ORLANDO — The star of ICAST On the Water sped away from the Orange County Convention Center. She’d been doing it all day, ferrying media members, retailers and anglers from one side of the On the Water pond to another. On this journey, Major League Fishing star Edwin Evers was onboard, as were myself and a representative from Lowrance, the storied sonar company who now find themselves in the midst of a revived trolling motor war.
“This mount is super strong,” Evers said, leaning his Nike-clad foot onto the grey square of aluminum mounted to the bow. “It’s one of the little features I really like. They did a lot of little features well. See how the cable slides right into that notch when I lift it up? I usually have wires everywhere when I’m doing that. Now, I don’t.”

Evers, the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic champion, is one of a handful of U.S. anglers that Lowrance leaned on while developing its new Ghost trolling motor. And he’s with the company at ICAST as they finally take the wraps off of the secret. “I’ve had this thing on my boat several times over the last few years,” he adds. “But they’ve never let me keep it. Now, maybe they will.”

With Ghost quickly approaching an expected shipping date in October, Lowrance just might. But before Ghost hits store shelves and maybe even before Evers gets to officially take one home, I’ve jotted down my first impressions from a quick tour of Lowrance’s new trolling motor on the water at ICAST. Got your notepad ready? Good. Here we go:

Loaded with power. Ghost is a powerful trolling motor. Lowrance claims it’s 25% more powerful than their leading competitor on the market today, and that feels about right to me. Evers said he had the 21-foot bass boat up to 4mph with the unit earlier, and I don’t doubt him. Power from the unit comes quickly, too. Ghost can put you own your heels if you’re not ready for it.

An angler’s touch. Evers is quick to point out the Ghost’s mount, which he says is rectangular for a reason. When deployed, the all-aluminum bracket is strong enough to support the weight of an average bass fisherman, and can pull double duty as a platform for entering and exiting the boat via the bow. Ghost also features a shaft collar that’s easy to loosen from inside of the boat, meaning anglers won’t have to lean overboard to raise and lower the shaft. And, its simple cable notch is already drawing rave reviews.

Super silent. Ghost lives up to its name. At full power, it’s ultra quiet. At fishing speed, prop vibration and sound are completely absent in our environment. A slight, Florida breeze could have dampened some of the noise, but this ghost is no banshee—she’s a silent as Lowrance claims her to be. Lowrance has gone to extreme lengths to maintain silent, as even the Ghost’s head unit does not rotate when steering. Direction is indicated by a rotating arrow atop the shaft.

Integrated intelligence. Lowrance diehards finally have the trolling motor built for their chartplotters. Evers is ecstatic to be able to lock his position, steer and raise and lower optional Power-Poles from the HDS Live unit tethered to this Ghost.

Look ma, no mess. Lowrance nailed clutter control on the Ghost. This trolling motor may not have a wireless foot pedal, but it does have a fly-by-wire control system that runs via a single NMEA cable. That eliminates the ubiquitous bundle of cables around the unit’s head which even is elegant new competitor retains.

A gentle giant. Ghost is easily the least raucous trolling motor we’ve tested on entry. If it were competing in a cannonball contest, Ghost would come in last place. Lowrance really went to great lengths to ensure a smooth entry into the water, which means this trolling motor has a built-in advantage to avoid spooking fish.

Bass battle tank. This trolling motor makes no apologies for its bullishness. It’s built to be a durable and powerful piece of equipment that’s forward-compatible with new Lowrance transducers and chartplotters. Evers says he typically goes through three trolling motor mounts per year, “because they get noisy,” and he’s particularly pleased with the strength of the mount from Lowrance. Though we won’t see Ghost tested for a full tournament season until 2010, early impressions are that Lowrance took every consideration from their star anglers seriously. Lowrance has even fitted Ghost with a 360-degree two piece, breakaway shaft; and they’ve given it a lifetime warranty. Time will tell if this tank is ready for battle, but so far, it looks every bit the part of a warhorse.

Is Ghost Best of Show worthy? Lowrance’s long-kept secret is certainly a worthy contender. Odds are that Ghost will be the talk of the show, along with Garmin’s new Force trolling motor and the Tron-like Tour from Motorguide. Decide for yourself this week by checking out our on the water impressions of Force, and following our investigation of the Tour from the show floor.