Having used this product since early last year (2014) I feel that the time has come to air my thoughts on the Torqeedo Ultralight 403. Weight and efficiency were the top priorities when the idea for an ultra light motor for a kayak was conceived. Torqeedo have delivered on both counts with the motor and battery coming in at 15lbs in total, the battery being light enough to float if it accidentally finds itself in the water. Using lithium technology, this lightweight battery can still deliver plenty of power despite being a fraction of the weight of more traditional deep cycle batteries associated with trolling motors for lake boats. This shift in battery size and weight results in a setup that is not too heavy for kayak anglers.
Why get a motor for a kayak? Does it not defeat the purpose of kayak fishing in the first place? The reason for getting an electrical motor for the kayak was not laziness. I very much enjoy paddling here and there. To me, paddling is an integral part of kayak angling; I like the exercise and the silence of paddling to and fro. Where I thought a motor would come into play would be as a safety device, particularly when fishing rivers. I wanted to know that I had a method of being able to get back upstream against a strong flow, one that would be impossible to gain any ground when paddling against it. Some of the finest freshwater fishing in Ireland is found in our rivers and with Ireland being the temperamental soul that she is with regards to the weather, rivers experience great fluctuations in flow rate and height, from week to week in some cases. Having a motor on the back of the kayak allows me to explore further and return safely. Since mounting the motor other ideas have presented themselves and trolling for ferox trout is most certainly one of them. Watch this space……..
In the box the Torqeedo Ultralight 403 comes with a lot of extras such as mounting options and hardware, a charger, the motor, battery and throttle along with a host of other items. Most I will not mention except the inclusion of a hard wearing dry bag which is hidden in the bottom of the box underneath the Styrofoam; be careful not to throw it away with the box! Mounting the motor will be different for every kayak and user preferences. The system will mount onto almost any kayak with Torqeedo offering extra kits for the few odd shapes that may need additional brackets. The motor sits on a mounting ball and is secured with bolts while supported with rubber pads. With the shorter length of the Wilderness Systems Ride 115X I had to make my own support bracket, a job easily done with a bit of an old chopping board being cut and mounted to the rear of the kayak.
Once the mount is secured to the kayak, attaching the motor is easily done. The motor can be configured to run in a straight line or to be turned via the foot pedals on your kayak’s rudder system, assuming there is one there. As an aid to get through rougher water, I have left mine in the static position. A length of rope that runs from the motor back to the cockpit enables the motor to be raised or lowered as required, much like a rudder. This gives the user total control over the motor; it can be raised for riffles and glides and lowered once more over deeper water. Keeping it raised will also eliminate any drag that may interfere with your paddle stroke. All components of the motor are finished to perfection. All parts are sealed and fully waterproof. The propeller blade is plastic but it is pretty tough. If the worst should happen the company sell replacement parts.
Powering this small motor is the battery. Small and light (6.2lbs) it fits easily into the rear tankwell of any kayak. Moulded fixing points are a feature of the battery so you can secure it to the kayak if you desire, the battery will float in the event of a capsize anyway. Using lithium battery technology the producers were able to create a lightweight battery that can still deliver ample power. Depending on what boat you are using, Torqeedo boast a 6mp/h+ top speed and a 26 mile range on the slowest speed which sounds incredible but bear in mind that these figures will vary from kayak to kayak. One other feature of the battery is that it houses a GPS receiver. This receiver can, from your position, work out where you are, what speed you are travelling at and what range you currently have left in the battery but more on that later. To connect the motor to the battery is as simple as plugging the motor lead into the battery and turning the collar to lock it in place.
Finally, we need to have a look at how we control the motor. For this we use a levered throttle which also connects to the motor’s battery and is secured with a locking collar. With the design of the Ride 115X I like to run the cable under the seat so the throttle sits on my right hand side. The lever design allows for forward and reverse thrust and is incredibly easy to operate. There is also a small LCD display that shows the readout from the battery’s GPS receiver so you should never get caught out with a low battery. One thing that I will advise would be to go easy on the throttle. Motoring at top speed will drastically reduce the life of the battery and your range. At slower speeds you get far more from the battery and on calm days the system can offer hours of slow trolling speeds. Like the battery and motor, the throttle is also waterproof.
A couple of other features with this motor are very much geared towards angler safety. The throttle will not engage the motor without the magnetic kill switch being in place. Attach the kill switch to your PFD and, in the event of a capsize, the kill switch will disengage from the throttle and the motor will stop running. There are also sensors inside the motor which will cause it to stop if tilted too far to one side as would happen with a capsize.
So how does the Torqeedo Ultralight 403 motor work in practice? Very well it has to be said. To say the motor runs silently would be wrong. It does produce sound but this is minimal. Is it suited to a safety item to help through rough water/flooded rivers? I have used this motor on a few flooded rivers, a flooded River Suck, a very high River Corrib and a grossly flooded River Shannon. At no time did the motor struggle and on the River Corrib I was very impressed to register 5.8mp/h on the Ride 115X when going against the current. This test showed me that it is well capable of handling what most moving flat water can throw at it.
A second application for the motor allows the user to fine tune the speed that they are moving at which I have found excellent when trolling lures upstream against the current. The responsiveness from the throttle allows the angler to inch his baits upstream and let the flow make the lures work and dance. The control that the motor gives over lure presentation cannot be matched by paddling and I think will assist in the capture of more predators.
The Torqeedo Ultralight 403 is not cheap but the trade off is a quality product that is well made using excellent materials. The weight of the battery is revolutionary and I imagine the technology will be adapted and become more widespread within the next couple of years. Using the product is staggeringly simple and the ranges and speeds offered are unmatched in its class. The safety element of it cannot be understated and will help if caught in a strong current. The range that it offers will also allow kayak anglers to fish waters that are further afield and will greatly expand the options of fishable waters available.
No one product is a magical device with supernatural fish catching capabilities. The Torqeedo Ultralight 403 is no different. However, when used in conjunction with a thinking angler it greatly increases the options and choices that can potentially lead to a day’s successful fishing.