Choosing The Right Trolling Motor

Electric trolling motors have helped revolutionized the sport of fishing.

Anglers in-the-know can now have total control over their craft at all times, allowing them to fish precise areas and spots that seemed only a dream in the past. With this added control comes one definite plus — the chance to put more fish in the boat!

Here’s how to figure out, which one is the right pick for you and your boat.

Talking Thrust
Electric trolling motors deal with “pounds of thrust” when describing their power ratings. When choosing what pound thrust is needed to move your boat, a number of criteria must first be considered. How heavy are the boat, gear and people? Do you fish in adverse conditions, such as high winds and rough water? And lastly, what is the length of the boat?

The following chart will show the appropriate size motor needed in comparison to your boat’s length:

This chart is meant to convey “normal fishing conditions.” If you fish in rough water or current areas, moving up to the next thrust level would be advantageous. Also, if you store a lot of heavy gear, or have more than one fishing partner usually in the boat, moving to the next level is also advised.

Flipping boat docks are a breeze with the use of an electric trolling motor.

Whatever you do, don’t scrimp on choosing your motor. Many professionals believe that the best rule of thumb is to buy the biggest motor you can afford, all within reason of course. Running a motor that is underrated for your boat will only lead to headaches, and sub-par days of struggling to get around while out on the water.

Powering It Up
Electric trolling motors come in three different power systems — 12-, 24- or 36-volts.

A 12-volt trolling motor will run off a single 12-volt deep cycle battery, while a 24-volt runs off of two batteries and a 36-volt off of three batteries.

Although the 12-volt system is the easiest to maintain and the cheapest, it lacks the staying power and thrust that the other two provide.

A 24-volt or 36-volt system will allow the angler to fish longer periods out on the water, as they draw lower amps while providing increased thrust for more power.

Whatever system you choose, there are certain “pros” and “cons” attributed to each, and a boat dealership or marina can address each of these more thoroughly.

One key to remember is this: for boats 16 feet and less, high-thrust 12-volt models are adequate. If your boat length falls between 16 feet and 18 feet, consider purchasing a 12/24-volt or 24-volt system. Any craft over 18 feet will need a high-thrust 24-volt or 36-volt trolling motor.

Make sure you purchase the best battery you can afford, and make sure it is a deep-cycle for maximum power and longevity.

Bow or Transom Mount?
There are two different kinds of trolling motors available to the consumer — one that clamps on the front and another that clamps onto the back. A bow-mounted motor provides easier maneuverability and much better control in comparison to the transom mount. Unless you intend to only use the motor for straight trolling, or to fish lakes and rivers with an “electric motor only” rule, my advice is to go with the bow mount.

For all the different types of fishing techniques and out-of-the-way areas you’ll encounter in your boat, the bow mount will outshine the transom in nearly every situation.

The author adjusts his 36-pound Minn Kota Powerdrive while coming into a weigh-in during a tournament. Make sure to match thrust power with the size of your boat for optimum performance.

For reliability and craftsmanship, look no further than the Minn Kota Maxxum or the Minn Kota Powerdrive AutoPilot.

Hand Or Foot Control?
Choosing between a hand- and foot-controlled bow mount can be a tough decision to make. Although both have their merits and drawbacks, trying each version and finding, which is most comfortable to use is probably your best bet. The following list outlines a few advantages and disadvantages for both:

Although I have personally never used a hand-controlled trolling motor, I do have many friends that swear by them. Using a bow-mount motor allows me a totally hands-free fishing experience, which I believe outweighs the merits of the hands-on version.

Utilizing a bow-mount trolling motor allowed the author to get back into the “thick stuff” in order to pull this chunky largemouth into the boat.

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make. Talk to a number of folks that run each and see what they like and dislike about the one they are running. Remember, once you get accustomed to a certain style it will be very hard to make the switch to the other, so be sure to try both out before making your purchase.

Electric trolling motors add a completely new dimension to fishing. Perfecting boat control, fishing inaccessible areas and maintaining a silent approach will ensure added enjoyment and more fish for the angler willing to experiment. Shop around, take each style for a test drive, and pay attention to detail — and be prepared for some banner days on your local lake.

For a fine selection of trolling motors, click here.

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3 Responses to “Choosing The Right Trolling Motor”

  1. Jerome Grivois

    Hi, & if you have a printed catolog available, I would love to have one of yours. My address is 34 Pleasant St., Lewiston, ME 04240, & TY.

  2. Lloyd

    Have a 17 ft canoe carrying 400 lbs. what size trolling motor do I need to last all day. Will I need a 24 volt system? Traveling 2000 miles down the Missouri and will need something for the lakes.

  3. Jason Arvin

    It is very important factor to choose the top class trolling motor. If you want to your fishing journey very successfully you need one of the best trolling motor. Thanks for sharing this great tips.