Favorite Products — Minn Kota, Humminbird, etc. or?

Why Minn Kota and Humminbird

We're often asked for recommendations for bow mount motors and electronics. On our personal boat, we run Minn Kota Ultrex with Humminbird (bow and console) — and a Garmin with Panoptix on the bow too.

After recent introductions from other manufacturers, look for an update on this page.

The Minn Kota Spot Lock feature is the best thing going!

Here are some Minn Kota options for you;

The Minn Kota Terrova

Many people prefer the cable/power assist models rather than all power steering, however—

Our recommendations in order—

These are good.

These are better options. Get the i-pilot link with remote:
Be sure to get the remote because it costs more to add it later.

These are best—for the easiest deployment (lowering and raising the motor). The motors are heavy and depending upon your physical condition, this may be the best option for you:

Important, be sure to get the i-pilot link and remote, no matter the motor you choose!

Get the new MEGA Down internal transducer on the Minn Kota so you can get a better image on a bow mount Humminbird unit. If you are not concerned about that, go with the standard U2 but you're probably going to want the MEGA Down capability.

If you are going to mount on your transom/back only, then the SI/DI transducer will do the job. The question becomes...how big of a screen do you want?

We recommend 10-inch minimum. Go bigger if you can.

Here are Helix options:

To get mapping capabilities go with Lakemaster for Humminbird if you are looking for individual mostly northern states. (We prefer Navionics because we travel a lot and need good regional coverage.)

Boat Loading and Launching Made Easy

Easy Way to Load Your Boat on the Trailer

One of the hardest things about boating is getting your boat on the trailer and hooking up the winch strap while still in the water.

On my boat, I can't reach the winch strap and crank without leaning way over the bow or getting out of the boat, stand on the trailer tongue and hook up the strap. It is slow and clogs up the ramp.

Normally, when you launch, you undo the winch strap to back the boat off the trailer. Some guys undo it at the boat prep area on the ramp. I prefer to undo the strap at the waters edge and then get in the boat.

Getting the boat on the trailer is also tricky and worrisome. I know some guys drive on the trailer until it hits the bow roller and then have their partner drive up the ramp.

I almost bought one of those step systems you attach to the trailer for $500. That works but you still have to get out of the boat, hook up the strap, and then get back in the boat.

I don't trust either method. I've seen too many boats slide off the trailer on the ramp. And even if the boat doesn't slide off, it may slid back a little so the strap is not tight. Then the bow bounces when driving down the road every time you hit a bump.

Not good.

I recently installed a product that makes launching and retrieving safe, painless and easy.

Boat latch installed
Catch-N-Release Boat Latch
Boat latch installed
Close up photo

It is called the Drotto Catch-N-Release Boat Latch. It is pictured here. It replaces the bow roller on your trailer.

To launch your boat, back in the trailer, pull the lever on the latch and your boat is free. (You can undo the main winch strap at the boat prep area before backing into the water.)

One thing you can do is loop a small cord through a hole on the lever, get in the boat, hold the cord, and have your partner back you in. While seated at the console, pull the cord to release the latch and your floating free. It only takes seconds.

Some guys attach the rope to the lever, but it is better to loop the rope through the lever, without tying it to anything and hold both ends of the rope. Once you activate the lever, release one end of the rope and hold the other end. The rope will slide through the lever hole and then you pull the rope into the boat and store it away until next time.

The beauty of the boat latch, however, is loading your boat. Drive on the trailer, the latch automatically activates and your secure. Drive up the ramp and then attach the winch strap and safety chain if you have one.

It was easy to install and we did it the hard way. I removed the winch post, slid the latch into position and gently slammed it on the bow eye. The reason I did it this way is because I knew I would need to move the winch post forward a little. We installed the latch and then reinstalled the post. But that also required putting a floor jack under the boat and lifting a little to get the post back in place.

It would be easier to do this at the lake. Launch your boat. Install everything and then reload the boat. If you have to move the post, launch the boat and move the winch post and retrieve the boat.

Watch this short video again to see how simple it is to load your boat.

Loading your boat video.

The boat latch comes in several sizes. Measure the width of the bow roller to determine which size you need. (Don't include the outer rollers. Just the actual roller between the bracket.)

(I buy a lot of stuff on eBay so I get coupons once in a while. I used a 20% off coupon to order mine.)

Getting the right size is important.

You can choose from a 3-inch wide model, 3.75-inch model and a Ranger Boats specific model. My trailer needed the 3.75-inch model (Phoenix Boat).

Truck Bed Cover: Retrax vs. Roll N Lock


The best truck bed cover options

I decided not to go with a truck shell. Sometimes I need to haul taller objects that don’t fit under the shell. For the same reason, I didn’t want a hard tonneau cover (although they look really nice when matched to the same color as the vehicle.
The remaining options are to get a bed cover. So many different choices. But I choose to not let the cost be the determining factor this time. I didn’t feel a fold up cover would be secure because there are so many break-ins around boat ramps anymore.
Thieves figure our unattended trucks are an easy target. Even with an alarm, you’re out of earshot once you leave the dock area. So, I like the retractable bed covers.

My previous truck was a GMC Sierra 1500

On my previous truck I had the Roll N Lock. It worked well. I choose that one because it looked like the best option that was displayed in the local truck accessory shop.
Roll N Lock bed cover
Roll N Lock Truck Bed Cover
The Roll N lock served me well and I didn't have many issues. 
However, on an uneven surface, it was hard to open. 
And several times, when I wasn't careful to make sure the cover was connected to the tail gate, it slid open. I had some gear fly out. It was my fault, but make sure the cover is securely closed.
Also, the Roll N Lock is covered with a fabric so I was worried about it fading in the hot Texas sun.

My new Ford F150 bed cover

RetraxProMX in Matte Black
This time I did some searching online for all the options. I found the Retrax. It looked nice in the matte black finish and seemed more durable than the soft vinyl-like fabric covering of the Roll N Lock.
The RetraxPro MX retractable cover offers some great options:
It is durable.
The aluminum matte finish is sturdy, which for me was was preferable to the RetraxONE polycarbonate finish.
Unlike the Roll N Lock, you can lock down the cover anywhere along the running track. (The Roll N Lock has set positions where the cover will stop.)
Unlike the Roll N Lock, the cover doesn’t require pulling it all the way to the tailgate to lock it.
I bought the cover online through eBay. I made sure to get the correct model without cutouts for the top rail tie down holes because my truck had a protection cap over the top of the bed side.
Retrax Bed Cover
The matte black looks great with my black truck
One thing I discovered when I began to install it was that nowhere did I read before hand that if you have a drop-in bed liner like I do, that you have to notch out the liner for the canister to fit. I didn’t discover that until I opened the box and began looking at the installation instructions. By this time I had the cover out of the box and was really anxious to get it installed. I had to stop and run and get a tool to cut a notch in the bed liner. That made what would have been an easy one hour or less job turn into nearly two hours by the time I went to the Home Depot store and back.
After cutting out a little triangle in the bed liner, installation went without a hitch.
One note: the Retrax canister is a little larger than the Roll N Lock so you lose some bed space.
I really like the Retrax over the Roll N Lock but I was not unhappy with the Roll N Lock because I didn’t know any better on the previous truck.
I found the best price on eBay and installed it myself. It was easy if you have any ability. But it's nice to have someone help you lift it in place.
I searched for a listing that says "make offer," so I sent in an offer for a little less than the listed price and was able to save a little more money too.

Make Your Tow Vehicle Shine

When I was shopping for new truck, I found a model with everything I wanted at a good price.

Only it was black. Not my first choice.

Black looks great when it is clean and shiny. But it's not easy.

The first thing I did when I got the truck is go to a hand car wash. I had it washed and waxed. It looked great—for a few days.

Then the water spots from a recent rain looked terrible. I was looking for a way to keep it shiny. My cousin recommended a product called F11.

I ordered two bottles (I wasn't sure how much to get, and if it worked, I was going to do both vehicles and the boat.

I followed the simple instructions and the truck looked good. Then a few days later I put on a second coat. And about a week later the third coat.

I ended up using a bottle and a half of the 16 oz size. That is probably more than I needed to do, but I was anxious to have something easy to maintain. And, I kept the application cloth soaked in the product so I wouldn't scratch the paint.

One day I was in a store parking lot (cleaning off bird splatter) and a couple guys walked by and commented on the shine. I knew I was onto something.

At work, people comment about the shine of my truck. I purposely park next to other dark vehicles so they can see the difference.

Sometimes the truck get dusty from daily use. I bought a fine cleaning brush called a California Carduster at Walmart. Just dust off the vehicle with a light touch.

But no matter what, you're going to get water spots from rain or in my case, the lawn sprinkler. It leaves little spots. Sometimes it gets dirty from road grime. But rather than re-apply F11, I rinse off the vehicle at the car wash. (I have hard water at my house so I don't like to use my hose.)

No need to use the soap. If it's really dusty/dirty I use the rinse cycle, wipe everything off but leave it wet. (I use the same soft cloth I used to apply F11.)

Next, I rinse with the spot free cycle. I wipe down with a dry micro fiber towel (it may take more than one towel.) and then buff lightly with another dry towel. I follow the same basic steps as when I applied the F11. That final wipe down brings out the shine. Don't rub too hard so you don't scratch the surface. It's been about 6 months since the first F11 application and I don't plan to reapply F11 for another month or two.

There may be better tips. How do you keep your tow vehicle shiny?

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