of Johnson Outdoors has transitioned away from stainless-steel shafts to a pultruded composite that is able to withstand bumps and bruises should it collide with a rock or log. A stainless-steel shaft, on the other hand, is prone to bending, and will weaken the cable-drive mechanism. Minn Kota offers the CoPiolot, a wireless remote control for its AutoPilot motor.In the meantime, AutoPilot likewise qualifies among advances in the product line. With a compass system to guide the boat in a given direction, AutoPilot in freshwater as well as saltwater offerings automatically and continuously makes adjustments to keep your boat going there - an advantage in hands-free operation when, for example, you're fighting or unhooking a fish. A complementary component is CoPilot, a wireless remote control that can be affixed to a fishing rod or a wrist, like a watch, to steer from anywhere in the boat and change speed by dialing the power up or down. Yes, today's trolling motors are bigger and more powerful because of improved energy efficiency. They are also gaining greater longevity with better engineering in their components - for instance, the new Weedless Wedge prop on Maxxum Pros for slicing weeds. Another option on many Minn Kotas, Universal Sonar incorporates a transducer into the motor's lower unit to offer plug-in compatibility with an array of fish finders. Undoubtedly, today's biggest, baddest electric motors go where no trolling motor has gone before because of the difference a mere decade makes.

Tags: tech-tackle-reviews  dave-scroppo 

/tips/2015-06-04-pros-preferred-ledge-rods

Pros’ Preferred Ledge Rods

We quizzed four of the best offshore anglers around on the rod that they get the most out of and why they like it. If you need a new rod and have ledges on the brain, these four are worth your consideration. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-23-the-next-big-ledge-bait

The Next Big Ledge Bait

If you’re a ledge fisherman, go buy another Plano tackle tray, because the list of baits that you need to have in your arsenal has grown once again. Ledge maestro Ben Parker, who developed the Nichols Lures Magnum Spoon and unveiled it to the fishing world at the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour finale on Kentucky Lake, has drummed up another big hit for offshore anglers – “big” being the key word. The new Nichols MBP Swimbait (MBP stands for Magnum Ben Parker) is a jumbo swimbait that already helped FLW pros cash checks on the Tennessee River ledges at this month’s Rayovac FLW Series tournament on Kentucky Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-08-sebile-action-first-star-shiner

Sebile Action First Star Shiner

It’s no secret that one of the best baits you can throw at lethargic bass in chilly water is a suspending jerkbait. Just in time for this year’s prespawn brawl, here is a new twist on the darting, diving minnow imitator that’s sure to put a twinkle in the bass’ eye without putting a big dent in your tackle budget. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-11-25-magnum-rods-for-jumbo-plugs

Magnum Rods for Jumbo Plugs

With the magnum crankbait craze spreading in 2014, it makes sense that rod companies would start building rods specifically for fishing jumbo plugs. We analyzed three tournament-worthy rods built for launching crankbaits ranging from standard deep-divers such as the Strike King 6XD up to today’s true jumbo plugs like the Strike King 10XD. Here’s how they fared. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-09-04-tackle-review-strike-pro-big-bubba

Tackle Review: Strike Pro Big Bubba

Here’s a one-of-a-kind square-bill that crankbait junkies might want to think about adding to their shallow-water arsenal. I’m hesitant to call the Big Bubba new because Strike Pro actually unveiled it awhile back. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-07-16-icast-trends-big-and-bold

ICAST Trends: Big and Bold

Gizzard shad are nothing new; nor is the notion that bass like to eat them. However, the recent heroics with a Magnum Spoon by Jason Lambert, Clent Davis, Randy Haynes and others at Kentucky Lake have focused a spotlight on a point reflected in several of the new products debuted at ICAST. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-07-09-tackle-review-z-man-diezel-minnowz

Tackle Review: Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ

With a name like DieZel, I expected the MinnowZ from Z-Man to be one rough customer. What I didn’t expect was something tough enough to catch several dozen bass and still not need replacing. Then I remembered the nifty 4-inch swimbait is manufactured using ElaZtech, a super-soft, yet incredibly strong material that has made a name for itself as one of the most pliable and durable soft plastics used in the fresh- and saltwater fishing industries. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-05-05-tackle-review-gambler-burner-worm

Tackle Review: Gambler Burner Worm

Just when you thought the soft-plastic worm market couldn’t get any fatter, Florida-based Gambler introduces a heavyweight surface swimmer that is designed to perform significantly better than others with a paddle-tail caboose. It’s called the Burner Worm, but it does way more than the name implies. To hear Walmart FLW Tour pros JT Kenney and Jim Tutt tell it, Gambler’s newest soft plastic is perfect for buzzing on top or crawled beneath the surface without ever missing a beat. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-04-30-tackle-review-strike-king-tour-grade-rage-blade-

Tackle Review: Strike King Tour Grade Rage Blade

There’s a new bladed swim jig in town from Strike King, and this one is sure to shake things up once the bass fishing masses catch on to some big changes it brings to the table. Not only does it rattle your rod tip and attract violent strikes from afar, it helps solve a couple of nagging problems inherent in a posse of its predecessors – poor hookup ratios and frustrating hangups. READ MORE »

/tips/2013-04-29-fishing-cybertools-

Fishing cybertools

When you’re fishing with an old-school bass angler, nothing will sour his face faster than seeing you slip a smartphone out of your pocket to peek at your email. As understandable as that attitude is, no one can rightly deny that today’s phones provide a tremendous amount of useful stuff. Such a device can be as valuable as your graph or a good landing net. In fact, your phone is more like a toolbox than a tool because each app serves a separate function. READ MORE »

/tips/2013-03-21-jerkbait-guide

Jerkbait guide

Take in an early spring tournament on just about any fishery, and you’ll see dozens of anglers jerking, twitching and snapping a bevy of slender minnow-shaped jerkbaits. Yet the same select and relatively small group of anglers usually cashes the bulk of the checks on many lakes during the spring. Somehow, they manage to set themselves apart. READ MORE »

/tips/2009-11-24-a-crankbait-dives-to-new-depths-

A crankbait ‘Dives-To’ new depths

For some reason, crankbaits overtook other lures this year in the speck of cyberspace inside my head that is my attention span. My wife gets annoyed that I can’t hear other words when I’m singularly focused on one task or noise. The problem is compounded when it involves something to do with fishing. READ MORE »

/tips/2009-11-18-running-the-yamaha-sho-v-max-250-la-

Running the Yamaha SHO V Max 250 LA

Waking up Tuesday to rain at 6 a.m. didn’t dampen the excitement of testing the new Yamaha outboards. The air was cool but not cold, and the rain was spitting and misting on the 45-minute drive to the test facility in Bridgeport, Ala. A quick safety meeting got everyone on the same page, and then a rundown of the SHO outboard came next. READ MORE »

/tips/2009-11-17-sneak-peak-new-yamaha-v-max-sho

Sneak peak: New Yamaha V MAX SHO

Game changer? It’s definitely going to be a drool inducer. We were invited to an early viewing of the new four-stroke outboards from Yamaha. Monday we were only privy to images of the new outboards, and Tuesday we’ll actually get to put them through their paces on several different boats. READ MORE »

/tips/2009-09-28-product-of-the-year-trilene-100-fluorocarbon

Product of the Year: Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon

Approximately one decade ago the Yamamoto Senko hit the market and transformed the bass-fishing industry. A few years later the shaky head and finesse worm had a similar effect. In 2005 Bryan Thrift introduced the ChatterBait, and in 2007 Jay Yelas won the FLW Tour Angler of the Year by throwing an under-the-radar swimbait. This season, no singular bait stood out. Instead, a fluorocarbon line was the product with the most profound impact. READ MORE »

/tips/2009-09-10-the-art-and-science-of-blade-baiting

The art and science of blade baiting

When walleyes are concentrated behind river wing dams or in reservoirs feeding on bait balls near the thermocline, nothing beats a properly presented blade bait for enticing a limit of fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2009-07-27-topwater-poppers

Topwater poppers

Pop. Pop. Splash. Splash. Set the Hook. Grab the net. Then drop that keeper in the livewell and fire back out there again. The action can be fast and furious when bass are schooling or rummaging shallow bushes looking for an easy meal, and they readily fall victim to popping topwaters. There are literally dozens of popper varieties on the market, and we sampled a large pool of manufacturers’ offerings. READ MORE »

/tips/2009-06-30-power-up-your-drop-shot

Power up your drop-shot

For anglers who live east of the Mississippi River, the term “drop-shot” often brings thoughts of deep water, wimpy rods, spinning reels, 6-pound-test and plastic worms the size of spaghetti noodles. While many Eastern anglers automatically place the dainty drop-shot into the finesse category, some Western pros do not see it that way. READ MORE »

/tips/2009-05-26-tips-for-better-towing

Tips for better towing

With gas prices being what they are, a $20 bill won’t get you nearly as far down the road as it used to. Not surprisingly, just about everybody is looking for good ways to get more distance for their buck. READ MORE »

/tips/2009-05-08-back-to-basics-for-early-season-walleyes

Back to basics for early-season walleyes

Catching walleyes isn’t complicated this time of year. The same methods and presentations that worked for your grandfather still work today. Here’s a refresher on some of the basics. READ MORE »