Boat Trolling Motors: What You Need to Know

Are you thinking about getting a trolling motor for your boat? If so, then you've come to the right place. We'll cover all the basics of boat trolling motors in this blog post. 

 We'll discuss what they are, the types available, and the sizing considerations. We'll also provide a few tips on how to choose the right trolling motor for your boat. By the end of this blog post, you'll know all there is to know about boat trolling motors

What is a Boat Trolling Motor?

A boat trolling motor is a specialized outboard motor designed for use on smaller boats, such as kayaks, canoes, and inflatable boats. These devices are used for fishing, as they allow the boat to move slowly and quietly so as not to scare the fish away. They can also be used for leisure activities such as cruising and sightseeing.

While most boats have a main engine that can be used for propulsion, a trolling motor is a more convenient and efficient way to move at slow speeds. Trolling motors for boats are also a great way to save on fuel costs, as they use very little electricity.

Types of Boat Trolling Motors

Boat trolling motors can be categorized based on mounting technique and steering method.

Mounting technique

There are three types of boat trolling motors based on their mounting method:

  1. Bow mount

A bow mount motor is mounted on the bow or front of the boat. This trolling motor is ideal for fishing in shallow water, as it can be easily maneuvered to avoid obstacles.

  1. Transom mount

A transom mount motor is mounted on the back of the boat, near the transom or stern. This trolling motor is great for trolling small boats in deep water, providing more power and stability than a bow-mount motor.

  1. Pontoon mount

Pontoon-mounted trolling motors are mounted on the pontoon rails and are a good choice for slow-moving vessels. Pontoon-mounted trolling motors are known for being quiet and steady. They are a good choice for those who want to enjoy a peaceful day on the water. 

Steering method

There are three main types of trolling motors based on the steering method: hand control, cable-steer, and electric-steer.

  1. Hand control

Hand control motors are the most common type of trolling motor. They're easy to use and typically very affordable. Since hand control motors come with a tiller handle for control, they can be challenging to steer in tight spaces and are not great for long-distance travel.

  1. Cable-control

Cable-control motors have a cable connection between the foot pedal and motor and are much easier to steer than hand-control motors. They're also great for long-distance travel and excellent for shallow water and bass fishing. 

  1. Electric-steer

Electric-steer trolling motors are the most advanced, intuitive, and effective type of control. They have a built-in electronic steering system that allows you to control the motor with remote control.

Freshwater vs. Saltwater Trolling Motor 

While most people think that trolling motors can be used in either type of water, there are some key factors to keep in mind.

Saltwater trolling motors must be able to withstand the harsher conditions of salt water, including higher levels of humidity and salty air. They also need to be able to resist corrosion from salt water. As a result, they typically have encapsulated electronics to protect the internal components.

On the other hand, freshwater trolling motors need not be as protected since they will not be exposed to the same conditions. They also tend to be less expensive than saltwater trolling motors.

Boat Trolling Motor Sizing

Whether you're a serious angler or just like to get out on the water for some leisurely fishing, having the right trolling motor can make a big difference in your experience. But how do you know what size trolling motor you need for your boat?

Below are important factors to consider.

Thrust

Thrust is the force generated by the motor that propels the boat forward. The amount of thrust you need will depend on the size and weight of your boat, as well as the water conditions you'll be operating in.

Considering ideal conditions (no extreme winds or currents ), 2lbs of thrust is needed for every 100lbs. 

So if you have a 2000lbs boat, you’ll need 40lbs of thrust. If you have a 5000lb boat, you’ll need 100lbs of thrust from the trolling motor.

High thrust trolling is needed when the area you are fishing is prone to extreme weather and water conditions. 

Shaft length 

One crucial factor to consider is the shaft length of the trolling motor. The shaft length is the exposed portion of the motor that goes into the water. 

Choosing a shaft length appropriate for your boat is vital so the motor can function properly.

The general rule of thumb is that the center of the motor section should be submerged at least 10 inches to provide adequate thrust. 

Volts

The power that a trolling motor needs is expressed in volts and will vary depending on the size and weight of your boat. 

For a small boat under 50lbs, a 12-volt trolling motor will be sufficient. 

For every 20-30lbs, your boat weighs over 50lbs; you will need to add an additional 12 volts to the trolling motor.

Note: The standard capacity of a boat trolling motor battery is 12V.

Size of boat

When choosing a trolling motor for your boat, size matters. The size of your boat will determine the size of the motor you need in terms of voltage, shaft size, and thrust.

Here are some guidelines for choosing the right trolling motor for your boat:

  • 16ft boat: 24 Volt, 72lbs of thrust, 50-inch shaft size
  • 18ft boat: 24 Volt, 80lbs of thrust, 60-inch shaft size
  • 20ft boat: 36 Volt, 100lbs of thrust, 60-inch shaft size 

What Makes a Good Boat Trolling Motor? (Choosing a Trolling Motor for Boats)

When choosing a trolling motor for your boat, there are a few key factors to keep in mind: 

The most crucial factor is intuitive control - you want a trolling motor that is easy to control so you can focus on fishing, not on struggling to keep your boat in place. 

Durability is also essential, as you want a trolling motor that will stand up to the elements and last for years to come. The average lifespan of trolling motors for boats is 7 years.

Cost is also a factor to consider, as you want to get the most bang for your buck. Well, the price range is wide ($120-$800), but you need to choose what will work for your boat without having to break the bank.

And finally, extra features can be a nice bonus, like GPS to find fishing spots, a wireless remote control, built-in imaging to see what’s below, autopilot for seamless navigation, etc. 

Putting all these factors together, you can find the perfect trolling motor for your boat. 

FAQs 

How do I Use a Trolling Motor?

Using a trolling motor is fairly simple. First, you will need to attach the motor to the appropriate part of your boat. Once the motor is secure, you need to turn on the engine and engage the trolling motor. To do this, you will need to find the trolling motor switch and turn it on. Once the motor is engaged, you can start moving forward.

To steer the boat, you will need to use the trolling motor control. This could be a tiller handle or a remote, depending on the type of trolling motor you have. You can steer the boat to where you want to move by moving the control in different directions.

How long does a boat trolling motor battery last?

If you’re using the correct battery for your trolling motor (e.g., 12V for a 30lb thrust boat trolling motor), it should last about 30 hours before recharging. If you use your boat for 6 hours a day, the battery should last you 5 days. 

How fast can a boat go on a trolling motor? 

The speed of a boat on a trolling motor is determined by several factors, including the motor's type and size, the boat's size and weight, and the water conditions. In general, trolling motors can move a boat at speeds between 2 and 8 miles per hour.