Minn-Kota I-Pilot performance on the water
Well I have had about 3 good days out on the water trying the Minn-Kota I-pilot out. I hope to shoot some video soon of me using it out on the lake but so far that has been tough.
The 3 features I really wanted to get some use out of were Spot Lock, Advanced Auto Pilot and Track Play back. I have now tried each of these functions under different conditions including 15 MPH winds and calm conditions.
First is Spot Lock. I have found this function to be very useful when fishing and it functions as advertised. I use it most often when preparing and putting out my trolling poles. Even in high winds the motor will stay on a spot say within 6 to 10 feet. I also used this spot lock feature when I caught a fish when trolling to hold the boat in that area for a little longer while I dealt with the catch and also keep my baits in that area a little longer. This works as well but I did find in higher winds the correction speed was a little higher than I desired. In other words when the boat drifted away from the point I marked the I-pilot engaged the trolling motor and took itself back to the spot but the move was a little too quick for vertical trolling. I also used the spot lock to hover over submerged structure and hand fish. Only tried this a couple of times so far but it seems it is going to work for large structure. One thing you will need to keep in mind is keep the wind at your face when using this feature or of course the back of the boat is going to come around on you. All in all this feature alone is worth the money for the I pilot feature.
The next feature I looked forward to trying was advanced auto Pilot. This feature allows you to set a GPS based course and speed and the I-pilot will hold that course and speed hands free automatically adjusting for wind and current. Once again I was pretty happy with the performance ad it functions as advertised. There is a draw back to this feature. When the advanced auto pilot gets a little off course and makes its correction the correction is again a little faster than you need to go when vertical trolling. For example in 15 MPH winds it would take me up to .7 MPH to get back on course and I do not like to troll over .4. Now in lower winds the advanced Auto Pilot did great. For long line trolling and pulling crank baits this feature is going to be awesome I think. Those short bursts are going to be a plus instead of a minus. So I like the advanced auto Pilot but the simple auto pilot my be better for vertical trolling as it does not makes the corrections that cause the speed issue.
Track Playback was the final feature I was looking to test. It like all the other features performed as advertised. In short the track play back feature functioned just like the advanced auto pilot and experienced the same issues with speed of corrections but being able to record a trolling path and follow it back hands free is awesome. In calm conditions it is hands free even when vertical trolling. I tracked the accuracy of the playback on the Humminbird 1197 and the I-pilot stayed within probably 8 feet of the track I recorded. It would be very hard to do that manually. Again for long lining and pulling crank baits this feature is going to be a show stopper no doubt.
Finally the most important question. Am I happy with my I-pilot purchase? I am happy with the functionality and have no remorse for the purchase. This is a good product and I recommend it.