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Working with Wireless GPS Trolling Motors

Modern trolling motors have the brains and the brawn to guide your boat while you fish.


Years ago, when I graduated from a hand control to a foot control trolling motor, I thought life couldn't get any better. No longer would I have to stop reeling to reach down and adjust my speed or direction. Now I could hold the rod in one hand, crank on the reel with the other, while I was able to control the trolling motor with my foot. After a little practice I didn't even have to look down anymore to know the position of the trolling motor or the direction I wanted to go. Simply press the foot switch and away I went.

When I saw the first wireless trolling motors controlled by a hand-held remote, my thought was it's a step backwards from a foot control. Once again I would be faced with having to wait to cast or stop reeling to control the motor by hand. Yeah that's not for me, I remember saying, I'll stay with a foot control that allows me to do two things at once.

My wife and I fish together a lot. I'm on the bow at the trolling motor casting away, while she quietly sits at the stern and out fishes me four to one. Many times as I left the bow unattended, to help her land a fish, the boat would drift out of position. Upon returning up front my first order of business, before I could resume fishing, was to get the boat back under control.

This cycle repeated itself many times throughout the day and I thought there has to be an easier way. It wasn't until I was faced with rigging my new bay boat that I gave a wireless trolling motor a second look, mainly for the anchor feature that holds the boat's position by the use of a GPS receiver built into the head of the unit.

The particular wireless trolling motor I settled on was also available with a wireless foot control. Perfect, I thought, the best of both worlds. I could now hold the boat's position by use of the virtual anchor feature and have the hands-free control from a foot pedal.

Installation of the bow-mounted electric motor was easy. The wireless remote is intuitive and the anchor feature was a snap to master. Pull up to a desired fishing spot and lock in the GPS coordinate with the push of a button. The motor automatically compensates for wind and current and your position doesn't change more than a few feet. It's a great feature for holding inshore near cover or even offshore over a reef. The days of trying to anticipate drift, move up current, deploy an anchor and hope that when the rode comes tight you're positioned where you want to be are gone.

My biggest revelation came the more I used the trolling motor and experimented with the other features on the remote. You can set a course and speed with input from the GPS or fish finder, if integrated, that can follow a straight line or a bottom contour. The trolling motor will maintain

your desired heading while making adjustments for wind and current. If you frequent a certain fishing area where you need to weave in and out along a shoreline, you can use the route record feature, which stores the recorded route. Upon returning to your shing spot, call up the numbered route from memory and trace the exact tract as you fished before. Now the boat is being operated not only hands free but also foot free as well.

The biggest difference between a hand controlled trolling motor and a hand-held remote controlled trolling motor is the motor's ability to assist the angler with boat position with information gathered from the GPS receiver or electronics. Once set, the boat's course does not have to be manually controlled very often by hand or foot giving you more time to concentrate on fishing. Now my wireless foot control that I thought I couldn't live without, rests in the compartment along side my unused anchor. Well, I guess it's still in there. FS

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