A few years ago, Minn Kota introduced a new feature on their trolling motors called spot-lock. Anyone who has operated one of these motors will no doubt tell you, that it is a game changer. So much so, other companies have added the same feature on their products. So what is going on here?
Spot-lock uses GPS to automatically hold a position. It is like being anchored without an actual anchor. When the spot-lock button is pressed, the brain of the trolling motor coordinates the steering and motor speed to maintain the current GPS position. At this point the fisherman leaves it alone and can focus attention to other things. So with the trolling motor maintaining position, an angler saves time from repositioning, and also can focus exclusively on making the best lure presentations possible.
The primary advantage comes when fishing for tightly-grouped schools of bass in deeper water. Under such circumstances, pinpoint boat positioning and casting angles are often necessary. Half the battle, especially when it is windy, is maintaining a correct boat position. There are so many tasks (retying, re-rigging, playing/landing a fish, culling fish in the livewell, etc.) that require an angler to step off the trolling motor, which consequently allows a boat to drift. A worst case scenario occurred to me in a tournament last year when my boat drifted up over the top of a school and completely killed a frenzy. It turned out that I was eight ounces from winning the event. Spot-lock probably would have meant victory.
The ability to focus solely on lure presentation is another huge advantage. Operating a trolling motor is second nature to me, but challenging weather can still be distracting. Battling wind and waves can pre-occupy too much effort while trying to maintain position. This distraction inhibits my ability to present a lure exactly the way I may want it 100% of the time. I may not notice subtle bites, or even generate as many bites because I'm too busy running the trolling motor.
Spot-lock is useful even when I'm actively moving the boat in search of fish. It allows me to take a break (retying, re-rigging, eating, drinking, phoning, etc.) and then resume where I left off. Without it, I may drift into things I shouldn't or simply end up a 100 yards or more out towards the center of the lake.
Spot-lock is not only useful for tournament anglers, but also for anybody who has guests on board. A perfect example is the recreational angler who takes the family fishing. The spouse and kids usually need help with many of the tasks of fishing. Engaging spot-lock allows the captain to freely move about the boat to assist with all matters of fishing from untangling fishing line to landing and unhooking fish.
By inventing the spot-lock feature, Minn Kota has made fishing a little easier for anybody who owns one of their trolling motors equipped with it. The fact that other companies have raced to add an equivalent feature to their products, proves that fishermen are greatly appreciating the benefits of this technology including me.