UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Trolling motors 101

Few pieces of fishing equipment are utilized more frequently and undergo more abuse than a trolling motor. Think about it. How many times did you put the juice to the plastic prop on your last fishing trip? Fifty times, 100, 500? Now, imagine spending a day on the lake, river or bay minus a trolling motor. If you're like most anglers, you might feel naked out there without one. The fishing world can thank the late O.G. Schmidt for its trolling motors. Schmidt was a crafty inventor from Wheatland, N.D., who introduced the first electric unit in 1934. The concept was so well received that manufacturing operations eventually had to be moved to Fargo to keep up with spiking production demands. Fargo is located in close proximity to the Minnesota/North Dakota border. Alas, the Minn Kota Corporation was born. Now owned by Johnson Outdoors, the company builds trolling motors for fresh and saltwater applications that rank among the most powerful, dependable and efficient around. It's no wonder so many anglers are looking to Minn Kota muscle when it comes time to shop. But there are a number of things to consider when selecting a trolling motor. To wit: Prilosec pro Chad Grigsby straps his trolling motor down for a • Will the unit be used in freshwater or salt, in current, or in waters that are inherently choppy? • How about boat style? Will it be mounted on a high-performance bass boat, flats boat, center console, or a deep-V, multispecies rig? • Are you in the market for a bow-mount motor or one that clamps to the transom? • Do you prefer a foot control or hand control? • How tight is your budget? These are all viable questions worth answering before you pay a visit to the local dealer or sporting goods outlet, according to Joe Brown of Racine, Wis. Brown is brands manager for Minn Kota. We looked to the products point man to provide some additional insight on trolling-motor selection to help give consumers a better feel for their options. Here is a summary of what he had to say: Mounting styles: There are two mounting styles: bow and transom. A bow mount is typically the best choice for anglers who spend their time maneuvering for precise position on bass, redfish or muskie haunts. The bow-mount style also can be useful on a walleye rig, although many of these guys will spend a high percentage of their time back-trolling. Some walleye boats are outfitted with two trolling motors - one up front and one on the transom - so all the bases are covered. Fresh or salt: Minn Kota's freshwater line of trolling motors are black. The saltwater brutes are white. Rest assured, however, the differences extend far beyond the paint job. Put a black one in the bay and you'll find out. Salt rusts metal. Plus, it corrodes unprotected connections and eats away electronic control boards. That is why saltwater motors, like Minn Kota's Riptide, undergo a much more rigid construction process using more expensive parts than those motors intended for use in freshwater. Naturally, the extra steps lead to a higher price tag. Thrust: Thrust power is measured in pounds, not horsepower. One of the most often-asked questions Brown hears from consumers is: What pound-thrust trolling motor do I need for my boat? "That's a $64,000 question," Brown said. "There is no concrete answer, because there are so many variables involved." Perhaps the best starting point is learning what voltage the boat is wired for - 12 volt, 24 volt or 36 volt. Most bass, flats, bay and multispecies boats fall into the 24- or 36-volt classes. The cutoff for 12-volt harnesses is 55 pounds of thrust. Boats rigged with 24-volt wiring will work with motors that displace up to 80 pounds of thrust; the maximum thrust for 36-volt systems is 101 pounds. Brown said it is always a good idea to consider the water conditions in which a boat will be used when making the choice between trolling motor/voltage systems. The guy in a 20-foot boat who is not fishing in current will probably be perfectly happy with an 80-pound, 24-volt setup. But one who fishes in rivers or competes in those 12-hour tournament days might potentially need a 36-volt system for a couple of reasons - more power and longer run time. "It all depends on how an angler fishes," Brown said. "To me, having too much power is better than not There are many factors to considering when deciding on the right trolling motor.having enough, so long as the boat isn't severely overpowered. I usually recommend going with the highest thrust level the boat is wired for." Hand or foot control: Making the choice between a hand control and a foot control is strictly a matter a personal preference. Anglers manually control speed and direction with hand-control units using a tiller or extension handle. The most obvious advantage of foot control is it frees up both hands to fish. Brown says hand-control, bow-mount units seem to be the favorite among anglers who frequent Southern reservoirs where grass and weeds are in abundance. "It is a little easier to get the weeds off with a hand control because all you have to do is turn the handle to put the motor in reverse," he said. "With a foot control, you have to raise the motor out of water." Shaft Length: The ideal shaft length can vary from one boat style to another. Brown says many of the walleye pros prefer a 62-inch shaft because they tend to frequent big water with lots of chop. The long shaft prevents the prop from coming out of the water in rough conditions. Bass boats? While there are a few makes that sit high enough out of the water to oblige a 52-inch shaft, the 42-inch is the best fit on most boats. "The idea is for the prop to stay about 12 inches beneath the surface to reduce cavitation," Brown said. "I would say a 42-inch shaft finds the sweet spot in about 70 to 80 percent of the market." For more information on Minn Kota trolling motors and a complete list of standard and optional features such as Lift-Assist, Bowguard 360 and CoPilot, check out the company Web site, minnkotamotors.com. The Web site provides some handy spec sheets and other information that will be helpful in determining which trolling motor is right for you.

Tags: tech-tackle-reviews  matt-williams 

/tips/2015-08-10-houston-rebuilding-lake-after-dam-failure

Houston Rebuilding Lake After Dam Failure

One of pro bass fishing’s true legends has vowed to rebuild it. In the process, he plans to resurrect what might have been one of the best private trophy bass fisheries the state of Oklahoma has ever seen. READ MORE »

/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/2015-05-12-aoy-contenders-tracy-adams

AOY Contenders: Tracy Adams

Walmart FLW Tour pro Tracy Adams is what I’d call a well-rounded angler in every sense of the word, but not just because he can catch ’em shallow, deep or anywhere in between. 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 »