Consistency Matters to Fishermen
Anglers demand consistency and opt for familiarity when it comes to their gear and equipment, and for good reasons. Nothing is worse than being out on the water and having to learn how to operate a new fishfinder / chartplotter or having a new brand of superline that requires super complex knots. That’s why anglers generally stand behind their favorite brands, rarely switching to a different brand once they find one that works for them. With the growing popularity of trolling motor autopilots for features such as GPS anchor, route following along depth contours and vector heading lock, anglers are left with a lot of questions about the compatibility of their permanently installed electronics with the various autopilot systems on the market today. Chartplotters and fish finders are one of those items that anglers become familiar with and are reluctant to change. While many chartplotters and fishfinders offer comparable features, the operating systems vary from brand to brand, and learning a new operating system or searching for a function you know you should have but can’t find can be frustrating. With numerous quality brands that anglers have become loyal to including Garmin, Lowrance, Raymarine, Simrad and Humminbird, the question is often asked, “Can I use my chartplotter to control my trolling motor so I can follow a route along a depth contour or pick a GPS anchor point on my lake map and have my motor take me there?”
Currently there are two possible “yes” answers to this question. If you own a Minn Kota motor, the only brand chartplotter that will control it is a Humminbird and additionally requires the Minn Kota i-Pilot Link system to connect the motor and chartplotter. If you own a MotorGuide motor, the only brand chartplotter that will control it is a Lowrance and additionally requires the Pinpoint GPS Gateway system to connect the motor and chartplotter. The reason for this limited compatibility is different in each case. Minn Kota is owned by Johnson Outdoors, which also owns Humminbird, so they maintain brand exclusivity between the two sister companies and pair their GPS autopilot and chartplotter products accordingly. MotorGuide, on the other hand, has an exclusive partnership with Lowrance and pair their Pinpoint GPS motors with Lowrance’s chartplotters to offer a connected autopilot system for advanced control. For anglers with a Minn Kota motor who are looking for advanced autopilot control from their chartplotters and currently own a Lowrance, Garmin, Raymarine, or Simrad, there are not currently any Link or Gateway type options. The same goes for anglers with a MotorGuide motor, who have anything other than a compatible Lowrance chartplotter.
This brand exclusivity has put many anglers in a bind who want advanced autopilot features. If you either recently upgraded your motor or chartplotter, or prefer specific brands of either motor or chartplotters, and thus have compatibility issues as outlined above, you’ve been left with little choice in the past. You either had to change out your motor, change out your chartplotter, or both if either your motor or chartplotter aren’t compatible with the latest GPS autopilot technology, which we’ll cover in more detail below. Having to replace your chartplotter and motor becomes a pricey proposition to gain advanced GPS autopilot features such as creation of routes along depth contour lines or shorelines, using your GPS track to create a route, creating anchor points on a map, and storage of anchor points and routes.
What complicates things even more for new boat owners is that their brand-new boats with dealer or factory installed equipment often come with these compatibility issues. When touring various boat dealer showrooms or looking online at the major boat dealer packages, it is common for a deep V aluminum model boat such as a Tracker, Lowe, Alumacraft, Lund, Crestliner, Starcraft, Smoker Craft, etc. to have a factory installed Minn Kota motor with a Lowrance fishfinder / chartplotter. New boat owners wanting to upgrade to advanced GPS autopilot features end up in a bind because such GPS controls cannot easily be added to their setup. To further complicate things, the new base-model foot pedal controlled Minn Kota PowerDrive motor, which is commonly installed on these types of fishing boats, cannot currently be upgraded with a factory add-on autopilot kit. The option of upgrading a standard foot pedal controlled PowerDrive motor (2017 models and newer) to the i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link, is currently not available, forcing new boat owners to purchase a new motor to get these autopilot products. In addition to the upgraded GPS motor purchase, boat owners will also have to purchase a compatible Humminbird chartplotter / fishfinder to get mapping-based autopilot functions. These can be costly upgrades, adding an additional $2,000 to $3,000 to the price of a new boat.
ProNav Angler Eliminates Chartplotter/Autopilot Compatibility Issues
ProNav Marine has developed an autopilot to solve these issues while offering even greater functionality than the i-Pilot Link and Pinpoint GPS with Gateway. The ProNav Angler is a GPS autopilot system that provides advanced mapping autopilot features while eliminating all brand compatibility issues between fishfinders / chartplotters and trolling motors. The ProNav Angler is an app-based GPS autopilot that allows you to control your boat from your phone or tablet rather than from your chartplotter. This gives you the freedom to keep your existing fishfinder / chartplotter or choose the brand you are familiar with when buying new. The ProNav Angler operates with Bluetooth wireless connectivity between your phone or tablet and the GPS controller with no connection required to your existing chartplotter. It does not require cell phone service to operate, so it can be used in remote locations and off the grid. Route creation, anchoring, and vector heading lock navigation are all made easy through a touchscreen interface directly on your phone or tablet screen.
The ProNav Angler is a plug and play autopilot that allows anglers to upgrade their current motor to a professional grade GPS autopilot motor by just plugging the unit into their trolling motor foot pedal plug. It provides an easy and cost-effective upgrade opportunity for those who may have purchased a new boat package that came factory installed with a motor or fishfinder / chartplotter that are not compatible with the motor manufacturer’s GPS autopilots. Currently the ProNav Angler GPS autopilot is compatible with all Minn Kota PowerDrive (original pre-2007), PowerDrive V2 (2007 to 2016) and new
PowerDrive (2017-current) motors. It is plug and play with the PowerDrive V2 and new PowerDrive base model foot pedal motors. It’s as simple as attaching the quick connect GPS module to the trolling motor shaft, plugging the unit into the foot pedal cable, and running power to the battery—and you’re off and fishing. With the pre-2007 PowerDrive motors, which can easily be identified by the large rectangular style foot pedal or co-pilot plugs (as compared to the smaller circular plugs on the newer motors), an upgrade kit available from ProNav can be used to upgrade your motor to make it plug and play with the ProNav Angler GPS autopilot.On the new base model, foot pedal controlled, Minn Kota PowerDrive Bluetooth motors, the ProNav Angler is the only available addon GPS autopilot (at the time of this writing) as Minn Kota has yet to offer an add-on i-Pilot option. The ProNav Angler is also the only GPS autopilot that will provide mapping autopilot functions for the new PowerDrive Bluetooth motors since the PowerDrive is not offered with an i-Pilot Link option in which the motor is controlled by the chartplotter. For the many fisherman who have purchased boat packages that came with a Minn Kota PowerDrive motor with foot pedal control, the ProNav Angler provides an option to get the latest advanced map-based GPS autopilot features without having to buy a different motor or chartplotter.
If you are one of the many anglers seeking advanced mapping autopilot functions, the ProNav Angler provides you this upgraded capability without the hassle of switching out and becoming familiar with a new fishfinder, allowing you to stick with what you know and love and possibly saving you the expense of a new motor.
Navionics Integration is a Key Feature of the ProNav Angler
Integration of the Navionics Boating app in to the ProNav Angler autopilot app is a key feature that will provide many benefits for anglers to enjoy. Purchasing a Navionics Boating subscription with the latest updated 1’ lake contour maps for as low as $9.99/year on a smartphone allows a user to integrate the Navionics lake contour maps into the free ProNav autopilot app, unlocking even more potential for the ProNav Angler. With this feature, anglers can draw routes directly on a contour map, even from the comfort of home, giving them more time to fish when on the water. This is a great feature for trollers that target open water species such as walleye, trout, salmon, crappie, and striped bass (stripers), among others, as they can quickly pull up a route or create a new route on the fly, hit go and be hands free. The benefits of this are significant to trolling. What was always a multi-person fishing style, because one person had to steer the boat, now frees up anyone from having to steer once the route is set. A solo fisherman can easily rig up and set all his / her rods without having to worry about the boat going off course and tangling all the lines. Catching a fish is no problem either, as being hands free from the steering allows fighting and landing fish while the ProNav steers the boat. A “double” will be a challenge for a solo fisherman, but that will be a welcome problem to have!
Try a demo of the ProNav Angler autopilot by downloading our free app from the Google Play Store (ProNav Android App) or the Apple App Store (ProNav iOS app) and see how easy route creation and following is! By creating and following a route along drop-offs, shorelines or contour lines, you’ll have totally hands-free fishing so you can get rigged up, fight fish, and net your trophies. As we like to say at ProNav, “We Drive. You Fish.”
To learn more about the ProNav Angler GPS autopilot visit ProNavMarine.com, and check out our YouTube page here. For any questions, please feel free to give us a call at 906-523-7007, or fill out our contact form—we will give you a call!