I’ve been wanting to do this piece for a while and finally got around to it. In the past we’ve talked here about trolling motors and scantily-clad women but I don’t think in the same piece. Well, today that’s what we’re doing.
I think I’ve probably seen ads for TrolMaster trolling motors in nearly every bass and fishing magazine I’ve picked up that was printed earlier than 1988. It’s obvious that TrolMaster tried to make a dent in the market but I don’t recall seeing that many of them in the west as I was growing up – you saw more Rams, OMCs, Motor-Guides and eventually Merc Thrusters than anything else. But as much money as they were throwing at ads in the major magazines, one would think they were selling a good number of them somewhere.
What has always intrigued me about their ads, though, is there was always a “lady” front and center in the ad wearing some form of bathing attire. The ad campaign was so blatant that it made you wonder if she actually was part of the trolling motor or came with it as a bundle. In fact, I can only remember one specific ad where she wasn’t pictured. What was TrolMaster trying to sell?
In the first ad pictured the tag line at the top states: “The best things about TrolMasters are the things they let you forget.” Then under that they say, “So you have more time to think about other things.” Right below that set of sentences is the picture of the TrolMaster Girl – complete with her stout set of floatie thingies. What did TrolMaster want you to be thinking about? It’s not apparent it was fishing.
In this same ad – as was in a couple more shown here – was also a picture about their TrolMaster Twin motor. I found this interesting in that a few months ago we talked here about the Motor-Guide Magic Carpet and it’s abysmal failure in the industry. That motor came out in the 1982 timeframe and from what I can tell TrolMaster came out with theirs, with stern and bow mounting options, in the early 70s. This motor was around for a few years and sometime close to the end of the 70s the ads disappeared from the magazines. Maybe Motor-Guide should have taken a hard look at TrolMaster’s success with the two-headed beast and rethought their marketing plan.
The first three ads pretty much have the same content, just presented a little differently. They all claim to be assembled by Osage Indians, have permanent magnet motors and were powder coated for durability. They don’t make much mention of their power, only stating that the Model 2000 has 19 pounds of thrust and was the most powerful 12-volt trolling motor on the market at the time. They also state that you could operate the Model 2000 for 16 hours at full speed without having to recharge your battery. I hope there’s someone out there who can verify this claim.
The fourth ad is a little different. This is the ad I was talking about that didn’t contain the TrolMaster girl – instead it featured four of their models – two of which were two-headed. The Mark I was TrolMaster’s solution to pollution and long gas lines – so they said. It could power a boat (how big?) up to 8 mph and run for three days on a single charge. It was a transom mount that had three speeds and a reverse. It retailed for about $150. The Mark II was coined as the “Ultimate in electric outboards” and was one of their two-headed models. It was also a transom mount and was touted to be able to push a boat (again, how big?) up to 10 mph. It retailed for $180. The Mark X and XX were their bow-mount motors that retailed for $260 and $340 respectively.
In all their claims they talk about their battery-conserving solid-state technology that would draw a maximum of only 17 amps and allow the user to operate for multiple days without charging. I find this a bit fishy (pun intended) because one would think that in this day and age we could do the same or better. Still we have to charge our power plants each night after a hard day of fishing.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this look back on TrolMaster and their novel way of advertising their motors. I know when I think of trolling motors, only one thing comes to mind.