Minn Kota has taken its iPilot bow-mounted trolling motor to remarkable new levels of effectiveness and convenience with the iPilot Link, introduced today at the ICAST fishing tackle trade show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The iPilot Link system now combines Minn Kota, Humminbird and LakeMaster maps in ways that allow the trolling motor to automatically follow routes and contours, as well as drive automatically to waypoints fed to it by a Humminbird fishfinder/chart plotter.
Existing iPilot features such as Spot-Lock, Track Record and Auto Pilot have also been vastly enhanced with iPilot Link. One of the most remarkable enhancements is the ability to control the iPilot from the Humminbird unit, as well as from a new remote (the two units share information through a WiFi system). This allows for new features like “Go To,” in which the iPilot navigates to stored data such as a waypoint in the Humminbird unit. Once it reaches the waypoint, you can choose Spot-Lock, Continue on Course, or Shut Down. The number of Spot-Lock points has also been increased from six to 2,500.
Another new feature is “Go to Track” that takes the boat back to a point on a stored track, and then navigates to the end or start, whichever you choose. The last new feature – “Follow the Contour” – works only with LakeMaster maps and sets the boat on an auto pilot course that follows a chosen lake contour. You can also plug in an offset, so that the boat follows a contour line, but runs outside or inside of it by as much as 300 feet.
So from a saltwater angler’s point of view, how helpful is the new iPilot Link? The Follow the Contour feature probably won’t gain much of following among us saltwater types until the iPilot can be programmed to followed lines on a marine chart (versus a lake chart), but I have been told by LakeMaster that this ability is coming -- as soon as April of 2013.
The Go to Track feature should be very useful to saltwater anglers. Let’s say that you were trolling a productive channel edge. With Go to Track, you can quickly return to that line and troll it again virtually hands free. The Go To will also be handy when drifting over a wreck. Once the drift is complete, iPilot Link will be able to take you back on Auto Pilot, and if you would prefer not to drift, you can hit Spot-Lock and it will hold you over the wreck like an electronic anchor, freeing your hands to catch fish.
Look for the iPilot Link to be available at retailers late this year.