Although there are still anglers who prefer the hand-steered trolling motor on the front of their bass boat (why I don’t know) foot-controlled motors have become the norm on nearly all bass boats. The reason for this is obvious. The foot pedal frees your hands to do what they were intended to do – fish.
In the early 60s, G. H. Harris of Mississippi decided he wanted to fish more than steer his troller. Well versed in the field of electronics, he fashioned the first foot-controlled trolling motor and called it the Guide-Rite. Harris then struck a deal with Herschede Hall Clock Company to make and distribute the new trolling motor.
Then in the late 60s, the name of the motor was changed to MotorGuide and has become one of only two main brands of trolling motors available today.
Here’s an ad from the 1970 Fall Issue of Bass Master Magazine showing MotorGuide’s foot-controlled trolling motor. Notice the bracket (or what appears to be a lack thereof). The ad states, “Imagine a steering mechanism in your automobile’s accelerator pedal. That’s how Motor-Guide works. To go faster, just press down. To turn right or left, just lean your foot that way.”
Cumbersome? In contrast to today’s mode of fishing, standing up, it would be pretty difficult to press forward and lean right or left, especially when fishing offshore structure in a heavy wind and swell. But back in the day, when anglers were lazy and sat all day long, I’m sure it wasn’t too awkward to handle. What was probably the most awkward was the price – $219.00 retail – which was almost more than double the cost of a trolling motor back then.