Auto Anchors Have Staying PowerBy Dan Armitage
The Talon from Minn Kota drives a composite spike straight down to the bottom.
For those who’ve experienced them aboard a fishing boat, they say there’s simply no going back to traditional anchor and line.
Powered shallow water anchoring devices are all the rage among anglers in freshwater and salt; the boats of tournament pros, fishing guides and recreational anglers alike can be seen with the distinctive after-market devices sprouting atop their transoms, often in pairs flanking the outboard to better peg their boat’s position in waters as deep as 12 feet.
The auto-anchoring accessories installed on the boat’s transom use electric motors or hydraulics to power a sturdy-yet- flexible composite spike to the bottom, where it digs in or grabs on to the structure . The push-of-a button process effectively stakes out the craft, much like the pointy end of push-poles used on bonefish skiffs. They hold the boat in place, allowing the angler to work surrounding shallows without the boat drifting over or away from productive spots.
The advantage of the auto-anchoring devices is the ease, speed and silence in which they can be deployed, from the helm, or anywhere on deck with optional remote control devices.
Two brands dominate the field: Minn Kota’s Talon and JL Marine System’s Power-Pole. Both have their following and their advantages.
Power-Pole from JL Marine
Life-long angler John Oliverio conceived the concept for the Power-Pole in 1998 when fishing coastal waters near his home in Brandon, Fla . With a background in mechanical engineering and computer science, Oliverio developed the hydraulic- powered, shallow-water anchoring system that was introduced as the Power-Pole in 2000 and remains the most popular automatic anchoring system on the market today.
Depending on the model, the Power-Pole adds some 23 to 36 pounds of weight to the boat, including the arm unit and the hydraulics and pump. The latter are mounted inside the boat to reduce transfer noise and the sound created when the system is deployed.
A Power-Pole has grasshopper like legs that move out and down to grip the bottom.
The working end of the Power-Pole, which is fitted with an Everflex spike, is designed to deploy down and out off the transom. The combination of a flexible body, constant hydraulic pressure and the flexible spike allows the Power-Pole to maintain a grip on the bottom to help keep the boat in place in the face of wind, waves and boat wakes. The hydraulic system automatically disengages if you happen to drive-off when the spike is down, eliminating the threat of transom damage. With the touch of a button, it can also be lowered for bridges, cast netting bait or getting a trailered boat into a garage.
Rigging a boat with a Power-Pole is simple, as the only wires are the two leading from the pump to the boat’s battery to power it. Everything else, including the dash switch, remote control fob and foot control to interface with the C-Monster Control System are wireless. The wireless controls allow the operator to select from fast, medium or slow deployment speeds, independent control of one or two Power-Poles at once, and a double click offers an auto up or down function with bottom sensing.
A new smart phone app available from Power-Pole allows even more customization options, including deployment speed, independent control, synchronization, and bottom sensing, and allows the operator to receive firmware updates as they become available.
Power-Poles are priced from $900-$2,000 for the standard four- to 10-foot models. For more information visit Power-Pole.com or call 813-689-9932.
Minn Kota’s Talon
Introduced in 2011, the Talon was developed by Minn Kota as an electric-powered, screw drive alternative to the hydraulic Power-Pole anchoring system. The Talon features an easy, transom-mounted installation with no pump or reservoir to mount aboard the boat, extremely fast, quiet deployment, and portability, offering the ability to remove the unit for storage or for use on another boat.
Weighing 33-37 pounds, the Talon uses a screw-drive powered by an electric motor to thrust a flexible composite spike straight down below the transom and into the bottom. Depending on the model, the Talon can anchor in water as deep as 12 feet.
The Talon offers an Auto Drive feature that drives the spike in after it contacts the bottom, three seconds later drives it a bit harder, and three seconds after that the Talon drives its spike at top force, to make sure it reaches maximum penetration relative to the bottom composition.
A Rough Water mode directs the Talon to continue to repeat the Auto Drive sequence to allow the anchor to maintain firm footing when the boat is rising and falling with the water conditions. A new Soft Bottom mode tempers the spike’s thrust by half, to keep it from going deeper than required to hold the boat over mud or soft-sand bottoms.
The Talon offers wireless remote key fob and foot controls, as well as controls on the unit itself, and retails from $1,300-$2,000. For more information, visit minnkotamotors.com or call 800-227-6433.