I’d be interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on this but after several months with a Minn Kota Riptide and having a Minn Kota Maxxum for years prior to that, I thought I’d share my findings between the two. To put it simply, the difference is essentially cable steer or electronic servo.
The two different systems offer various advantages. To start with the Maxxum/Fortrex is a great, robust unit that takes a bit of getting used to, offers instant, infinite turning adjustments, infinite speed adjustments and is great for cast and retrieve style anglers. This system will allow you to spin the motor head 360 degrees as quickly as you can pivot your foot but lacks the “bells and whistles” of the Riptide.
The Riptide has features like “Spot Lock”, Auto Pilot and can record your track so that you can go back and follow the same path the next time you want to fish a piece of structure. This unit would be great for trolling, with a remote control meaning you can operate the motor while sitting at your console.
Considering the type of fishing that I do, the Maxxum suits my needs much better and I would suggest it takes a bit of time to get used to, where angler input and adjustments need to be made quickly, accurately and without looking down at the motor (after some practice and experience). I like the Maxxum because I can turn the motor 180 degrees in an instant, while trying to muscle a fish out of structure. This is much harder with the Riptide. I’d descrive it like this, the Maxxum is like driving a manual car, initially it seems harder but after a while it becomes second nature and in my case, I don’t even notice I’m doing anything out of the ordinary anymore.
The Riptide is well suited to the flats fisherman, where input is not necessarily needed instantly but consistent thrust is necessary. When fishing flats, this unit really was a breeze to use. I switched on auto pilot, put in a speed setting and started fishing but I don’t fish flats that often. It has the feature of spot lock, which I found to be more of a burden than anything else in some situations. It’d be adaptable for fishing edges and has obvious advantages when trolling.
Spot lock is a great feature when there is litte or no wind or current but seems to really struggle when it is windy. I found myself being pushed around while the servo tried to keep up and as the system adjusted the speeds from what seemed like an option of 0 (lowest setting) or 10 (highest setting) and nothing in between. I actually ended up around 25m off the marked spot on one occasion, which resulted in me being blown into a bridge while I was re-rigging. I’ve since been told that they perform the best when there is a more consistent wind or current, allowing the system to do its thing without “thinking” or adjusting too much.
Which would I pick? I see a space for both of these and will actually change between them, depending on the style of fishing I choose for a particular day. The quick release brackets are great for switching between the two but will take a bit of imagination to work for one of each units.
But if I could only have one, I’d stick with a cable steer based purely on the style of fishing I choose.