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What is the best trolling motor on the market in 2018? We’re going to take an in depth look at that very question with today’s top 5 review round up.

We have selected 5 highly regardded motors across a range of price points to give you the ultimate low down.

For our findings at a glance, just head to the table below. For a comprehensive review of each of our choices, plus a dedicated trolling motor buyer’s guide, keep on reading.

For the most detailed guide on trolling motors online right now, you are in the right place.


Best Trolling Motor – Top 5

PRODUCTNAMEDETAILSOUR RATING
TOP PICK:
Minn Kota Endura
C2 30 Freshwater
Trolling Motor
12v, freshwater
Transom Mounted
5 fwd speeds, 3 reverse
(30" Shaft)
Newport Vessels
Electric Trolling
Motor
55lbs Thrust
8 Speed, 30" Shaft
Cloud Mountain
Electric Trolling
Motor
86lbs Thrust,
Freshwater and
Saltwater Use
Minn Kota Riptide
Terrova
60" Shaft Length
80 lbs Thrust
24V Trolling Motor
i-Pilot & Bluetooth
Goplus Trolling Motor
46/55/86lbs models
46, 55 or 86lbs Thrust
36" Shaft
Freshwater &
Saletwater use
Transom Mounted

Trolling Motor Reviews

When buying a trolling motor the biggest considerations for most are build quality, design, lifespan, and of course price.

We have used these main criteria for reviewing and rating the following trolling motors, to bring you what are in our opinion are the best models on the market today.

And starting with our number one choice…

1. TOP PICK: Minn-Kota Endura C2-30 Trolling Motor

This is a compact, high-performance manually-operated trolling motor unit that comes with a telescoping handle and a 30-inch long shaft that allows it to be affixed to the transom of the boat.

It is designed to use a 12-volt battery, and it can generate up-to 30 pounds of thrust. It uses a tilt-and-twist tiller to allows for ergonomic steering, as well as speed control.

Its operation is further augmented by the telescoping handle that can be extended out by up-to 6inches. Even so, the most unique feature of this unit is its quiet operation that allows the boat to be steered silently without spooking the fish.

Its thrust level and battery requirement makes it ideal for small 13-foot long boats.

The model is designed, made, and warranted by Minn Kota, which is now a subsidiary of the Wisconsin-based Johnson Outdoors, Inc.

It belongs to the Endura series of trolling motors, and its model code is Endura C2-30 with 30 being an indication of its shaft length.

This model is built to be used in freshwater environments, and it is recommended that the lower unit is lifted off the water when the outboard motor is turned on so as to minimize drag as well as prevent the motor and propeller units from hitting any obstacle when the boat is moving at a high speed.

This motor unit is also designed to be energy efficient which keeps energy losses low, and consequently improves the battery life.

This motor unit benefits from a limited 24-months warranty. Another unique component is the strong and durable composite shaft that benefits from a lifetime warranty.

This well-designed, and relatively light-weight, trolling motor weighs about 17 pounds, and the fully assembled unit is usually 42.4 inches high, 16.2inches long, and 5.4inches wide. Its color scheme is black.

This trolling motor features an 8-stage speed setting control which allows for 5 forward speed settings and 3 reverse speed settings.

This allows the boat to be either pushed or pulled through the water, with the reverse controls allowing for precise, short distance trolling.

The motor used in this model has a maximum current draw of 30amp, and it is therefore recommended that one uses a 12-volt D.C deep-cycle battery with a capacity rating of more than 30Ah.

This model is designed to be mounted to the transom using a lever lock bracket that is fitted on the shaft. This is a 10-position bracket made of strong composite materials that resist flexing, bending, and warping; as well as ultraviolet (UV) degradation.

The 10-position in the bracket allows it to be be mounted on the slant of the transom, while maintaining the shaft in a perpendicular position.

Likewise, it allows for the lower unit to be lifted from the water when it is not being used. On the top of this bracket is the quick-release tilt lever, and a steering tension knob.

Above this tension knob is the adjustable depth collar which is used to adjust how the depth level that the lower unit is submerged in the water.

Additionally, the mount of this bracket is also shaped like a G-clamp which allows the transom clamp screws to securely hold the trolling motor onto the transom.

Evidently, it is quite easy to install this model, and furthermore, to use it is quite straightforward.

Its 30pounds of thrust can support a boat whose gross weight does not exceed 1500 pounds.

Pros of the Minn-Kota Endura C2-30 Trolling Motor
  • Freshwater trolling motor.
  • Transom-mount model with a 30-inch long shaft.
  • Compact, high-performance model.
  • 6-inch telescoping handle.
  • Easy installation.
  • Made of high-quality materials.
  • 12-volt model that can generate 30pounds of thrust.
  • Easy to use.
  • 24 months warranty for the electric motor unit.
  • Composite shaft is backed by a lifetime warranty.
The Cons
  • Pounds of thrust limits it to 13feet long boats.
  • Cannot be used to fish in salty water.
  • Requires one to constantly use the hands for steering.

Bottom-line

The Minn-Kota Endura C2-30 is a powerful, hand-operated freshwater trolling motor that comes with a 6-inch telescoping handle and a 30-inch long shaft that allows it to be affixed to the transom of the boat via a lever lock bracket.

It is designed to use a 12-volt battery, and it can generate up-to 30 pounds of thrust. It is ideal for use in small 13-feet long boats.

Its superb build design, affordable price, high quality, long lifespan, and ease of installation and operation makes it, in our opinion, the best trolling motor on the market today .


2. Newport Vessels 23M1000203 Trolling Motor

This is a well-designed, multi-purpose trolling motor that can be used for trolling in both freshwater and salty water environments.

It comes with a powerful propeller that has 3 blades, and these blades give it a diameter of 10inches. This model is designed to fitted only in boats with a fixed transom.

Its shaft is 30-inches long, and its motor unit can generate up-to 55 pounds of thrust which makes it ideal for powering 18-foot long boats.

It also features a battery level indicator which is a 5-point LED meter that is fitted in the head unit. This LED battery meter is directly connected to the motor head. This trolling motor unit is designed to use a 12-volt battery.

Likewise, it features a tilt-and-twist tiller that allows for ergonomic steering, as well as speed control. This operation is further augmented by a 6-inch telescoping handle.

This model is designed and manufactured by Newport Vessels, which is based in California. (Its model number is 23M1000203.)

This model is described as saltwater-resistant because its lower unit has components made from aluminum, stainless steel, magnesium, and zinc; and all these metals are resistant to corrosion.

Moreover, its shaft is made from composite fiberglass which is very strong and durable, as well as corrosion-resistant.

Even so, one is advised to lift the lower unit from the water when the outboard motor is being used. The key advantages of this motor unit is that is built for energy efficiency and silent operation which ensures that the fish are not unnecessarily spooked.

This unit is shipped in a box that is 47inches long, 21inches wide, and 7inches tall; and the gross shipping weight is about 24pounds. This makes the fully assembled trolling motor relatively lightweight compared to its thrust.

This model features 8-level speed control settings which allow for 5 forward speed settings and 3 reverse speed settings.

This allows the boat to be either pushed or pulled through the water. The maximum current draw of the electric motor is 50amp, and it is therefore recommended that one uses a 12-volt D.C deep-cycle battery with a capacity rating of more than 50Ah.

Like Minn-Kota Endura C2-30, the Newport Vessels  23M1000203 is designed to be mounted to the transom using a lever lock bracket that is fitted on the shaft.

This 10-position bracket is made of strong composite materials that resist flexing, bending, warping, and UV degradation.

The quick-release tilt lever and the steering tension knob are fixed on the top part of this bracket. There is also an adjustable depth collar.

Additionally, the bracket mount is shaped like a G-clamp which allows the transom clamp screws to securely hold the trolling motor onto the transom.

This model can be installed and operated easily. Additionally its thrust can support a boat whose gross weight does not exceed 2700 pounds.

Pros of the Newport Vessels 23M1000203 Trolling Motor
  • Allows for trolling in freshwater and salty water.
  • Transom-mount model with a 30-inch long shaft.
  • Compact, high-performance model.
  • LED battery meter.
  • 6-inch telescoping handle.
  • Easy installation.
  • Made of high-quality, corrosion-resistant materials.
  • 12-volt model that can generate 55pounds of thrust.
  • Easy to use.
The Cons
  • Requires one to constantly use the hands for steering.

Bottom-line

The Newport Vessels  23M1000203 is a multi-purpose trolling motor that can be used for trolling in both freshwater and salty water environments.

This hand-operated model comes with a 6-inch telescoping handle, and a 30-inch long shaft that allows it to be affixed to the transom of the boat via a lever lock bracket.

It is designed to use a 12-volt battery, and it can generate up-to 55 pounds of thrust, which makes it ideal for use in 18feet long boats.

The versatility of the fresh and saltwater application makes this a great choice for those that tend to fish in different environments. A worth while addition to our top 5 review round up.


3. Cloud Mountain 36-86 Trolling Motor

This is a high-performance, heavy-duty hand-operated trolling motor with a 28-inch long shaft that allows it to be mounted on a fixed transom.

This salt-resistant model allows for trolling in both salty water and freshwater bodies. Its motor unit can generate up-to 86 pounds of thrust which makes it ideal for powering 21-foot long boats.

It also features a battery level indicator which is a 10-point LED meter that is located in the head unit. This LED battery meter is directly connected to the motor head.

This model is designed to use either a 12-volt or a 24-bolt battery.

Its most unique feature is that it allows for variable thrust generation, and it does this by allowing one to set the thrust level to any of the following 7 levels: 36 (pounds of thrust), 40, 46, 50, 55, 60, and 86 pounds.

If one is using a 12-volt battery, the maximum thrust that can be achieved is 60 pounds of thrust; and if 86pounds of thrust is desired, then one needs to use a 24-volt battery or simply connect 2 12-volt batteries in series. This model is designed and manufactured by Cloud Mountain.

This well-designed, multi-purpose trolling motor features a tilt-and-twist tiller that allows for ergonomic steering, as well as speed control.

This operation is further augmented by a 6-inch telescoping handle. Regarding its construction, its lower unit has components made from stainless steel, and the motor head is made of durable corrosion-resistant aluminum.

Also, its shaft is made from composite fiberglass which not only makes it corrosion-resistant, but also gives it a high tensile strength.

The lower unit must always be lifted out of the water when the outboard motor is being used.

When this unit is being used, its power-efficient electric motor and silent propulsion unit allows for silent operation that ensures that the fish are not easily spooked. Its propulsion hardware benefits from the superb construction of its 3-blade propeller.

The color scheme of this model is black. It also features 8-level speed control settings which allow for 5 forward speed settings and 3 reverse speed settings.

Its maximum current draw is 48.5A and power output averages 1164 watts. For this reason a 24-volt DC deep-cycle battery with a capacity rating of more than 50Ah is recommended.

Like both Minn-Kota Endura C2-30 and Newport Vessels  23M1000203, this Cloud Mountain model is designed to be mounted to the transom using a lever lock bracket that is fitted on the shaft.

Likewise, this 10-position bracket is made of strong composite materials that resist flexing, bending, warping, and UV degradation.

Moreover, its quick-release tilt lever and the steering tension knob are fixed on the top part of this bracket. There is also a small adjustable depth collar.

Another design similarity is in the bracket mount which is shaped like a G-clamp that allows transom clamp screws to securely hold the trolling motor onto the transom.

This heavy-duty model can be installed and operated easily; and its thrust can support a boat whose gross weight does not exceed 4200 pounds.

Pros of the Cloud Mountain 36-86 Trolling Motor
  • Allows for trolling in freshwater and salty water.
  • Transom-mount model with a 28-inch long shaft.
  • Compact, high-performance model.
  • LED battery meter.
  • 6-inch telescoping handle.
  • Easy installation.
  • Made of high-quality, corrosion-resistant materials.
  • 12-volt model that can generate 60pounds of thrust.
  • Adjustable thrust.
  • 24-volt DC supply allows for generation of 86 pounds of thrust.
  • Easy to use.
The Cons
  • Requires one to constantly use the hands for steering.

Bottom-line

The Cloud Mountain 36-86 is a high-performance, heavy-duty hand-operated trolling motor with a 28-inch long shaft that allows for it to be mounted on a fixed transom.

This salt-resistant model allows for trolling in both salty water and freshwater bodies. Its motor unit can generate up-to 86 pounds of thrust if it is supplied by 24volts DC.

Relatedly, the maximum thrust generation when a 12-volt battery is used is limited to 60pounds of thrust. If a 24-volt battery is used, then this model is ideal for powering 21-foot long boats.

Taking this variable thrust capacity into account, this model is ideal for fisherman that require different levels of thrust depending on the location. Highly recommended if you need this level of versatility.


4. Minn-Kota Riptide Terrova 1363741 Trolling Motor

Now we come to the most expensive trolling motor on our list.

The Riptide Terrova is a premium-grade, high-end and high-performance bow-mounted remote-steered trolling motor with a 60-inch long shaft.

This model is designed for use in salty water, and it needs to be powered by a 24-volt DC deep-cycle battery.

It can generate up-to 80pounds of thrust which is suitable for driving a 21-foot long boat. It is design for  quiet operation that allows one to steer the boat without spooking the fish.

This model is designed, made, and warranted by Minn Kota.

This model comes equipped with a wireless control system that integrates GPS navigation technology. This control system supports power steering, and also features a lift assist that allows the angler to lift the lower unit from the water without exerting any manual effort – just a press of a button.

This lift-assist mechanism features a spring-loaded assembly that allows for the trolling motor to be stowed easily and easy, effortlessly.

There is also a stow-deploy lever that allows one to submerge the lower unit into the water. This unit must be at least 1foot into the water before the trolling motor can be used.

This model also comes equipped with a bluetooth-enabled i-Pilot trolling system. This is a GPS system that allows for boat to be set to autopilot.

It also allows the GPS system to record paths, control steering, regulate trolling speed, and set spot-locks where the boat can remain stationary so that one can engage in trolling. This GPS system comes with an LCD screen which serves as its interface with the angler.

To set this trolling motor unit into autopilot mode, one needs to engage both the i-Pilot trolling system and the Autopilot system.

The i-Pilot system also comes with a mobile app that allows one to control the boat using an Android or Apple device.

This well-designed, and relatively heavy-weight, trolling motor weighs about 57 pounds. It is shipped in a single box that is 10inches long, 10inches wide, and 10inches tall. Its color scheme is white and black.

This trolling motor also features  a push-to-test battery meter that allows one to get the state-of-battery charge reading upon pressing a button.

It operational design is optimized for energy efficiency. This is augmented by a proprietary Digital Maximizer that serves to increase the battery to run for a longer period of time, sometimes 5 times longer as compared to model without it.

Likewise, its advanced corrosion protection allows for the grit-blasted housing of the lower unit to be coated with aluminum, before being layered by a powder-paint coat.

This motor unit benefits from a limited 24-months warranty., while its durable shaft that is made from composite materials is given a limited lifetime warranty.

Pros of the Minn-Kota Riptide Terrova 1363741 Trolling Motor
  • Allows for trolling in freshwater and salty water.
  • Hands-free usage.
  • Bow-mount model with a 60-inch long shaft.
  • Compact, high-performance model.
  • Comes with a bluetooth-enabled i-Pilot navigation system.
  • Its Autopilot system allows for the boat to be operated in an autopilot mode.
  • Made of high-quality materials.
  • 24-volt model that can generate 80pounds of thrust.
  • Easy to use.
  • 24months warranty for the electric motor unit.
  • Composite shaft is backed by a lifetime warranty.
The Cons
  • More Expensive than all the other models reviewed here.

Bottom-line

The Minn-Kota Riptide Terrova 1363741 is a premium-grade, high-performance bow-mounted remote-steered trolling motor with a 60-inch long shaft.

This model is designed for use in salty water, and it needs to be powered by a 24-volt DC deep-cycle battery.

It can generate up-to 80pounds of thrust which is suitable for driving a 21-foot long boat. It is also equipped with a bluetooth-enabled i-Pilot trolling system and an Autopilot system which can work together to steer the boat in an autopilot mode.

Its wireless control system also allows for one to control the boat whiel standing anywhere on the deck.

In our opinion, this is the best premium option available for those seeking a remote-controlled trolling motor unit.


5. GoPlus 46-86 Trolling Motor

This is a well-designed, heavy-duty hand-operated trolling motor with an indestructible 36-inch long shaft that allows it to be mounted on a fixed transom. Its salt-resistant build design allows for trolling in both salty water and freshwater bodies.

Its motor and propulsion unit can generate up-to 86 pounds of thrust which makes it ideal for powering 21-foot long boats.

Even so, one would need to use a 24-volt DC deep-cycle battery. It also features a battery level indicator which is a 10-point LED meter that is placed in the head unit.

This LED battery meter is directly connected to the motor head so as to provide accurate battery charge readings.

This model is designed to use either a 12-volt or a 24-bolt DC battery. The maximum thrust that can be achieved when a 12-volt DC battery is used is 55pounds of thrust which is still enough for powering a 18-foot long boat.

Like Cloud Mountain 36-86, GoPlus 46-86 allows for variable thrust generation. In GoPlus 46-86, one can set the thrust level to any of the following 3 levels: 46, 55, and 86 pounds of thrust. This model is designed and manufactured by GoPlus.

It also comes with an 8-level speed control that allow for the forward speed to be to 5 different speeds, while the reverse speed can be set to 3  different speed settings.

Its maximum current draw is about 48A. Therefore, a 24-volt DC deep-cycle battery with a capacity rating of more than 50Ah is recommended.

This trolling motor unit uses a tilt-and-twist tiller that allows for ergonomic steering and smooth speed control. A 6-inch telescoping handle is also provided to allow for easy operation of the tiller.

Regarding its construction design, its bracket is made of high-grade, durable nylon, while its lower unit has components made from stainless steel, and its motor head is made of durable corrosion-resistant aluminum. Moreover, the shaft is made from composite fiberglass.

As other transom-mounted trolling motors, the lower unit of this model must be raised out of the water when the outboard motor is operating.

Its motor-propeller system features a power-efficient electric motor and a silent propulsion unit that allows for silent operation. It also features a 3-blade propeller.

The mounting hardware design of this GoPlus model has all the key features of a high-end transom-mounted trolling motor unit.

To begin with, it is mounted to the transom using a lever lock bracket that is fitted on the shaft. Secondly, this 10-position bracket is made of strong and durable composite materials.

Also, its quick-release tilt lever and the steering tension knob are fixed on the top part of the bracket, along with the adjustable depth collar.

Additionally, its bracket mount is shaped like a G-clamp to allow the transom clamp screws to be held securely against the transom.

This heavy-duty, variable thrust model can be installed and operated easily; and its thrust can support a boat whose gross weight does not exceed 4200 pounds.

Pros of the GoPlus 46-86 Trolling Motor
  • Allows for trolling in freshwater and salty water.
  • Transom-mount model with a 36-inch long shaft.
  • Compact, high-performance model.
  • LED battery meter.
  • 6-inch telescoping handle.
  • Easy installation.
  • Made of high-quality, corrosion-resistant materials.
  • 12-volt model that can generate 55pounds of thrust.
  • Adjustable thrust.
  • 24-volt DC supply allows for generation of 86 pounds of thrust.
  • Easy to use.
The Cons
  • Requires one to constantly use the hands for steering.

Bottom-line

The GoPlus 46-86 is a high-performance, heavy-duty hand-operated trolling motor with a 36-inch long shaft that allows for it to be mounted on a fixed transom.

This salt-resistant model allows for trolling in both salty water and freshwater bodies. Its motor unit can generate up-to 86 pounds of thrust if it is supplied by 24volts DC; and the maximum thrust generation when a 12-volt battery is used is limited to 55pounds of thrust.

If a 24-volt battery is used, then this model is ideal for powering 21-foot long boats.


Trolling Motor Buyer’s Guide

trolling motor

Image Credit: NPS.gov

Modern angling has at its disposal a motorized trolling kit called a trolling motor which allows for precise maneuvering of a boat when fishing.

This kit is basically a functional self-contained unit with its centerpiece being the trolling motor which guides and powers the operation of the entire unit; and for this reason it is called a trolling motor unit, or simply a trolling motor.

What is Trolling?

In trolling, a fishing line that is fitted with a series of baits, usually baiting fish or lures, is drawn across a water body (such as a dam, lake, slow-flowing river, or sea) by a boat.

This is a specialized modification of angling where the fisherman (angler) holds a fishing rod at whose end is attached a fishing line that holds a fishing hook.

The angler therefore has to steady the rod when baiting a fish, or guide the line and hook through the water to a spot where this a high concentration of fish (or a high probability of fish being baited easily).

Moreover, the angler needs to also steer the boat when angling thorough the water. However, this can be a tiring process if one is to do this for hours on end, for instance, 4 hours, which is the approximate period that fishing hobbyists take during each angling session.

To simplify this process, the precision steering mechanism of the boat is provided by a unit that contains a stationary cylindrical shaft that holds a propeller unit at one end, while the other end is its control arm which allows a person to spin it around so as to change the direction (or orientation) of the propeller unit.

The propeller unit drives the boat and the angler uses the control arm to steer it. If the propeller unit is driven by a motor, then this equipment is called a trolling motor.

The fishing rod can sometimes be fitted to the boat, on the other end is fixed the fishing line which contains the hooked bait.

If multiple baits are fitted to the line, then more fish can be caught at the same time. The rod and (fishing) line is now called a trolling line, and if it is dragged slowly through the water, then this form of fishing is described as trolling.

This can be upgraded to a commercial level if short fishing lines called snoods (or sometimes gangions) are attached to the main fishing line at set intervals (or distances) so as to create a highly branched fishing line.

The snood is the branch, and it contains multiple baited hooks. The use of this commercial-grade, highly-branched fishing line for angling is called longline fishing, and the highly-branched fishing line is called the longline.

As is evident, one can increase the (fish) catching capacity of trolling by branching the trolling line or by attaching multiple trolling lines to the boat.

If multiple trolling lines are used, then one needs to attach a special structure called an outrigger to the boat, and then use it to evenly spread the trolling lines across the water surface.


The Trolling Motor

Trolling can be accomplished if a trolling motor is attached to the boat. Even so, this unit does not do the fishing but serves as a mean of allowing the angler to fist.

In fact, the primary function of this unit is to provide propulsion that is precise, highly-measured, and accurate so that the boat can be steered for a short distance to a new fishing spot.

Nonetheless, it is not designed to be used as the primary means of propulsion, but rather as the secondary means; as the outboard motor is the main propulsion system of the boat.

Therefore, the trolling motor only provides auxiliary power that allows for precision maneuvering.

Its secondary function is to hold the boat in a stationary position so that one can cast the trolling line, or wait for fish to be caught.

There are also instances where powerful trolling motors have been used as the primary propulsion system, but this is not recommended because of the way it is fitted to the boat.

Basically, it can be fitted in one of three places; the bow, transom, or the stern of the boat.

On the other hand, the outboard motor is fitted outside the transom, and this location is ideal as it allows the motor to provide a pushing propulsive force that drives the boat forward.

Therefore, for the trolling motor to act as the main propulsion system, then it needs to be fitted outside the transom which is not recommended.

In fact, it is highly recommended that it is fitted at the bow of the bow so that it can provide a pulling force which allows for the boat to pulled across the water surface, as pulling allows for better (steering/maneuvering) precision as compared to pushing the boat.

It is also for this reason that the trolling motor needs to be lifted from (that is, pulled out of) the water so that it does not create an unnecessary drag when the outboard motor is in operation.

The initial description of what later became the trolling motor was published by Scientific American in 1895; and in 1934, O.G.Schmidt built the first electric trolling motor in Fargo, which is a border city in North Dakota that neighbors Minnesota.

Consequently, the company that built this model was called Minn-Kota – a portmanteau that blends the state names of North Dakota and Minnesota.

To date, Minn Kota remains one of the leading manufacturer of trolling motor units.


How the Trolling Motor is Powered

Modern trolling motors can be broadly classified into 2 categories based on how their motors are powered, and these categories are gasoline-powered and electric-powered trolling motor.

In a gasoline-powered trolling motor, the motor is operated by a single-stroke petrol engine; and because the engine produces smoke, this motor unit is affixed at either the stern or behind the transom which ensures that the smoke does not choke the angler.

Also, because of this fitment position, the trolling motor can serve as a secondary outboard motor.

Moreover, the use of a fuel-powered engine necessitates the inclusion of gear controls, a throttle, and a manually-operated pull start system.

These components are usually contained in the motor encasement or are attached to the motor housing. Most models are steered using a tiller, though one can modify this when using it exclusively for trolling.

This is done by connecting the tiller steer to a more accessible steering mechanism located at the helm of the boat.

Most trolling motors in the market today are electric-powered models. In this model, the motor of the trolling motor unit is powered by direct current (DC) provided by a rechargeable battery – the trolling motor battery.

This battery is usually a deep-cycle battery, and its voltage ratings is using 12-volts or a multiple of 12- that is – 24-volts or 36-volts. Some smaller models can run on 6 volts, and these use either the 12-volt or the much smaller 6-volt batteries.

These deep-cycle batteries are specially designed for marine use, while the motor is unique designed to be compatible with these batteries, and this is the reason why a brushed commutated electric motors are used.

As mentioned, it the battery that powers the entire unit. The parts of this unit are described below.

Parts of an Electric Trolling Motor Unit

trolling motor parts

The unit can be divided into 3 functional parts; the head unit, the shaft, and the lower unit.

Head Unit

It contains the control system of the trolling motor. This is the system that controls boat steering, as well as regulates the speed of the motor. For this reason, the head unit is also called the control unit.

In hand-controlled trolling motors, the manual tiller handle extends from this head unit; while in foot-operated, a cable containing both the steering and electrical wires extends from this unit and terminates at the foot control pedal.

The length of this cable determines how far away the foot control pedal can be placed from the angler. There is also an electrical plug that extends from this control pedal that allows one to connect the head unit to a battery.

In hand-operated systems, the control knobs and motor speed control can be built into the tiller itself.

Also, the battery cables extend from the head unit, and terminate onto crocodile clips that allow the unit to be connect to the battery terminals.

In foot-operated units, the on-off switch and motor speed control are built into the pedal, which also manages boat steering.

This requires the pedal to be secured stationary to the frame of the boat, and this is done using a mounting bracket that is bolted to the boat frame or body. in modern models, steering is controlled electronically via servo motors, while in earlier models, a push-pull cable was used.

Moreover, in high-quality, well-designed models; servo-controlled steering is managed remotely via a wireless remote, with the wireless device being placed in the foot pedal or in a specially-designed key-fob transmitter.

Models that come with a key-fob transmitter are completely wireless, and do not feature a wired foot pedal, nor do they have a manual tiller.

Shaft

The shaft connects the head unit to the lower unit, in addition to housing and transmitting the connection cables.

In hand-controlled, it comes with a clamp that allows one to secure the trolling motor unit to the bow of the boat.

The most important feature of the shaft is its length. This is important as it determines how deep the lower unit can be submerged into the water.

Generally, it is advisable that the lower unit is at least a feet below the water surface, as any shallow level could cause the propeller blade to cavitate and would result in frequent yaws.

There are 3 important shaft length measurements; the length from the water to the lower unit, from the waterline (water surface) to the deck level, and the length from the deck level to the control unit (the above-deck shaft lenght).

The above-deck shaft length determines how high the head unit is. If the model is hand-operated, then the above-deck shaft length must be considerably high so that one can operate the tiller comfortably.

This length can be reduced in foot-operated models, while remote-controlled models have the shortest above-deck shaft length.

Lower Unit

This is the propulsion unit, and it houses both the motor and the propeller. The motor is encased in a water-tight compartment as it need to be fully submerged during operation so that heat dissipation can occur efficiently.

The shaft is attached to this motor encasement. On the other hand, the propeller shaft that holds the propeller blades slightly protrudes from the motor encasement. This allows the propeller blades to be located outside the motor unit.

The lower portion of the motor encasement is usually extended downwards to form a skeg that serves as the steering fin of the lower unit.

Additionally, in foot-controlled and wireless models, the motor unit features a mount that allows one to secure the lower unit to the boat hull.

Some of the models come with a hinged mount that allows for easy stowing of the lower unit, especially when it is not being used.

The propeller unit is made up of the propeller shaft that is connected to the motor hub, and the propeller blades, usually 2 or 3 in number.

The propeller shaft allows for the propeller blades to be rotated so as to generate the propulsive force.


Types of Trolling Motors

Trolling motors can be categorized into different types based on their structural and operational designs, as well as the control system used.

Based on Operational Design

Trolling motors can be categorized based on their operational environments into 2 types; salty water models and fresh water models.

Salty water models have their components built of corrosive-resistant materials, with the main materials used being stainless steel and composite materials.

The reason for this is that salty water quickly oxides metal components, hence speeding up the process of corrosion.

Therefore, salt water models must be able to withstand corrosion better than models built for fresh-water operation.

This also means that one cannot use a fresh-water model as a substitute for a salty-water model, but a salty water model can be safely used as a substitute for a fresh-water model.

Based on Structural Design

The troll motor unit can be classified into 3 types based on their structural designs which also determines where they would be mounted on the boat. These 3 types are the transom-mount, bow-mount, and stern-mount trolling motors.

Based on Control System

This allows for the classification of trolling motor units into 3 types as the control system can be a hand-control, a foot-control using the foot pedal, and wireless control which is controlled using a remote.

Hand-control or tiller-style models are cheapest of the three, and they also have the least number of parts which means minimal maintenance.

It also the most responsive and can allow one to quickly change the boat direction in emergency situations (shortest response time).

This makes it ideal for trolling in water bodies that have lots of obstacles such as floating logs and rocks which one must avoid frequently.

Even so, it suffers from one critical demerit which is it takes the hands off the fishing gear, and this can make trolling a little bit uncomfortable.

To solve this issue, a foot pedal was introduced for controlling the trolling motor. This allows for easier and faster steering, but the response time is slightly lengthened.

Also, it can be challenging for one to seamless coordinate the hand and feet movements during trolling. Usually, foot-operated models are mounted to the bow, and this requires one o be at the bow when fishing.

Sometimes, one wants to enjoy fishing from any place on the boat deck. In this instance, one needs to install the wireless model as remote control allows one to operate the unit from anywhere on the boat. Even so, it suffers from slower response times compared to tiller-style models.


Voltage Ratings

This determine the trolling motor battery that needs to be used with the trolling motor unit. There are voltage configurations for trolling motors; the 12-volt, the 24-volt, and the 36-volt models.

The voltage ratings of the trolling motor also determines its power output, with those with higher rating being able to produce more usable power as compared to models with lower voltage ratings.

This means that a 36-volt model with a power rating of 100 pounds-of-thrust is much more powerful than a 12-volt model with 80 pounds-of-thrust.


Thrust

The trolling motor operates to move the boat, and this means that it should generate enough power to propel a loaded boat.

This also means you need to understand what thrust capacity trolling motor you need for your size boat.

Expectedly, it is better to rate its power in terms of how much thrust it can generate. Thrust is the reaction force that accelerates the mass of the boat.

It is described as a reaction force because it is generated when the motor unit drives the propeller blades to push the water current backwards so that the boat propels forward.

As a force, its unit of measurement in Newtons (N); and because it considers the boat mass; it is clear that different boat sizes would require different levels of thrust.

Usually, the power of the trolling motor is rated in pounds of thrust, which allows one to relate the boat weight to the amount of thrust required.

As a general rule, for every 50 pounds of boat weight, a thrust of a pound is required.

This gives the following equation for determining the required thrust for the boat:

Thrust Required (in pounds) = Boat Weight (in pounds) / 50

For example, if the boat weighs 2500pounds, then the minimum pounds of thrust that the trolling motor needs to provide is:

Thrust = 2500 pounds / 50

= 50 pounds.

This means that one should purchase a trolling motor whose pounds of thrust exceed 50 pounds, as one must consider wind and water currents which add the thrust requirement.

Thrust can also be related to power consumption from the rechargeable battery. The general rule is that 75pounds of thrust is approximately 1 horsepower or 746 watts of electric power.

Because trolling motor batteries are rated in terms of Amperes-hours (Ah), one can determine the power draw.

This gives the following equation for determining the required thrust for the boat:

Battery capacity (in Ampere.hours) =  Current X Number of hours of use,

Current = Battery Capacity/number of hours

and

Current = Power/Voltage

Therefore;

Power = Current X Voltage

This means that:

Power = (Battery Capacity X Voltage) / Number of hours

This allows one to calculate the battery requirement, and in extension the voltage rating of the trolling motor to be used. For example to generate 75pounds of thrust to fish for an hour on a 24-volt battery, one needs:

746 watts = (Battery Capacity X 24) / 1 = 31.1 Ah.

If a 12-volt battery is used instead, it should have a capacity of 62.2 Ah.

Also, because most 12-volt batteries can comfortably support a trolling motor unit that develops 55 pounds-of-thrust, it is advisable that one acquires a 24-volt deep-cycle battery, and this means that one must choose a 24-volt DC trolling motor unit.

The general rule with regards to battery rating and thrust generated is that 12-volt batteries can support a trolling motor system that generates 55 pounds of thrust, while 24-volt batteries can support a system that develops approximately 80 pounds of thrust, and the much larger 36-volt batteries can support a system capable of generating 105 pounds of thrust.


Thrust and Trolling Speed

trolling thrust

Credit: Amy Oliver (hurlburt.af.mil)

It is also important to mention that thrust does not affect the speed of the trolling unit. This means that 100pounds of thrust generated by a trolling motor with a maximum speed rating of 5miles-per-hour (5mph), allows the boat to achieve a maximum trolling speed of 5mph.

40pounds of thrust developed by another trolling motor of equal speed rating also allows the boat to achieve a maximum trolling speed of 5mph.

This shows that trolling speed is a function of the trolling motor, as it is the motor that propels the propeller blades that determines how fast the boat can move.


Global Positioning System (GPS)

In modern, high-quality trolling motor models, a GPS is integrated into the wireless control system in the head unit. As expected, GPS can only be integrated in foot-controlled or wireless models as these are the only rolling motors types that can support wireless technology.

The key advantage of GPS is that it allows one to train the trolling motor to map the shoreline and the mapped area is stored in the control unit.

This allows the GPS transducers to operate the servo motors so as steady the boat on a fixed course. Depending on the quality and reliability of the GPS installed, and its integration to the control system of the trolling motor, the GPS can effectively maneuver the boat in an autopilot mode.

Likewise, it can come with a GPS lock which can keep the boat stationary at a particular place.


How to Choose the Right Trolling Motor

The first factor that one considers before purchasing a trolling motor unit is the fishing environment, that is, will fishing be done in salty or fresh water.

This allows one to choose between salty-water and fresh-water models.

Next, one must consider the mount location on the boat. Bow-mount models are usually recommended as pulling the boat allows one to precisely set the course, which allows for short bouts of precise movement that does not startle the fish and cause them to disperse from the desired fishing spot.

Thereafter, one must consider the boat weight so as to determine the required pounds of thrust. Afterwards, one chooses the control system that best suits him/her. The control system chosen also determines the voltage rating of the trolling motor unit to be used. After this, one can look at the trolling speed.

The aforementioned factors allows one to determine the best trolling motor type for his/her fishing needs.


Image Credit: hurlburt.af.mil, NPS.gov