A few years ago, a handful of anglers showed up at a Florida tournament with bazooka-like gadgets bolted to their transoms.
The sight drew a few jeers from other competitors ... until competition began. Once other pros saw the application of JL Marine Systems' Power-Pole anchoring system, the jeers turned to cheers.
Today, you'll find Power-Poles latched to the back of just about every Elite angler's boat, and they're finding their way onto recreational rigs as well.
What was once considered an inshore saltwater fishing tool has become a staple for serious bass boaters.
Skeeter pro Mark Menendez is one of them. He was slow to convert, not fully understanding the Power-Pole's benefits until he had one installed this year.
"I always thought of them as being a little cumbersome, but that's hardly the case," says Menendez. "The benefits far outweigh any disadvantages."
So, what are those gadgets? The anchoring pole can be raised and lowered by a flip of a switch mounted on the boat or from a remote fob worn around the angler's neck.
Once engaged, a durable composite rod emerges from the aluminum cylinder, drops into the water and sticks into the lake or river bottom. When you're ready to move, engage the switch and the pole returns to its stored, out-of-the-way position. The poles come in 8- and 6-foot models.
When the poles first appeared on the Elite circuit, they were perceived as an advantage for bed fishing tournaments. An angler could drop a pole away from the bed and hold his boat position while he worked the fish.
Other advantages have been discovered since then. When you catch fish in wind, you can drop the pole to hold you there while putting the fish in the livewell or culling. Ditto for changing lures or anchoring along the shore at the boat ramp.
Menendez discovered its efficiency during a 2009 Elite tournament on Lake Oneida in New York. He watched fellow pro Brent Chapman fish thick matted grass efficiently while he struggled to stay on the outside of the weed bed in the 25-miles-per-hour wind.
He wanted to get in the grass, too, but knew that if he drifted over it, he'd spook the fish.
"Brent put his poles down in the grass and walked around his boat, punching jigs and worms through the heavy mats where he was catching them pretty good," Menendez recalls. "After he fished one spot, he'd raise the poles, drift a short distance, put them down and punch around the boat again. I couldn't do that because of wind."
The pole has become so popular that several anglers now carry two, one mounted on each side of the outboard motor.
"One works, but in a wind, the boat will pivot," explains Menendez, who has a pair mounted on his Skeeter 20 FX. "With two, the boat doesn't waver."
For more information about Power-Poles, go to www.power-pole.com.