Have you ever stopped to think why a trolling motor is called ‘trolling’? The unit is actually named after a type of fishing- trolling. In this type of fishing lines with lures or baitfish are drawn through the water at a consistent speed. This is precisely what the best trolling motor should do for you- help your kayak, boat, or other vessel move at a steady pace, while you concentrate on fishing.
Finding a high-quality electric motor can be a bit hard with such a variety of products to choose from. Trolling motors come in different sizes, types, etc. You need to take a lot of things into consideration, and we are here to help.
In this buying guide, we will not only explain everything you should look for in a unit, but we will also give you useful maintenance and safety tips. But first, let’s start with our top 7 reviews on the best trolling motors.
Best Trolling Motors Comparison Chart
Minn Kota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor
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Newport Vessels NV-Series 36lb Electric Trolling Motor
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Minn Kota Endura Max in Shaft Thrust Trans MNT
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Goplus Electric Trolling Motor
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MinnKota Traxxis 45 Transom Mount Trolling Motor
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Cloud Mountain Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor
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Watersnake T24 Asp 24 Pound Thrust 12V Electric Trolling Motor
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BEST TROLLING MOTOR REVIEWS – (RECOMMENDED PICKS)
These are our top suggestions for trolling motors. They are not organized in any particular order because they are all reliable and each would be a great choice. Nevertheless, it is up to you to choose which unit is going to be the ONE.
1. Minn Kota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor
Minn Kota is a company that surely has proven its place when it comes to building robust and innovative trolling motors. When we talk about such units, the quiet running of the engine is essential. The unique bearing system of this MinnKota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor reduces friction and therefore cuts fish-spooking noise.
The motor also features extra-large windings and communicators that dissipate heat. As a result, you get extended battery power, cooler operation, and longer motor life. The composite shaft is another significant feature as it is hard to break, kink or corrode.
The MinnKota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor has five-speed settings for forward and three-speed settings for reverse. The motor works correctly when moving your boat forward. However, the most significant disadvantage this unit has is that it is not very efficient in reverse. It takes a lot of battery to move the boat backward, and you will probably have to use the fastest speed setting. Another negative thing about this product is that there is no battery charge indicator. Still, for the price, this trolling motor is a great catch.
- Large windings and communicators
- Quiet and cooler operation
- 5 forward/3 Reverse Speed Settings
- Does not work well in reverse
- No battery charge indicator
2. Newport Vessels NV-Series 36lb Electric Trolling Motor
The Newport Vessels NV-Series 36lb Electric Trolling Motor is comfortable to operate, cool, and relatively quiet. When used on forwarding speeds, the unit works a bit loud, but it is nothing too unbearable compared to the other advantages the motor has to offer. This trolling motor is excellent for your kayak, boat, and other vessels. It will allow you to fish all day long without overheating.
The unit features a 30-inch, high-strength, fully adjustable shaft that is suitable for depth placement in all water conditions. The ergonomic extendable handle, 3 reverse speeds, and 5 forward speeds are just some of the advantages this Newport Vessels NV-Series 36lb Electric Trolling Motor has to offer.
Still, there are some negative features that we would like to mention. Besides the fact that the unit works a bit loud when on forward speeds, its mounting bracket is plastic and unreliable. On the other hand, the hardware is made of stainless steel, zinc, and magnesium and ensures the motor is ready for fresh and saltwater.
- High-strength shaft
- Ergonomic extendable handle
- 5 forward and 3 reverse speeds
- Runs silently in reverse, but is very loud in forwards speeds
- The mounting bracket is plastic and flimsy.
3. Minn Kota Endura Max in Shaft Thrust Trans MNT
This unit does not only operate quietly, but it also has large windings and commutators that dissipate heat and make sure you get a cool operation as well. With this Minn Kota Endura Max in Shaft Thrust Trans MNT, you get longer motor life and extended battery power.
The Digital Maximizer this unit is equipped with provides up to 5 times longer run time on a single battery charge. This trolling motor lets you dial in your exact speed and delivers you as much power as you need, helping you conserve your battery through a full day of fishing. The lever-lock bracket of the unit is made with reinforced composite material, and it can resist warping, flexing, and UV damage.
If you use a fish finder on your boat, it is essential to know what the most significant disadvantage to this unit is. The Minn Kota Endura Max in Shaft Thrust Trans MNT is indeed an excellent trolling motor; however, it emits a large amount of electromagnetic interference and will probably make your fishfinder unusable when trolling.
- On a single battery charge, the unit provides up to 5 times longer run time
- Reinforced lever-lock bracket
- Composite shaft
- Vibrates moderately at high speed
- It emits a large amount of electromagnetic interference
4. Goplus Electric Trolling Motor
This trolling motor will make your fishing trip so much easier. The unit has a 6” telescoping adjustable handle that will allow you to control the engine quickly. You also get 5 forward and 3 reverse speeds that will ensure your smooth and easily controlled ride.
The three-bladed propeller of the Goplus Electric Trolling Motor 46/55/86 LBS is another essential feature the unit has. It is a guarantee for smooth movement even through grass and marsh. However, you need to be careful as the top head of the motor isn’t waterproof and water could leak in there.
A significant advantage this unit has to offer is the 10 points LED lights battery indicator. You will be able to observe how much electricity is left. This is important because the second main disadvantage of this trolling motor is that it drains the battery really fast. The fiberglass composite shaft of the Golpus trolling motor is corrosion resistant but the thrust, on the other hand, is not really durable.
- Three-blade propeller
- Fiberglass shaft
- 5 forward and 3 reverse speeds
- Adjustable handle
- Drains the battery really fast
- The top head of the motor isn’t waterproof
- The thrust is not that durable
5. MinnKota Traxxis 45 Transom Mount Trolling Motor
This trolling motor delivers versatility and convenience and is once again made by Minn Kota. The bracket design of the unit offers easy deployment and true one-hand stowing. However, it is made of plastic and therefore a bit flimsy. The product features an ergonomic handle that can tilt and extend and will surely give you comfort and control.
The innovative collar that is placed above the Traxxis mount gives you the ability to adjust steering tension to your desired level. If you want effortless steering, you can keep it loose or if you’re going to keep the unit in place, allowing for true vertical stowing- tighten it down.
The most significant advantage this trolling motor has is the digital maximizer technology that can provide around five times longer run time on one charge. It also conserves battery power and extends run-time by controlling the draw of power at variable speeds. The unit also has a push-to-test battery meter that will instantly show you the battery-charge status. Overall, this unit is perfect for your small vessel. One other disadvantage, though, is the weak performance in reverse.
- Digital Maximizer technology
- Ergonomic handle
- Push-to-test battery meter
- Flimsy plastic bracket
- Weak performance in reverse
6. Cloud Mountain Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor
This Cloud Mountain Electric Trolling Motor features a reinforced nylon bracket that ensures good ablation resistance, high strength, and excellent dimension stability. The ergonomic extendable handle makes the usage of this unit super easy. This trolling motor has 5 forward and 3 reverse speeds and will give you a smooth and easy controlled ride.
This motor is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater as the hardware is made of stainless steel. However, a significant disadvantage to mention is the fact that none of the bolts are made of stainless steel and the situation can get messy pretty quickly. Also, the mounting of the product is made of plastic and is unreliable.
On the other hand, this Cloud Mountain trolling motor has many advantages. For example, the 10-Point LED Battery indicator that does not only protect the batteries but also allows you to observe how much electricity you have left. The 28-inch Fiberglass Composite Shaft is also something worth mentioning. It allows for proper depth placement is pretty much all water conditions.
- Reinforced nylon bracket
- Ergonomic handle
- Reliable hardware
- LED Battery indicator
- None of the bolts are made of stainless steel
- The mounting is made of plastic
7. Watersnake T24 Asp 24 Pound Thrust 12V Electric Trolling Motor
If you need a trolling motor than you are also looking for portability and lightweight. Well, this trolling motor offers this and more. Watersnake T24 Asp 24 Pound Thrust 12V Electric Trolling Motor is perfect for your canoe, kayak, inflatable boat, a small dinghy, etc., as it weighs only 2.2kg.
The unit does indeed have a simple design, but that does not mean that it will not deliver the performance you need. This trolling motor has high and low-speed control, and an extendable handle to ensure easy steering, and a forward and reverse switch.
The bracket of the motor makes the installation of the unit super easy. However, it is also the ‘weak spot’ of this unit. The kayak mount is designed to be infinitely adjustable, but when the motor is turned on, especially in high-speed mode, there is pretty much no way to keep it from kicking up. The propeller of the unit is also unreliable. The good part is that these are all parts you can get separately, and at the end of the day the motor itself is the most crucial part.
- High and low-speed control
- Extendable handle
- Unreliable propeller
- Poorly made kayak mount
How do Trolling Motors Work?
You can’t choose a unit for your boat if you are not one hundred percent clear about how trolling motors work Trolling motors have gears but their power comes from electricity. Usually, you will need a couple of deep cycle marine batteries to power these units. We recommend you get your hands on the best batteries by reading our extensive guide. In contrast to the outboard motors, here we do not measure the power in HP. Instead, it is measured in-lbs. In other words – thrust.
Trolling motors require a special mount to be installed on the boat. Then, the motor is put onto the mount using some clamps for stability. You will also need brackets so that you can pull the motor in and out of the water.
There are a few ways you can control the direction of the trolling motor- via a foot pedal, hand tiller, or wirelessly. More often than not, you will be using cables to transmit commands to the control head of your trolling motor. This in turn will steer the propeller in a certain direction. Needless to say, the propeller will be underwater.
Advantages of Trolling Motors
All of the marine equipment that we have outlined on our website has advantages over something else. Trolling motors are no different. Let’s see what they give us.
There’s no comparison between having a trolling motor and using a paddle, for example. The boat control that you get by using a simple trolling motor is impressive -, especially with small vessels. Your motor will allow you not only to do boating against currents and tides but it will also allow you to steer easily.
There will hardly be any tough situations for you when fishing. Just remember to stay away from banks or underwater rocks as you may damage your unit.
We already mentioned that in the previous paragraph, however, it is important to mark it one more time. A trolling motor would let you access areas that you would not be able to otherwise.
Some motors will even allow you to cover specific lanes without having to navigate the motor manually. This indicates that you will be able to focus on fishing without worrying about anything else.
Angling right on top of the fish is something that is not going to be a problem if you have a trolling motor. Compared to big marine motors such as the outboard ones, these units will not give you the same power. However, they offer a reduction in noise when maneuvering the boat, and that is a significant advantage when it comes to fishing.
Most people who deal with fishing know how irritating it is for your motor to die on you in the middle of nowhere. With a trolling motor, this is unlikely to happen so you can be calm and enjoy your fishing trip. Yes, these units will not make your boat fly, but at least you will not have to seek help or paddle like crazy on your way back.
Trolling Motor Types
We divide the trolling motor types by a couple of factors:
- Mount type
- Control type.
So let’s look at all 3 main groups now.
This is by far the most popular type of trolling motors out there. Most people use their boats in freshwater and this explains why this product is so widespread. It is important to note that this type of motor must never see saltwater or it might be damaged beyond repair.
Using a freshwater trolling motor while fishing in a saltwater environment is a huge mistake that you should not do. Seawater is exceptionally corrosive, so if your water is not made for it, even with great washing after use, your unit will break down pretty quickly.
Saltwater motors have the proper protection such as encapsulated heads. Their gears and electronics are also protected by some hard sealed metal parts. Almost no water comes into contact with anything else but the propeller of the unit.
- Bow Mount
These are pretty widespread. Many fishermen prefer having their motor installed in the front of the boat. This way they have more control over the motor. Furthermore, they get to look at it all the time. Nothing happens behind their back.
When you pull the boat out of the water, however, it will be heavy at the front. You might want to dismount the motor before landing at a coast. This will also make sure that you won’t damage the propeller of the unit.
Another knock on these motors is the fact that the mount requires some holes to be drilled in the boat.
- Transom Mount
These motors are easier to install. The mount will not need you to alter your hull in any way. There will be no boat drilling. The transom mount is usually installed at the stern of the boat. This will make turning way easier because the motor is behind the boat. The power of the motor pushes the boat forward instead of pulling it as is the case with the bow mount motors.
Transom motors are very convenient for small boats. This is because the mount easily comes on and off just by removing the clamps. What some people don’t like about that mount is the fact that the person has to have one hand on the handle all the time. To make things more inconvenient, that handle is behind the back of the person controlling the motor.
By Motor Control
This option is still a pretty expensive one. More often than not, bow-mounted motors will be wireless. This is because the person can see right away how the motor behaves after a button has been pressed. Don’t let the word “wireless” fool you. You can still establish manual control over the unit.
- Hand Tiller
Hand controlled trolling motors have a handle that extends inwards. The handle is typically placed on the head of the motor. You will usually encounter transom-mounted motors when looking for hand tillers. Such motors allow the person to act quickly in case they need a sudden change of direction.
You need to be careful to not twist the handle to quick because this will also increase the speed of the motor and may lead to you losing control over your boat. We recommend always wearing the emergency bracelet around your wrist. It will kill the motor in case your hand gets too far away from the handle (i.e if you tip over)
- Foot Pedal
Foot Pedal motors are good for anglers that use medium to large-sized boats. Their most significant benefit is that they are hands-free and this will allow you to focus on your fishing.
Foot control options that use GPS control are also available. This type of trolling motor is available for both fresh and saltwater models but is found only on bow mounted trolling motors.
Features and Factors to Consider When Looking for a Trolling Motor
A motor has many parts and this means that you will have to consider a lot of factors when picking the right trolling motor. Let’s not waste any more time and get on with it.
The length of the shaft
The shaft length will determine the size of the mount you will need to get. The longer your shaft, the greater the distance between the bow and the waterline. The same goes for the transom and the waterline.
Let’s say your shaft is 36 inches long. This means that your bow mount would shorter than 16 inches. However, a transom mount for the same shaft length will have to be between 10 and 16 inches long.
This is really simple – most propellers come with 2 blades. Of course, there are 3-bladed props and they are typically featured by larger and more powerful motors. If you want your trolling motor to generate more than 90 lbs of thrust then you will definitely need a prop with 3 blades.
Powerful motors may not be your best option. You need to run the right calculations depending on the size of your boat but you also need to determine whether you will be fishing in saltwater or freshwater. That’s also why it is essential to know the differences between saltwater and freshwater.
To see how much thrust you need, you have to divide the vessels weight by 100. Then, multiply that number by two. In other words, you need to have thrust equal to 2 lbs per every 100 lbs of boat weight. Now, flow direction and tides also matter. So if you are going to fight currents all the time, we recommend you go for a more powerful motor.
This is a very general factor, and you pretty much have two options: fixed speed controls and digital variable.
When it comes to efficiency, digital variables always score higher, that’s why many people prefer them. However, digital variable motors are often more expensive compared to gear-controlled units.
Digital Maximizer is a great additional feature that we really suggest you have. It will slow down the draining process of the trolling motor battery and therefore give you increased run time.
Maintaining your trolling motor is essential, regardless of how expensive it is. Below you will see some useful tips that will help you take care of your trolling motor properly.
1- Recharge the battery regularly and before use!
If your battery is not fully charged and you still decide to use it, it may have adverse effects on the battery life. To preserve the efficiency of your unit, make sure that the battery is one hundred percent full before you fire it up.
2- Always check if It sounds right!
Cranking sounds are never a good sign. If something sounds odd while starting the motor, consider it a red signal.
3- Clean your trolling motor regularly!
This is logical; however, we need to mention it. Keeping your trolling motor clean and dirt-free will prolong its life period. We recommend that you wipe down the entire motor with an anti-abrasive material after each usage.
4- Always keep an eye on the propeller!
If your propeller is chipped or bent the performance of the motor will also be wrong. That’s why you need to look for any signs of damage regularly.
We are happy to tell you that you have successfully arrived at the end of our buying guide to finding the best trolling motor. Such a unit will not only help your boat or other vessel perform excellently but will also make your fishing experience better.
If you have found our piece and our reviews on the best trolling motors useful, you can share them with all your mates and family. They may find the buying guide to be useful as well, and who knows – you may even go to fishing trips together. If there should be anything you would like to add to this article or just ask us something, feel free to leave us a comment or send us an email.
We have many other articles devoted to picking the right unit, so if you have enjoyed this one, go check them out as well. Thanks for reading, and as always- stay put!