The Evolution of the Trolling Motor with One Simple Question
Ask any angler about their boat and the conversation will inevitably turn toward their trolling motor and its capabilities. As one of the most used pieces of fishing equipment, it’s a standard on almost every modern fishing boat. Anglers love them, and for good reason. The functionality and benefits of trolling motors can’t be denied. So why does this small electric motor captivate us so? Let’s briefly explore this topic and one company that is pushing the boundaries of fishing further than ever thought possible.
Invention of the Electric Trolling Motor
The electric trolling motor was invented by O.G. Schmidt in 1934 in North Dakota. He took a starter motor from a Ford Model A, added a flexible shaft and a propeller, and voilà! The trolling motor was born. When he mounted the small motor on a boat it was instantly clear that this was a game changer. It didn’t take long for anglers around the world to discover the benefits of the trolling motor and production demands skyrocketed as it quickly became a standard on most all fishing boats. The company he started still manufactures some of the world’s best trolling motors to this day.
The trolling motor improved the way an angler could handle their boat. The compact design meant smaller displacement and quieter operation. The small propeller and lower power output provided more precise maneuverability compared to a large outboard. The motor could be mounted at the bow or stern of the boat, allowing the operator to position their boat more easily in tighter spaces. By raising the large main outboard out of the water and engaging the shorter trolling motor, the angler could now reach areas of shallower water that were previously unavailable to them.
Reimagining the Trolling Motor
While O.G. Schmidt’s invention changed the world of fishing forever, his trolling motor was only the first step. Ever since then, inventors around the world have been working to improve on this concept. The idea behind the motor itself is so solid though, that most people have only been able to make minor improvements to the aesthetics, controls, or performance. For the most part, the motor remains relatively unchanged. However, there are some visionaries, who in recent years, have dared to look at things from a new perspective. One such company is Freedom Electric Marine which took a giant leap forward by not trying to redesign the trolling motor, but instead challenging the way that we use it.
Freedom Electric Marine was founded by Frank Jones in 2007. An engineer by trade and a lifelong angler, Frank shared a trait in common with O.G. Schmidt; they both believed there was a better way to fish. Frank took Schmidt’s trolling motor concept, that by then had become completely integrated into how we maneuver a boat and fish and asked, “What if?”
Benefits of Trolling Motors
You see, for all their benefits, trolling motors still had a few inherent problems that all boat motors share. While shorter than larger outboards, trolling motors still had to drop their propellers down beneath the boat to operate. Frank Jones asked, “What if the motor could be recessed into the hull so that nothing hung down lower that the bottom of the boat?” The ability to mount the trolling motor at the bow or stern of the boat meant new options for maneuverability, but this still left the pivot point of the boat at its extreme ends which made for a wider turning radius and a boat that is more susceptible to wind and current. Frank Jones asked, “What if the pivot point of the boat was in the center, allowing for not just a reduced radius, but a zero-radius turning capability and complete control over the elements?” On the market today, there are numerous ways that people control their trolling motors. From handles to remotes, and even foot pedals! When combined with the positioning of the motor on the boats, these controls still only offer limited functions and require lots of complicated parts and electronics to operate. Frank Jones asked, “What if there were simple-to-operate foot pedal controls that let an angler sit comfortably and completely control the boat hands-free, so they never had to put down their fishing rod?”
Invention of the Twin Troller
The answer to all of Frank’s questions was The Twin Troller. Frank’s first breakthrough was to mount two fixed troller motors under a small boat in recessed cavities. With his engineering background, Frank realized that you didn’t need to drop the motor into the water, you could bring the water up to the motor! As illustrated on Freedom Electric Marine’s patent (shown below), the recessed cavities create an air pocket when the boat is first placed in the water. Once the motors are engaged, the air is purged from the cavities, and they fill with water that is drawn in by the spinning propeller. The result is a vacuum effect that holds the water to the bottom of the hull and encapsulates the motors completely. This meant that The Twin Troller could operate in even shallower waters than standard trolling motors—as little as 8 inches to be exact!
Next, Frank created a simple set of dual foot pedals that had forward, reverse, and variable speeds in one intuitive package. Because there were two motors mounted under the boat, you didn’t need complicated turning shafts and circuit boards to control the boat. Frank arranged for each motor to work independently and be controlled by an individual foot pedal. The result is that steering the boat is accomplished by the thrust propulsion of the motors, and not by turning the motors themselves. It can be compared to a zero-turn lawnmower or a vehicle with tank treads.
Once Frank pieced together the control and operation of the boat, a happy by-product of the design emerged. The vacuum effect created by the recessed motors not only allowed for shallow water access, hand-free control, and a zero-turning radius, but it also made the boat the most stable on the market in its category. The boat quite literally “grips the water.”
Frank Jones and Freedom Electric Marine took what O.G. Schmidt started almost 90 years ago to an entirely new level and created the world’s most unique and amazing small fishing boat. Rather than using a trolling motor on his boat, Frank Jones turned the trolling motor into his boat. The Twin Troller is the epitome of what a small fishing boat should be, brilliant in its design, beautiful in its simplicity, and unmatched in its capability. All of this because one man looked at a trolling motor and asked, “What if?”
Curious to learn more about the Twin Troller? Check out the specs!