The time you spend on the water can be the best part of your week. When your fishing rod is primed and ready, you need the ability to slow down and steer your boat into places your main motor can't take you, and that's what a trolling motor does.
A trolling motor makes your boat more versatile and provides a backup should your main motor quit on you. When you shop for a trolling motor, the array of options and styles can be overwhelming. Popular models include the Minn Kota Edge 45, the MotorGuide Bulldog and the Watersnake Asp T18. These, along with a variety of other models, offer their own feature sets at various price points. With a little research, you can find a trolling motor that makes the most sense for your boat, likely conditions and lifestyle.
Trolling Motors: What to Look For
Start your research by examining your boat. You'll need to know its dimensions and weight. Also consider where you want your new trolling motor to take you. Once you have these facts, it's time to consider the array of features you might need.
Thrust & Voltage
No matter where you're fishing, you need enough power to propel your boat and enough juice to last your entire outing. This is where you consider thrust and battery voltage.
Thrust, measured in pounds, is the amount of power that the trolling motor supplies to propel your boat. This is why the weight of your boat is important. The more thrust the motor has, the heavier the boat it can propel. One rule of thumb is to have 4-5 pounds of thrust for every 200 pounds your boat weighs. Don't forget to include the weight of the contents as you make your estimates.
Batteries are available in 12-volt and 24-volt sizes, and hardcore anglers use multibattery systems to ensure they never run out of trolling power on their longest days. In general, a single 12-volt battery is the bare minimum, and it will last for only a few hours. Newer technologies offered in some models provide methods for conserving battery power, which may be attractive to anyone who spends a lot of time on the water.
The length of the trolling motor is referred to as shaft length, and it needs to be the proper length for your boat, taking into account how it is mounted. Most trolling motors offer different shaft length options for a proper fit, and adjustability is a nice feature to have when you use your boat in waters of varying depths. You'll also need to decide how to mount the trolling motor, depending on the configuration of your boat.
You may wish to consider how you want to control steering and speed and whether you want to be able to use advanced technology. A foot pedal leaves your hands free so that you can strike at any time, and rack-and-pinion steering can give you finer control for getting into and out of your favorite spots.
New advances in trolling motor technologies make this an opportune time to purchase your first model or upgrade your old. Discover the features of a range of models so that you can enhance your outdoor experiences.
Aosom Outsunny 12V
The Aosom Outsunny transom-mount trolling motor is designed to be versatile enough to take you wherever your adventures may lead, both on saltwater and freshwater. It's simple to attach it to your watercraft's transom, so you can be out on the water with minimal fuss. You can remove it at the end of your outing for transport and storage.
This lightweight saltwater trolling motor is stronger than it looks, featuring up to 36 pounds of thrust from your 12-volt marine or deep-cycle battery at a low-end price. This is more thrust than similar models offer. With this amount of thrust, you can safely transport up to four people.
You can grab hold of the 6-inch handle and experiment with the motor's power using its five forward and three reverse speeds. The speed maxes out at around 6.5 kilometers per hour with a propeller efficiency rating of 0.23 kilowatts per hour. The steering is designed to be smooth and comfortable. Unusual at this price point is the motor's 10-point LED speed display, which is handy for helping you keep your speed under control.
You can mount this electric trolling motor in 10 different positions using its lever-lock bracket, so you should be able to find just the right fit for your watercraft. A variety of materials are used in construction, including ABS, glass fiber, steel and aluminum, with the shaft made of composite materials and the head of sturdy metal. The overall build quality is rugged enough to stand up to typical weather and water conditions. The manufacturer offers a 90-day warranty on this trolling motor, which is quite a bit shorter than those offered by other manufacturers.
The Aosom Outsunny is a reasonably lightweight trolling motor that's equally at home in saltwater and freshwater. With the 36 pounds of available thrust, it provides a lot of power in a small package, and its LED display lets you assess your speed along the way. However, you'll need to give it a workout soon after purchasing to assess whether it will work for your lifestyle before the short warranty runs out.
The small Intex Trolling Motor gives you more use out of your Intex boat or other inflatable watercraft. You can use it in freshwater as well as saltwater. The Intex Trolling Motor is developed to complement Intex boats, but it will work equally well with inflatables from other brands that include onboard motor-mount fittings. It features an adjustable mounting bracket and quick-release depth collar and lever arm.
With up to 40 pounds of thrust, this electric trolling motor has a lot of power for a motor designed for inflatables. More thrust means you can pack more gear and use it to navigate rougher waters, but it's a little louder than models with lower available thrust. The motor includes a water cooling system and digital maximizer control nodule for efficient operation and conserving battery life. There's even a soft-start feature, which you can use to prolong battery life by controlling how fast the motor transitions from off to on.
You have five forward and three reverse speeds with this trolling motor, and you steer via the tilt-and-extend tiller for precise navigation. When you grab hold of the handle, which can extend up to 6 inches, you can tilt it upward or downward as the need arises. The steering tension knob is adjustable. Controls are close at hand on the control panel. You can check the battery meter to determine if you still have power, and there's a weed control key you can press if you find yourself in a tricky spot. Mechanisms to protect against dry operation and overload are also built into the controls.
The shaft measures 36 inches long, and you can adjust it as needed according to water depth. It's constructed of composite materials for durability. Unusual at this price point is the fact that you can also use this model as a saltwater trolling motor.
The Intex Trolling Motor runs off the marine deep-cycle 12-volt battery of your choice and weighs in at 23 pounds. It is designed to enhance the flexibility of your inflatable watercraft, and it includes a two-year warranty.
The Minn Kota Edge 45 is a bow-mounted trolling motor designed for use in freshwater. This midrange motor offers a variety of features, including a lifetime warranty on the composite shaft and a two-year warranty on the rest of its components. As its name suggests, it features up to 45 pounds of thrust, which gives you the power to steer your boat through various conditions.
Mounting this Minn Kota trolling motor is quick, so you can get out on the water quickly. The mount's anodized aluminum arm adds strength and a secure fit. When your outing is over, the mount's latch and door design makes removing the motor for storage or transport a simple process. There's even a soft-grip knob for comfortable tightening and loosening of the mount.
Once you launch your boat, you have eight speeds at your disposal with this trolling motor: five forward speeds and three reverse. The tilt-twist tiller with its ergonomic grip gives you the control and precision you need in steering to spots that would be almost impossible to reach with your main motor or via paddling.
With the quiet operation Minn Kota trolling motors are known for, fish will be oblivious to your location. The motor runs cool, thanks to its extra-large windings and its commutators. Because these components are built to dissipate heat, the motor life is maximized and power is conserved on your 12-volt deep-cycle or marine battery. This means you can take more outings over time, and you can stay out on the water longer each time.
The 45-inch shaft is adjustable and constructed of virtually indestructible composite materials, so breakage and corrosion are nonissues. The shaft is built to withstand heavy use, and its adjustability is handy as you move in and out of shallow water. It's designed to help you navigate water of various depths without fuss.
There is the option to add a foot pedal to this electric trolling motor, but the Edge appeals most to those who prefer to use hand controls. With a lifetime warranty on the composite shaft and a two-year warranty on everything else, 45 pounds of thrust, and quiet operation, the Minn Kota Edge 45 has the durability and versatility to enhance your fishing trips for years to come.
The MotorGuide Bulldog Trolling Motor allows you to take your small boat into freshwater areas of all sizes. With rack-and-pinion steering, available thrust of up to 40 or 54 pounds depending on the model, and an adjustable 30-inch shaft, this MotorGuide trolling motor is designed to give you the power and flexibility to navigate tricky areas as well as open water.
Sometimes the best fishing spots are the most difficult to access, but with its rack-and-pinion steering, this model gives you the ability to turn your boat in any direction in tight spots for 360-degree coverage. You can use the foot pedal to enjoy hands-free operation without setting down your fishing rod. The MotorGuide trolling motor mounts to your transom or, with a little modification, the bow. A lever lets you raise and lower the shaft as you enter and exit shallower spots for enhanced navigation. This model is designed to be responsive and to allow you to reach shallow, tricky places efficiently.
This MotorGuide trolling motor offers five speeds. With its quiet, efficient operation, you can sneak up on fish without disturbing the quiet environment. Depending on your needs, you can run off one, two or three deep-cycle 12-volt batteries. Mercury Propellers designed the Machete III prop to be weed-free, so you can reach spots you might have shied away from in the past. The hub is tapered and includes three blades, and operation is smooth and efficient. Besides being quiet, the motor runs as efficiently as possible to conserve battery life.
MotorGuide offers a two-year warranty on its trolling motor, which is longer than the industry standard. The Bulldog, with its 54-pound maximum thrust, weighs in at 32.6 pounds and measures 51 x 22 x 8 inches.
The MotorGuide Bulldog is compact and lightweight, while still offering the toughness and power you need to get out on the water time and time again. With its features and durability, you can put it through its paces and devote your attention to finding out where the next fish is hiding.
With the MotorGuide R3 Freshwater Edition, you have the option to mount it to your craft's transom or bow. This model is designed for use in freshwater, but a similar model is available for saltwater should you need that capability. This MotorGuide electric trolling motor offers durability, quiet power and precise control via comfortable hand controls.
Constructed of aluminum alloy with a powder coat finish, the R3 is intended to be a rugged workhouse for you out on the water. While mainly developed for transom mounts, the reversible motorhead also allows bow mounting. Stainless steel hinge pins enhance the durability of this model. On transom mounts, you can take advantage of the taper-lock mount that features seven-point adjustment for maximum flexibility. The clamp screws have swing-over knobs, so you can lock the motor to the transom for security.
With up to 40 pounds of thrust, five forward speeds and two reverse speeds available to you, this electric trolling motor can propel you to all the spots you want to hit during your outing. Controls are close at hand via the twist tiller mechanism with an ergonomically designed handle that extends for comfort. The motor runs quietly and smoothly, and it won't alert fish to your presence. Your onboard 12-volt battery supplies the needed power, and the motor is designed to run cool and thus conserve power while maximizing motor longevity.
The rugged shaft measures 36 inches in length, and you can use its one-touch, rapid slide-depth adjustment collar to quickly adjust its length to adapt to changes in water depth. You can go ahead and creep into shallow waters with this trolling motor. The propeller is a three-blade machete style for smooth propulsion and effective navigation through weedy areas. MotorGuide covers the R3 with a two-year limited warranty.
The MotorGuide R3 gives you durable power to explore both new and familiar territory in a quiet package that won't spook the fish. It's designed as a transom-mount trolling motor, but you can also mount it on your bow's boat. With its 40 pounds of available thrust, the manufacturer recommends this motor for boats 12 to 16 feet in length.
Newport Vessels 55lb
The Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust Electric Trolling Motor provides a lot of power at a midrange price. Made of stainless steel, aluminum and zinc, this is one of the few models built to withstand the abuse saltwater can put on a motor. You don't have to take this Newport Vessels trolling motor into saltwater, but if you have the opportunity to explore, for example, a saltwater bay, it's nice to have that ability. Another feature that differentiates it is its battery meter.
This transom-mount trolling motor features a nylon mount built for durability and quick installation on your small boat or inflatable. With the adjustable 30-inch composite shaft, you can quickly respond to changes in water depth.
The motor gives you up to 55 pounds of thrust. That's a lot of power for a small boat, which means you can get where you want to go more quickly, but this greater power can also disturb the water and thus the fish. With the five available forward speeds and three reverse speeds, you have the ability to slow down as you near each fishing hole. You can use the motor with your favorite brand of 12-volt deep-cycle or marine battery.
This saltwater trolling motor provides another unique feature: a built-in 10-point LED battery meter, which saves you from guessing how much juice is left. With this feature, you get precise information on your motor's remaining battery life for peace of mind on every outing.
This trolling motor weighs in at 22 pounds, which makes a fairly lightweight package. The motor head is constructed entirely of aluminum and is designed for maximum durability over time. It is also fully encapsulated, so you should feel free to give it a workout on the water – fresh or salt. For steering, you grab hold of the 6-inch telescoping handle. Newport Vessels includes a limited one-year warranty on the trolling motor.
The Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust Electric Trolling Motor can handle saltwater just as well as freshwater. Its battery usage meter, available power and precise control give it various applications for boating.
Newport Vessels 62 lb
With up to 62 pounds of thrust, the Newport Vessels 62lb Thrust Trolling Motor offers a large amount of power from a single 12-volt deep-cycle or marine battery. This is a lot of thrust for its midrange price, and most motors with this amount of thrust require additional battery power. Another unique feature is that you can take this trolling motor into saltwater. Its stainless steel and zinc hardware resists the damage saltwater can do to a motor.
This transom-mount trolling motor is designed for use on all Newport inflatable watercraft, but it mounts equally well on almost any other small boat with a transom mount, including dinghies, tenders, other inflatables, kayaks and fishing boats. The head is constructed of aluminum to blend portability and durability. The mounting bracket is fully adjustable, as is the 36-inch fiberglass composite shaft. Its three-blade propeller measures 10 inches in diameter and is powerful enough to slice weeds out of your way.
Another feature of this trolling motor is the five-point LED battery meter that gives you a more accurate picture of how much juice you have left than is available on a simple yes-or-no battery meter control. The battery meter is close at hand as you steer. The telescoping handle is designed for comfort, and it extends up to 6 inches in length.
To navigate from open water to tricky fishing spots, you can use the trolling motor's five forward speeds to get into position. There are also three reverse speeds for backing into and exiting different areas of the water.
With such a high amount of thrust, it is surprising that this motor is as lightweight as it is, weighing just 23 pounds. Newport Vessels warranties this electric trolling motor for one year.
The Newport Vessels 62lb Thrust is a powerful transom-mount trolling motor for your small fishing boat or inflatable. It allows you to venture into saltwater without incurring damage, and its eight speeds give it versatility for different depths of water as well. It is also comfortable to handle and keeps you updated on your battery power status.
The Sevylor 12V Electric Trolling Motor is an option for expanding your use of your boat. It's designed for ease of mounting and use. This electric trolling motor on your inflatable can help you conserve energy and get the most out of your downtime.
This trolling motor is designed with a plastic bracket for quick mounting on your boat's transom fittings. You can even mount it on your boat's bow if your boat is equipped with bow eyelets. Kayakers have been known to make modifications to their crafts so that they can mount this electric trolling motor for a little extra insurance through passages where their arms need a rest or the weather takes a turn for the worse. It's lightweight for transport.
The controls are close at hand, and the 18.5-inch shaft is lightweight aluminum that allows no-fuss adjustments as you transition from deep water to shallow and back again. Weeds can't wrap themselves around the specially designed two-blade prop, so you may be able to try some new fishing spots that you had to row into before.
The motor has two forward speeds, as well as two reverse speeds. It's important to note that the 18 pounds of thrust this model offers is on the low end, which is reflected in its price. You'll need to keep an eye on how much weight your craft carries, and not expect to hit high speeds with the Sevylor on board. For small inflatables, however, this transom-mount trolling motor offers enough power for light loads and to give your arms a rest.
For juice, you can use any 12-volt marine battery, including the rechargeable model Sevylor offers. Battery connector clips keep the battery securely in place, and you can unclip the battery between uses for storage.
The Sevylor 12V Electric Trolling Motor offers 18 pounds of thrust, which is on the low end of the spectrum but is enough for Sevylor boats, inflatables and kayaks. It has a lightweight, adjustable shaft and four speeds. For times when the weather turns iffy, one of your rowers pulls a muscle, or time just slips away, this trolling motor can propel you safely back to shore.
If you have a dinghy, kayak or inflatable boat, a small electric trolling motor is all you need to supplement your paddles and oars. Enter the Watersnake Asp T18, a versatile electric trolling motor suited for small watercraft. It offers a small feature set in a lightweight package. One thing that sets it apart is that it is available in two versions: freshwater or saltwater. Not many models at this price point can handle the rigors of saltwater, so it’s worth a look if you live near or vacation close to saltwater bays and estuaries.
This transom-mount trolling motor comes equipped with a bracket you use to attach and detach your new motor to and from your boat, and it includes an anti-impact clip in the mount mechanism. The 24-inch shaft is constructed of alloy and tested to manage tough conditions. You can adjust the shaft length by loosening and then tightening the depth adjustment screw, which is handy when entering shallow water. The prop has two blades and is designed to withstand weedy and marshy areas without incident.
With your lightweight watercraft, you don't need a lot of power, so both the freshwater and saltwater versions of this trolling motor feature up to 18 pounds of thrust. That's enough power to get you where you need to go without producing too much wake. The motor is quiet, so you won't disturb the peace of your environment. There is no need to switch off the motor as you approach a fishing hole, as there is no loud sound to warn the fish of your approach.
The Watersnake includes high and low speed controls, and you can switch to reverse with the flip of a switch. To steer, you just have to grab hold of the attached steering handle, which you can also stow away when you don't need it. Your 12-volt battery powers the motor; a deep-cycle marine battery is recommended for optimal performance. Watersnake rigorously tests this motor and includes a one-year warranty on it.
At less than 8 pounds in weight, the Watersnake Asp T18 Trolling Motor is portable enough to take anywhere and can come in handy on paddling trips when your arms get heavy and the day grows short. Although its use is limited to the smallest watercraft, the T18 is versatile enough for adventures on saltwater.