When it comes to fishing and boat positioning, perhaps the most important recent development, however, has to do with how you hold your position. Minn Kota, Rhodan and others made the anchor obsolete when they developed Spot-Lock GPS virtual anchoring, and many of us have taken to utilizing this feature to hold a boat in position without the need for an analog anchor. But while the cat came out of the bag on this ability long ago, in recent times your virtual anchoring options have expanded widely. Today on larger boats the outboards can do the work, with systems like Yamaha’s Helm Master, Mercury’s Joystick Piloting, and SeaStar’s Optimus. Just press a button to hover the boat in place over a wreck or reef, or tap the joystick to move a few feet in any direction as you work over the productive bottom.
Though virtual anchoring has been around in a number of forms for several years, there are three new entries into this market that are sure to make waves in the coming year. Both Lowrance (the Ghost) and Garmin (the Force) introduced new brushless-motor electric trolling motors this year. Both integrate fully with MFDs to provide complete position-holding control, and although these new electrics are designed for freshwater use, it’s a fair bet that saltwater models will follow. Finally, Minn Kota has upped the virtual anchoring ante with a monstrous 87-inch shaft Riptide Terrova model. Thanks to that incredibly long shaft length and 112-pounds of thrust, this bow-mounted electric can Spot-Lock a boat up to 30 feet in length and 10,000 pounds of displacement. Rhodan is also a huge player in the “big boat” trolling motor market with a whopping 96″ shaft topping their line of options.