As a child, I loved going out fishing with my father. It is the best childhood memory so far, and I continue to cherish it even till date. My father taught me a lot about the fishing techniques, and how we shouldn't be spooking the catch. The fishes are smart enough to know that you are out for catching dinner! At that time, he bought a cheap trolling motor which could help the boat move quietly.
Now that I have grown older and have my own children, I did the kindest thing a father could do and bought them the best trolling motor!
Over the past 15 years, I have learned a lot about trolling motors and it is about time that I created a buying guide for all the keen fishing enthusiasts. This trolling motor review will help you choose the right product in the market. Let us start the journey by knowing what a trolling motor does and why it is needed!
How Did We Pick these Products?
First, I have gathered a lot of knowledge about trolling motors for more than a decade. I have personally purchased seven different models and made comparisons among them that helped me know the difference between a cheap trolling motor and an expensive one.
Secondly, a lot of research has gone into it. I spent a considerable amount of time searching the internet and jot down the pros and cons of each product. I even got the chance to speak to several angling professionals, who use the trolling motors.
Before you buy a trolling motor, it is always wise to research some and then invest in the best. My team and I spent several weeks creating the ultimate list for you. We jotted down all the features and things to consider before making a buying decision.
In fact, I got a chance to speak to the existing users of each product. After comparing the ratings, genuine reviews, and speaking to authentic buyers, I was able to choose the perfect trolling motors to come up with a concrete list of 10 products.
In a nutshell, I have spent a considerable amount of time reviewing each product and have interacted with a lot of people. As we move further, it is important for you to know the things to consider while buying the right trolling motor.
Our Top 10 Best Trolling Motor
After doing extensive research and extensive testing, here is the collection of 10 top-of-the-line models reviewed for your perusal. Most models from my recommendations show distinctive characteristics but they share a few common basic features that are essential for this category of machines. Hopefully, it will make it easier for you to compare the models and select the right one according to your needs.
List of other Product We Tested
Let’s take this space to mention other reputable brands and their popular trolling motor models that didn’t make it to our list for one reason or another:
Caroute (known for brushless motors), Bass Pro Shops (known for Prowler TSW55/36B), Rhodan, Sevylor, Evinrude (known for Scout), Mercury Marine (known for Thruster), Power-Pole, Island Hopper, Hobie, Torqeedo, Sun Dolphin, Johnson, Newport Vessels, Shakespeare, Lowrance (known for Ghost), DirectBoats (known for their 4 stroke Gas powered models), Haswing, Minn Kota’s Ultrex, Bonda, Fortrex, Terrova 80 with i-Pilot Link & Power Center, Garmin, Rhodan Marine, T-H Marine, Navigator (known for their Engine mount models), Intex (known for Seahawk 4 motor), and Watersnake.
Other hot sellers:
BoTaiDaHong, AQUOS, DYRABREST, PARKHO, YUEWO, Goplus, HANGKAI, LEADALLWAY, Marinco, Universal Power Group, TBVECHI, PEXMOR, U-BCOO, DNYSYSJ and LOYALHEARTDY.
Why Buy a Trolling Motor
What is the best trolling motor for the money? Before I answer this question, it is important to know as to why you need a trolling motor. There are a number of advantages that come with a trolling motor. Some of them we have listed below:
- It’s a self-contained unit. It operates smoothly and quietly - The fishes do not know of your arrival.
- Even beginners can easily use a trolling motor. It does not require technical expertise. The manufacturers usually place a manual inside the product.
- Say no to gasoline because most of the trolling motors have rechargeable batteries. Well, looks like you are contributing towards a greener society.
- When you buy a gas powered motor, it can cause a peculiar smell. The trolling motor does not have any stink.
- The trolling motors are super easy to use!
These are the major benefits of investing in a trolling motor. Let us understand more about products for you in the next section.
Trolling Motor: A Buying Guide
How much power does your trolling motor possess? By thrust, we mean to say the power that your motor possesses. The thrust is usually measured in lbs/pounds. The more the thrust, the more powerful it will be on the water. The fastest models come with the most powerful thrusts. If you are mounting it on a kayak or a smaller boat (for example: a Jon boat), go for a small motor. Large motors are expensive but they are certainly better than the smaller ones. The thrust has the ability to pull your boat at a steady speed. Bigger ones are ideal for big boats, pontoons and tandem kayaks.
You’ll find motors coming with a wide range of thrust power. The most common models thrust capacities include 30 lb., 35 lb., 40 lb., 50 lb., 70 lb., 65 lb., 80 lb., 160 lb., 200 lb. and 250 lb.
The length of the shaft can affect the performance on the water. If the transom or bow is farther from the body of water, you may require a longer shaft. A fishing kayak will need a short shaft and the bigger boats (for example: a bass boat) need a lengthy shaft. However, do not go for such a long shaft that it hits in shallow waters. Most trolling motors will come with an adjustable shaft which makes it easier for you to adjust it according to the boat you are using.
The trolling motors come with fixed eight speeds. You can also find variable speed models too. You will usually find 5 forward and 3 reverse speeds. This basically gives you the versatility to move in water efficiently. It really depends on the type of fish you are chasing. If the fish is fast enough, you would require a speedy motor. Firstly, put the bait inside the water and then gradually speed up. Don’t expect Jet Ski speed out of these units.
Bow mount vs Transom mount
The Bow mount is the popular pick in today's world. When you mount it in the forward position of the outboard of your kayak or boat, there is better control. The front mount system makes it easy to make turns quickly and more effectively. The trolling motor pulls the boat rather than pushing it. These are mounted on the floor of the boat or the kayak. This can be wireless, foot, and hand-controlled.
As for the transom mount, the motor is attached to the stern of the boat. There are some boats which do not have a lot of space on the floor. The biggest advantage of this motor is that it is versatile. You can mount it in different positions. There is no drilling required for this type of mount. There are engine mount models out there that can be fitted to the engine.
Foot pedal or hand tiller
The hand tiller is usually extendable up to 6 inches. The speed can be adjusted with the hand tiller. All you need to do is twist it. The hand-controlled version is ideal because you have more control over changing the direction when something is blocking your path. This kind can be used for medium size paddle boats and paddle boards.
As for the foot pedal, it is popular in medium to larger boats. These are hands-free which makes it a popular pick for those who do not wish to use their hands. If you want to do fishing peacefully, this hands-free foot pedal will be ideal for you.
Saltwater or Freshwater Motor
The materials used for creating a trolling motor for saltwater conditions will be different. Hardware such as stainless steel, magnesium, and zinc will be used for saltwater motors. The only difference in the motors is the anodes. In the saltwater motor, the anodes will be covered with corrosion-resistant materials. The saltwater is more expensive than the latter because of the maintenance and hardware cost. The freshwater motors are usually manually handled. In these, hand or foot control is used.
Design & material
The trolling motors material depends on the type of motor you wish to invest in. If it is a salt-water friendly motor, then you need something which has a cover made of corrosion-resistant material. Also, use the right kind of trolling motor jacket for wiring or cable management.
How many hours does the battery last? This could be a key factor in choosing the right product. Also, the size of the battery is important when choosing one. If you use Digital Maximizer, your motor battery will last longer.
Power and voltage
There are three voltage options to choose from. 12 volt, 24 volt and 36 volt are the common ones you will find. There’s also 48 volt models for greater power. If a motor has more thrust, it will require more power. If a motor has a thrust of about 100 lbs, it will require 36 V voltage. A smaller boat, such as a beginner kayak, would require a 12 V voltage. The 24 and 36V have a multi-battery system, which is much more economical.
- Directional Indicator - Some motors are self-directed. This basically means they can steer on its own in the right direction. This allows you to concentrate on fishing and nothing else. It will be hands-free as the motor is self-directed.
- Digital display - Some products come with a bright digital display which shows you the speed at which you are going and the depth of water underneath your boat. This will give you a clear picture of whether you are at the right place to catch the fish.
- Lift-Assist - Raising the motor without any effort is a blessing for keen fishing enthusiasts.
- Battery Indicator - The battery indicator shows you as to how much battery charge is left. Some motors will save energy by using as much battery that is required for operations. Most of the good trolling motors come with a bright LED battery indicator.
Value for the money
When buyers invest in a product, they look for the price tag. It is more or less important while choosing the product of your choice. At the end of the day, the quality will matter. You may not need an expensive one, maybe a budget trolling motor has all the features that you need. However, you must buy a quality product based on your requirements and not think too much about the price. That way you can secure a model offering the best value.
Consider it as an investment, a good quality trolling motor would be needed for durability and efficiency. Again, if you go low on the budget, check out the craigslist for any refurbished models or look out for Black Friday discounts and pormotions. There are other DIY options to assemble a trolling motor where you can apply homemade solutions for cutting on the budget.
Trolling Motor Care, Maintenance and Safety Tips
You may purchase an expensive and advanced trolling motor or a cheap one, in all cases, you need to ensure proper care and maintenance. Maintenace will seem easier if you know how trolling motor works. Some safety, maintenance, and care tips are given below which you must follow.
Let us first take a look at the maintenance tips:
- Always recharge the battery before using it. The battery should be fully recharged at least 100% before you can start using it.
- Cleaning the motor on a regular basis is ideal. Keep it dirt-free by using an anti-abrasive material.
- Check the product for any peculiar sounds. If you hear any cranking sound, it is possible that the motor is not working properly. The product may require servicing or replacement.
- Is there any damage to the propeller? A damaged propeller could affect the overall performance.
- Look for the five safety features of your product - overheat protection, start protection, low-voltage protection, stall, and reverse-connection protection.
- Buying a circuit breaker may be a wise idea. If the max speed is 40 amps, then investing in a circuit breaker of 50 amps will be a good idea. This is needed for avoiding any kind of damage to the motor.
- The engine should be sealed properly so that water cannot go inside it. This could damage the motor and it is possible your product may get ruined completely.
- Always check how much battery/juice is left in your motor. To ensure that the product is 100% recharged before you set out on an expedition.
Wrapping It Up
We hope that the trolling motor buying guide helped you to make a decision. The reviews are structured in such a way so that it gets easier for you to decide. It starts with our top choice--Goplus Electric Trolling Motor-- and then we move on to the top budget-friendly MinnKota Endura Transom.
In case your intention is to take the boat in saltwater, the third option will be ideal for you. It all boils down to your requirement and budget. However, my thinking is that you must invest in a quality motor from the list.
If you are up for a great trolling motor for the money, then the second pick should be ideal for you. A trolling motor does not help you to troll but only makes your fishing experience much more fruitful. Don't let the fishes know that you are around else you will return to your home without a catch for dinner!
The question is - Who makes the best trolling motor? You have ten options in front of you. Choosing one will not be a hard decision because all the pros and cons are mentioned.
Consider going through the buying guide yet again. This will help in choosing the right model as per your needs. Buy the best one as per your requirements!