“Oh, no. The battery is dead.”
Those are words that no fisherman wants to hear when he or she gets ready to crank his outboard or hears his trolling motor go from making a sound like a kitchen mixer on full speed to a barely audible wimpy “whir.”
A dead battery can stop an $80,000 fishing rig dead in it’s tracks, or stop a fishing trip in seconds when you can’t maneuver the boat where you want to go. Most anglers who spend a good bit of time on the water have experienced it at one time or another. It isn’t pretty.
Fortunately, there’s a new kid in town in the battery world that makes that a lot less likely to happen. Yes, they are more expensive, but the new high quality lithium batteries are much lighter, pack a much more consistent charge and are dependable for a whole day of hard fishing, especially if your boat has the latest in electronic devices.
For starters, the old lead-acid type batteries can weigh up to 50-60 pounds. The new lithium models weigh half of that. They also maintain the same voltage the entire time you use them. And they last a lot longer. Deep-cycle lead-acid batteries are designed to last between 500 to 1,000 charge discharge cycles (charges), depending on the type. A high quality lithium marine battery will last between 3,000 – 5,000 cycles.
That is especially important when you not only fish for fun, but competitively as well. Like crappie pro Lamar Bunting of Conway, Arkansas, who fishes all around the south.
“When we started swapping into the more powerful electronics like LiveScope, we found that if we fished hard all day, the batteries might not last but half a day,” he said. “A good lithium battery will keep you running all day long with your electronics and your trolling motor and other accessories.”
Bunting says the other biggest advantage is the weight. You can have a bank of lithium batteries in the back of your boat and it doesn’t mess up your hole shot or stop speed by weighing down the boat. Getting the same amount of voltage all day long is also very important. Lithium batteries also charge up four times faster. Bunting uses 170 amp hour SeeLite Lithiums from his home state.
“Of course in a bigger rig, you really need these batteries to keep everything running consistently, but they are even worth the money if you have a single battery setup in a smaller boat,” he said. “It gives you confidence when you leave the dock in the morning that you can fish all day long and not have to worry about your battery going dead.”
The biggest negative, he said, is the cost. While you can buy a good performing lead battery for around $200, a good lithium will cost you $700-$1,000 or more. He warns against using cheap off-brand lithiums because they can cause problems with the boats electronics.
“You need to get your battery from a reputable dealer and somebody you can talk to about it, not at half price from somewhere online,” he said. Some outboard manufacturers recommend not using lithium batteries for cranking because a cheaper model could cause problems. But for your other electronics, they can’t be beat.
One other tip. Most lithium batteries deliver full power up until they go dead so they can stop without warning. If your trolling motor doesn’t have a built-in battery indicator, you should consider adding an after-market monitoring system. Some of these systems have Bluetooth available where you can monitor the charge on an app from your phone.