By Steve Dougherty
Capt. Jason Stock has been fishing the inshore and coastal waters of southwest Florida his entire life, though the 26-foot Yellowfin Full Send has allowed for expanded opportunities targeting pelagic species miles over the horizon. Amid the available tools at his disposal, Stock employs a 36-volt Rhodan HD GPS Anchor+ trolling motor mounted to an 84-inch shaft. Purpose-built for saltwater anglers, the 36V model has a thrust rating of 120 pounds and can hold tight over waypoints with pinpoint accuracy via a high-definition differential GPS unit and dual-tilt compensated compasses.
Rhodan Trolling Motor
In anchor mode, the trolling motor keeps the boat’s bow right where you want it, automatically compensating for wind, waves and current. Anchor sites can be jogged in five-foot increments in four directions relative to the boat’s heading using a wireless fob. “Buzzing around offshore with a trolling motor always leads to a few odd looks, but it doesn’t faze me. The virtual anchor function saves time and effort, eliminating having to pull anchor line and chain when relocating. And if other boats are already present on a structure I want to fish, then it’s way more effective to slowly motor around the reef or wreck and hover in position rather than fight for a spot to drop the hook,” Stock says.
Yamaha Helm Master EX
Yamaha’s new Helm Master EX is a powerful suite of electronics centered around an intelligent autopilot, providing impressive tactical thrust and accurate close counter maneuvering. Among the many standard features, SetPoint modes such as DriftPoint and FishPoint are particularly valuable to single engine outboard operators. “DriftPoint allows for a natural drift, maintaining heading course only, while DriftPoint Track maintains a track along a set of determined waypoints on a route. Position, direction and speed in all modes can be adjusted incrementally by joystick taps,” says Capt. Sean Gill, lead captain of demo tours for Yamaha.
One twist of the joystick will move the boat’s bow heading angle by five degrees, and additional twists will rotate it by up to 50 degrees. Replicating a trolling motor in its directing abilities, FishPoint mode automatically maintains boat position, but not heading, using GPS and minimal rpm. This can be set for bow or stern, with the boat finding a balance between the wind and the current. “It’s literally going to drive me to the spot, slow me down, put me in neutral and hold me there with the SetPoint anchor feature,” Gill says.
Pattern Steer is yet another user-selectable mode that can serve the purpose of a GPS based trolling motor, with options for a preset zigzag or ever-expanding circle. Pattern Shift is operable in this mode and lets you troll below standard in-gear speed by automatically shifting into or out of gear to meet a desired speed. The resulting minimum speed can troll as slow as 1/2 mph, which is perfect for presenting live baits to kings and sails.
We owe our daily pursuits to technological innovations once unimaginable, with the latest advancements providing unprecedented boat control. While trolling motors have recently carved out a great deal of value within the saltwater community, leading outboard technology with intelligent drive units are now able to replicate the tactical thrust produced by a bow-mounted trolling motor.
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