What’s Your Edge?
A series of stories from boat owners across the nation.
When do you need your kicker or trolling motor the most? Tracking in wind and current? Anchor fishing? Trolling? Back trolling?
Uncle Norm’s Fin System will give you the edge providing better steering response, more stability and tighter turning radius at any speed or power level. The unique, patent pending design is the first aftermarket product to maximize control and stability while increasing effective thrust.
Who’s got the Edge?
Dan Sullivan, Owner & Guide
Rivers West Sport Fishing
Dan Sullivan knows you need an edge to stay competitive. Owner and lead fishing guide of Rivers West Sport Fishing, Dan Sullivan is in his 15th year guiding for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, bass, catfish and shad. Rivers West Sport Fishing guides primarily in Washington State on the Columbia River, Yakima River, Snake River, Wind River, Big and Little White Salmon Rivers and Drano Lake. He is also a guide in Alaska on the Gulkana River.
Sullivan has recently been fishing with Uncle Norm’s Dolphin Fin System on his kicker motor. Gary Hansen of Pixel Soft Films recently caught up with Sullivan on his boat to talk about his experience using the fin system. Read their conversation below or follow the video links from the (Video) to view a segment.
Hansen: As a guide you’re always looking for the latest and greatest tool or gadget to give you the edge over the competition, right?
Sullivan: Yes! Something to give you the edge over the next guy.
Hansen: Is being a professional fishing guide competitive?
Sullivan: Oh yeah. There are so many guides out there these days. There are literally hundreds of them. Alaska is the same way. Washington State is the same way. When I first started there were probably 10-12 consistent guides in my area; now there’s probably 30-40. So yeah, it’s competitive. If you want to keep your clientele, if you want happy clientele and not worry about them going over to the next guy, you’ve got to be at the top of your game, every aspect of it. With so many people vying for the same fish, you better consistently be on your “A” game.
Hansen: What’s the latest tool you’ve found to help your “A” game?
Sullivan: What I have on my kicker motor is the Uncle Norm’s Dolphin Fin System. That does a few things for me. It gives me a lot more boat stability and more boat control, and right now there isn’t anybody else I know that has it. So that’s one new product edge, and it’s a pretty good edge for me.
Hansen: How does it help you?
Sullivan: Well, there’s more than one way it helps. Right now we have current coming at us and we’re basically back trolling. I have a TR1 autopilot on my motor. If I’m trolling somewhere in fast water, I need my autopilot so I can walk back and forth in the boat to help my clients, get rods off the bottom, net fish and whatever else I have to do. My autopilot keeps my boat straight. But like any equipment with moving parts, it’s going to wear out eventually. So the more times it cycles right to left to keep my boat straight, probably the sooner it’s going to wear out. With the Dolphin, I notice when I’m fishing in heavy current, instead of my motor really throwing from side to side and really working extra hard—the TR1 is just making minor adjustments instead of making a huge left and a huge right to keep up with itself. It’s just doing minor adjustments. So the autopilot actually has to work probably a third as hard to keep my boat straight. The other thing I noticed happened during the spring Chinook run on the Columbia River. Most of that fishing is done by anchor fishing. What I found this year, after having these fins on, is that I can anchor my boat in the general zone of where I want to fish and not reposition as often. The spring Chinook run varies. One day they might be in 8-foot water and the next day they might be in 21-feet of water. What that usually means is where you anchor is where you’re fishing – if you’re in 12-feet of water then that’s where you’re fishing. I have cleats on the front of my boat so I can slide my anchor over and instead of pulling it just slide my anchor rope over and hook it. All I have to do is throw the kicker motor one way or the other with these Fins on and let them catch the current. I could anchor in one spot and fish anywhere between 7-feet out to 22-feet of water just by moving the back of my boat wherever I wanted to be. That’s a lot easier than pulling a 50-pound anchor six times a day trying to get in the right zone where the fish are traveling. Instead of pulling anchor, I could just slide over and fish 8-feet of water for an hour and if it didn’t work, move out to 14, 17 or 21-feet and never have to pull my anchor.
Hansen: Have you had any opportunities to tell people about the Uncle Norm’s Dolphin Fin System?
Sullivan: Yeah, actually I have. I’ve had a lot of inquiries from people coming up after seeing the Fins on the back of my kicker motor. Just like we talked about earlier, everybody wants that edge. Everybody is looking for the edge. Well if you come into the dock and you’ve been successful and you have happy clientele and the people standing on the docks weren’t quite as successful; they look at your boat and look at everything in it trying to see what you’re using on your fishing poles. My fishing poles are never exposed coming into dock, but the one thing they can see are those Fins. This spring when I was up fishing on the Snake River in a 7 day period I had 8 different guys come and ask me “what are those things on your kicker motor?” I explained to them what they were, and most of those guys had inboard jet boats too. The device Uncle Norm’s makes for the inboard jet (Shark Fin System) is awesome. So there’s a lot of people that came up and asked me about what they were. A lot of inquiries.
Hansen: When you first saw the Fin System, what did you think? Did you think, “It looks so simple like something I could have thought of myself”?
Sullivan: Yeah. At first appearance, your reaction is to look at it and say “oh, a gadget”. Or, “that’s a pretty simple deal , what is that”? So I was a little bit reluctant to put them on my motor thinking that it was one more thing I didn’t need. But it is just that simple—it’s a pretty simple deal. I just bought another boat up in Alaska and they’ll be on that boat as soon as it’s shipped to me. They’ll go on it. It is a simple deal, but they say that 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish, and it’s usually those successful 10% that have one or two little tricks. They aren’t big tricks. They’re little tricks. And this is one of them. It’s a simple deal, but it can make a huge difference. Not just in your success, but like I was saying earlier in equipment performance. An autopilot for a kicker motor is about $2,500. When I’m using the autopilot with these Fins, the autopilot isn’t working as hard. I figure if the Dolphin Fin System gives me 50% more longevity out of my autopilot, then I’m a happy camper.
I fished a lot by Portland this year in the I-5 area where there can very easily be 500 to a 1,000 boats on the water any day you’re there. It is literally bumper to bumper to bumper. There, you’re on one side of the river, in a channel, trolling down river with the current, which gives you less maneuverability and less control because the current is pushing with you. When you go under the bridge, you need to make about a 90-degree turn and try to get to the other channel as quickly as you can while still fishing effectively. For the last 4 years of fishing before I put on the Fins, I’d come under the bridge where there’s always a wind pushing you downriver. So you’ve got the wind and the current and now you are trying to get your boat 300-yards to the other side of the river at a 90-degree angle against the current and wind.
This year I was actually not only able to turn my boat exactly where I wanted, with those Fins it had enough grab and had enough hold that it wouldn’t let my backend wash out in the wind or the current. I could go exact where I wanted. It actually gave me the maneuverability to drive around all the guys that couldn’t. I could steer around them, let the wind blow them out of the way and I could make a clean pass through the hole and go catch fish. The Fin System has been a good thing. I can fish more and have taken the load off the equipment—that’s not only going to save money but it will produce happier customers in the long run. That’s what it is all about.