I could wade fish and have my boat follow behind me.
Minn Kota ST 80 Trolling Motor Review
I always hated trolling motors.
Growing up I didn't have the best experience with them. My dad had one that used a foot pedal and it was awful. Call me clumsy, I just wasn't good at manipulating the trolling motor with my foot.
So, at eight years old, I would sit down and use my hands to control the blasted thing.
Obviously, I didn't get much fishing done by doing this.
It was a different story when I purchased a Minn Kota ST 80 with Autopilot and Co-Pilot.
I had this trolling motor installed on the Pathfinder bay boat I used to take clients fishing into Breton Sound and the Biloxi Marsh.
My first day out with the new Minn Kota changed my opinion:
This trolling motor is awesome!
The frustration I experienced with foot-pedal and tiller models I no longer had to endure.
I could control the trolling motor from anywhere on the boat and give up the bow to my customers (or my dad) so they could have the extra casting space. All the while I worked the trolling motor from the center console.
I'd wear the remote control around my neck, as it is very useful and convenient to do so.
I hate spending money on things I don't need, but this is something so versatile it has become hard to live without it. I could wade the shallows for speckled trout and have my boat follow behind me! How cool is that?!
The Auto Pilot feature is just as neat.
Minn Kota put a compass inside the head of the Riptide, allowing it to know which azimuth (or heading) it is steering on.
With the Auto Pilot engaged, the trolling motor will stay on that heading and adjust as necessary to get back onto it. This is great for fishing linear structure, like a long rig or even the Trestles in Lake Pontchartrain. Obviously shorelines are a great application for this, too!
Cons of the Riptide ST 80
If you put a scalpel on it I could perform brain surgery. The trolling motor is that responsive to commands from the remote. It's my "little helper" I keep on the boat to put people on the fish.
However, there are some things I'd change.
With a 24 volt system, the ST 80 is just big enough for my Pathfinder 2200V.
It would last longer if it were a 36v model.
The only other trolling motor to top the ST 80 is the Minn Kota iPilot.
The Anchor function on the iPilot is an excellent tool for the avid angler. In a nutshell, when you want the boat to stay put in one spot, you hit "anchor" and the trolling motor will keep that boat in place.
The iPilot has a built in GPS and can memorize shorelines. Imagine pulling up to your favorite shoreline and having the trolling motor do all the driving so you can focus on fishing. Just amazing!
However, the features of the iPilot come at a cost, and not everyone will use them. The RipTide is far more economical and will get the job done just fine.
Trolling Motor Shopping Tips
You can save yourself a few hundred bucks by getting trolling motors on Amazon. In fact, I just purchased a RipTide Terrova from there. So far so good and I have been happy with it!