Yesterday was my first time on the water since installing the new Ultrex 112 with I Pilot. I have a battle cruiser of a boat, Ranger Z520 and run Lowrance graphs, which are incompatible with Minnkota’s Link feature that works only with Hummingbird (which costs $200 more anyways.)
The first thing I had to do once on the water was to go through the calibration procedure for heading sensor, which consists of initiating the calibration sequence via the remote by completing two tight clockwise circles in the boat using the trolling motor. Easy. There is an additional calibration required if the heading sensor puck is not aligned perfectly, but mine is good enough. Now lets go fishing.
Living in Arizona, of course we can fish year round, but the bite definitely slows in the winter, which for me means a lot more jig fishing. When I purchased the Ultrex, I wasn’t sure how much I would use the remote, like many others who have considered not installing the heading sensor. My takeaway from my first trip is that the “spotlock and jog features,” which require the heading sensor, are the absolute best features on the new Ultrex.
Deployment and Return: It is amazing how easily a brand new trolling motor deploys and returns, that is a big back saver. The new Ultrex comes with a steel cable, which is far superior to the old poly cord they used, but it is about a foot too long, I will have to shorten it. For the first few months, I will physically need to make sure the unit is completely locked in the stow position when I move on the water, as I have a padded front deck and it will take a while for the stabilizer to create a nice divot in the pad so it seats properly each time.
The foot pedal is much easier to use than the Fortrex pedal, though it looks the same and functions the same, it certainly is like power steering. I use a stand up seat and had grown accustomed to a certain amount of pressure on my steering leg. What I discovered is that the Ultrex pedal turns with much less pressure, so I will need to change how much pressure I apply to the pedal. By the end of the day I was already getting used to it so my turns were much smoother. The pedal has activity lights that are easy to see so you can tell which features are active. In addition, there are also big buttons on the pedal that can activate the features instead of using the remote.
The bite was a little slow so decided to do some jig fishing, so I pulled up on a point and decided to give spotlock a try. I nosed the boat into the point and activated spot lock through the remote, the Ultrex chirped a couple of times letting me know it was activated, and then the unit came to life and proceeded to maintain my water position. There was not much wind so it was only a minor test on the unit, but every once in a while the head would automatically turn and run the prop to push the bow of the boat back to its original position. After admiring the unit for a couple of minutes, it was time to get to fishing. I wanted to back off the point a bit, so I used the jog feature by pressing one of the 4 direction buttons, and the unit directed the boat slowly back off the point, 5 feet at a time. By now the wind had swung the stern of the boat around so it was parallel with the bank, so I walked to the back of the boat in order to fish some water that was now 21 feet closer. After working this area for a bit, while still at the back of the boat, I used the remote to once again jog the boat a few feet. Awesome! You are certain to lose a few jigs in the rocks, which I did, but with spotlock “on” I was able to retie without fear of the boat being blown into the bank. Super! I decided to move further down the bank at a quicker pace, so I simply stepped on the pedal and spotlock was immediately deactivated.
I am usually slow to buy the latest gadgets, as there are usually bugs that need to be worked out, or maybe it doesn’t provide the benefits I thought it would (Spotlight transducer). But I have to say the Ultrex, though pricey ($2200), is absolutely awesome. And no I am not a Minnkota sponsored fisherman.