With today’s outdoor electronics, anglers have grown to expect a lot from technology. We want our equipment to find fish and structure, to tell us lake depths, and to keep our boats meticulously on track-and of course, we want it done hands-free in a stout wind. But now even foot pedals are becoming obsolete. Developments in trolling motors are raising performance to a new level by making it possible to read and travel a lake with just the touch of a button.
Like many bass and walleye anglers, I’ve learned that once you find fish in a specific type of structure and at a set depth you have to stay on them. But this requires that you spend a lot of time piloting your boat, battling wind and water currents, and searching for structure on your depthfinder. You’re robbed of valuable concentration and casting time.
So when my fishing buddy, Ben Phillips, of Kirkwood, Missouri, told me he had a way of fishing any depth of a lake and staying on it totally hands-free and even feet-free, he got my attention. Two days later I was standing on the bow of his boat, pitching crankbaits on Missouri’s Table Rock Lake.
“I had no idea just how much time I spent piloting my trolling motor,” said Ben, echoing the thoughts of many amateur and pro fishermen. But now he uses a new alternative to standard and gyro-compass-based trolling motors, and it saves valuable fishing time.
A group of fanatic anglers and engineers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, developed the Pinpoint Trolling Motor System. It entered the market in 1998. The system not only drives the boat and leaves your feet and hands free, but it will also keep you at a set distance from the shore or, perhaps more valuable, track the exact depth you desire.
Operating the motor in a standard fashion, we quickly lucked into two nice bass at a depth of 10 feet. We entered depth mode on the Pinpoint, locked it in at 13 feet, set the shore mode for “right side,” and put the speed at 2. We didn’t touch the Pinpoint for the next 20 minutes, but the motor stayed right on the contour, whether it went out a mile or 20 feet from shore, and we released seven more bass. The real bonus came when Ben told me to hit the red “resume” button on the side of the pedal, and the boat smoothly turned 180 degrees. We then covered the exact same path, hitting three more good fish. If we found a spot we wanted to cover very slowly, we would just set the speed at zero and the motor made quiet, minute corrections to keep us on the spot indefinitely. Ben also demonstrated the Pinpoint’s ability to track creek beds.
“For years my buddies and I have been fishing the same coves and creek beds on Table Rock Lake. Now we’re finding structure that we had no idea was there, and we can stay focused on the type of fishing we’re doing,” Ben said.
The Pinpoint is available with several options. The motors come in 12-volt at 40 pounds of thrust, 24-volt at 60 or 80 pounds, and 36-volt at 80 pounds. Shaft lengths are 42, 50, 56, and 60 inches. There are two types of trolling motors. The first is the 2000 Series Depth Track with digital water-temperature and depthfinder readout for around $1,299 for a 24-volt motor. The Depth Track, with one transducer, will only follow and self-pilot to the bottom contour.
Second is the 3000 Series Positioning Motor, which will track the shoreline and bottom contour or can be programmed to stay along a creek channel. In addition to the programmable features and water-temperature and depth display, it has five transducers built into the head. Both motors can be tied into Pinpoint’s own sonar imaging screens. This 24-volt motor lists at $1,599 without screens or other accessories.
To provide more on-deck stability, both motors have a soft-starting propeller. When it’s out of the water the propeller can’t engage, for safe handling. Another impressive feature is the motor’s ability to ramp up or down hands-free to compensate for changing wind conditions. And you can leave the instructions at home; the motors are shockingly easy to program.
The optional system screens give a detailed look at the bottom that is unrestricted by trolling-motor interference. When set up with front and back transducers, the screens can give each angler a view of the front, back, or both on a split screen. I performed a screen test while vertically jigging for crappies, and I could actually see the split shot on the line and watch the fish dart out of the structure and take the minnow.
Just by using the Pinpoint motor in Depth Track mode, Ben and I figured that in a hard day of fishing, we each made at least 400 more casts. That’s what I call keeping our hands on our rods and reels where they belong.