FISHING results, as many of us have come to appreciate, do not just depend on the luck of the draw.
One key piece of equipment that can really change your results is an electric motor as a secondary motor on your boat or a stand-alone motor for your kayak. Recently I was fortunate enough to take ownership of a Watersnake Shadow MK II electric motor from Jarvis Walker Brands. This article outlines some of the features, installation tips and my overall experience using this motor for a range of different fishing styles over the past couple of months.
The Watersnake Shadow MK II is a bow-mounted electric motor that comes in three sizes: 44lb, 54lb and 65lb. The 44lb and 54lb models have a 48” (120cm) shaft while the 65lb model has a 54” (135cm) shaft. The Watersnake page on the Jarvis Walker website has a buyer’s guide PDF with information on which size motor to choose for your boat. While the guide recommends a 44lb motor for boats up to 16’ (4.8m), I went for the next size up (54lb) for a bit of added oomph in stronger winds and chop.
Some of the key features of this motor include a tough composite shaft, digital voltage metre in the head, weedless propeller shaft as well as a stainless steel prop shaft. I also love the quick-release bracket for those situations where you are staying in accommodation and want to leave your boat moored at the pontoon or you need to park your boat and trailer in an unsecured carpark. With the motor and bracket’s integrated design, you can simply pull out the corrosion-resistant U-shaped pin and lift the motor off the bracket to store and secure it. It is the same simple process in reverse to put it back on (check out the pictures).
The 54lb Shadow MK II also comes with both a foot control and portable handheld remote. These variable speed remotes open up a lot of options, as outlined below. I had a minor issue with my handheld remote having a flat battery when it arrived, but a new CR2032 lithium battery for a couple of bucks had it up and running in no time. I also found I had trouble with my simple brain processing the fact that the remote was upside down on the lanyard, but fortunately it comes with strap holes at either end, so I simply changed ends with the lanyard and was soon getting my left and right adjustments of the motor perfect.
Putting it to use
I have tested out my Watersnake Shadow electric in four key fishing situations. The first was trolling. Trolling with this motor is deadly quiet and you can troll soft plastics or shallow divers in very shallow water with the motor just below water level. The best method I have found for trolling is to use the hand remote control to change the variable speed button up to a fast walking pace and then sit back and use the left and right buttons to adjust the direction of the boat as you take corners and follow drop-offs using your sounder.
I have also put the motor to good use when stealthily moving between fishing positions. Once again, I will sit back behind my side console and watch the sounder carefully as I move quietly between positions, looking for bottom structure, bait and fish. In fact, on one recent trip with my family we had moved 20-30m with the electric before they inquired: “Hey, are we moving?” The motor will hold the boat in position over structure or away from structure as the case may be. I’ve used this for both my fishing and crabbing.
For example, when crabbing on my own I might want to get into tight little creeks or under dead tree branches to throw the pot. Once you stop your motor, if any current is running you can quickly move off your desired spot or drift towards trees or branches you’d hoped to avoid. With a quick tap of speed with the foot remote, I can get back into position quickly and throw the pots and get out of there easily. Finally, when casting lures from the boat on either the sand flats or structure, I use the foot remote to control my drift. Controlling your drift with quick taps of the foot control speed or direction buttons will keep you in ‘the zone’ longer with the rod in your hand and firing out casts in the target areas.
Of course, price is an all-important factor for most anglers. The 54lb Watersnake Shadow MK II retails at $1149 including all the features mentioned above. However, I regularly see it on special below the $1000 mark. That is less than half the price of its main competitor. In my mind it is great value for money and the absence of a spot lock, which is the one key difference between the two, can be compensated for by using minimal adjustments in terms of direction or movement with either the hand or foot control.
An electric motor of course needs a battery and the Watersnake Shadow MK II is no exception. I already have a battery, but it is what is termed a ‘starter’ battery. Starter batteries are designed to deliver a large burst of power for a short time, as needed with most engine starting. My starter battery runs the motor, my Lowrance StructureScan sounder and other odds and ends as required, like my lights at night. Therefore, I needed another battery to power my new electric motor.
The best batteries to run electric motors are deep-cycle marine batteries, which are designed to withstand multiple discharges/recharges without shortening their life. I chose a 120AH AmpTech AGM battery after a bit of research and talking to marine experts. With the fantastic assistance of Andrew Woodforth from AW Marine at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron Marina at Manly, my electric was wired safely, neatly and efficiently to my new battery located at the back of the boat.
Andrew and his team installed two circuit breakers between the motor and the first Anderson plug as well as the battery and second Anderson plug to avoid overload or short circuit, which could damage the motor. I also bought a Schumacher SPI15 automatic battery charger, which uses its microprocessor to automatically detect the voltage and type of battery it is charging. It has a scrolling digital display of the charge in the battery and will go into ‘maintenance mode’ when the battery is fully charged.
Andrew set up my wiring so I connect the charger with an Anderson plug to charge the deep-cycle battery (without needing to remove the battery), and I connect the Anderson plug on the charger to another Anderson plug via alligator clips to charge my starter battery. Once you have the electrics and batteries all connected on your boat, it is simply a case of plugging in the cord for the foot pedal.
When you are ready to hit the water you use a multi-adjustable depth collar to select your required depth on the shaft, lock it tight, then press the tilt lever and lower the shaft into place. You then swivel the head unit or press down on the release/lock brackets to ensure the motor locks into position. To store the motor, press down on the quick release and lift and engage the motor and slide the depth collar down to lock it in place around the bottom of the shaft.
All in all, I am extremely impressed with the functions and manoeuvrability of the Watersnake Shadow MK II electric motor and would highly recommend it as a Christmas present or perhaps a ‘co-contributed’ Christmas present from yourself and your family to improve your fishing in the new year!