Using Autopilot to Troll for Fish
Using an autopilot that adapts to boat steering systems in order to more easily take advantage of a day spent fishing makes the whole trip more enjoyable for everyone involved. You still have to be responsible for the boat and continue to be a watchful and steadfast navigator of your craft; however, making the best use of an autopilot gives you and your crew the opportunity to stay on course at slow speeds while you lower the line and troll for fish. An autopilot is sort of like having cruise control in that you are somewhat free to do other things while piloting your ship, but it is also like having an ever-vigilant crew member who never gets tired or distracted and helps to keep your craft from veering off course.
The type of autopilot you purchase will depend upon several factors, including the size and weight of your boat, as well as the type of boat steering system you have. The kind of drive unit you need depends on whether you have a boat steering system that is manual or cable, or if you have a hydraulic boat steering system.
The main benefit of an autopilot, of course, is that when the boat turns off course, it automatically applies helm so as to bring the craft back in line with the course for which it has been programmed. In order for this to work properly, variables such as the boat size, the angle of the rudder, your boat’s speed, and the elements must be factored in. Usually, these settings are adjusted for best performance by the factory, and you should not have to manipulate them. But knowing how each of these components factors into how autopilot works is helpful, and as the navigator, you should know how to optimize them in order to better accommodate your craft’s autopilot with the immediate environment.
Another possibility that many pilots enjoy is using the autopilot in order to have power steering and to steer the boat from a mount that isn’t located at the main wheel. The autopilot controls the helm by way of the drive unit, which means that not only does an autopilot help you stay on course, but you have the benefit, in effect, of power steering. If you choose to use this from a location that is in another part of the vessel, this can be achieved through using a hand-held device or mounting a permanent second location to steer on the craft. There are ultimately many boat steering systems with options for using autopilot available for any size or type of boat.