By Dan Trotter
With GPSmart and a fair-dinkum reverse mode, the new GPS-guided electric outboard from Watersnake is a serious fishing weapon.
Electric trolling motors have been around for decades and during that time have improved exponentially in terms of the functionality and what they can do for your fishing success. Enter the new Watersnake GPSmart motor, which I recently had the opportunity to test for NAFA magazine. It’s a GPS-guided electric trolling motor jam packed full of the latest and greatest technology and I can sum up most of test with one phrase: I want one!
This impressive motor has applications in so many fishing scenarios: Fishing for snapper on soft plastics; jigging and live-baiting for kingfish; dangling soft plastics for jewfish; flicking lures for bream, flathead, barra or bass; casting metals at pelagics; and slow-pitch/ micro-jigging for just about anything... all these tactics will be more effective when fished in conjunction with Watersnake’s GPSmart motor.
The Watersnake GPSmart, as the name implies, incorporates GPS technology, which in these motors is fitted in the USA. Each motor comes with two battery- powered hand fobs, which control the motor with any one of the user-selected four modes: Manual Mode, Anchor Mode, Track Mode or Route Mode. That there is no foot pedal was a joy to my ears; and I am sure will win a lot of converts who don’t enjoy the clumsiness associated with inexperienced operation of a foot pedal set-up.
The Manual Mode allows you to manually select the speed and direction in which you want to travel. It’s selected easily by on-the-hand fob pressing the M button once and then you can start moving yourself around by pressing the buttons for forward, left, right and reverse... yes, reverse! The GPSmart is the first electric trolling motor that I have come across that has a reverse button instead of having to rotate the motor 180-degrees to travel in the opposite direction. This proved to be a very useful feature throughout the test day.
The Anchor Mode is the next simplest mode and potentially the most useful mode for fishing, as it allows you to do just that, hold in one location like a virtual anchor; possibly even better than a real anchor because there is no rode swing and the accuracy was very impressive. According to Watersnake, the GPSmart will do so in winds up to 30 knots plus a three-knot side current. Basically, the GPSmart locks in your GPS position and auto-corrects your location, using left, right, forward and reverse thrusting to hold you in place, all the while you are simply concentrating on fishing. This is where the reverse function really shines, as it avoids the circles than some other GPS-guided motors need to do to correct the boat’s position.
Anchor Mode is perfect for snapper, flathead, barra and countless other species. Simply locate the fish school and start casting. Imagine how many more fish you can catch by holding where the fish are instead of continually drifting off due to wind or current. You can store up to four anchor positions—with access to up to another eight ‘multi-use memory’ slots, which are shared with Route Mode – and then very easily select to automatically travel back to any stored anchor position from up to one mile away. Imagine this on a shallow inshore snapper reef on a low-wind, slow-drift day!
Anchor Mode also has a ‘jogging’ feature that will adjust your Anchor position at the press of
a button, moving your boat five feet (1.52m) in the direction you select.
Track Mode uses your GPS heading to keep you tracking in that same direction at the speed you have set, automatically making corrections to adjust for wind or current, to enable you to focus on the fishing. This is ideal for a continual cruise up a rock wall, sandy drop-off or riverbank, or for trolling hard- bodied lures with stealth.
Route Mode proved to be exceptional on the test day. What I liked best about this mode – and what set it apart from your stored anchor position relocation options – is that you can stow the GPSmart and record the route while navigating with your outboard engine, at speeds up to 60 knots! Once you’ve driven your route – quickly, leaving more time for fishing
– it is easily recalled by pressing the same buttons you pressed to store it and then off and away the GPSmart takes you, as if on auto pilot, so you can fish the recorded lines you desire. You can manually vary the speed and, if you should come across a hot bite, then simply press the A for anchor mode to hold on the fish. Your imagination can fill in the gaps with the possibilities and advantages this function creates.
The GPSmart test motor we used is an 80lb 24V motor, which is capable of powering boats up to 21ft, which makes it additionally useful because the applications then stretch past estuary boats and make it a viable option for inshore and small offshore boats The 60-inch shaft is long enough for use in moderately choppy seas, meaning you can mount it on a boat capable of heading well offshore. The test boat we used was a 5.5m Beneteau Flyer 550 fibreglass centre console, with a 150hp Evinrude E-Tec on the back, plus 100L of fuel and two blokes on board, and it impressed in all aspects of holding in current and powering the boat to manoeuvre around.
There’s not much more I need to share to impress upon you how useful the GPSmart can be for myriad fishing styles. I have no doubt it will improve the fishing success of any boating angler – all with the simple push of a button.
For further information and specs, and to watch the soon to be released instructional video, visit its website at watersnake.com.au, or refer to the comprehensive Owner’s Manual once you’ve purchased and installed one of these versatile motors.