You’re looking for the best trolling motor for your boat, and you’re unsure of what to choose.
Trust me, you’re not the first one to face this dilemma and won’t be the last.
You don’t know what features you should look for and you might not even know what a trolling motor is. The best trolling motor is important because the last thing you need is to get stranded out on the water.
I’ve been in that situation before and trying to hand row yourself back to shore is not an easy task. Especially if you’re fishing on a river with a strong current. We didn’t have the right trolling motor for our boat size, and as a result, we weren’t able to keep up with the current and get ourselves upriver back to the launch point.
If you don’t want that to happen to you, make sure you read up on the different types of trolling motors so you can make the best decision for you and your boat.
Here’s our picks for the best trolling motors:
The first option we have is from Minn Kota. This motor provides a comfortable grip handle that makes it easy to navigate through the water.
It comes with a lever lock bracket that makes it easy for you to mount it to the rear of the boat.
The Endura model comes with a 180-degree tiller that provides you with more steering response and less effort. Because of this design, it also keeps the motor out of the way, so you don’t have to worry about bumping it or dragging it along the ground below.
The shaft of the motor is a strong corrosion-resistant composite. It is resistant to corrosion but to be clear; this is a freshwater motor.
Minn Kota motors are known as the quietest on the market, and this one comes with extra large windings and commutators to dissipate heat, which results in smoother and cooler operation.
This motor is a 46-pound thrust saltwater motor. It runs quietly and cools using the NV Series technology.
The motor consists of a 30-inch composite fiberglass shaft that is strong and fully adjustable for proper depth.
You can use this trolling motor in all water conditions because you can easily lift and lower the motor as you’re going along.
It comes with eight different speeds and a six-inch telescoping handle. The handle is also extendable with five forward speeds and three speeds in reverse.
On the motor, you’ll find a five-point LED battery meter with incredibly bright indicators lights. The battery requires one 12-volt deep cycle or marine battery.
This one also comes with a two-year warranty.
This trolling motor provides you with a couple of different options. You can choose the 12-volt and 46-pound thrust, the 12-volt, and 55-pound thrust, or the 12-volt and 60-pound thrust. The motor has excellent power and durability.
It works well in both saltwater and freshwater. For most customers, they feel that this motor is exactly what they need, and it serves its purpose.
Many people also state that the motor is easy to install and operate.
This trolling motor comes packed full of incredible features. For this one, you get a 36-pound thrust or a 55-pound thrust option.
The motor has a 24-inch fiberglass shaft, eight speeds (five forward and three reverse), saltwater corrosion prevention, long battery cables, and a two-year warranty.
What more could you ask for?
Newport Vessels stands behind all their products, and they have a full-time in-house staff based in California if you have any issues.
Since they offer two profoundly different thrusts, you could use this motor for just about any boat of any size.
With this motor, you get a lightweight option weighing only 6.7 pounds. It has 24 pounds of thrust for a 12-volt battery. It’s a saltwater motor with anti-corrosion paint and stainless steel internal and external components.
One downside to this motor is that it only comes with a high and low-speed option for forward and only one speed in reverse.
It does come with a one-year warranty, but you have to buy the battery separately.
What mainly classifies a motor as a trolling motor is the fact that it runs on battery and not gas. You can mount a trolling motor on the front which is called the bow, or you can mount it on the back which is the stern.
The motor gets held inside a watertight chamber that you immerse in the water to prevent it from overheating. The handle is built into the chamber, and it runs on a long pole up above the water so you can easily steer it. Steering a trolling motor is a lot like turning a faucet on and off, there are only two ways you can go with it.
On the handle is where you’ll find the speed controls. You usually have a couple of different choices of speed and a lot of the time you’ll twist the handle to control how fast you go.
Some of the best trolling motors come with a foot pedal that you use to control the speed of the motor. This is the best type because it frees up your hands to fish while you’re moving about the water. I always remember having to be the navigator while my dad fished because we had a hand-controlled trolling motor. When you’re fishing, it’s best always to have your hands free.
If you knew absolutely nothing about trolling motors, congratulations because now you know a little. You understand what a trolling motor is, but there is a lot more to learn. Now we’re going to get into the finer details and tell you everything you need to know to decide on the best trolling motor on the market.
When it comes to powering your motor, you have a couple of different options. Usually, these are 12-volt, 24-volt, and 36-volt power systems. The main difference between the three is the amount of juice you’ll get for the duration of your fishing outing.
A 12-volt battery is plenty of power to push most boats, so you don’t need to upgrade because you’re worried about having enough speed.
The main concern is whether or not you’ll have enough battery life to last your entire time on the water. 12-volt systems are single batteries so if you have the budget to push to a 24 or 36-volt you should look into it.
Keeping it simple, for every 100 pounds of weight you need two pounds of thrust. That is how you should determine how much thrust you need to push your boat with people in it. These numbers also only account for normal fishing conditions.
When you think back to the situation, I gave you at the beginning of the article. Under normal circumstances, I would have no problem pushing the boat up the river, but the current was especially strong, which made it impossible for us to move our boat back up the river.
For example, if you have a 14-foot boat, you would want to have at least 32 pounds of thrust. Thrust is the amount of power your motor has in regard to how well you can make the boat move when you need to.
The length of the shaft is crucial because you need to make sure that the motor is long enough to dip down into the water properly and be fully submerged. If the rod is too short, you’ll be sticking out of the water causing a lot of noise and possibly overheating the motor.
If the shaft is too long, you’ll find yourself hitting stumps, rocks, and weeds under the water.
With an extra-long shaft, you’ll end up having the keep the motor in the water at an angle which forces it to work harder and drain the battery faster. Do yourself a favor and make sure you get the right length on the shaft of your trolling motor.
The best trolling motors come with adjustable shafts to give you a little flexibility here.
We talked about this a little before, but you want to make sure you choose the right type of controls for you.
Do you fish by yourself most of the time? If you find yourself out on the water alone a lot, you want to choose a trolling motor with a foot pedal so you can control your speed while still fishing.
Most of the trolling motors you find on the market have a handle that controls the speed, but this takes your hands away from fishing and forces you to navigate instead. Some people prefer taking a break and making their way through the water while others don’t want to waste a single second they could put towards fishing.
It’s entirely up to you and often comes down to personal preference.
You want to pay close attention to the type of battery used inside the trolling motor. The best trolling motors will have batteries with long life, so you don’t ever have to worry about your motor dying while you’re out on the water.
If you’re concerned about the battery life, you could always get a motor with a digital maximizer. These are great because they help preserve the life of the battery while the boat isn’t moving. These will retain some of the juices and give them back to you later on.
Now you understand the two different types of controls for your speed, but you want to check out what kind of speed system the motor has.
Some have an 8-speed, while others have a variable speed that allows you to control it entirely. This is not a factor that will be that important to you until you need it.
I can recall the only time I wished my motor would go faster was when I was caught out on the water during a horrible hailstorm. After getting pelted with hail for five minutes trying to get back to the launch site, I really wished I had gone for a larger motor with a faster speed setting.
Now you have a solid understanding of what to look for in your ideal trolling motor. The next step is to understand the different kinds of trolling motors. There are only a few, but it’s crucial that you know the difference, so you don’t invest in something that doesn’t make sense for you.
As we said, there aren’t many types of trolling motors; there’s really only two; saltwater or freshwater.
Freshwater motors are only for lakes or ponds, and once you use them in saltwater, it voids the warranty, so you want to make sure you don’t cross that line. You can also cause severe damage to the motor because it’s not intended for saltwater use.
On the flip side, saltwater motors can usually operate in both salt and freshwater. These typically have particular corrosion-resistant parts that allow you to use them in both types of water. Either way, you want to make sure you have clear fishing intentions in mind when shopping around for your trolling motor.
If you think you might fish in both salt and freshwater, you want to get a saltwater motor. The only people who will get a freshwater motor are people who are inland and don’t plan on taking any trips to a saltwater body anytime soon.
In addition to the salt and freshwater debate, you have the question of where you plan on mounting the motor. You have two choices. You can install your motor on the bow which is the front of the boat. You can also mount your motor on the stern, which is called a transom motor.
The type of motor you choose for this issue will depend entirely on the size of your boat. There is no flat answer because every boat is different, and one person’s 20-inch boat would require a bow mount, and someone else’s won’t.
Where you mount the motor is entirely subjective and will depend on your boat. You want to look at the manufacturer website, read any manuals you have, and look on the boat for any motor mounting diagrams.
If you’re unsure about what type of trolling motor to buy it’s best to go with the best brand names. When you take a look at some of the best names in the industry, they have a strong reputation for putting out high-quality products, so you stand the best chance with them. Here are some of the most popular and highly recommended brands for trolling motors.
These trolling motors are high-quality, versatile, and they offer both salt and freshwater options. They have an excellent reputation in the online and offline community, and many fishing enthusiasts will always recommend this brand.
Every motor I have ever owned came from Newport Vessels, so I personally support the brand as well. I have never had a problem with any of their products.
Minn Kota is the most popular name in trolling motors. They have a strong reputation for producing quality motors at affordable prices. One of the founders of this company even invented the first electric trolling motor, so they have a strong history in this industry.
If you scour the internet and look for the best trolling motors, you’ll find that a lot of the recommendations are for Minn Kota products.
These motors are well known for their exceptional battery life and their “weed cutting” abilities. The only downside is that they mainly produce motors for inflatable boats and kayaks, and I don’t know too many people who fish with those.
The coolest thing about these motors is the fact that they come with a weed button that has a special feature to allow you to cut through tough weedy areas. I know for a fact that getting hung up on weeds is the worst thing that can happen to your trolling motor.
When we’re looking at performance, it doesn’t get much better than this brand. They have saltwater and freshwater options, and their motors always work perfectly.
They also have plenty of options for thrust and size to meet the needs of every angler.
These motors generally run on the more expensive side, but beginners will find them easy to use. Generally, Haswing products come with an easy to use foot pedal for their motors, which frees up your hands and makes it easier to fish.
As we said, some people prefer this while others dread it. My preference is towards the hand-controlled speed because it’s more comfortable. I don’t like having to worry about stepping on a foot pedal if I have to get up and move around.
One cool thing that Haswing also provides is an optional remote control for their motors. I have never used this personally, but you can control the direction of the boat and the speed entirely from a remote control. As long as it works properly, it seems like a great investment.
You might still wonder if you even need a trolling motor at this point.
Maybe you’re used to rowing your boat, and you see no problem with it. Maybe you’re thinking about getting a large outboard motor, and you’re weighing the pros and cons. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a trolling motor.
The first advantage is something every angler is looking for, and that’s the element of surprise. You never want to let the fish know you’re coming and with a large motor, there’s no way to approach quietly.
Trolling motors are great because they are nearly silent.
No need to deal with stinky gas or any other kind of fuel. Trolling motors are operated by rechargeable batteries which is a major pro for most people.
Another advantage of using a trolling motor is that they are great for beginners. If you recently got your boat and you’re not sure what type of motor you need for it, a trolling motor is a great start. These are simple to use and easy to install. They all come with a manufacturers manual that explains exactly how to install the motor and how to operate it. The best trolling motors are beginner-friendly.
The last thing we want to cover is all the great features you should look for in the best trolling motor. The best motor will make your life easier, and you shouldn’t ever have to worry about whether or not it will get you back to shore.
Let’s check out some of the most important features to have in your trolling motor.
The one downside to having a battery-powered motor is the fact that it has a battery. Batteries are a lot less predictable than gasoline-powered motors, so you want to make sure you get a battery with a decent lifespan.
Minn Kota has something called digital maximizer technology that helps lengthen the life of your battery. Make sure you always keep a close eye on that gauge but not so much that it ruins your trip.
It goes without saying that you want a durable battery. Pay extra attention to the blades of the motor because these take a beating. Make sure that they are well built, and everything is strong enough to withstand a couple of boulders and a few tree stumps.
All trolling motors come with warranties when you buy them new, but the duration is always different. You want to get at least a one-year warranty and try for a five-year warranty if possible. You never know what will break and a lot of time, it will be your fault, so it’s good to have the parts covered.
If you don’t have a lot of knowledge or you’ve never purchased a trolling motor before, make sure you avoid these mistakes at all costs.
I told you my story about fishing on the river and not having a strong enough motor to get back to the boat launch. We had to pull the boat up the river by hand and we even sunk into some mud up to our waists. It was a horrible experience, and ever since that day, I learned to educate myself before making a purchase.
Even worse, imagine if you spent money on an expensive trolling motor, only to find out that it doesn’t have enough power to move your boat at all?
You’d probably be pretty frustrated. Make sure that you understand the correlation between thrust and boat size.
Two things can go wrong with the shaft of your motor. If it’s too long, you’ll drag it along the ground, damage it, and get hung up in shallow water. If it’s too short, you’ll be spitting up water and overheating the motor. If you’re in a small fishing boat, between 24 and 36 inches is an ideal length.
On the flip side, if you have a large boat and you’re mounting the motor on the front, you don’t want anything less than 40 inches. Make sure you get precise measurements, and you know the exact length and depth of your boat.
If you’re entirely unsure, you should choose an adjustable shaft trolling motor.
By this point, you should know way more than you ever thought you would know about the best trolling motors. If you haven’t made up your mind at this stage, let’s help you do that once and for all.
We believe in going with what works. In certain industries, they are dominated by large brands, and this is one of those industries. We believe in going with the brands with a strong reputation. That is why we recommend choosing either the Minn Kota Endura or the Newport Vessels Series 46lb Thrust Saltwater Transom.
These two choices provide you plenty of thrusts, many options, and features, as well as a reputable brand with powerful durability. You need a trolling motor you can trust, so choose the right brand.