A hunter at my duck club named Steve killed more ducks more consistently last season than any other member, all with a dozen decoys and little to no calling. His secret? He hunts where the ducks want to be and where most boats can't go. Every Saturday he'd crank his mud motor and wind past my decoy spread into the perfect loafing area-a shallow stretch of water that allows dabblers to feed and shields them from the current. On at least four occasions I spent the morning watching Steve fill his limit while pondering whether my bag even constituted dinner for one.
Ah, but this year Steve's in trouble. This year he'll have some competition for his favorite blind at our club's weekly lottery. This year I have a shallow-water craft of my own-the Twin Troller from Carolina Electric Boats.
The Twin Troller can operate in as little as 6 inches of water with 200 pounds of cargo or less. That number was obviously derived by a fisherman, because I know of no dyed-in-the wool duck hunter who hits the water with less than 200 pounds of guns, gear, dog, sandwiches and coffee. That said, the Twin Troller's displacement is comparable to a canoe. A thick layer of closed-cell foam gives the boat excellent buoyancy, and recessed, in-hull MotorGuide electric trolling motors sit flush against the bottom of the boat, allowing it to operate in shallow water. The props are protected from weeds, submerged logs and other underwater hazards by corrosion-resistant, metal debris guards. I did find they aren't immune to clogging, and I had to pause several times during one of my hunts to clear them of mud and seaweed. The motors produce a combined 72 pounds (36 pounds each) of thrust. Carolina Electric Boats says the craft can reach speeds of-hold onto your hats!-6 mph. It may not be the fastest yacht on the water, but it'll get you there.
Expect to get four to eight hours of run time out of a standard marine battery depending on wind and current. The interior hull features a molded slot that keeps the battery secure. If you're planning an extended trip, the boat has a motor mount on the rear that will accommodate a 2 hp outboard.
An area in which the boat really shines is its maneuverability. There are two pedals; the right pedal controls the right trolling motor and the other pedal controls the left. Operation is totally hands-free. Although a tad awkward at first, within moments steering the boat was intuitive. You merely press down on both pedals with your toes to move forward (the farther you press the pedal, the faster you go). Pressing down on the pedals with your heels moves the boat in reverse. To turn you simply apply more pressure to one pedal than the other. One of the most interesting aspects of this design is you can actually get the boat to spin 360 degrees-just apply forward pressure to one pedal and rearward pressure to the other. That can come in handy if you're hunting a soft-bottom patch of water and it's time to pick up the decoys.
The pontoon-style hull is 10 feet long and 4 feet wide. Its weight capacity is 585 pounds. Such a design affords excellent stability given the boat's size, and it proved adequate for most conditions. Still, due to its lack of freeboard I would not take it out if there's a significant chop or flowing ice on the water.
Carolina Electric Boats manufactures light trailers for the Twin Troller, but all you really need to transport it is a pickup bed. Just use the handle on the front of the boat to lift its nose and set it against a lowered tailgate. Next grip the back of the boat and, lifting with your legs, raise the tail and slide the boat into the bed. My biggest complaint with the process is that the boat's tail doesn't have any handles, making it a little unwieldy. The boat weighs only 175 pounds, and the smallest member of the American Hunter staff was able to get it in and out of his truck.
One of the reasons the Twin Troller weighs so little is the material used to construct its hull-polyethylene resin. It's lighter than fiberglass, resists UV rays and, like the rest of the boat, it's salt-water safe. The hull is a seamless, single piece for added durability and it has a five-year warranty.
Transportation of the boat is further eased by removable, fold-down seats. Available in "Shadow Moss" camo, they also swivel, which I like because I can face forward while in motion or to the side if I'm hunting.
If you intend to hunt out of the Twin Troller, for now you're stuck mounting a homemade blind atop it, however, the company is in the process of developing an attachable duck blind accessory.
While testing the Twin Troller in the off-season, the boat proved capable of reaching "Steve's" duck blind with room to spare. At press time, unfortunately, Steve had drawn the preferred blind two lotteries in a row and-you guessed it-he killed his limit while I watched through my binocular. I've got the boat I need to get the job done. Now I just need a little luck. Go to twintrollerboats.com