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Fishin' Tipster Takes A Look
"I'm making my list, I'm checking it twice; gonna find out who's been ---".
Hey, there. Glad you stopped in for our start of fishing product reviews. Old Tipster was just doing his Christmas 'wish list'stuff early (VERY early). Never know when Santy had a few goodies left over and might be lookin' to move out last year's stock. The 'Early Worm' usually gets eaten by the 'Early Bird', doncha know. But, the 'Early Tipster' sometimes slips in on a good one, too.
Well, I think MinnKota has done one of those 'good ones' with the MAXXUM 65 trolling motor. Tipster has used them all and, if this MAXXUM 65 is representative of the rest of the MAXXUM line, we got a winner here.
Let's get to some details:
- 24 volts system - this is the only way to go, unless you run a danged barge and need the 36-volt rig to get that 101-pounds of thrust. Golly, 101-pounds would launch an F-18 off the Enterprise. The main advantage of 24-volt systems over their 12-volt cousins is torque. Torque in 'twisting power'. Twisting power is how that propeller gets you through the weeds and keeps the wind from ruining your fishing day. A 12-volt system will run at about the same RPM levels as the 24 volt, but not when subjected to load. Run that 12-volt motor into a bed of hydrilla and listen as it huffs and puffs and bogs down. Run a 24-volt MAXXUM weed chopper in there and it just keeps bob-bob-bobbing along. Even if you have a small boat, 24-volt systems are the best choice, providing you can handle space and weight for the two batteries. Just run the system on a low speed when fishing and go higher when you need to chase the water skiers.
- 65 pounds of thrust - Tipster runs a STRATOS 20SS Extreme. 65 pounds is enough to jerk his old neck around. 'Nuff said on that. Even at high speed, the motor was quiet and vibration-free.
- Motor shaft - The rotating lower shaft to which the motor is affixed is a critical item in all trolling motors. Get one bent and the motor will torque to a turn very strongly, rendering the motor basically uncontrollable and unusable. MinnKota states that their shaft on the MAXXUM series is made of a composite material (not metal), is 'indestructible', will not break/kink/corrode, and carries a lifetime warranty. Further they indicate the composite material will flex and snap back into position. We could not really evaluate this part of the motor because that would require destructive testing. But, coupled with the breakaway mount system, we did see it survive a pretty strong encounter with a stump.
- MAXXUM Bow Mount - Except for the foot switch or rheostat speed control failing, most of the gripes Tipster has had with past trolling motors has been the mount. They usually get loose and noisy from the mounting bolt and pin holes being reamed out a bit. It's 'shake, rattle and roll time' then. Plus, very few have ever had a breakaway mount that works. The MAXXUM's mount breaks way 360 degrees and Tipster DID see it work! The MAXXUM mount was designed so that the propeller, when the motor is in the stowed position, will not hit the boat surface if accidentally activated. The MAXXUM mount requires a large, solid mounting surface. Be sure you have a proper mounting area before you consider any trolling motor.
- Extended Battery Life - MinnKota calls their system the 'Maximizer'. It works off a very simple electrical principal called 'pulse modulation'. Years ago, we called it a 'chopper system'. In a nutshell, the direct current (DC) from the batteries is converted to a form of alternating current (AC), but the AC pulses are all positive. There is no negative side of the AC sine wave. This really means that the DC current is actually being turned on and off, and back on again, (pulsed, if you will) hundreds of times a second. The on and off pulse times are so small that the motor never has a chance to slow down or have its speed interrupted. You can note this pulse effect, though, when you first start up the motor, in that it comes up to speed smoothly, rather than a head-jolting all-at-once (that also keeps Tipster from getting tossed out if the motor is on high' and the motor is pointed sideways!). In terms of battery draw, the accumulation of the off time periods add up to a significant number after awhile. This means less cumulative draw on that battery over a given period of time, resulting in extended battery life. The technology is just a small printed circuit that can be internal or external to the motor and is now very cost-effective to make. It should be a standard feature on all trolling motors.
- Foot control - Instead of a cable with a rack-and-pinion gear arrangement, the MAXXUM foot control uses a slick little braided wire cable and a push-pull system in the foot pedal. The cable is very small and goes from the foot pedal to the motor and back to the foot pedal. At the motor head, the cable does a double loop around a drive wheel that fits onto the movable motor shaft. You can picture it as a pulley wheel that turns when the rope is pulled around it. From a mechanical design perspective, it appears very dependable and is simple to remove and re-install should a problem occur. A tension adjustment screw in the foot pedal allows slack to be given to the cable system so that the foot pedal position and motor orientation can be adjusted/synchronized to the user's preference. We found that a one-inch shim was needed under the front of the foot pedal to make it useable to the maximum forward and rearward positions without having to move your foot position on the pedal. Unless you stand up, you cannot possibly get your toe down far enough to reach the maximum forward rotation point of the pedal.
- Propeller - MinnKota calls theirs the 'Weedless Wedge' and it does perform very well in grass. The high torque of the 24-volt systems allows us to still use a long-bladed propeller, rather than switching to the lesser surface area of the short bladed specialty weedless propellers. Tipster beat the propeller up a good bit on the stumps and limbs in the Stick Marsh and it showed little damage. Still, it is a form of plastic, so I would always carry a spare propeller and some shear pins (yep, it has a shear pin). You will need to carry a 7/16th shallow socket head to get the prop nut off. I would prefer the wingnut style nut, which can be removed either by strong fingers or with some pliers.
In summary, old Tipster found the MAXXUM 65 to be about the best trolling motor he has used . It does its intended job well and efficiently. It is well-built on a solid mounting. The motor is powerful and, on a Volkwagen, would probably out-drag a Chevrolet. The foot control system is a great design, easy to change or adjust, and is smooth a silk. But some of the plastic mounting points for the drive cable harness do not look the strongest in the World. Tipster would also like the floor plate of the foot control to have a bit more rise at the front. If the composite shaft lives up to its billing as indestructible, that will be a quantum leap forward in the dependability factor. Time will tell us if it has any deterioration factors.
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