If you are following the Loxley team on Facebook or Instagram, you know that recently we bought a new tournament boat. In a previous article, we were trying to decide on which trolling motor to buy for the boat. We considered several factors while researching our decision, but the number one thing we kept going back to was reliability.
Although new technology is enticing, you cannot beat the reliability of proven models like the Minn Kota Maxxum. These are built tough and can take the abuse of bowfishing. I found a used Maxxum 80 ft lb, 24v foot controlled trolling motor and made a mount out of aluminum square tubing for the motor to sit in front of the bowfishing platform. After using the new set-up a few times, we felt everything was dialed in and likely would keep the set-up in its current configuration. The only thing left to do now was for me to build a sexy stick.
Why & how did we build a sexy stick for our bowfishing boat?
Anyone who uses a foot controlled trolling motor knows that the Captain Morgan stance isn't comfortable. Steering with one foot and standing on the other goes out of favor within an hour or two. This is where the sexy stick comes in to help. The sexy stick (also referred to as a steer stick) attaches via a plate to the foot pedal. The plate has a welded stick that protrudes up in order to let the operator steer the boat comfortably while standing.
I chose to make my plate and stick out of aluminum. The plate is 1/4" aluminum and the stick is a 34" aluminum tube (2”, with .125 side wall) that I had laying around. I decided that I wanted to modify the angle of the stick for a more ergonomic feel and put a 15 degree bend in the last 6 inches of the stick that I would be holding onto. I also decided that I needed to move the momentary button from the pedal to the stick where I would be holding in order for the sexy stick to be truly game changing. This was accomplished by purchasing a 5 amp water resistant momentary button off Amazon and some 22 gauge wire that was wired up through the stick I made.
After a few times out I can 100% say that I freaking love steering the boat using the sexy stick. It makes maneuvering so easy and it is comfortable. I added an anti-fatigue mat to the deck and I can now steer the boat for hours without getting sore. I can't wait for the upcoming tournament season!
Here are a few things to consider before you decide to build a sexy stick.
First is safety! If you don't understand electrical wiring don’t mess with your trolling motor. Altering electrical wiring or components on a device that pulls up to 60 amps at 24 volts can lead to serious injuries or even death. Leave altering any electrical to the professionals if you are not confident you can do it safely. This is no joke!
Another thing to consider is voiding your trolling motor warranty. I doubt any company is going to honor a warranty claim if they find out you are splicing wires into their electrical systems. Once you cut any wires, consider it yours to fix if you have any issues with your trolling motor. Now, you can build a sexy stick without altering the wiring, but in my mind it defeats the purpose of building one. In order to make it the most comfortable and user friendly, you'll want the momentary switch up by your hand and not operated by your foot on the pedal.
Third, since these are mostly homemade you gotta have some ingenuity! I picked the Maxxum because I could find a good used one and I could tell it would be easy for me to alter the momentary switch. If I managed to somehow ruin the pedal or the trolling motor by altering it, I would have lost a relatively small investment. I had the aluminum from a previous project, but it worked out awesome for this build. In total, between the used Maxxum, additional parts, and scrap aluminum, I had less than $550 into my trolling motor and sexy stick.
A fourth point, some Maxxum models come with wires versus a ribbon on the main circuit board that connects to the potentiometer (this controls the speed). I bought a used one that had a ribbon on the board so I decided not to alter the potentiometer and left adjusting the speed on the pedal. I set mine at 70%-80% and rarely touch it throughout the shoot. If you have a Maxxum which has wires, you could move the potentiometer up on the handle by lengthening the wires. The result is you’ll have all the controls at your fingertips. I would consider this a Pro-Modification and leave it to the experts if you don’t know what you’re doing. A new circuit board will run you around $120 dollars if you make a mistake.
Below is the only wiring that I did on the Maxxum unit in order to move the momentary switch. Basically, I bypassed the current switch and created a bigger loop using my own switch in the stick. I used pink (small gauge) water tight connections to splice into the wiring. Also, you can see in the second picture I retained the stock potentiometer on the foot pedal.
This article is not intended to be a step by step guide to building a sexy stick. There are too many different models of trolling motors with unique wiring configurations for that. Instead, we hope you find this is an informative read and maybe something to consider if you’re building your own sexy stick set-up. Again, trolling motors can carry a heavy electrical load and modifying one can be harmful to you or others on your boat. My advice before taking on any electrical project is to consult with a professional electrician before making any alterations!
Always make safety your first priority when undertaking any electrical modifications to your bowfishing rig. Research what you want to do, consult with an electrician before beginning, and use a little ingenuity to get it done. I would think common sense would apply here, but feel it is well worth mentioning that before you start modifying your trolling motor in any way it should be disconnected from its power source (batteries) completely.
Building a sexy stick is a fun project and using one to steer a boat makes bowfishing that much more enjoyable. I love our current set-up and am excited to show more people what Team Loxley can do!If you haven’t checked out Loxley Bowfishing lately, head over to www.loxleybowfishing.com for the latest, tips, tricks and gear for bowfishing!