ORLANDO — We met on a secluded lake not far from the driveway where a golf club once smashed through the window of Tiger Woods’ Buick— Major League Fishing star Fred Roumbanis, Garmin Product Development Manager Greg Groener, and myself. Our goal? To check out a new smash debuting this week at ICAST, the Garmin Force trolling motor.
Together, Roumbanis, one of the few tour-level bass anglers to find himself on the water and Groener, a key influence on the product’s development, took their turns explaining the units features and design elements. After about an hour spent sprinting around a Central Florida lake, these are my takeaways:
Force is fast. The motor had enough thrust to bring the bow of our 21-foot Nitro test boat close to pad. Garmin says Force is the most powerful trolling motor on the market today, and that their independent testing showed it to provide 30% more thrust than their leading competitor’s 36V configuration. This claim passes the eye, foot, and feel tests.
Force is well-balanced. All of that power comes at you in waves. When you hit the throttle button on the wireless foot pedal, the Force ramps up in a quick, steady curve. This means the unit is far less jerky than a very powerful trolling motor otherwise might be.
No thrust rating explained. Force doesn’t come with a thrust rating. Groener says that’s because there is no singular thrust rating parameter used by trolling motor companies. “It’s like lumens in light bulbs,” he explained. “Companies can almost put whatever they number of lumens they want based on their own testing.” Thus, the 30% more powerful tagline comes from Garmin’s own direct testing with competitors.
WiiTF? One of the most innovative Force features is actually one that buyers might gloss over at first—the remote. How innovative can a remote be? Turns out, very. If you’ve ever played a Nintendo Wii, then you’ll be familiar with one of the Force’s most unique features: motion control. The Force trolling motor will follow the hand movements of its controller when a special button is depressed on the remote. It’s a neat party trick that gives anglers the ability to scan their surroundings with Panoptix from the comfort of their helm. Also, it’s a feature that could be particularly useful for saltwater guides on fly bridges when the product inevitably makes its way to blue water.
Silent but deadly. The Force is indeed a silent killer. It’s nearly impossible to hear the motor spinning, though the head unit does deliver a familiar whir when steering.
This product is sexy. There’s no denying the sleek lines of the Force. This trolling motor looks more like a F117 stealth fighter than an Abrams tank. While competitors have their place—the latest offerings from Lowrance and Motorguide (yes) included—Force is the runway beauty of the bunch.
Precision GPS routes. As you might expect from a company with more experience in GPS than almost any other business on the planet, the GPS positioning is pinpoint on the Garmin Force. Anglers will particularly appreciate that precision with which the trolling motor automatically follows routes. The Force adjusts for wind and waves, and uses a GPS signal that Groener says “wraps a line around the Earth” to make sure you arrive at the exact coordinate you pinpointed, regardless of weather conditions.
So what about an ICAST award? Early impressions are that the Best of Show award is destined for one of the newly launched trolling motors. Will it be the Garmin Force? Or will it be Lowrance Ghost? Or, perhaps, an old familiar name will rise to the challenge. Time will tell. For now, you can watch our on the water video with the Force and read our first impressions with the Ghost to form your own impressions.