GPS TROLLING MOTOR: INTRO
Technology is an amazing thing and, luckily for us, technology has made its way into our favorite hobby: kayak fishing! While you may not think of kayak fishing as one of the more technologically advanced sports, we think that you will change your tune after you read this article about the entry of GPS Trolling Motors into the marketplace. Not familiar with trolling motors? You should take a look here, where KFC has written an all encompassing guide to all things kayak trolling motor related.
We have even ranked The 5 Best Kayak Trolling Motors! Once you’ve established your foundation, you should read below to determine whether a GPS Trolling Motor might be a good piece of kayak fishing gear to add to your collection. Let’s jump in!
GPS Trolling Motor: Guide
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This KFC article contains all of the important details and information about the GPS Trolling Motor to help you determine whether this piece of technology is right for you. To make sure this post is organized in an easy to follow format, we have broken it down into a number of logical and categories. We begin by going over some of the basics about GPS Trolling Motors – what are they, what are they used for, are they expensive, are they useful in kayak fishing, and so on.
After that, we’ve included a short “how to “ checklist that will serve as a quick reference guide for showing you how to install and use a GPS Trolling Motor – after all, it won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use it! Next, we’ve included a short section that goes into detail on the top three most important features to look for in any GPS Trolling Motor. We go into detail on each individual feature and explain why the combination of the three of them is so critical to kayak fishing.
After that, we’ve included a link to a particular type of GPS Trolling Motor that has proven to be one of our favorites. We know that this particular model contains the top three features (and more) and has served as well in our own kayak fishing outings. After that, we’ve included section detailing our own experiences with using GPS Trolling Motors so you can learn from our mistakes, and take away tips and tricks from some of our successes! Let’s keep going!
Parts of a Kayak Trolling Motor
GPS Trolling Motor: The Basics
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GPS Trolling Motors can make a big impact on your level of success on the water! GPS satellite guided auto pilot features allow you to map, and then automatically travel to, a number of different locations on the water. This is ideal for allowing a kayak fisherman to focus more on the conditions of the water, and those beneath the surface, and less on navigating from location to location – let the auto pilot do it for you!
To understand how GPS driven kayak fishing accessories work, you need to understand a little bit about the workings behind GPS. The term “GPS” stands for Global Positioning System. For an in-depth and thorough article about GPS, we’d suggest you take a look here. For our purposes, however, you just need to know that GPS is powered by a network of approximately 30 satellites. These satellites orbit the Earth 24/7.
No matter where you are on Earth (yes, you can be truly anywhere on the planet), at least 4 of these satellites will be in range at any given time. Each individual satellite communicates back to an earth based sensor (the GPS receiver contained on your trolling motor, for example) periodically, informing the sensor of where exactly it is located. It does this on set time intervals (and the signals move at the speed of light).
Each one transmits information about its position and the current time at regular intervals. Once the sensor/receiver obtains the information from the satellite, it runs an advanced calculation to determine how far away each satellite is. The calculation takes into account how long it took for the satellite’s information to arrive at the sensor/receiver.
When the reciever/sensor has information from at least three of the satellites that it is communicating with, it is able to pinpoint your exact location by utilizing a method called “trilateration“(just like the image included above depicts). Pretty cool technology, especially since it is so perfectly suited for kayak fishing!
How to Use Properly
GPS Trolling Motors allow for you to control your fishing kayak automatically. There are many different kinds of GPS enabled trolling motors, but all are essentially built such that they are used in similar ways. Typically, your GPS trolling motor will allow you to “anchor” to one position, trace and “remember” a path, and travel to set way points at set periods of time.
We’ve written the short checklist below to serve as your guide as you learn how to use a GPS trolling motor. By no means is this a full listing of all of the features of one of these handy devices (and, depending on which model of GPS system you get, your features may vary slightly). In any event, the “how to” points that we offer below are certainly some of the most commonly used (and definitely the coolest) features that exist on GPS controlled trolling motors!
- Acquaint yourself with the LCD Screen.
- The screen will display the time, remaining battery life, strength of the GPS connection, miles per hour, depth and a number of other handy pieces of information.
- Use “spot lock” (usually a picture of an anchor) to electronically anchor your fishing kayak to a particular location (the image below shows you generally how this feature works).
- Use the directional controls (the arrows located on the remote control) to move your kayak to a new location then returning to “spot lock” to electronically anchor the kayak once more.
- The “tracker” feature (Minn Kota calls it iTracks) can record and trace your path so that you can automatically follow it, down to the inch, on subsequent kayak fishing outings.
- Using the “go now” or “go to” or similarly named feature will allow you to automatically direct your GPS trolling motor to return you to the “spot lock” or “tracker” locations that you’ve used previously.
- GPS Trolling Motors also typically come with an “autopilot” mode (usually indicated by a compass or a northward pointing arrow) so that you can set your heading and stay on it.
- The LCD display and remote connectivity allows you to control speed and steering remotely. This is exceptionally handy when you are fishing from the back of the kayak and located far from the otherwise hand controlled trolling motor’s throttle.
- Speaking of speed control, most GPS trolling motors also allow for you to set “cruise control” (usually a picture of a speedometer) which is great for slowly fishing a bluff or traveling upstream in an erratic current.
- Make sure that you develop a full understanding of these features while you are on calm and controlled waters.
- We suggest that you devote one kayak fishing outing purely to mastering your GPS trolling motor.
- Keeping your fishing gear out of the kayak while you are learning how to navigate helps reduce distractions.
- Then, once you have mastered the controls, its time to bring your gear back on board and head out to your favorite fishing spot (using the cruise control, if you so desire)!
GPS Trolling Motor: Important Features
Like we said above, there are actually several high quality models of GPS trolling motor on the market today. Some are built to be added onto existing trolling motors (like the one we highlight below) while others “come with” GPS enabled technology (these tend to be more expensive). Whichever you choose, you’ll need to make sure that your model has at least the top three features that we highlight below.
You’ll find that many manufacturers will have one or two of these critical features, but it is truly the combination of each them that that serve to make this piece of kayak fishing gear such a powerful tool.
Remote Control. Perhaps you thought this was already included with every GPS Trolling Motor. Well, its not. We don’t understand why, but there are several models of GPS Trolling Motor that do not come with a remote control! A remote control is so important because it allows you to fish from the front or rear of the kayak, while being able to make direction and speed adjustments (among numerous others) without having to place your hand upon the trolling motor’s throttle.
Like we mentioned above, the remote control will also contain indications of how strong your GPS connection is, how much battery remains, and contains built in settings to allow you to enter into “spot lock” or return to a previous desired path by using the “tracker” setting.
Capacity; Memory. Because you will probably be using your GPS trolling motor on a number of different bodies of water, you’ll want to be sure that it has the capability to map and save several desired paths with its tracker feature. For instance, we typically travel to one of three lakes time and time again. On each lake, we have two different paths that we have locked into our GPS system’s memory. That way, once we get to the desired body of water, we just select our desired path and away we go!
Find a model that allows you to save at least four routes. Even if you don’t think you’ll need that many, you need to remember that ideal fishing locations change with the seasons. It could very well be that winter, spring, summer and fall each have a different ideal route – thus, find a model that allows for the recording of a different route for each season!
Distance of Route. This critical feature goes hand in hand with the one mentioned above. You need to find a GPS Trolling Motor that has the ability to record routes of at least 1 mile in length. Anything less and you’ll find that you end up navigating the remainder of the distance “manually” thus defeating the purpose of the tracker feature (at least in our opinion).
You should also ensure that your GPS Trolling Motor has cruise control and speed adjustability. We like models that allow for speed adjustments in 1/10 of a mile per hour increments. It may sound small, but sometimes traveling even 1/10 of a mile per hour too fast or too slow may cause your line to become less desirable to the particular type of fish you are trying to catch. If your trolling motor can’t match the exact speed needed for the fish you are trying to catch, then you are better off not having one at all!
Buy the Best GPS Trolling Motor
The GPS Trolling Motor depicted above is one of our favorite models of “aftermarket” attachments. Yes, there are a number of different kinds of GPS systems on the market, but this is the one that (in our experience) is best suited to attach to the most prevalent kinds of trolling motors that you’ll see on the water.
It comes with a backlit LCD display that is very easy to see from a distance (and during periods of low light, like the early mornings and late evenings). The remote includes high-visibility, laser-etched buttons that reduce the likelihood of you inadvertently pressing an errant setting and throwing your kayak off of its course. The remote control is wholly waterproof, which is obviously very important for a piece of equipment that will predominately be used in and around the water (some GPS Trolling Motors unbelievably do not have waterproof remote controls).
This model allows you to easily record routes of up to two miles in length – a distance which (in our experience) is suitable for nearly every freshwater lake and even some small bays. It can also save up to six routes in its “tracker mode” that are easily retraced when you want to focus more on catching fish and less on navigating from location to location.
There is also a “spot lock” feature for electronically anchoring your kayak against a swiftly moving current or wind, and your speed can be adjusted (again, by remote control) in 1/10th of a mile per hour increments. These are great features for aligning your speed and movements with the type of fish you are trying to catch!
GPS Trolling Motors are one piece of kayak fishing gear that will make you a better kayak fisherman. Period. My favorite feature is the “spot lock” feature because it frees you from having to pull out your kayak anchor and, more importantly, frees you from having to pull the anchor back out of the water!
I found that the user’s manual was really easy to follow. I read through it a couple of times, referenced the color photos when I needed some further explanation, then decided to set out onto the water. This turned out to be a pretty good mix of “book learning” and “practice”. Each of these two methods are important for mastering the GPS Trolling Motor and using it to its full potential in your kayak fishing outings.
Lastly, I never thought that I would rely upon the “tracker” settings as much as I have. It is so nice to just “set” the tracker to my desired route and then let the GPS system and trolling motor do the rest. If I want to deviate, I simply click out of the route, easily clicking right back in when I am ready to return to it. This is one piece of technology that has made kayak fishing a heck of a lot easier and even more enjoyable! I hope you have the opportunity to try one out for yourself!
For what its worth, I bought my GPS Trolling Motor and my kayak cart at the time time. These two kayak fishing accessories are currently in a tie for “first place” in terms of which product has made my kayak fishing experiences more enjoyable. The kayak beach cart, in particular, has made lugging my kayak across the sand WAY easier. I guess I’ll have to keep using both of these awesome pieces of kayak gear to determine who the winner is!
GPS TROLLING MOTOR: CONCLUSION
We hope this GPS Trolling Motor article has been helpful in teaching you all of the important details about these awesome kayak fishing accessories. If you are looking for one piece of gear that is capable of having an immediate positive impact upon your abilities and experience as a kayak fisherman – you’ve found it in the form of a GPS Trolling Motor.
If you’ve made it to this point and find that you still have questions about this particular product, we’d like to encourage you to post on the Comments board below. This Comments board is seen by thousands of fellow kayak fishermen and, odds are, if we can help you out, one of your fellow kayak fishing enthusiasts will certainly be able to! We read and reply to every comment and we truly enjoy interacting with the kayak fishing community!
Did you know that GPS technology had made its way to kayak fishing? Have you ever used a GPS before? What about a trolling motor? Were you aware that the combination of these two powerful technologies could make such a positive impact on your kayak fishing experience and success? Have you ever tried one for yourself? What did you think about it? Did you learn any helpful tips or tricks about your GPS Trolling Motor that you’d like to share with this kayak fishing community?
Please speak up by posting on the Comments board below! We read and respond to every comment and we truly believe that KFC’s free message boards are a tremendous educational resource for kayak fishing enthusiasts all across the globe!