The Old JohnnyRude Trolling Motor

1977 Evinrude trolling motor ad.

1977 Evinrude trolling motor ad.

First time I saw one of the ’77 JohnRude trollers I was a bit confused. The dang shaft wasn’t straight and the shaft didn’t attach to the mid-section of the motor head. It looked goofy to me.

Then around 1980 we bought a 16-foot MonArk V-16 and the trolling motor that came on it – primarily because Marine Associates of Bellflower only sold Johnson – was a Johnson like the ‘Rude you see in the picture. The thing was a 24-volt motor and I think it had 36 or maybe 42 pounds of thrust, nearly twice as much as the ’76 Shakespeare we had on the Sea Nymph.

The first time out in it I took a bit of getting used to. First off, the pedal was 180-degrees off of what the Shakespeare was. In other words, push down on the front of the Shakespeare, the motor would go left. Push on the rear, it’d go right. After a day of fishing, my brain finally gave up and let my foot do the work. Within a couple of trips, I could never operated that backwards Shakespeare again.

After using the motor for a while, though, I began to really appreciate the design features in the JohnRude. They were the first trolling motor company to angle the back of the pedal to help overcome torque – it was really noticeable. The other cool thing was – just like they said in the ad – the head didn’t hang up in the weeds as much as the other trolling motors because the shaft met the motor at the front.

The other thing that was really noticeable, and I didn’t understand this until physics in college, was the angle in which the motor head was placed at actually was the main reason the torque of the motor was so little. I mean you could have this thing on a setting of 10 and it turned as easily as if it were set on two.

Not sure why other trolling motor companies didn’t pick up on the design features and incorporate them into their motors (except for maybe patent reasons) but OMC/Bombardier has been out of the trolling motor business for a long time now and those patents surely are no longer valid.

Another aspect of that motor was we never had a cable break on it and it saw the water 52 weekends a year minimum. My buds that had MercThrusters (aka the Coffee Grinder), MinnKotas and MotorGuides always had to carry a spare cable with them. Not with the JohnRude.

Great memories, great motor. Too bad they’re no longer made.

  • Jeff Hahn

    Back in 2003, I really stirred up a hornet’s nest with this post on the Bass Fishing Home Page (see link below). Apparently, Bombardier holds the patent (or did at that time) for the old JohnnyRude trolling motor. So, I posted the e-mail address of a person at Bombardier asking folks to request that they begin producing those trolling motors again. The guy at Bombardier received several thousand e-mails as a result! He looked up the link to my post and fired off a nasty e-mail to me, thinking it was all a scam! I responded with a heartfelt apology, but assured him it was not a scam and many bass anglers truly believe that this was the best trolling motor ever produced…and I still do! He told me that since Bombardier had only recently purchased OMC, that they had to get the Ficht off the ground first, but that he would notify the head honchos of the intense interest in the old OMC trolling motor. Maybe he did or maybe he didn’t. But, as of now, nothing has come of it. Dang, I wish they’d begin manufacturing those motors again!!!

    http://www.wmi.org/bassfish/bassboard/boats_motors/message.html?message_id=199807

    • Jeff,

      I didn’t see that post back then or I would have emailed them too! LOL. I can’t believe they went with the Fucht (aka the $16K boat anchor) instead of rebuilding something that was proven and would make them $$$. 🙂 Oh well, that’s the way bean counters think.

  • Wow. My experiences with that motor were exaclty opposite yours. The motor itself was quiet, and that was it’s best feature. But the mount was horrible. That cable articulation system juwt sucked. The first time you ran into something hard enough to make the breakaway feature work (the key mounted on the cable would pop out of the keyway on the roller) you were done. After that, it would pop out constantly, because the first time it worked, it rounded the edge of the keyway. I recall one year they had a new 53# model (big thurst in those days), and were on the Redman All American boats. Half the boats in the field had popped that key loose from the thrust, so the motors would kick up in front of the boat when you hit it on high.
    The front mounted shaft was a good idea, but only worked if you never stopped in the weeds. Boat had to be moving for it to keep weeds away from prop. Only motor I ever burnt up in a weedbed was a johnson.
    I also don’t recall my Shakespeare steering backwards. I do recall its plastic steering gear segment flexing under load and sliding of the edge of the driven gear, so you would jump a tooth or two. ARGH. Then you had to adjust for where in the foot pedal motion straight ahead was, and you had like 220 degrees steering in one direction and 140 in the other.
    The one I remember having backward steering was the Byrd. Drew a guy with as Byrd in a tourney one time, and when I went to take the front of the boat, I couldn’t run the damned motor.

    • You know Rich, I think it might have to do with the type of weeds you deal with. In Cal, NV and AZ we never really had much thick carpet. It was mainly eel-grass type weeds. It went through that really well. Ryan Coleman and I were just talking about this on Facebook and he said it was a bear in the weeds in GA.

      I never had the problem with the key you’re talking about either, but then again, I don’t recall ever hitting anything in the barren CA reservoirs with it.