Fishermen caught plenty of fish before outboard motors were invented — but they caught many more after Ole Evinrude slapped a gasoline engine to the back of his rowboat. It gave guys unwilling to paddle, row or drift their boats to far off fishing hot spots the chance to go farther and fish longer.
Fishermen caught plenty of fish before electric “trolling” motors were invented. The downside to gasoline motors was the noise they made tended to spook fish and boats with only gas-burners weren’t maneuverable enough to put anglers spot on and keep them there.
Early electric motors were little more than electric outboards. Then they became much more. For the most part they were moved from the back of the boat to the front. They became much more powerful. Early models were 12 volt, then to get more power, motor makers made 24V models that connected to two batteries, then 36 volters and 48 volt models that will power the Queen Mary (or at least a big pontoon boat.)
It wasn’t long before the E-motor makers started adding bells and whistles to their electrics. Remote control steering, foot control steering, steering connected to GPS systems. One of the neatest things I’ve seen in an electric motor is “auto anchor.” That’s not what it’s called but that’s what it does.
Push a button and the GPS activates and links up with the motor. When the GPS system shows the boat moving off the “spot,” the motor turns on and steers the boat back to the spot. It’s just like tossing out an anchor, actually, in wind or current, the spot lock function does a better job of keeping a boat right on a spot than an anchor on a long rope.
When electric motors first gained popularity for anglers, several companies jumped into the business and as commonly happens in many upstart industries, some prospered and others fell by the wayside. Eventually, the electric motor industry in North America became dominated by two companies — Motorguide and MinnKota.
That’s not so unusual, there’s Coke and Pepsi — not many others. There’s UPS and FedEx and not many others. That doesn’t mean someone can’t come up with something better, more economical or otherwise challenge the industry leaders — that’s capitalism.
Recently, two challengers to the Motorguide, MinnKota dynasty are now making moves to become a players in the electric fishing motor market. Interestingly, each challenger comes from a different part of the fishing gear world.
Lowrance Electronics, the company that first brought sonar technology to the dashboards of fishermen has joined the fray and Garmin, one of the first companies to make GPS technology available for civilian applications, is now an e-motor maker, as well. Lowrance unveiled the “Ghost” and Garmin introduced the “Force” at mid-summer’s ICAST show in Orlando earlier this year.
These are the first freshwater trolling motors for each company and both are hoping to upset a market that has been only marginally competitive in recent years. Spokesmen for these companies said they hope to meet a growing demand by anglers and other users for a quieter, more powerful and durable product.
Both the Ghost and the Force use brushless motors designed for quiet operation and are more powerful than other trolling motors. Garmin says the Force is 30 percent more powerful than other freshwater trolling motors, and Lowrance says the Ghost generates 25 percent more thrust than competitors.
Of course each brand will integrate seamlessly with each company’s other electronics. The Lowrance version will connect to Lowrance sonars, charts and other features and so will Garmin’s. Adaptors will be available to connect each unit to other brands, such as Raymarine and others, as well.
If you are in the market for a high end electric motor for your boat or want an upgrade of what you are presently using, take a look at these upstarts. Both are from long established companies with a history of making quality products. Move over Motorguide and MinnKota. The Force and Ghost plan to steal much of the thunder and some of your customers.