Equipment Sept 2020 Techniques

Crappie Basics – Hand, Foot or Remote Control, by Richard Simms

It wasn’t that long ago that fishermen mostly had “old school” hand-steered trolling motors. But nowadays high-tech foot-controlled or remote-controlled trolling motors are the norm. Which choice is best for you?

Crappie Basics – Hand, Foot or Remote Control

by Richard Simms

Buying the right boat is critical. But buying the right trolling motor may be even more important


I tell folks all the time, “It doesn’t really matter what brand boat you buy, but you better buy the right trolling motor.”

But the “right” trolling motor varies GREATLY depending upon (A) what you fish for, (B) how you fish for it, and (C) your personal preference.

I used to always have an “old school” hand-steered trolling motor until I went high-tech in 2013. Now, for me (until someone convinces me otherwise) I’ll never own anything other than a Minn Kota i-Pilot (with remote control). I generally troll for crappie and drift for catfish and other species so the handheld remote-control (and Spotlock capability) is perfect. But, that’s just me.

Check out the majority of boats on the water, especially among bass anglers or “single-pole” crappie anglers, and you’ll find mostly foot-controlled trolling motors. Anglers who are generally using both hands casting and reeling need the foot controls to fish effectively.

In an online poll we conducted, 64 percent prefer foot-controlled trolling motors while 33 percent prefer remote-controlled motors and three percent hand-controlled.

Ignoring the basic hand-steered trolling motors, here are just SOME Pros and Cons to consider when choosing between a foot-controlled trolling motor versus a remote-control motor:

Advantage of a foot control

  • With heel or toe pressure, they’re easy to use. Change the boat’s direction easily for optimum maneuverability and keep your hands free for casting and reeling.

Disadvantages of a foot control

  • More clutter on deck with the pedal and cables running from the motor.
  • More parts to malfunction or break.
  • Some newer “digital” models have a slower response time.

Advantages of a remote control

  • Control the trolling motor from ANYWHERE in the boat
  • No cables

Disadvantages of a remote control

  • At least one hand must leave the rod to steer/control the remote.
  • Remote control batteries can run down or die in the middle of a fishing trip.

These are just a few pros and cons. There really is a lot more to consider. But the point is to put as much (if not more) thought into picking the right trolling motor as you do in picking out your boat.

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