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Bill Babler

Ultrex vs Xi5 Minn Kota vs MotorGuide GPS Lock

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To kind of continue the topic of the fish finders I have had some first hand knowledge in the past month with both the Minn Kota Ultrex and the MotorGuide Xi5 both are GPS locking units and you can also throw in the Minn Kota Terrova, and the MotorGuide X5.  I have had the pleasure of fishing this Spring with several clients in their personal boats that use the Minn Kota units and really have not been as impressed as I have wanted to be.  I'm not saying if you have any of the above units that its bad, far from it.  What I'm saying is they all have issues.

I have had the opportunity to not only fish but run all of the above units for several days each on the water.  Some of these days were down right nasty with wind and heavy surf.  Others were calm and easy, so I have a little bit of apples to oranges in several conditions.

Lets talk about the Ultrex.  This is a beast of a unit that operates on both a fob and a direct wired foot ignition.  It is a self deploying unit and for those of us that are getting up in years and don't like lifting and toting that is a pretty slick feature.  Problem is  you have massive wires on the deck that allow it to raise and lower and have to deploy and stack when it comes up and down.  It is also belt driven and that has been a more than major problem.  The belt that raises and deploys the unit seem to burn out at the worst time and in the worst spot.  I fished with 2 pro's that both had full sponsorship from Johnson Outdoors that is a parent company of Minn Kota and both with 2016 motors had, had multiple belts burn out.  This is a big problem.  No belts burned during the time with them, but I did notice that using the foot starter that the motor does not respond with the quickness that I want.  It is somewhat of a delay and  both the turning speed and the prop speed is very slow to respond.  Really very similar to the remote unit in the Xi5 that is not hard wired.

I ran these units for multiple days and got a very good feel.  Another thing that just did not work as well as it could have is the GPS lock on the unit. It is very slow to respond and I mean very slow, to lock.  Both of my fishermen said they thought if the wind was not blowing it would lock you in a 20 ft. radius.  If the wind was howling you have a problem.  Minn Kota says a 7' lock and both of these guys said, "No How No Way" and I agree.  To tell the truth, if the wind is blowing you are not going to get a 20ft. lock.  The motor does not seem to have the ability to adjust the speed to hold you on that location if there is any wind at all.  You have a very large drift factor.

I believe this is in the antenna and the speed it locks onto and holds  the satellite.  It is not even comparable with the Point 1 GPS antenna of the MotorGuide.  If you have the Point 1 system as soon as you hit the lock it goes into hyper drive and makes a light speed full rotation and you are locked regardless of wind, you are there in seconds.  The MotorGuide also uses any force it needs in any fishable wind to keep you on the exact locked location.  No drift it will hold you.   Again I think this is information that is coming thru the antenna system and is just not processed as quickly on the Ultrex or the Terrova.  I don't believe its 7', I believe it is right on the spot.  Huge difference in the units.

There are still bugs in the Ultrex  There were bugs in the Gator System of the Motor Guide and they discontinued it.  Just about the same system as the Ultrex.  MotorGuide says they are going to get it fixed and come out with a hard wired GPS locking self deploying unit with no bugs.  They have not done it yet.

Bottom line is none of these units are perfect.  If you take the Xi5 you have fast lock but slow response due to no hard wire.  If you take the X5 you have no GPS lock.  If you take the Ultrex you have poor GPS lock and lots of hardware, slower performance and perhaps some warranty issues.

In my opinion the Saga continues.  I'm thinking before long however one of these great companies will get this right.

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Sorry to correct you Bill.  Ultrexx is the new cable steer with spot lock.  Ulterra is the fully electronic with power stow and trim plus spot lock.  I had an Xi5 on my old boat.  Did not care for the cordless foot pedal.  Steering was not real responsive.  Spot lock and hand fob worked fine.  Ordered an Ulterra on the new boat.  Supposed to be here any time now. 

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I have a minn kota Ulterra on my boat.  I have fished in 0 wind up to 25 mph gusting to 40 and I feel the GPS lock performs better with a little wind.   I would say the 7' lock is about right on my boat.  The Ultrex may be a little different but so far I have been very satisfied with my Ulterra.  

My Ulterra uses any force needed to hold and lock me on that spot.  Last Saturday me and my wife were fishing in 15-20 mph wind.  I wanted to fish a boat ramp on this lake I fish.  We locked it in and both just stood on the back of the boat casting at the boat ramp while the motor held us in position.  The motor found the optimal speed to hold the boat right on, adjusting at times for gusts.

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Yeah Bill you are talking about the Ulterra not the Ultrex. The ultrex deploys just like a Fortrex and steers like a foot control motor. The ultrex also has a upgraded spot lock that keeps you closer to your spot than the other electric minn kota motors.

You need to play with a Ultrex; you WILL love it!!  The spot lock alone would/should be a guides dream as it will hold you in place while rigging or helping clients.

We will be down at Kimberling from the 21st-5th of may. If you have some free time you are more than welcome to come hop in our boat and try out the ultrex. Shoot me a PM and I will get you my number.

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The units I fished with were the self raising hard wire with GPS lock  it is very possible I misunderstood the name from ultrex to ultera  what ever they were they had bugs that needed fixing

thanks for the correction

The Ultrex problably does not have all that cable on the deck you have to mess with if it is manual deploy either   They told me the retail on their units was 2 grand plus

 

 

 

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I am one of those older gentlemen Bill referenced. My shoulder surgery several years ago was the direct result of a muscle move to deploy the troll motor. The new boat has the Ulterra. I have fished over it since early July last year.

The no hands deploy and retrieve is wonderful.  I have yet to suffer a belt burn out, but I deploy and stow far less frequently than a pro would.

I do not have the foot pedal attached to the motor. I use the fob exclusively. I became accustomed to that with the last boat's Terrova. Bill is right, the motor will not turn direction as quickly as a cable pedal. However, I never fish a river with current and do not need that rapid response for safety reasons. The turn of direction suffices for the way I use the motor.

The spot lock is better than no spot lock, but not really well executed. I frequently have to ask the motor where the heck is it going. It will hold in wind, but needs several minutes to figure out how. The key is to go nose into the wind upwind of where you want to lock and then set the anchor when you have drifted back to it. The be patient. If you do it that way, your area of hold will be about 10 feet.

One item not mentioned above: With the Ultrerra, it is nearly impossible to rig a sonar transducer on the prop unit. I use the universal transducer built into the unit which means no down scan or side scan.

I hope that helps others trying to decide.

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Thanks a bunch for the clarity Randy. I spoke a bit ago with one of the NumNuts I fished with last week and asked him what TM he had.  Again he said an Ultrex. I said you mean an Ulterra?  He said,"ya that's the one."

As I said Pro's and Con's.   Someone will eventually make it just right

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No comparison to all the spot-lock stuff and such but I switched from a MG Tour edition on my Champion to a MK Fortrex on my Ranger. Actually, I went thru 3 of the MG Tours in 6 years on the Champion. The Ranger is now 4 1/2 years old and the Fortrex is barely showing any signs of wear. And being a shallow-water guy at heart, I am rough on a trolling motor.

Again, can't speak to all of the GPS spot-lock technology, but that Fortrex 101 is one tough cookie.

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33 minutes ago, Champ188 said:

No comparison to all the spot-lock stuff and such but I switched from a MG Tour edition on my Champion to a MK Fortrex on my Ranger. Actually, I went thru 3 of the MG Tours in 6 years on the Champion. The Ranger is now 4 1/2 years old and the Fortrex is barely showing any signs of wear. And being a shallow-water guy at heart, I am rough on a trolling motor.

Again, can't speak to all of the GPS spot-lock technology, but that Fortrex 101 is one tough cookie.

i am with you on the reliability of a minn kota.  i have the first maxxum 65 that came out in around 1987.  i finally replaced it with a new 70lb.  the old one has never had one thing done to it, and still runs like new.  the bracket is still tight because i mount my trollers dead center in line with the boat.  this eliminates twisting the bracket every time you kick the troller on and off.  there is not any telling how many thousand hours the old one has ran over the last 30 years.

i will agree that the electric steer motors are still way too slow in response time.  kind of like the old 4 cylinders trying to pass a car going up a hill.  a little sketchy if you were going to make the pass safely.

bo

 

 

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I love my Xi5 but when the computer on it fried it was like pulling teeth trying to get a new mother board.  Took them 3 months and numerous phone calls before they sent a new one, and it was under warranty. They even told me they sent one to shut me up for a couple weeks.   Turned out they never sent it and had to start the process over.  

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