Peter WilkinsAuthor: Peter Wilkins
Last Updated: November, 2019

What to catch more fish? We check out the best trolling motors on the market

Marine electronics have significantly advanced over the last decade because competitive tournaments have spurred innovation. As an enthusiast, you too can take the hard work out of your favourite pastime. Trolling motors are the machines that help you get down to what truly matters – relaxing and fishing. It, of course, also helps if you have a decent fish finder handy (for which you can check out our best fish finder reviews).

There are numerous benefits to making use of new technology and purchasing a good quality trolling motor. For starters, you’ll have greater control over your vessel’s direction and speed as you’ll be able to reduce the impact of Mother Nature when it comes to strong winds and currents.

Best of all, you’ll have a backup power source. And it won’t be as loud as your main power source, making it ideal for presentation when moving short distances.

Most people who fish with a trolling motor can’t revert to life without one. But where do you even begin choosing the right model?

We’ve taken it upon ourselves to test the proverbial waters for you and will explain the factors you need to consider before making a purchase. You can also browse our review section – it lists the merits and drawbacks of five popular brands currently on the market.

”There is nothing I love more than fishing. It’s a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life and just relax. The thrill of the catch and the places that fishing takes you all add to a great past-time. Thankfully working for Focus Fishing gives me the opportunity to mix business with pleasure and wet and line as much as possible.

Matt, Focus Fishing.

Focus Fishing Matt

Best Trolling Motors 2019 - Reviews

1. MinnKota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor

5/5
 

Brand

MinnKota

Mount

Transom

Thrust

30 pounds

A popular choice with freshwater anglers, this trolling motor is a great option for anyone with a smaller fishing boat, kayak or even a dinghy. 

Minn Kota Endura also happens to be a very reliable name in the fishing game. The C2 30 is by no means high-tech, but it’s a solid, cost-effective choice. With only a 30-pound thrust, however, you should probably look elsewhere if you have a larger vessel. 

The shaft is practically invincible – no need to stress about underwater or other obstructions. Being able to depend on your machinery means you get to unwind in peace, just like your fishing reel. The shaft’s material is not metallic so it doesn’t rust. 

The motor itself is super quiet. You can go about your business knowing the fish won’t be swimming in the opposite direction. And if you’re looking for a basic motor that’s going to go the distance, the C2 30 is energy efficient. A quarter of the battery’s charge will last for four straight hours at high speed.

With the tiller, you’re easily able to maneuver your watercraft between objects, and switch speeds and directions. Expect smooth reversing and relatively slow speeds, even at maximum capacity – the fastest you’ll be moving is 8 kmph. 

 

Main Features

  • 8 speeds – 5 forward/3 Reverse
  • Thrust level – 30 pounds
  • 12 volts of power
  • Telescoping handle adjustable up to 6 inches in length
  • 10 position bracket with quick release lever lock. Material is protected from UV damage
  • Two-year warranty

Pros

  • Composite shaft is hard-wearing and has a lifetime warranty
  • Easy set-up
  • Long battery life
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not enough thrust for larger boats
  • Reverse speed settings lack power
  • Restricted to freshwater use

2. Newport Vessels 55 Pound Thrust Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor

5/5
 

Brand

Newport

Mount

Transom

Thrust

55 pounds

This mid-range trolling motor is suitable for all small to medium-sized watercraft under 16 feet long thanks to its durable transom mount and adjustable shaft.

The Newport Vessels brand has come to inspire trust in consumers. This NV-Series model utilizes a nylon transom mount, making it substantially cheaper than bow-mounted motors. It’s strong, but not the best mount we’ve seen on the market.

In terms of speed, you’re looking at going 14 kmph when the motor is at full throttle. That’s an impressive amount of power. You can also expect a smooth ride and very little drag from the three-blade propeller.

With regards to how much noise the motor makes, it’s almost silent. In fact, the motor is so stealthy you won’t be sure if it’s actually on or not which could be a bit annoying.

It has components made of magnesium, zinc and stainless steel. Because of it, this model is virtually immune to the ravages of salt water. Go from a lake one weekend to an ocean the next. The shaft is fibreglass – as durable as you could ever hope for, and an LED battery indicator lets you know how much longer you can stay out on the water.

 

 

Main Features

  • 8 speeds – 5 forward/3 Reverse
  • 30-inch composite fibreglass shaft
  • 55-pound thrust
  • 5-Point LED Battery Meter for your 12 V dc or marine battery (battery not included)
  • Aluminium head with 6-inch telescoping handle
  • Three-blade nylon propellor, 10 inches in diameter
  • Stainless steel hardware
  • Two-year warranty

Pros

  • Fresh or saltwater compatible
  • Shaft can adjust for different boat sizes

Cons

  • No speed indicators
  • Battery indicator’s LED screen is small and difficult to see in bright sunlight
  • Some components are made of plastic which reduces durability

3. Goplus 55-pound Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor

5/5
 

Brand

Goplus

Mount

Transom

Thrust

55 pounds

Another value-for-money option, this product is perfect for medium-sized watercraft including Jon boats, tenders, inflatables, canoes, and kayaks (provided they have brackets). With 55 pounds of thrust, the Goplus is ideal for bearing loads over 1000 pounds.

This trolling motor is made with durable materials so you don’t have to worry about corrosion from saltwater use – take it out to sea and it’ll come in handy when the wind dies.

If you’re a speed demon, the Goplus leaves something to be desired. Max speeds reach 5 kmph, which although not bad, is far from the fastest in this category.

The propeller is a weed-whacker of note, forging on through marshes and underwater grass. And the shaft works well in both deep and shallow waters. In addition, the nylon bracket provides stability and limits vibration.

There are two additional versions of this model. The first is priced lower, has a thrust of 46 pounds and provides a commendable amount of power for small vessels. The second costs a little more, has a thrust of 86 pounds for larger vessels and requires an extra battery.

There have been some mixed reviews about the battery life on this motor, so if you like your all-day boating sessions, this might not be the best choice for you. Having said that, this is a versatile, user-friendly motor that provides a lot of bang for your buck.

 

 

Main Features

  • 8 speeds – 5 forward/3 Reverse
  • 36-inch composite fibreglass shaft
  • 55-pound thrust
  • 10 point LED battery indicator
  • 6-inch telescoping handle
  • Requires a 12-volt battery (not included)
  • Three-blade propeller
  • Reinforced nylon bracket

Pros

  • Freshwater and saltwater compatible
  • Propeller effectively combats debris and thick vegetation
  • Longer shaft

Cons

  • Weak reverse setting
  • Doesn’t have the best battery life
  • Low speeds

4. MotorGuide X5 Foot-Operated Bow Mount Trolling Motor

5/5
 

Brand

MotorGuide

Mount

Bow

Thrust

80 pounds

MotorGuide’s X5 range comprises a number of models and thrust options, including one that’s hand-operated. We’ll be outlining the shared features of the various models – they’re some of the best in the business, providing functionality and dependability. These motors are basically soundless which should be a given, particularly in a high-end model.

If you want exceptional responsiveness and control over direction and speed, this trolling motor is your match made in fisherman heaven. From the foot pedal to the digital controls, to the dual cable steering, components have been made to ensure that you can play the vessel like an instrument – thoroughly and precisely.

The foot pedal is made of a high impact material which retains its sensitivity and longevity. The VRS steering lessens torque feedback for improved predictability of movement. And the digital controls enable you to plug in the speed you need while running cooler and conserving battery life – that’s a win-win in our books.

Other notable attributes include an effortless LED direction indicator with visibility around the clock which gives you rapid insight into where the motor head is pointing.

There’s also a snapback breakaway mechanism which serves as a bow guard if you collide with an immovable structure underwater.

Lastly, the shaft is unusual in that it has two columns; one for strength and one for flexibility if the vessel makes impact. Overall, this is a tournament-ready trolling motor made for tight turns and swift movement.

 

 

Main Features

  • Two column shaft with a lifetime guarantee
  • Digital speed control
  • Bow mount
  • Foot pedal control
  • Two-blade weedless propeller
  • LED Direction indicator
  • Dual cable Variable Radio Steering (VRS)
  • Breakaway mechanism
  • Integrated sonar (optional)

Pros

  • Sensitive steering
  • Sturdy mounting bracket made from aircraft grade aluminium
  • Energy-efficient

Cons

  • High price point
  • Freshwater only

5. Intex Transom Mount Trolling Motor for Intex Inflatable Boats

5/5
 

Brand

Intex

Mount

Transom

Thrust

40 pounds

Although this trolling motor works with other boat and kayak brands, it is specifically an accessory to many of Intex’s inflatable boats. These include but are not restricted to: the Excursion 3, 4, 5; Seahawk 2, 3, 4; Intex Challenger 3 and Mariner 3 and 4 inflatable boats. The above-mentioned inflatable boats tend to be under 16 feet with built-in motor mount fittings.

With power enough to carry four people, the Intex motor is able to reach admirable speeds of 13 kmph and does so with smooth acceleration. Resistance to overheating is due to a water cooling system which maximizes efficiency and ensures the motor isn’t unnecessarily worked.

Designed slightly differently to other models, the handle tilts upwards and downwards at various angles in addition to extending by 6 inches.

The hardware is suitable for different types of water, and the motor is quiet which is just the way we like it when we want to reel in the big fish. With automatic weed escape mode, you’ll have a nifty way to detangle yourself anytime you encounter some aquatic vegetation.

You can keep a set of oars as a backup, but say goodbye to having to actually use them. Before you head for the open waters and stay there all day, make sure your battery has 60-ampere hours at the minimum.

 

 

Main Features

  • 8 speeds – 5 forward/3 Reverse
  • 40-pound thrust
  • 36-inch fibreglass composite shaft
  • 12 V dc battery (not included)
  • Extendable telescopic handle
  • Adjustable mounting bracket
  • Battery meter
  • Control panel manages dry operation & overload protection
  • 2-year warranty

Pros

  • Suitable for Freshwater and Saltwater
  • Great battery life
  • Compatible with most inflatable boats

Cons

  • Restricted to inflatable watercraft
  • Propellers are made of plastic
  • Battery indicator not the most accurate

What To Look For When Buying A Trolling Motor

Boat with trolling motor

Thrust

Thrust refers to the amount of strength required to actually move your watercraft. This is determined by what kind of water you’re planning to troll and the size of your boat. 

Generally, boats under 12 feet require approximately 30 pounds of thrust, and vessels that are at least 22 feet need a minimum of 100 pounds.

Any trolling motor you’re considering should state the boat size it’s intended for. If that’s not the case, keep in mind the following: for every 200 pounds of boat, you will require 5 pounds of thrust.

You can pick a motor that provides up to 20 more pounds of thrust than you actually need as this gives you more control in rough waters, especially if you plan on going ice fishing with your trusty ice fishing fish finder.

Mount Type

You have two options when it comes to mounts – a transom mount and a bow mount. The former pushes the boat, and the latter pulls it and is therefore faster.

Bow mounts are best suited to vessels over 14 feet. They’re placed at the front of the boat and occupy a fair amount of space – it’s pretty obvious they’re meant for bigger boats.

Transom mounts clamp on to the back of many different types of watercraft like fishing kayaks and smaller boats, and they’re easy to set up.

Shaft Length

One thing to bear in mind is that the shaft needs to be long enough to be able to fully submerge the propeller. If it’s not, your motor won’t work properly, if at all. That being said, if it’s too long, you’ll encounter problems in shallow water and could cause damage to your equipment.

If you know the height of your bow or stern, you’ll have a good idea of what your shaft length needs to be. Most trolling motors will enable you to tweak the length of the shaft for different vessels and varying conditions. The advertised specs will denote how far the shaft can extend to. Do a little mental math to figure out if a particular model will work for your vessel or not.

Control Type

You can control a trolling motor by hand, by foot, or by remote wireless control which is seemingly the way of the future. Transom motors usually have hand tillers and bow mounts are commonly found bearing one or the other type of control.

Using a foot pedal means that you’ll be hands-free to operate the rod, and carefree too. It’s easier to both fish and position the boat when you’re stepping on foot controls. This makes a foot motor a good option for beginners.

On the other hand, literally, a tiller is the preferable choice if your trolling motor is the primary source of power for your vessel. Also, if you want to maximize your deck space and accommodate more people, then a hand tiller gives you more room to work with.

Lift-Assist

Although this aspect is still up for debate, it’s believed that hand controls enable immediate and meticulous maneuvering, as opposed to the delayed response of foot controls.Lift-Assist

Automatic lift-assist can be very useful when it’s time to deploy or stow your trolling motor. It slows entry into the water and makes lifting back onto deck a cinch.

It’s not a ubiquitous feature, but many of the high-end models will have it. Brands like Minn Kota utilize this tech in some of their motors, and others like MotorGuide use add-on accessories.

Batteries and Voltage

Power systems on trolling motors range from 12 volts for smaller vessels, to 24V and 36V for larger ones with more thrust. One, two, or three similar batteries are used respectively.

The user-friendly 12-volt deep-cell marine battery is naturally the cheapest and adds less weight to the watercraft. The downside is that you’ll be out on the water for a shorter period of time.

Conversely, a multi-battery system increases the amount of time between battery recharges.

The greater the amperage or ampere-hours (Ah) on your batteries, the longer they will power the motor. This, consequently, affects the length of your trolling session. There are simple calculations you can do to figure out your motor run time.

Battery Indicator

A surefire way to ruin an awesome day of trolling is to have the battery die on you unexpectedly. Having a trusty battery indicator (and they’re not all made alike) affords you real peace of mind.

Look out for a good quality gauge if you’re prone to forgetting to charge your battery, or if you see long trolling stints in your near future.

Durability

Trolling motors don’t come cheap, so longevity is something to take into account when weighing up your options. What kinds of materials were used to produce a particular model?

Plastic is, more often than not, flimsy. It has a tendency to crack and nobody wants to hear or see that. Shafts, especially, necessitate tough materials that can withstand batterings. Check the manufacturer’s warranty. On the whole, the longer the warranty, the more confidence a brand has in its product.

Another factor is whether you’ll be using your trolling motor in saltwater, freshwater or both contexts. Use your freshwater motor in a saltwater environment for which it was not intended, and you risk serious malfunctions.

Fibreglass and steel that has been anodized, protect against corrosion. Marine grade plastic also has a role to play. Where it surrounds electronic parts, it cuts down exposure and reduces the detrimental effects of saltwater.

Speed

Thrust power is an indication of the amount of weight which can be moved around at a consistent speed. It’s worth noting that there’s a limit to how fast you can go. Adding the largest trolling motor that your watercraft can accommodate doesn’t equate to breakneck speeds.

In terms of tempo, it seems a bit counter-intuitive to go fast when you’re trolling. Sure, you might find yourself trying to evade a storm and at that moment you’ll likely wish your trolling motor had an extra gear.

For everything else, you’ll be going at a rather sedate pace. Your speed will need to change depending on what type of fish you’re hoping to lure, but it will merely shift to a different variety of slow.

Luckily, most trolling motors come with quite a few settings so you can switch up your speed according to your needs. Just make sure you bring some fishing sunglasses to deal with the water splashing up.

About The Author

Peter Wilkins

Peter WilkinsWhen I’m not out fishing trying to land my next pb, you can find me writing about fishing, or reviewing the latest in fishing gear. Hopefully, our articles will help you make an informed decision on your next fishing tackle purchase, and ideally catch more fish!

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