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Big Boat, Big Control!

By Mike Frisch - August 1, 2013
As a multi-species fishing guide, I have found that having a big boat is advantageous. While a big fishing boat isn't desired, or needed for that matter, by every angler, serious anglers who consistently fish big waters and, or chase a variety of fish species are often more successful fishing from a big boat. Just as importantly, however, is the ability to effectively control that boat allowing anglers fishing from it to make effective lure presentations.

As many as four anglers join me on a fishing trip and having the room to allow those guests to fish comfortably is important. Also, the extra size of a big boat usually means extra storage. Because I guide for walleyes, bass, and panfish - sometimes all on the same day - I have lots of equipment and, therefore, having lots of storage is essential. Finally, a big boat handles rough water better meaning my clients and I have a drier, more comfortable trip when the wind blows. The Larson FX 2020 T, the 20-foot tiller boat that I am running this year, is, in fact, the driest boat I've ever owned and it has tons of room and storage too.

A big, comfortable, dry boat with adequate storage makes my job easier. However, I must be able to put that boat in "fishy" places and keep it there if my clients are to experience fishing success. Several years ago, it seemed like the tiller-handle steered fishing boat was becoming a thing of the past. The recent introduction of power steering handles, which eliminate operator arm fatigue, has changed that and I, for one, am glad! Big tiller boats are roomier than comparable models with console steering and, they also offer anglers the option of putting the engine in reverse to back-troll into heavy winds while still maintaining precise boat positioning. This is a technique walleye anglers have been using tiller boats for, for decades. Additionally, back-trolling also works in big wind when wanting to hold a boat in place to make casting presentations when fishing bass and other species.

Having the ability to back-troll in big wind does save the fishing day on occasion. Lots of other days, however, feature little-to-moderate wind and call for control by a trolling motor.

Many models and styles of trolling motors are available and I have owned lots of them. This year everything changed for me - in a good way - when I purchased a Terrova bow mount motor with the i-Pilot Link feature.

This motor "links" to my Humminbird sonar/LakeMaster navigational chip and, quite simply, has made for amazing boat control and more fishing success using several features. Two of my favorites are the spot-lock feature and the follow the contour feature. Follow the contour allows me to select a contour line in a chosen direction and the trolling motor follows it. If, for example, I want to fish a point in 19-feet of water, I can "tell" the motor and it will navigate the boat while clients and I fish. This is awesome because I can concentrate on fishing while the boat moves along a productive fishing depth.

This feature works great when, for example, we are pulling spinners and bottom bouncers for walleyes. Spot-lock, on the other hand, works well when I want to hold on a spot and make multiple casts. I simply press spot-lock on the unit's hand control and the trolling motor takes over, again allowing my full concentration to be devoted to fishing.

These two features are a couple of many that makes this new technology very useful. I love the fact that learning to use this technology was easy and that now most of my time is spent without a foot on a foot control, meaning that I am free to help my clients by baiting hooks, untangling lines, and netting fish. Not only that, but my "fun" fishing is a lot more enjoyable and effective because I can concentrate on fishing and not worry as much about boat control.

While big boats and new technology aren't for everyone, they do make fishing more enjoyable and effective for those of us diehards who will be on the water a great deal chasing a variety of fish species regardless the conditions. If you are one of those diehards, the information just provided will hopefully be of interest and use to you. As always, good luck on the water!

Author Mike Frisch
Mike Frisch
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series and is a co-founder of the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's School of Fish. Visit to see all things Fishing the Midwest.
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