Reviewed by CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD
When Brad Dupuie showed up with his 2019 826 Angler Qwest demo boat to fish my home waters a few days last April he had the new ‘toon outfitted with a few new options not available on the previous version. (See “‘Toon in to Great Lakes Fishing” in the last December/January issue of GLA). Among the new details was a 300 HP Suzuki four-stroke fitted with a TrollBuddy Electronic Trolling Plate.
As a long time trolling plate user, I was interested. Each of my last three boats were fitted with Happy Trollers to enable me to throttle down slow enough to fish sub 2MPH should I wish. Without the HT plate (and no other boat-slowing aid) these boats would only back down to about 2.5 MPH on a calm, windless day.
HT’s and other brands of trolling plates used on other boats I’ve been on, aren’t perfect. Most important, they have only two positions. They are up or down. When they flop down over the prop, baffling the forward thrust, the boat slows but then you have to adjust the throttle faster or slower to hit that perfect speed. Sometimes, depending on the boat, the throttle linkage, wind and waves, even that is a tough chore.
The TrollBuddy works the same, but different. It can certainly be positioned fully down or all the way up like any other troller, but it can also be positioned anywhere in between up and down, as well.
Here’s how we used it while fishing that morning. Our wind conditions were gentle, less than 10 MPH. Slow troll with the 300 HP at dead idle into the wind was an impressive 2.4 MPH with the TB all the way up. We found our best speed was about 2.7 so Brad nudged the throttle a little on our upwind troll. Once we turned back, the speed increased to over 3 MPH but instead of throttling back, Brad simply lowered the Trolling Buddy plate about a quarter of the way until the pontoon settled back to the trolling speed we needed.
Instead of the simple mechanical up or down most plates use, the Trolling Buddy has an electrically actuated piston (similar to what are on most trim tabs) which raises or lowers the flap. (The manufacturer has been in the trim tab business since 1997).
The Troll Buddy looks to be built tough as nails strong and has a one year warranty. The plate is heavier gauge metal than on my Happy Trollers.
The controller is designed to be mounted on the dash and operates with a simple on/off button, then by operating a rocker switch to move it up or down. There are two grades of switches, one has LED indicator lights showing the position of the plate. The other just has a simple up-down rocker switch.
As a final test we wanted to simulate how the TrollBuddy would work with a radically “too fast” boat such as happens with small boats with big engines which require a kicker motor or deploying trolling bags to hit reasonably low speeds. With the Trolling Buddy fully up, we nudged the throttle until we were moving at 3.8 MPH. That’s a fast troll anywhere on the Great Lakes. Then Brad gradually lowered the plate a quarter of the way, we slowed to 3 MPH, then moved it to half and we were down to 2.4. At full down, no change in engine RPM, we were putting along at 1.6.
There are certainly situations both walleye trollers and salmon chasers need precise trolling speeds for success. If that’s you, check out http://www.trollbuddy.com