There are a lot of decisions that must be made in order to find the best trolling motor. Not only is the environment an important part of the equation, but also so is the weight of the boat. If you miscalculate your needs, then you’re going to wind up with an insufficient amount of thrust. With this comprehensive guide, the Salty Dog will take you through the decision process so you can get the perfect trolling motor to meet your needs.
Here’s the Best Chart for Trolling Motors
To get started, it is important to compare and contrast the best trolling motors that are available right now. That way you’ll know which motors can meet your needs and which motors you can just ignore.
What Are the Basics of Trolling Motors?
The mounting location of your trolling motor is going to be either on the bow or the transom of your boat. Each placement has some pros and cons to it.
Why choose a Transom mount location? These mounts are usually the most affordable on the market today. They are the best option for smaller boats or open hull boats as the motor can be operated while in a seated position. This does make them a little more difficult to steer and many transom mounts are stock trolling motors, but most users who want this mount won’t need many features anyway.
Why choose a bow mount location? If you have a flat bow, then a trolling motor on the bow is a possible installation point. These are usually hands-free operations and high-end motors even offer autopilot functions or wireless control. These motors have precise steering, much like a front-wheel drive vehicle compared to a rear-wheel drive.
How Do I Select the Best Trolling Motor?
The most important aspect of your trolling motor is thrust. For trolling motors, thrust is generally measured in pounds. When you have a heavy, large boat, then your trolling motor needs to provide more pounds of thrust to achieve the same result that a smaller boat could get with less thrust. You don’t want insufficient thrust. Nothing can kill a fun day of water recreation like discovering you’ve got a sluggish motor.
That means you need to know how much your boat weighs. In general terms, your trolling motor needs to have at least 2 pounds of thrust for every 100 pounds of weight. If you have a boat that weighs 1,500 pounds when it is fully loaded, including passenger weight, then you know that the minimum thrust of your tolling motor needs to be 30 pounds. You should always calculate this thrust of your trolling motor on your maximum anticipated weight, not your expected every day weight.
The fishing conditions that you are expecting to encounter on your day of water recreation can also affect the amount of thrust that is produced. Fast moving waters need to have additional pounds of thrust from the trolling motor in order for it to be able to move your boat to where you need to have it go. A general rule of thumb is to add 15%-20% extra pounds of thrust to make sure you’ve got enough power. In the example above, that would mean looking for a trolling motor that had about 40 pounds of thrust instead of 30 pounds.
What Are Some Common Problems With Trolling Motors?
The main problem that people face with even the best trolling motors is that they’ve underestimated how much power they actually need. Once you start hitting the 3,000-pound mark in weight, you’re generally going to need to double the motor voltage output that can be achieved. Every 1,500 pounds off extra weight needs another 12v of motor voltage. The minimum amount of thrust also goes up by 10 pounds for every 500 pounds of weight that is added.
The length of the shaft can also be problematic for some boats. A basic motor is typically going to provide users with a 30-inch shaft, which means the propeller, may not actually be able to work with certain boat designs. There are many trolling motors that will add another 18 inches to the shaft and some even offer adjustable shafts so the motor can be used on multiple boats someone may own, but a stock motor doesn’t always work with a stock boat.
Here’s a Salty Dog pro tip: Although the length of the boat can reduce the amount of minimum thrust that is needed by 10 pounds, it is better to focus on overall performance more than just trying to meet minimum thrust. You’ll receive longer run times with higher performance ratings that can help you power through the strong conditions that can sometimes creep up with barely any notice.
As a final thought, saltwater trolling motors are often different than freshwater trolling motors. If your motor isn’t rated for saltwater, don’t put your motor into it because it will seize up faster than you can blink.
What Are the Prices to Expect on Trolling Motors Today?
When looking at the modern trolling motor, many of them are incredibly affordable. You can pick up a very solid motor today on a website like Amazon for less than $100. These have good thrust levels, long shafts, and even telescoping handles at this price point. More thrust generally means higher prices, so if you have a heavy boat to move; it is not unreasonable to see motors priced above $500. The best trolling motor to meet most needs is going to have an average price of about $250.
Here Are the Salty Dog’s Favorite Trolling Motors
This freshwater trolling motor offers a 30-pound thrust on a 30-inch shaft. It’s got a 6-inch telescoping handle that is comfortable and easy to use, while the tilt twist tiller offers reasonably good steering and speed control. The lever lock bracket is the highlight of this motor’s design because it will lock the motor to your boat quickly and easily. It’s quiet, has 5 forward speeds, and also offers 3 reverse speeds as it operates on a composite shaft that is virtually indestructible.
This trolling motor has an impressive 55 pounds of thrust that comes with a rock solid nylon mount that you’ll have attached to your boat in minutes. It offers stainless steel hardware so that it can be used in saltwater if wanted and the shaft is incredibly strong. There are 5 forward speeds, 3 reverse speeds, and an all aluminum head that gives this trolling motor an amazing amount of durability. The 10 point LED battery meter will let you know when it’s time to charge your battery and it fits almost all small boats, including kayaks. That’s why it is one of the best trolling motors available today.
This is one of those trolling motors that you’re going to want to mount on the bow if at all possible. The highlight of the design is the digital maximizer, which can actually be optimized through GPS positioning if you’re running the iPilot app. The composite shaft is considered unbreakable and has a lifetime warranty to prove it. Control speeds with an included foot pedal and get up to 45 pounds of thrust on a 48-inch shaft. It’s got a premium price, but it will provide users with a premium result.
If you’re looking for a basic trolling motor that can meet basic needs, then this might be the best motor for you. It only offers 2 reverse speeds, but there are 5 forward speeds that can be used. It has a reversible motor head so that it can be mounted in either location and installing it is a snap. All you’ve got to do is fasten it to the boat, attached your leads to a 12v trolling motor battery, and you’re ready to go. It’s got a great price point and the results are pretty good too.
Although you’ll need to mount this trolling motor on your transom and it supports a maximum boat length of 20 feet, there are still some great things to be said about this motor. The extended shaft length at 36 inches helps to give a little extra boost to the 50 pounds of thrust this motors is capable of producing. It’s built for long-term use, so plan on running it all day if need be without worry. It uses up to 5x less battery power than comparable motors, has a 2 year warranty, and the overall experience is nice and quiet.
When you know how much thrust you need, then you know which of the motors is going to be the best trolling motor for you. Make sure to go through each review, find the exact information you need, and then make the best decision possible. In doing so, you’ll be able to have an effective method of propulsion for many water recreation needs.