Jeff Little evaluates performance of a Cruise 4.0 electric outboard motor on a strip mine lake in central Illinois

It’s Getting Easier to be ‘Green’ Part II

By: Mike Pehanich

Credit innovative design, advanced technology and angler ingenuity for the emergence of a pioneering generation of fishing craft propelled solely by electricity. In “It’s getting easier to be ‘green’ – Part I,” we outlined the reasons anglers have summoned electric propulsion technologies, old and new, to safe, quiet and efficient angler duty. Part II unveils examples of “all-electric” boat/motor combinations – and a a glimpse of the future, too!

Small waters fishing opportunities abound around Torqeedo’s U.S. office in Crystal Lake, Ill. Much of the best fishing in Illinois takes place on waters off the beaten track — quarries, strip mines, draw pits, farm ponds and housing development lakes… river backwaters, small reservoirs and forgotten glacial lakes.

Count me among the many who have tailored fishing craft as well as technique to these diverse and often hard-to-reach waters.

Some years ago, I purchased a Freedom Electric Marine Twin Troller X-10 to tap the potential of some of these very special small waters. Among the alluring features of this lightweight 10-foot craft made with Surpass resin is boat control. Twin pedals operate two 28-pound thrust MotorGuide electric motors recessed right and left at hull mid-point, They make it easy to move the craft forward, backward, right or left, with uncommon stealth. The learning curve for boat control mastery is minimal.

But long days on the water and the allure of larger waters found me stretching the small boat’s range. With only experience, instinct and hope to measure the remaining life in my 12-volt lead battery, I had to paddle my way back to the dock more often than I care to remember – at times, against unrelenting winds.
Adding a primary propulsion motor to the craft seemed the only smart solution. But how could I do that without adding unwanted mass and eating up hull space?
I stumbled on Torqeedo’s Travel 1003,an all-electric outboard motor with its power source, a well-sealed lithium battery, integrated into its design. There’s no 50-pound lead battery to weigh down the craft and eat up valuable hull space. And, of course, there’s no gas tank either.

The motor –rated as a 3 HP equivalent — weighs only 29 to 32 pounds depending on battery selection. I opted for the latest battery option, the 915 Wh, which offers three to four times the life of the 29-pound 530 Wh battery.

Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to guessing if you have enough battery charge to make it back to the dock. That’s where other virtues of the Torqeedo motors come into play. Torqeed integrates GPS capability and on-board computer display with real-time information on battery charge status, speed, remaining range and input power.

Note: This spring, Torqeedo will deliver a new Travel motor design, the Travel 1103 with angler-friendly improvements that include a propeller designed to navigate through grass and strikingly quiet performance.

The Travel 1003 was initially designed for sailboats, so it was no surprise to me that neither of its two available shaft lengths (24.6- and 29.5-inches) matched up well with the Twin Troller X-10. I elevated my transom with a board mount that lifted the motor 6.5 inches. That was enough to get the efficiency I was after. It also gave the motor sufficient “tilt” clearance over the battery compartment for the 12-volt that operated the Twin Troller’s two recessed MotorGuide motors.

Outfitting a rowboat for electric-only waters 

We mounted another Torqeedo motor, the 5-HP Torqeedo Cruise 2.0, to a more conventional “small waters” craft, a 14-foot V-hull AlumaCraft rowboat.

My fishing partners and I had special motivation to add Torqeedo propulsion to this craft. Several restored backwater lakes along Mississippi River tributaries offer outstanding fishing, but they restrict access to craft powered by paddle, pedal or electric motor.

Enough testing. It’s time to catch a fish!

Ranging from several hundred to several thousand acres in size, they are exposed frequently to wicked “prairie” winds. Consequently, an angler equipped with just a trolling motor with limited muscle sometimes stretches his reach at considerable risk. And even under good conditions, it’s easy to spend more time traveling than fishing.
With the Torqeedo Cruise 2.0 to replace a stern-mount trolling motor, the AlumaCraft has more speed and range. More importantly, we know we can get back to the dock even from remote sections of the lake when foul weather conditions arise.
For boat positioning, we mounted a MinnKota PowerDrive V2, a 55-pound thrust trolling motor to the bow.

Note that we used the Torqeedo motors as primary propulsion units in both cases and not much for actual “fishing” — at least not in the way that we generally use trolling motors for slow, well-controlled boat position while we cast.  The actual act of “trolling” comprises only a small portion of trolling motor usage. The Torqeedo motors are designed as alternatives to gasoline-powered outboards. As such, they offer considerable advantages. They require no lubricants and are simple to maintain. And although the initial purchase price may exceed the price of a gas outboard, the extra cost is reclaimed in lifecycle savings. Torqeedo’s lithium batteries last 10 years. You can charge them as often as necessary without affecting battery life.

They operate effectively in the cold, too. And unlike your gas outboards, the Torqeedo models require no winterization.

Trolling

Let’s go back to “trolling” for a moment. Torqeedo motors are vastly superior to gasoline-powered engines when it comes to true “trolling,” a style of long-line fishing characterized by pulling a lure or bait behind the boat. With a Torqeedo motor, speed control is precise and accurately revealed in the tiller readout display. What’s more, the angler and boat mates have no gas fumes to contend with.

Other advantages? Let’s go back to “green” energy. Torqeedo offers a solar charger panel, the Sunfold 50, to recharge lithium batteries for its Ultralight 403 and Travel series motors.

There’s more to this story of all-electric fishing boat evolution, and we will see it unfold this season and in seasons to come.

But, yes indeed, it IS getting easier to be “green.” The future for recreational fishing boats powered by clean and highly efficient electric motors has arrived, and the advantages to anglers are growing by the minute.

About Mike Pehanich:

Mike Pehanich is a professional writer, photographer, and videographer for BASS publications: Bassmaster, Bass Times, Fishing Tackle Retailer, Cabela’s Outdoor Journal, Wired2Fish, and Fishhound. He is an industry expert in the sport and business of fishing, outdoor travel, conservation, and fisheries management. Mike is also the founder and owner of Small Waters Outdoors and Mike Pehanich’s Small Waters Fishing.

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