Mar 10, 2014

Cutting Edge Boat Rigging – Bow to Stern

By: Keith Kavajecz & Gary Parsons

            This time of year the boat-show season is winding down and anglers are pumped to get past the point of “thinking” about fishing and get out and actually do some fishing. Many of you are especially excited because perhaps you have a new boat to break-in, or maybe some new gear that you can’t wait to try out. Anticipation runs high as spring approaches, and that’s a good thing.

            So it should be no surprise that we’re pretty excited for the new season too. Like many of you, we have some awesome new toys and tools that we are sure are going to put more walleyes in the boat this year. Of course, before all the fun begins, there’s some work that needs to be done; mainly rigging the boats. So let’s go over a few of the key accessories we will be rigging up with this season – from bow to stern. You might just get a couple ideas for your boat rigging to help you catch and land more walleyes this year.

            Every year it seems we spend more and more time using tactics that have us fishing from the bow of our boats; tactics that require pin-point boat control and positioning. Add to that the fact that we have learned that in some trolling situations, controlling the bow of the boat is every bit as important to successful boat control as running the kicker motor in the back of the boat, and it quickly becomes apparent that the bowmount trolling motor is one of the most important boat control tools an angler can have on his boat. But, not just any trolling motor will have the features to help you in both types of scenarios.

            This year the bows of our boats will be rigged with MotorGuide’s new Xi5 Wireless Trolling Motor. The Xi5 has features we have been begging for in a trolling motor for some time, plus a few we never dreamed of but are excited to put to use. Now GPS equipped trolling motors have been around a little while, but the Xi5 takes things to a new level with Pinpoint GPS technology. You can purchase the Xi5 with the Pinpoint feature installed, or purchase the Pinpoint as an add-on. Pinpoint GPS allows such operations as Anchor Mode, which holds the boat position on a fixed GPS coordinate.

We really learned the importance of this feature last summer on a trip to North Dakota’s Devil’s Lake. Gary had located some fish holding tight to a concrete bridge pillar and found the best way to fish them was by vertical jigging tight to the pillar. The problem was it was windy (a common thing in the Dakotas for sure). Now here Gary was, trying to keep his 21 foot boat as close to this concrete bridge pillar as possible while 2 foot waves are knocking him around while he was trying to vertical jig these walleyes; needless to say it was a boat control a nightmare.

But Gary was proto-typing this new Xi5 trolling motor equipped with Pinpoint GPS so he thought he’d put it to the test. He set the Anchor Mode to keep his boat just off the pillar and over the fish, and he was able to take his mind off the trolling motor and concentrate on jigging. In fact, the trolling motor did such a good job of keeping him over the fish, he could watch his jig on his locator just as if he were ice fishing, and even was able to watch a fish come in under his boat, he raised the jig off the bottom and he caught the fish as he watched it play out on the locator screen. Without the trolling motor keeping him in place like that, he would never have been able to do that.

Now while the Xi5 can be equipped with the Pinpoint GPS, word is that in the not-too-distant future these motors will be able to be integrated right to your Lowrance network in your boat. More on that when it becomes available, but one thing that is available from Lowrance right now that we feel you really need to look at is their Insight Genesis mapping program. Basically this is a service you can subscribe to that allows you to upload saved sonar and GPS data from an SD card to the Insight Genesis site and get detailed maps you can save back on an SD card and use in your Lowrance unit. This has applications for all anglers, but in particular if you fish a lake or reservoir that has little in the way of mapping cards available for it already. And from our experience, even lakes that do have map cards available, the added detail you will get using Insight genesis makes it more than worthwhile.

Of course we’re talking rigging here, and when it comes to rigging and mounting your electronics, positioning, stability and security are high on the priority list when choosing your electronics mounting options. The Lowrance HDS-10 Gen 2 and the HDS-12 Gen-2 Touch units we mount on our boats are heavy, and in order to safely and securely mount these we searched long and hard and tried several good products. But when we came across the Cisco Fishing System’s electronics mount, we knew we had our winner. The Cisco Sure-Lok Electronics Mount is made of machined aluminum and features a mounting plate that will accommodate a wide range of units and a positive-locking head that can be adjusted to any angle. And when these mounts are locked into place, they are locked! Pounding through rough water is no problem – the position you lock the unit into is where it’s going to stay.

And Cisco doesn’t just make electronics mounts – in fact we love their line of machined aluminum rod holders too. By going with the machine aluminum rod holders over plastic ones, we never have to worry that a rod holder is going to break or give-way if a rod gets snagged while we’re trolling. In fact, we have worked closely with Cisco’s team to help design the new Long Cradle rod holder that works great for walleye and muskie trolling applications. Cisco rod holders allow for a wide range of mounting options from rail mounts, permanent mounts, track-systems and even riser mounts so you can customize your rod holder layout to fit your style fishing and your boat perfectly. Cisco also builds a trolling motor stabilizer mount that is the best we’ve ever used.

Now as we look toward the back of the boat, one thing on our boats the past couple seasons that stands out (literally), is our Power-Pole. When these first came out you only saw them on bass boats and in-shore salt water rigs, but walleye fishermen are learning every year, these can be an invaluable tool to help you in so many walleye fishing situations. Not only is the Power-Pole an awesome shallow water anchoring system perfect for keeping you in place for shallow water pitching and casting presentations, but since they introduced the Drift Paddle last year, the applications to walleye fishing increased significantly. For instance, consider a situation where you need to troll really slowly, like 1 to 1.75 mph. With the Mercury Pro-4 Verado mounted on our Nitro ZV-21’s, we can get the boat to troll down to a speed of about 2.8 to 3 mph. By deploying the Power-Pole with the Drift Paddle attachment, we can slow down to 1.7 mph. And by using this set-up, it allows us to operate from the console seat as opposed to standing at the kicker motor all day, which in big waves can be a real advantage.

Now obviously there’s a lot to fully equipping the ultimate walleye fishing machine, and we’ve really only touched on a few of the highlights here. But you now have some ideas that you can incorporate when decking out your walleye boat for this coming season so that you’re fully ready to get your Next Bite.