When it comes to walleye fishing it’s the little things that can end up making a big difference. The wrong bait or lure on the right day can be completely ignored. Same goes for speed; too much or to little and you could easily come home empty handed. Walleye’s can be extremely fussy and you have to get things just right to make the most out of a situation, or at least have any chance of putting a few in the boat. While you can re-tie, re-rig, and change baits and lures until you find what they want, you have to have the right gear to hit a specific speed and keep it there.
Hitting the right speed can be accomplished several different ways and includes the use of the main motor, kicker, or electric trolling motor. Electrics have handled most of the slower speeds, the main for anything with a warp factor, and gas powered kickers for everything in between.
The main motor really doesn’t get the call that often because it will only troll down so slow, and it uses more fuel than a much smaller kicker. An option is to drop a drift sock of the bow which can get your speed down there but it will make the boat under steer when trolling forward and can be a little more difficult to handle. You can also run a sock off the back but it might get in the way if you’re bringing up a fish with a mouthful of treble hooks. On the other hand if you’re running fast (say over three mph), and or you’re dealing with a lot of wind; the main engine might be the way to go.
Many anglers hook their kickers up to the main motor steering system and use the wheel to control the boat. That’s fine for open water techniques or when working expansive flats, but when you absolutely positively have to work a tight contour line to catch fish you just don’t have the control that you do with a tiller handle. It’s also why my kicker motors are always rigged with a tiller handle as I can change speed and direction all at the same time. The downside of using a kicker for the slow to medium speeds is being able to lock in on the perfect pace. Another is the noise factor as a gas motors’ underwater exhaust produces plenty of commotion and can be real detractor when it comes to operating in shallow water.
Although not new, electric trolling motors like the Minn Kota Engine Mount that attach to the main motor have been given more power, a lot more. For example; the 36 volt model produces 101 pounds of thrust and can push a big rig like my Crestliner 202 up to crank bait speeds, and it can do it all day without completely depleting my batteries. Because it’s 36volts it runs cooler and longer than 24volt models, which run cooler and longer than 12volt systems. There’s even a 36volt two motor model that and deliver a whopping 202 pounds of thrust but that might be overkill for the average sized rig. How much thrust you really need will depend on the size of your boat and just how fast you need to run. There’s a control with a long cable for the motor that you can mount wherever you’d like, which happens to be on the dash of my new rig. Because of the infinite running speeds available in the Minn Kota motor you can get dialed in and repeat productive speeds. You can also do it quietly, which should make trolling runs over shallow flats a lot more productive, especially under calm conditions. This new power will be exactly what’s needed for achieving perfect spinner speeds, or for slow trolling crank baits, like we do early in the season and again in the fall. Same as the wheel controlled kicker it still won’t have the ability to make an absolute precision run, like when you’re trolling bouncers and spinners along the top edge of a ledge or drop off, which means there’s still a need for the bow mounted electric.
The front end of my big rig used to have a Power Drive with Auto-Pilot mounted to it because I could set the speed and direction and let it run hands off while I re-rigged, or netted a fish. With the new Engine Mount I won’t need the Power Drive in most cases, and will instead run a Maxxum Pro which has cable drive. The cable models reacts faster than the electric motor drives which gives me maximum control and comes in handy when dealing with current and trying to stay on a specific spot, or when pitching lures or jigs to shallow structure. For those occasions when I feel the need for the Power Drive the bow motor is fitted with a Quick Release Bracket so a change can be easily made.
Other considerations with bow mounts include shaft length and thrust. My advice is to never under power your rig as you can always turn it down, especially with infinite speeds. The last thing you want to do is not have enough power to hold when you’re working a hot bunch of fish. Another thing you want to avoid is having your motor blow out and loose it’s grip because the shaft is too short. Today’s deeper V’s like my 202 require a longer shaft and why I use a 62 inch model.
With all of the power and the different options available today’s anglers can decide what they need and take complete control. It gives a whole new meaning to "power to the people."