Electric motors

Leroy Tirant
More and more anglers are wising up to the advantages of using an electric motor for fishing. Powered by a deep cycle battery they propel the boat through the water effortlessly and most importantly, they do it quietly. They literally produce no real audible sound.

In today's age where fish are pressured by anglers especially towards the end of the season this can be a real advantage and can increase your catch rates. There are three main brands of electric motor on the market today. They are Minn Kota, Jarvis Walker Watersnake and MotorGuide. I have used different models from all three brands on more than one occasion, and have found some interesting differences.
Firstly it is of course important to get a motor and battery combination to suit your boat. For example a 12 ft tinny with an outboard and two anglers on board with gear wouldn't need much more than 40-55 lb of thrust. Matched with an 80-120 amp deep cycle battery and used for a normal days drift spinning with a bit of slow trolling mixed in you would expect to get 4-7 hrs use. If you used a smaller battery or an electric motor that didn't have enough thrust to suit your boat size then you could cut this time considerably. There are of course ways to increase battery life.
The Minn Kota brand of electric motors uses Digital Maximizer technology in most of their range of motors. This technology can increase battery life by up to five times. It does this by pulsing the charge from the motor instead of drawing constant current. Your dealer should be able to advise you on what size motor would best suit your needs. All brands of motors have variable speed which allows you to use only the amount of power needed to reposition the boat or hold in wind or current. The more amount of energy you conserve the longer your battery life will be. I recommend deep cycle batteries because you are constantly drawing down power and recharging which is what these batteries are designed for. There are two brands that stick out from the crowd and I would highly recommend. The Delkor 120 amp and Trojan 135 amp batteries which are in my opinion two of the best on the market and are priced around the $220 mark which makes them good value.
What type of motor should you buy? Well do you troll more or fly fish or drift spin? If you fly fish or drift spin a bow mount motor is the way to go. A bow mount motor is secured to the front of the boat and whilst not in use swivels up to store in a flat horizontal position. It is controlled two ways. The most common is by a foot control pedal. The pedal on a Minn Kota is, in my opinion, the most user friendly as it can be used without having to constantly look at it. It is easily controlled by pushing your heel on the bottom pad to instantly accelerate the boat and to turn left or right you simple rock the ball of your foot either way. The speed control is also on the pedal and is easily adjusted with your foot also. To stop the motor power you simple take your foot off the control.
Another way is to use the Minn Kota Auto Pilot system which is a small remote control that can be worn on your wrist like a watch or you can actually get a form fitting cradle that clips onto your rod and just let your thumb do the talking. Either way they are both user friendly systems.
The foot pedal for the MotorGuide brand requires toe operation only as even my small size 9 ft is to big for the pedal and I found trying to control the pedal without looking almost painful which I found to be hindrance whilst fishing. The MotorGuide also has an optional remote. The pedal on the Jarvis Walker Water Snake was similar in ease of use as the Minn Kota but does not have a remote.
For those wishing to only troll with an electric motor I'd recommend a transom mount tiller steer type motor. The shaft length and type is another important consideration. All brands have multiple shaft lengths so you can get the best length to suit your boat. Whilst on shafts both the Minn Kota and MotorGuide brands offer what the describe as an indestructible shaft made from composite materials and in my experience I have found the Minn Kota shaft seems to have more flex which could be an advantage if you hit something submerged as the shaft will absorb more of the knock and you wont damage the housing or steering unit of the motor.
The propellers on an electric are also important as the bear the brunt of knocks and dings as you steer around logs and rocks and weed. The MotorGuide prop at first glance seems small compared to the other brands but don't let this bug you as it works fine the only thing I didn't like about the prop was it had a tendency to foul quickly with weed. The Minn Kota prop comes with what they call a weedless wedge and lets the motor steer through anything but the very thickest of weed.
Reliability? Well both the Minn Kota and MotorGuide come with a 3 year limited warranty, while the Watersnake only has a 12 month warranty and having electronic components there is a possibility that a problem may occur at some point. The advantage that Minn Kota has here over the brands is that Ross Pullin at Essential Flyfisher in Launceston is a recognized repairer for their motors. Having a repairer in the state is fantastic as Ross really knows his stuff and having a local that can repair an item quickly and get you back on the water is a bonus. To the best of my knowledge there is not an approved repairer for the other brands in the state.

So before buying an electric motor do your homework and ask around to see who uses what and the advantages some might have over others, I think you'll be surprised at the answers you get. Most importantly remember that you pay for quality and buying cheap because you want a motor now and cant afford the better model isn't the way to go. Buy the best first up and you won't be disappointed even if you're only going to use it occasionally.

Leroy Tirant

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