Every Motor Matters

Category: article

 Mar 7th, 2019 by sworrall 

Modified Mar 7th, 2019 at 6:42 PM

85 Years of Making Minn Kota® Trolling Motors and the DNA of Innovation.

As seen in Fishing Tackle Retailer Magazine.

Back then, a gallon of gas cost 10 cents and you could buy a prime cut of steak for about 25 cents per pound. The year was 1934, and though it was the belly of the Great Depression, not everything was depressing—especially in the mind of O.G. Schmidt.

Schmidt loved to fish. It was a cherished release from the overwhelming difficulties of the time. And while he fished, he dreamed of a different kind of motor—one that didn’t run on gasoline. Schmidt championed that vision to create the first electric-powered trolling motor.

Attention to detail and quality has been a primary focus since Minn Kota’s inception in 1934.

The ensuing Minn Kota brand and the people behind it have since delivered over 10 million trolling motors. Each and every one has been just as important as the first.

Changing the way people fish

The first electric trolling motor changed fishing, and with each passing year, we’ve improved our products with technology, ingenuity, and good, old-fashioned common sense to give you more angling benefits.

Fortrex® – America’s favorite bass fishing motor

The Fortrex’s ability to withstand unimaginable punishment and deliver precise boat control has made it one of bass fishing’s all-time favorite trolling motors. Its innovative mono arm absorbed the abuse bass anglers dish out, and its foot pedal melted the hearts of bass anglers across America. Anglers were able to know the precise steering direction simply by using their toe or heel, without ever bothering to look at the pedal or the water.

Vince Baker serves as one of several technicians building key models of Minn Kota’s more than 300 offerings.

The foot pedal became a virtual appendage, enabling bass anglers to stand proudly with one foot planted firmly on the front deck and the other leg raised in seeming tribute to Captain Morgan. But the pose could be tiresome over a full day’s fishing. The engineers heard the feedback from anglers and set their sights on something better.

Ultrex® – The revolutionary trolling motor

Many insisted there could be no better foot pedal for bass fishing than the Fortrex, and that was true…for a while. Engineer Ron Hansen, who served as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army Special Forces, was uniquely qualified to lead the next advance and go where no motor had ever been before. It took seven long years of data-gathering from anglers, countless prototypes, and mountains of testing until his team was ready to introduce the next industry stunner — the Ultrex.

Justin Alders and his team worked on the Ultrex foot pedal to reach best in class performance.

Spot-Lock, Built-in MEGA Down Imaging, and Autopilot took the Ultrex and the anglers using it to new heights. Bass anglers could now step onto a foot pedal with the identical feel of a Fortrex but now tap into the benefits of Spot-Lock. There was no looking back. The team also added “Power Steering” to the motor that helped anglers keep a heading, even when the angler removed their foot from the pedal. The harmony between the foot pedal upgrade and power steering made fishing more comfortable, and all the one-legged bass pirates around the country let out a collective sigh of relief. It’s why you see so many Ultrex motors lined up on the bows of tournament boats. Among anglers who fish the most, the cream of the equipment crop quickly rises to the top.


Ulterra® – The first and only Auto Stow, Deploy, and Power Trim Trolling Motor

The title above says it all. The Minn Kota Ulterra is the only trolling motor on the water that can automatically stow and deploy itself with the push of a button. But that’s not all, it can also trim the motor up and down to desired depth. This allows anglers to control their trolling motor by barely lifting a finger. The commands are nearly endless with options of stowing or deploying with the push of a button on the i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link remote, foot pedal or Humminbird® fish finder.

Ulterra Auto Stow and Deploy at the push of a button.

The Ulterra has delivered convenient stow and deploy solutions and provided boat control for hulls that once had no options.

Spot-Lock – Boat control at a button-press

But Spot-Lock may have made the biggest impression on anglers and how they fish. The genius of the system starts with a single button press from a remote or foot pedal that activates a GPS receiver in the head of the trolling motor. The motor then takes over and automatically makes small or even large adjustments to keep a boat in the desired position. Spot-Lock even makes accommodations for wind, waves, tide, and current, making precision boat control available to all—novice or pro. It’s the great equalizer. Anglers simply decide where they want to fish and press a button to stay there.

Arguably the most important innovation and widely used boat control tool in fishing history.

Of course, the simpler the feature, the more complex the development. Spot-Lock took years to build, going back to the mid-1990s. The group that perfected the math and the machinery to realize the breakthrough knew anglers wanted better boat control, but how? Their genius was in taking a concept that was “impossible” at the time and making it a reality, one seemingly minor advancement at a time. Today, Spot-Lock stands as one of the greatest revolutions fishing has ever seen and as a platform for many advancements to come.

i-Pilot Link™ – A motor system so intelligent, it has a mind of your own

The year 2013 saw the launch of Minn Kota’s i-Pilot Link platform that combined key Minn Kota and Humminbird functions. Paul Salmon and team listened to extensive angler input and consumer insights and leveraged the data to create i-Pilot Link.

Paul Salmon and the team united the power of Humminbird and Minn Kota to create i-Pilot Link.

Features like “Follow The Contour”—combining detailed LakeMaster Mapping with a GPS enabled trolling motor and Humminbird fish finder—gave anglers options and solutions they never dreamed of. But the truly incredible part is that the research and the planning behind i-Pilot Link began with some of the patent efforts started in the late 1990s. That’s a lot of testing and validation, but it’s all worth it to give hundreds of thousands of anglers maximum boat control without needing a lifetime of training.

Trolling Motor Variety – Over 300 trolling motors to choose from

From small pond fishing to off-shore saltwater environments, with the Great Lakes and major and minor tributaries in between, Minn Kota builds over 300 different trolling motors. One of them is ideally suited to each unique environment. But it takes discipline and focus to make such a diverse breadth of trolling motors.

For 12 years, Vince Baker has worked as one of our skilled professionals specializing in several of these key motor types.

Minn Kota trolling motors manufacturing facility in Mankato, MN

“I look at it this way, every motor that I work on is someone’s vacation. It’s their memories. It might even be their fishing trip of a lifetime. So to me, every motor matters.” Vince says.

The care comes from the culture … or vice-versa

It’s unclear which came first, the culture or the care, but either way the extreme ownership of the entire culture is evident. One element relies on the other and without both, the whole system fails. One barometer of good culture is employee tenure. The full-time staff at Minn Kota averages 20+ years experience.

Carol Krueger is one of the faithful who has built motors for over 39 years. In that time, she has personally contributed her talents to more than two million trolling motors. Every one of them matters to her.

For 39 years, Carol Krueger has helped Minn Kota built a portion of more than 10 million trolling motors.

“I see myself using it, so I want to do a good job,” Carol explains. “My husband and I have fished together for years on our boat. We taught our kids to fish, and now we’re teaching our grandkids to fish. I think about all the memories we’ve made as a family, spending time on the water. To me every motor is a fishing memory about to be made.”

The past has been historic and remarkably rewarding, but the best is yet to come. That kind of confidence is standard equipment at Minn Kota… where every motor matters.

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