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jbdba01

Micro Powerpole - 2015

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This review has been about 1 year in the making, but I felt strongly enough about the product to do a write up on a product that most kayakers should seriously consider. The Powerpole Micro Anchor.

 

Some background on myself and how I came about getting a Micro powerpole (PP).

 

I'm a pretty diehard fan of kayak fishing; I guess I've been doing it now for about 7 years or so.  However, I also own a 17' skiff - specifically a Sailfish 17' CC with a 90 Yamaha.  It had been relegated to Grouper and poon fishing but recently I added wade fishing out of it.  I use it as a means to get to those places the kayak takes to long too get to.

 

I'm also one of the cheaper people out there.  My skiff was bought used off ebay for $8500, my kayaks are all used and cost $200, $400, and $750.  The $750 one included a trolling motor.  I fish Wright MacGill rods with Sabalo reels and drink Yeungling beer - it's cheap and it tastes good.

 

So when PP came out with the Micro Anchor for $600 - just for the unit I was thinking, well I'll just stick to my cheap homemade fiberglass 1/2" manual one.  Who needs a fancy gizmo like that on the kayak. After all kayaking is all about the simplicity.

 

As luck would have it I ended up winning the PP in a Southshore Angler Tournament in March 2014.  Gator trout are my nemesis and on a windy day I lucked into it - so how lucky?  I happened to get on a 24.5" trout and figured we'll that's good enough for third and I'll call it a day.  I paddled in and entered my fish - I was actually the first person at the weigh in (mainly because of the wind), and I wanted to hydrate on some cold adult beverages.  At the weigh it it turns out that was a very good thing.  All the winning fish were 24.5" long, and on a tie the earliest fish entered wins.  The winning prize?  A PP and a gift certificate to TA Mahoney's.  I really didn't need the gizmo, but figured I could sell it for well below the cost of the certificate value and make some easy cash - which I did right at the weigh in.  Only catch was I would get paid over time, and for a friend I would and did.  Fast forward 5-6 months and the friend looks like he's going to sell the boat - so I gave him his money back and with the gift certificate went and picked up the PP at TA Mahoney's.

 

I talked to Matt Stafford about my boat and kayak and he said the micro would be a good match, but I would need an extra mount for the kayak.  Still skeptical about the need for it I figured I could give it a while and push come to shove if I don't like it I'll sell it.

 

I came home with all the cool stuff and actually found a motor mount for my wilderness Commander online. The Commander had a reinforced stern that was made for a trolling motor, but this bracket was an after market gizmo.  Here's the link.

 

Here's a pic of all the stuff.

 

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I went about adding the bracket to my Commander in all of about 15 min - bit of quick drilling in the preallocated area and viola, the motor mount was in place.

 

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Next was the PP  mounting bracket - here's a profile pic.

 

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Here it is mounted.

 

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I then attached the PP unit itself.

 

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All of this was pretty easy work; everything was built to fit and it did perfectly.  Using a 6 volt battery I had I added my cheap solid fiberglass rod.  My initial thoughts were - "Man is this stuff heavy".  I've got a big 6 volt battery in the bow and another heavy unit on the stern.  Luckily when I was talking to Matt he had said that a new lithium battery wold be coming out.  Honestly I didn't feel like dealing with a bunch of wiring for the skiff much less the kayak.

 

Unfortunately I had to wait another 2-3 months as the battery was undergoing a bunch of QA and PP folks don't mess around.  They want it right the first time...so the unit sat at home some more.   One day Matt at TA's called me up and informed me that the battery had just come out, and they had one waiting for me.  I was there the next day.  I was pretty stoked about it picked it up, charged it and mounted it.

 

I was pretty impressed by the size and it felt like a brick.  Here's some size reference.

 

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Profile

 

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Assembled

 

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Finally cooking with gas I paired up the remote AND my smartphone (backup in case the remote fails) with the PP  unit.  I attached the unit to the kayak and threw the kayak into the truck.  Bad idea - there's a lot of extra weight back there and the kayak flippity flopped around.  Fortunately PP  had set up the unit so it was easily removed - call it 30-45 seconds.  The quick release helps loosen the unit, but you do have to unscrew the entire unit off.  I put the unit in the front of the kayak and off we went.

 

At the launch site I had my doubts - I had rigged the unit on the stern again and thought it would hit when I took the kayak out.  Nope.   Situation normal.  With a steep mud embankment I was convinced that I would drag the unit again, but things worked out nicely and I found myslef on the water soon enough.  Paddling I didn't feel the extra weight.

 

The first test was on some mullet where I got within 30' or so.  I pushed the remote twice and deployed the PP.  Nothing spooked out and hoping for some mixed in Reds I was able to fish the school without any issues.  Hmmmm...pretty convenient; certainly silent.  No clanging anchor, no pushing and pulling of rods.  Just a simple push of a button.  

 

OK...more fishing was in line for the day and when I rounded it out after a solid 5 hours I checked the battery meter.  I was at 4 out of 5 bars.  Sweet.    What I did find really nice was that if you got on a large fish you just double click and up she goes and you're now drifting along.  Once the fish tires down, drop anchor on two clicks and your solid again.

 

I did the same for 4 more trips until I exhausted the battery - I was pretty sure it would wear out quickly especially in my style of fishing.  I tend to drift/hunt, fish, drop anchor, pick up anchor, move on...however, it really did seem to hold the charge nicely.  At minimum 3 trips before a recharge and 1 week between trips.  So no complaints there.  The fact that I didn't have to wire anything was even better.

 

Couple few weeks ago I was able to test the unit in some pretty serious wind.  +20 knots.  So you're saying to yourself..."Sure it was +20 and it was snowing too."  Well...I probably wouldn't have even gone out, but it was a SSA tournament and I pretty much go to those no matter what.  I had checked windfinder and it reported gust of +25, and the fellow anglers that were diehard enough confirmed that it was nutty at best.  Regardless I was standing in the kayak with water coming over the stern AND the PP  held firm.  When standing you really catch all the wind can throw at you and create a bigger profile - I was doing this to get farther casts.  So how do you stand up in 20 knot winds - lock the legs out on to the gunnels and "become one with the boat". :)  Once in a while I would double tap again to really bury the spike, but the kayak was REALLY moving around. The only issue I saw was that the homemade 1/2" spike I have will slide in serious winds.  It states in the owners manual 3/4" is the one to use.  But hey I'm cheap so 1/2" is what I'm using for now.

 

An added bonus of the PP is that I seldom use a sea sock now.  Normally the kayak will get all squirrelly in the winds, but with the PP I can drop anchor easily to straighten out the boat.  I've been trying a partial spike deploy to see if there's enough drag in the water to straighten the boat, but so far no luck.  So I just drop anchor all the way to get straightened up; pull anchor and drift some more. It's a real bonus IMHO.

 

So...what the verdict.  Let's break down the cost:

 

- kayak mounting kit $20

- extra mount for skiff $35 (in theory the micro PP will hold 1500 lbs - I suspect I'm right past that limit - so we'll see; my understanding is that the PP guys put it on the bow of a 22' flats boat and tested it out)

- spike - mine was $10; you can buy several 3/4" spikes for $50-100

- the unit itself $600

- battery and charging unit $200 (note I have read reviews that on skiffs it can fall off under way - zoinks!!)

 

Wow that adds up pretty quickly - you can hit $1K after taxes.  Heck my used Wilderness kayak cost $750 with a trolling motor.  So would I buy it at $1K?

 

OK - I'm going to take the political answer here, because it depends.  Here goes:

 

If you only find yourself fishing a couple few times a year - no it's not worth the cost.

If you find yourself fishing say 8-10 times a year you're at that spot where it's almost a luxury item, but it could still be worth it.  

If you find yourself fishing +10 times a year yes - it's more than worth it. 

If $1K is barely a dent in your annual vacation - then yes buy it. 

If you find yourself winning it at SSA tournament - then heck yeah, spend the $200 for the battery pack and keep the unit. :)

 

I can tell you it has changed my style of fishing and for the better.  I spook less fish; I spend less time messing with anchors (thereby fishing more); I can be much more stealthy; I fight fish better.

 

I listed a long list of positives - let's list the negatives:

 

- it ain't cheap - you're looking at $750-$1000

- IMHO kayaking is meant to be simple; adding electronics to the kayak takes away from that aspect and you're no longer "a purist"; in other words, "it's one more thing to go wrong"

- it adds weight - about 9/10 lbs; and yes I still carry my manual anchor - so I'm pushing about 90 lbs for rods, kayak...that's pretty heavy at the end of a long fishing day.

- the spike around back can get in the way of casting/fighting fish

- it slows down the "let's get on the water now" process - I put my PP on at the launchsite; I also have to remove it at the launchsite

- in the event you go to a local watering hole after fishing you need to secure it inside a vehicle (someone will take it in less than 30 seconds if you leave it out there) 

 

Final verdict, after using it about 8-10 times and knowing what I know now I would buy it, but it would take some time to justify it.  Perhaps a birthday/xmas, scrape together some gift cards, and then buy it.  That said I would find a way to buy it.  It's not a cheap item, nor is it a must have, but if you're serious about fishing it's really worth it.  Which - BTW - I've told many an angler when they see me using it and ask 1) "What's that?" and 2) "Is it worth it?"

 

Two items that are outstanding - mounting it to the skiff, and a time trial. (How long will it last?)   Based on the fact that I read a couple batteries falling off the skiff I'll probably hard wire it.

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jbdba01, this was an awesome and honest review. Thank you. I just can't see myself using a Micro PP on a kayak. I'm the kind of guy that can't justify the cost when I can make a pin anchor or buy a Stick It Pin for $55. Just like I could never see myself using other electronics (aside from a gps for safety reasons). And don't get me started on how ridiculous I think a damn trolling motor on a kayak is! Why???

 

I digress...I really did enjoy your review and appreciate your insight. Thanks again.

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Thanks for the detailed report on the micro pp. If you were considering - due to budget limitations - choice between trolling motor & micro pp, which would help you most?

 

Well from my perspective I'll need more info to answer the question.  It really boils own to what type of fishing you do and your boat.  That said, here's my reply...

 

The above was written from a kayaking perspective; I primarily throw artificials all day.  So it really fits my style of fishing.  I only bait chuck for poon and the Redfish tournament for SSA (mama didn't raise no fool - getting extra large reds to hit artificials is pretty tough).  So if you're throwing artificials in a kayak vs. wanting a trolling motor on a kayak I would go with the PP.  It's a great tool that now have a hard time see fishing without.  I've gone to the dark side and am no longer a purist.

 

darkside.jpg

 

Now...if you're in skiff/stinkpot and you only fish skinny water I would buy the trolling motor.  You can't catch 'em if you can't get to them.  Once there you'll go old school and drop anchor.  Plus you get the bonus of chasing poon on the beach with a trolling motor.  If you get really fancy you can buy one of those GPS ones and stay put on a wreck offshore.   

 

Editorial: I'm not too keen on seeing the GPS trolling motor for poon on the Skyway Bridge.  Every time the trolling motor adjusts with a quick pulse those fish will know you're there - it will also give away location for the guy 100' down.  Drop anchor old school.  But hey...that's me.  I'm pretty convinced that in the next year or so I'll have to go night fishing for poon; too many people out on the beach, on the pass, on the bridge...I guess that really has me going to the dark side (literally).

 

To me the PP really is key for sight fishing and being stealthy - if you aren't chasing fish I'm not so sure it lends itself for being worth the cost.  Plenty of boats have them, but they seem to be a major luxury item - now having two on a boat - that means you've really fined tuned the effort.  You'll stay put no matter what.  With a single one, the bow will sway with the wind/tide.

 

The reality is you don't need either to get on fish.  They are tools that enhance the process or increase your odds.

 

Bottom line - if you need to get to the skinny stuff get a trolling motor; in a kayak - get the PP.  

 

I yanked the trolling motor that came with my used kayak for several reasons - main ones being I had to register the boat with the state and pay taxes to register it (really?!  the man breathing down my neck on a kayak??), weight, and IMHO kayaking is meant to be simple.

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Thanks for your thoughts. I kayak 3-5 times a week, fishing skinny to 5' deep. I share your sentiments about the trolling motor, but on windier days the thought tempts me to to take a 1.5-2 mile paddle to protected water with good structure. On the other hand, during an exploratory cruise or just on the way to a favorite point, I have encountered a school of reds that took off when I eased my anchor in. Or drifted out of casting range in stealth mode. I can see the micro powerpole as a huge asset to moving, casting, moving again with greater stealth and minimum fuss. Thanks again for your experience.

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On a kayak.... Two words... Stick pin! Plain and simple. If you spook fish from setting a pin, you got too close to the fish... Take your time and "learn" the fish and figure out what they are doing.. Most times you won't have to anchor at all. Actually the only time I set a stick pin is when I'm working a certain area for a while... Stealth is key, and there's no need to set anchor and throw at reds... They move like every fish... Drift and be quiet. Only set pin if you need some help landing fish. Other wise tighten up the "tv" drag and land the fish. Then release it

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Gotta (respectfully) disagree with you phil030.

 

I tried the stick pin concept and I found it a hassle.  I had the anchor trolley all that good stuff and it just didn't work for me.  Lots of times it would come out after sitting on a spot. Many times I just let the fish come to me - especially if I'm on those"fish highways" on low/negative tides.

 

I ended up using a lead anchor that was IMHO too noisy.

 

I tend to stand while casting; if I drift into fish I just double tap on the remote and it's down in < 5 seconds.  Even in the +15  knot stuff I was not moving, and if it looked like I would move I just double tapped again.

 

Now that I have the PP it would be very difficult to go back.   If I didn't have a PP I would still use my lead anchor. 

 

Now is it worth $1K?  That's a different story. Guess we'll find out if/when this one keels over.  In the fall/winter I use it about once a week.  So the real test for me is how long will it last?  If it's 3 years - then I'll buy another.  At $300 a year it would be worth it to me.  It really is a minimum fuss gizmo that makes my fishing experience better.

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