Boat Control by the Buttons

Category: article

 Aug 15th, 2019 by Keith Worrall 

Modified Aug 15th, 2019 at 11:24 AM


Boat Control by the Buttons
Breaking down age-old examples of boat control struggles and how anglers everywhere can overcome them.

As seen in Fishing Tackle Retailer Magazine

Fishing—especially good fishing—never happens in a controlled, laboratory environment. We fish in the wind-blown, current-swept, boat traffic-laden, real-world. And those are just the difficulties above water! Below the surface, it goes from challenging to downright dangerous with submerged logs, boulders, dock pilings, and oyster bars, along with every other imaginable underwater peril known to mankind. So it takes a level of skill to keep one’s boat right on the fish.

Fortunately, some folks actually studied math while I was out fishing in college, and the rise of technology now offers solutions that not only close the gap between anglers and the elements, but they’ve also narrowed the gap between pro angler and weekend warrior. Some of the top anglers around the country have figured out how to get it done, reliably and easily.

There’s a lot to learn from the best anglers. And the good news is that if you can press a button, you can have the kind of boat control that once took years to learn.

Spot-Lock: Premium Boat Control In Heavy Current Ott DeFoe | Largemouth Bass | Knoxville, TN

Ott DeFoe using Spot-Lock on his way to the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series victory on the Mississippi River. Photo courtesy of Bassmaster.

For generations, anglers were content to fish the front 3 feet off the bow, thinking nothing of the other 9, 11, 14 or 18 feet of the boat. After all, the prime real estate is on the bow and there’s nothing more fun that turning the backend of the boat into a cage for your fishing buddy, denying him or her the chance to ever cast forward of the midline. But the advent of Spot-Lock™ has unshackled “back-ended” anglers and allowed boats the opportunity to live up to their design as floating, mobile casting platforms.

“I’ll never forget the first time I used Spot-Lock on my Ultrex at the spillway on the Mississippi River,” recalls 2019 Bassmaster Classic winner Ott DeFoe.

“The bass had stacked up in an area of heavy current, and all I had to do was press the Spot-Lock button and my boat never moved—even in the current. Instantly my Nitro Z-21 was transformed into 21-foot casting deck. It was love at first sight, and the Ultrex changed my fishing forever.”

Hear from Ott DeFoe in this video following his Bassmaster Elite Series victory.
Talon Shallow Water Anchors for Stealth Fishing

Carl Jocumsen Talon Down. Photo Courtesy of Sam Moore.

A common question we’re asked is, “when should I use my Talon Shallow Water Anchors and when should I use Spot-Lock.” Well, there are many situational uses for each technology and it’s typically pretty simple.
talon shallow water anchors

It starts with depth. If you have 8ft Talons and you’re in 6ft of water, use your Talons instead of Spot-Lock. The quick deployment of Minn Kota Talons allows you to drop them in place while unhooking a fish or making your next cast all while holding your ground. Need to move again? No problem, just hit a button on any of the multiple control options (remote, foot pedal, mobile app, Humminbird unit, and more) and retract those Talons within seconds and move on.

Bassmaster Elite Series pro, Carl Jocumsen breaks down the situations he uses his shallow water anchors and Spot-Lock.

“There’s a lot of fishing to be done in shallow water,” avows Bassmaster Elite Series pro Carl Jocumsen, “and the key is to be still and quiet. Anytime I’m in shallow water and I need to stay perfectly still, I Talon down. When I want to have the boat in a specific direction despite wind, waves, or current, I Talon down. It gives me the peace of mind to know that I won’t accidentally kick-up any loose sediment from soft bottom areas.

Saltwater Boat Control: Dominating Wind, Current, and Tides

B.J. Silvia Spot-Locked in his 25-ft Parker Walkaround.

“I run a 25-foot Parker,” says striped bass guru B.J. Silvia, “and when I have to deal with tides and winds, it can get tricky. You’ve got two very strong, totally opposing forces, and for years this has been a pain for captains to fish. The boat position was at the mercy of whichever force was the strongest, and it never seemed to last long. Sometimes the tide is strong, and the wind is light and vice versa.

“For years I’d fish blackfish and have to anchor and re-anchor over a wreck with the changing conditions. Now, I wear a remote on a lanyard around my neck, and I simply press the Spot-Lock button. Game-Over! The boat stays right over the wreck I’m fishing, and I never worry about the conditions anymore I just fish and focus on my clients.”

“Even better, I can press the arrows in any direction—left or right, forward or backward—and the boat moves in 5-foot increments in that direction. I can pick a wreck apart in minutes and never even touch an anchor rope.”

Boat Ramp Efficiency

Johnnie Candle | Walleye | Devil’s Lake, North Dakota

Pro walleye angler, Johnnie Candle shares one of his favorite Talon applications. “Everyone uses Talons for shallow water anchoring, but most of my fishing is well outside the depth that even the longest (15-foot) Talon can reach. Even though I don’t fish shallow that often, I use my Talons every time I put in and take out at the boat ramp. I fish a lot of walleye tournaments and that means some boat launches are nice and some are…well, let’s just say more primitive.”

Candle uses his Talons to hold his boat in place until he can back the trailer into the water. Even without tying off to the dock or putting out boat bumpers, he keeps his boat scratch-free and looking great.

“I can use the remote from my truck to deploy the Talons and use the App on my phone as a backup. It works just the same as the remote, and I’ve always got my phone with me.”

Fishing Spots to Lock Onto

Kevin VanDam | Smallmouth Bass | Kalamazoo, MI

“If I’m fishing shallow—like anything under about 8 feet—I’ll Talon down,” says the GOAT, Kevin VanDam. “I love to fish a crankbait for offshore fish, so Spot-Lock is a must for me. I’ve done pretty well on lakes like Toledo Bend, but the key is that I have to line up my cast right down the break, or right at the structure, so I get the proper angle and distance every time.”

“I’ll set two waypoints one on the spot that I want the boat to stay and the other waypoint is on the spot I want to fish. Setting both waypoints is critical, so I know which way to cast. That way, no matter which direction the wind blows, I can always have the right presentation. Once on the spot, I hit the Spot-Lock button, and I don’t move. I can land fish, cull, or even retie and know that my boat is in the right spot.”

Boat Direction for Precise Casting

Capt. Kevin Broussard | Redfish and Sea Trout | Lake Charles, LA

Captain Kevin Broussard has won more than his share of prize money on the professional redfish circuits. These days, Kevin makes a living guiding on Louisiana’s Lake Calcasieu.

“Here in the marsh, I’m constantly using my Talons. My job a guide is to put my clients on fish, and sometimes that means 2-3 people need to be able to cast to the fish on one side of the boat or the other. I run two Talons that are linked via Bluetooth, so I press the button on the remote and they both deploy at the same time, so I’m lined up perfectly for my clients to start casting.

“We deal with a lot of mud here chasing redfish and trout, so I run both of my Talons in the ‘Soft-Bottom’ mode. The setting holds me in soft bottom without driving the spikes deeper than they need to be. When the bite fades, I hit the button, the Talons stow, and we’re off to the next spot.”

New-age Boat control

These days comprehensive boat control solutions are within reach for just about any boater. As long as the buttons of your Minn Kota trolling motor and Talons are within arms-length, even a novice can control a boat like a seasoned captain.

And the good news is that if you can press a button, you can have the kind of boat control that once took years to learn.

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