O ne of the coolest perks of this business is I often get to check out some of the latest and greatest in fishing gear and boating accessories before they go main stream. I’ve field tested dozens of rods, reels, fishing lures, batteries, battery chargers other products over the years, but perhaps the most useful tool to ever show up on my door step since the shallow water anchor is Minn Kota’s all-new Ultrex.
The Ultrex is a game changing trolling motor that made its debut last July at the ICAST 2016 show in Orlando, Florida. I call it a game changer because that’s exactly what it is. In fact, I would venture to say it is the smartest cable steer trolling motor ever made.
I’m not the only one high on the Ultrex. The motor was voted ICAST Overall Best of Show in a New Product Showcase that included more than 1,000 other products that were entered by more than 240 companies.
Designed with the toughness of its popular predecessor — the Fortrex —and the brain of Minn Kota’s high tech bow mount units — the Ultrex is a distinctive asset to any freshwater fishing rig that’s big enough to handle one.
That’s because it provides a host of benefits to anglers who take their fishing seriously and don’t mind spending the extra bucks keep themselves a step or two ahead of the competition. Whether you like to fish away the bank or near it, you’re at disadvantage without one of these babies bolted to the front deck.
There’s a lot to talk about here and not much space to do it in, so let’s get right to it:
The Ultrex is built with an I-Pilot GPS system that is fully enclosed within the head unit and works independently from the GPS found in your fish finder using an external heading sensor. It can be operated using the foot pedal or a supplied wireless remote.
There are two versions available. The I-Pilot Link version integrates exclusively with compatible Humminbird fishfinders and enables you to utilize a handful of extra features.
The Ultrex can do all sorts of cool tricks — automatically — with the press of a button. My guess is bass and crappie crowds are going to love the Spot Lock feature. I know I do, mainly because it has helped me step up my offshore game big time.
Spot Lock is an electronic GPS anchor that works at any water depth or location. Once activated, the GPS creates a reference point that automatically tells the trolling motor to maintain its current position until told to otherwise.
The feature is beneficial in offshore situations because it enables you position the boat downwind, upwind or to side of a designated waypoint and keep it there without ever touching the foot pedal.
This allows for fishing spots more effectively because it eliminates fighting with the trolling motor to maintain optimum boat position. Spot Lock does it all for you, automatically. This allows you remove fish, retie baits, take photos, grab a drink, etc., without the worry of drifting off the spot as the result of wind, current or wave action.
Spot Lock also can be handy when fishing over shallow flats or in instances when you want hold the boat still for one reason or another. Think of it like an automatic anchor that can be used in water as shallow as one foot to 1,000 feet and beyond.
Another feature that sets the Ultrex aside from other cable drive units is the cable is driven by a small motor enclosed by the bow guard housing. The motor is activated whenever the trolling motor pedal moves up or down.
This promotes of the easy feel and quick responses of power steering while eliminating the annoying left to right torque often experienced with cable drives when operated at high speeds. The Ultrex is so responsive that you can actually steer it with the palm of your hand.
When the AutoPilot function is activated the motor runs at a continuous speed while maintaining its course using a compass heading. This is can be useful when fishing along channel ledges or covering water along a shoreline, because it eliminates the need for turning the trolling motor on and off.
There are two AutoPilot modes. The Advanced mode, which must be activated using the remote control, actually programs the GPS so the trolling motor will compensate for wind, waves and current to stay it its course.
If you are in the market a new trolling motor the Ultrex is definitely worth a look. It is available in 80 and 112-pound thrust models and three shaft lengths — 45, 52 and 60 inches.
Is short, this is one smart cookie.
Check it out at minnkotamotors.com.
Email Matt Williams at [email protected]