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The Best Trolling Motors (Buying Guide & Top Brands)

A trolling motor is a crucial piece of equipment for any serious boat angler, allowing you to move smoothly through the water and get close to the fish you're looking for without them ever being the wiser. If you’re in the market for a new trolling motor, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got useful info on the features you should look out for and what you should consider when making the purchase. We’ve also made a list of what we think are the best trolling motors on the market for you to choose from. First of all, let’s look at what you should consider when shopping around for a new motor in today’s market.

Things to Consider when Buying a Trolling Motor

Placement

Where will you be placing your trolling motor? You have two available options, either to put it on the stern or the bow. A stern motor is easier to control and delivers oodles of power for small boats. A bow type motor works ideal for those with big or long boats that have the shaft space for it. The latter is usually mounted on the front of the boat, and provides spectacular control and sensitive steering.

Voltage

Also, consider how much battery power you’ll need from your trolling motor. This power depends on a variety of factors such as the size of your boat, the duration of your fishing trip and the amount of strain you’ll be placing on the motor. Trolling motor batteries are available at 12 volts, 24 volts, and 36 volts. The higher the voltage, the better the thrust and the longer they’ll last with ongoing use. When it comes to batteries, be sure to purchase authentic trolling motor batteries and plugs, as knock-offs can affect the performance of the motor, and they don’t last as long as their genuine counterparts.

Hand vs Foot-Control

A hand-controlled motor requires that you remain close to managing it, whereas a foot controlled motor gives you the mobility to operate it remotely. Foot-controlled motors are a hit amongst anglers because they provide more flexibility of movement, and allow you to focus on the fishing more than managing the motor.

Tech Features

Some trolling motors come with high-tech features like digital displays that give you an analysis of the water’s depth while showing you the speed at which you’re traveling in real time. Others feature built-in battery gauges, so you always know how much battery power you have left, while others can move the boat forward according to factors such as shorelines, depth contours, and wind speed. These features might be extras, but they make your job easier when you’re out on the water and are worth considering.

Boat Size

In general, a larger boat might give you more of an advantage when it comes to providing stability in the face of changing wind currents and water conditions. In addition, larger boats do need more power, and thus, require a bigger trolling motor. Two key features that will help support your decision on what size of a trolling motor to buy are thrust and shaft length.

  • Thrust - is the amount of power produced by the trolling motor. When considering thrust, bear in mind the water and weather conditions of your preferred application, as well as the size of your boat.
  • Shaft Length - The shaft length of your trolling motor should correspond with the size of your boat. The longer or bigger your boat, the longer your trolling motor shaft has to be, while a smaller boat requires a motor with a shorter shaft.

To be on the safe side, consider getting a trolling motor that provides an optimal amount of thrust that balances well with the size of your boat.  A good rule of thumb is 10 pounds of thrust to every 400 pounds of your boat's gross weight.

Material/Performance Factors:

  • Quality Construction - The trolling motor must be built to last with durable construction from materials like stainless steel and anti-corrosion coating, to protect against water damage. Bear in mind that a poorly made or low-quality motor does not last that long, so be sure to purchase a motor with a tough exterior that’s waterproof or corrosion resistant.
  • Performance - Your trolling motor should perform smoothly throughout your entire trip without hiccups, regardless of the weather and water conditions. If you find that it’s difficult to control or is consuming too much power, requiring constant recharging, then you should consider getting another motor.
  • Speed - The trolling motor you choose should also have several speed variations for both forward and backward movement. Trolling motors are available in speed variations from 3, 5 to 8. Just be sure to select one that also offers a range of movement along with the speed variations, so that you’re able to apply the speed whether you’re making a turn, going backward or moving straight ahead.
  • Steering -  Whether it has foot or hand steering, make sure that the trolling motor you select is receptive and sensitive when it comes to navigation. But truth be told, foot steering makes it easier to operate the motor, while leaving your hands free to fish. This enables smooth turning and maneuvering when making those powerful thrusts and quick turns.

Our Favorite Trolling Motors

Here is our list of top trolling motors, along with recommendations on where to use them.

Minn Kota Pontoon Powerdrive Trolling Motor 

Suited for Pontoon Boats


The Minn Kota Pontoon PowerDrive is a bow-mounted motor, and it comes with 54 pounds of thrust, supported by a heavy-duty composite shaft. It’s a foot-controlled motor with a PowerDrive pedal, which although corded, is fully waterproof.

It also comes with an Aluminum quick-release bracket that allows you to easily remove the motor while offering a super quiet and secure locking system. With the push of a button, the Push-to-Test Battery Meter gives you an instant reading of how much time is left before the juice runs out on the battery, and it comes with a 12-volt battery to power you through the trip. Due to its size, quality and features, we recommend this motor for freshwater applications, and it works great on large sized boats.

What We like

  • The electronic PowerDrive foot pedal offers hands-free steering and speed control, and it’s waterproof to boot
  • This motor comes with 54 pounds of thrusting power
  • The heavy-duty composite shaft is practically indestructible
  • It also has an Aluminum quick-release bracket which enables you to quickly remove the motor, while providing you with great safety features
  • It’s super quiet

What We Don't like

  • It doesn’t come with a reverse motion feature
  • It’s quite heavy and awkward to carry

Minn Kota Endura 30 C2 Transom Mount Trolling Motor

Suited for Kayaks and Canoes


This motor is stern mounted with a 30-inch shaft and a thrust level of 30. Don’t be fooled by its small size, because this motor is quite durable and is built to last. It features a 12-volt battery, which lasts for a really long time, and 8 variable speeds, with 5 moving forward and 3 in reverse motion.

Other features include a 6-inch telescopic handle with a tilt twist tiller for smooth handling and easy steering. This motor is ideal for small boats like canoes and kayaks and works great on freshwater applications.

What We like

  • It comes with a two-year warranty for the motor and lifetime warranty for the shaft
  • It’s built to last and is very durable
  • It’s easy to handle, thanks to the 6-inch telescopic handle with a tilt twist tiller
  • It’s lightweight and easy to transport
  • It comes with a durable mount
  • 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speed options included
  • It’s completely noiseless

What We Don't like

  • It doesn’t work well in rocky or choppy water conditions

Newport Vessels NV-Series 46 lb Thrust Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor

Suited for Mid Size Boats


Another stern mounted motor that comes with a 46-pound thrust and a 30-inch shaft made from lightweight fiberglass, which is durable, adjustable and easy to use. Along with the 6-inch telescoping handle, it also features a mount made from nylon, and there’s a 5-point LED battery meter, which alerts you to how much battery use you have left. It also features 8 speeds, with 5 moving forward and 3 backward.

This motor is made from stainless steel hardware, which gives you the versatility to use it for both freshwater and saltwater applications without worrying about corrosion and is built to fit on inflatable boats, kayaks, aluminum fishing boats, regular fishing boats, dinghies, and tenders. Although it doesn’t come with a battery, this motor can be used with a 12-volt Deep Cycle Battery or a good quality Marine battery.

What We like

  • It’s versatile and can be used on a variety of boats for both freshwater and saltwater applications
  • It comes with a heavy-duty construction shaft and motor head that enables flawless performance in any weather condition
  • Easy to handle
  • It doesn’t drain the battery, so you can use it on several fishing trips without heating up or dying
  • It comes with 8 speed variations, 5 forward and 3 backward
  • Also features a 5-point LED battery meter
  • Telescoping handle

What We Don't like

  • The variable speed switch is not as durable as other parts
  • It comes without a battery

Minn Kota Riptide 55 SM Saltwater Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with Latch, Door Bracket and Speed Coil

Suited for Large Boats


This motor is a 12-volt bow mounted engine, and it comes with a bevy of features. It has a latch and door mount for easy setup and removal, an enduring composite shaft and RipTide hand control that has been customized with an adjustable tiller, which can tilt or extend the handle according to your preferences. It also features 8-speed variations with 3 in a backward motion and 5 moving forward, as well as a 55-pound thrust.

It’s available either with a 42-inch shaft, a 52-inch shaft or a 52-inch shaft with digital maximizer. The version with the Digital Maximiser feature conserves the battery and increases battery life by reducing energy consumption so that the motor uses only the amount of energy it needs.

The shaft comes with a lifetime guarantee, while the entire unit has a 2-year warranty. This one is recommended for both saltwater and freshwater applications and is most suited for larger craft.

What We like

  • It comes with an adjustable RipTide handle tiller, which can tilt to 45 degrees or extend up to 6 inches
  • The motor comes with a 2-year warranty, while the shaft comes with a lifetime guarantee
  • It performs well in difficult conditions such as windy weather, choppy water, and tidal marshes
  • The Digital Maximizer feature increases battery life by regulating power usage without compromising on quality
  • It runs super quiet
  • It comes with 8 variable speeds

What We Don't like

  • It’s quite heavy in size, which makes it difficult to set this up alone. Rather get a friend to help you
  • It doesn’t come with a battery

Watersnake ASP Salt Water Transom Mount Trolling Motor with 24-Pound Thrust, 24-Inch Shaft, 12- Volt

Suited to Small Craft


This Watersnake stern mounted motor comes with a 55-pound thrust and has a 24-inch shaft and 12-volt power. It’s super durable and features a stainless-steel exterior that’s coated with anti-corrosion paint. Regarding control, this motor comes with a forward and reverse switch; high and low-speed control, as well as a stowaway tiller. It also has a weed-deflecting two-blade propeller and an anti-impact clip system on the mount.

It’s a small and lightweight motor that’s suitable for small boats, kayaks, dinghies and inflatable boats, and is durable and versatile enough to handle both saltwater and freshwater fishing.

What We like

  • It’s lightweight and easy to carry and setup
  • Two-blade weed-deflecting propeller
  • It’s built to last with a stainless-steel exterior that’s coated with anti-corrosion paint
  • Comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Provides great value for money
  • It also features high and low-speed control, with low speed allowing you to decrease power usage to increase battery life

What We Don't like

  • The battery is not included
  • It draws a lot of battery power when put on high speed

Take'em on the Troll!

Boat angling is made so much easier with the help of a good trolling motor. This nifty machine allows for trolling for fish with accuracy and precision, while the various available options mean that you can easily find one that’s suited to the size of your boat as well as your preferred application. A good trolling motor enables you to enjoy multiple trips of trouble-free boat angling and can last you for many a season to come. Suffice to say; you'll start noticing the difference as soon as you set it up. So, what are you waiting for? Get your trolling motor today and start reaping the benefits.

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