When going fishing, it is very useful to equip your boat with a trolling motor. You can mount it on your boat, kayak or other vessel, and let it do the work while you concentrate on fishing. A trolling motor is an electric motor which helps you move at a steady speed. It got it’s name after a type of fishing – trolling, where fishing lines with bait fish or lures are drawn through the water at a consistent speed. Fish find this very appealing.
There are a few things to be taken into consideration when choosing the best electric trolling motor for your vessel. They come in different sizes, which in turn determines their power output. People often think that buying the biggest one will solve all their problems, but that isn’t always the case. If you have a smaller vessel, for example a kayak, buying the largest motor can prove to be difficult to handle, may require more batteries to power it (meaning you will lose more space on-board) and finally – they simply cost more.
You should always choose a motor that is adequate for your boat, meaning that the size and type is good so you won’t experience any problems while out on water. We will explain everything you should look for in our buying guide below. But first, check out our trolling motor reviews to see the excellent product suggestions we picked out for you. Hopefully it will help you find the right solution for you fishing adventures.
Trolling Motor Reviews
How To Choose The Best Trolling Motors – Buying Guide
Like we mentioned, equipping your vessel with a trolling motor enables you to move at a constant speed. This eliminates the need for paddling or using a larger motor and is beneficial for fishing. Another upside of using a trolling motor is that it doesn’t make much noise. Before they were introduced, boats used larger gasoline motors which were noisy and scared away the fish. As for kayaks, you were forced to paddle – which took away both energy and time.
Then came this great solution. Trolling motors are getting better and better, and there is a wide array of products available for every boat. However, you must always do the research yourself and compare the products to your vessel. We will do our best to present the options and features that come with a trolling motor, so you can make the best choice.
There are many different features of electric motors which determine their price and the circumstances they are best for. For example – thrust, shaft length, materials used, mount type or voltage are all determining factors if the particular trolling motor is right for your vessel. Take a look at detailed explanation of every one of these features and more to learn how to buy the best trolling motor for pontoon boat.
This is essentially the power your trolling motor has. Thrust determines the ability of the motor to propel your vessel through the water. It is usually measured in pounds, meaning that the more pounds of thrust a trolling motor has, the more powerful it is. If you want to mount it on a kayak, you can go with a smaller motor, however if you want to use it on a bigger boat you have to consider that small motors won’t be very effective in moving you around.
In general, bigger is usually better. It will give you a steady performance in every situation. But, larger motors are also more expensive, and that is a problem for some people. So, you have to know how much the minimum amount of thrust needed for your vessel is.
Keep in mind that thrust is the power a motor has to push (or pull) your vessel at a consistent speed. Installing a stronger motor on a small vessel doesn’t mean that you will be able to go extremely fast, just that you won’t be encountering problems while on the water. As we mentioned earlier, going with a slightly bigger motor is a good idea, but not too big.
Because trolling motors aren’t very cheap, you have to think about the durability. You don’t want to go out and buy another one every year. This is determined by the materials used in making it. As you’ll see further down in our guide, there are trolling electric motors which are better for fresh water and some that are better for salt water.
But let’s put that aside for a moment, you want a motor that is built from materials which won’t crack easily. This means that the less plastic parts the motor has, the better. Shafts should be made from sturdy materials which will ensure that they won’t crack when you hit something in the water.
Products we reviewed have shafts made from fiberglass composite, which is close to indestructible. Also, it offers a very large flexibility. Hardware should be made from heavy duty materials, and additional reinforcements don’t hurt. You should also check the propeller you get with your purchase. It’s good if it doesn’t easily get tangled in weeds. Also, it’s nice if there is a replacement available to buy if there are problems with the original one.
Most manufacturers offer a warranty on their products. Be aware that not every part of your trolling motor is under the same type of warranty. While not always the case, this too can be an indicator of the build quality of a certain part. If the warranty is longer, it can mean that the manufacturer doesn’t expect any malfunctions happening any time soon.
However, always do your research and see what other people who have tried the product have to say. This way you can avoid headaches in the future.
Trolling motors usually come with 8 fixed speeds. These are 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse. It gives you the versatility you need moving around on water. The speed motors can achieve is even up to 8mph, but this depends on the trolling motor model as well as the boat you attach it to. This can be very helpful when you’re coming back from your fishing trip, or want to escape rough water or a storm.
The speed which is suitable for trolling depends on the fish you are after and also on the occasion you find yourself in. While the maximum speed may sometimes be too fast for successful trolling, the fact that you have different speed settings guarantees you can find the right tempo.
When you put your bait in the water, start moving at slower speed and then speed up gradually to see how it behaves. If it doesn’t stay where it should be, maybe you should slow down a bit.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that the thrust power of your motor isn’t necessarily related to the maximum speed you are going to get. There is a speed limit you can achieve, and adding a larger trolling motor won’t make your vessel a speed boat. The amount of thrust just means that it can guarantee to move a certain weight around at a consistent speed. For this reason, you should find the perfect balance and the right one for your boat.
The length of the trolling motor shaft is something that can greatly influence the overall performance of your trolling motor. If your bow or transom is farther away from water, you will logically need a longer shaft. You should measure the distance from the transom (bow) to the waterline to get the idea which type of shaft you will need to get. To this measured length you need to add additional 18 inches (approximately) in order to be certain that the propeller is in the right position in the water.
Kayaks usually need a shorter shaft on the trolling motor, while bigger boats require longer ones. Whichever the case, you need to aim for the optimal dimensions. If the shaft is too short, you are at risk that it won’t be submerged properly which will reduce the efficiency of the motor, even making it useless in certain situations.
On the other hand, if the shaft is too long, there is a chance that it will hit the water bed when you are in shallower waters. This also impairs your ability to move around, as well as increases the possibility of damage to occur to your trolling motor, which can be very annoying and not to mention costly.
Luckily, many trolling motors come with an adjustable shaft. We have presented several models with this option in our reviews. This is a fantastic feature, which allows you to mount the same trolling motor on different types of vessels, and also to adjust it for different conditions you are going to find yourself in. This saves you the trouble and money of buying two trolling motors, and also decreases the chance of accidents.
We already mentioned that the materials used in trolling motor construction are very important in terms of durability. The shaft is considered the weak point of the trolling motor, because it is exposed to all kinds of potential damage. For this reason, you need to pay attention if the shaft is made from durable materials. In any case, this is your decision. It depends on the type of water you plan on being in, as well as your budget of course.
When it comes to voltage of your trolling motor, there are three options. They come as 12V, 24V or 36V electric trolling motors. What this means is the number of volts they require to work. The 12V versions will require a single 12V deep-cell marine battery, 24V will require you use two batteries of the same type and, logically, 36V will need three of those.
Generally, electric motors with more thrust will require more power. So, motors with over 100lbs of thrust will often need 36 volts to run properly. On the other hand, almost every trolling motor for kayak and smaller vessels needs only 12V. This is good for two reasons. First, motors that require 12V are cheaper on average than the larger ones. Second, you don’t need to keep several batteries on board to add weight to the vessel and take up space you could use for something else.
However, it has some downsides compared to the larger ones. Your time on water is going to be shorter than with a more powerful motor. This is because there are limitations of the batteries and the time they can power your motor. The 24V or 36V use a multi-battery system which in way is more economic when it comes to power.
This means that you can use it for longer fishing trips or even several times without the need to recharge the batteries. We will talk in more detail about the batteries below, so you can find out what to buy with your motor to get maximum performance.
A trolling motor can be mounted in two positions on your vessel. You can install it on the bow or on the transom of your boat. The design of the mounting parts of the motors is different, so they can’t be interchangeable. This means you need to know ahead where you want to put it. Both types have some advantages and disadvantages.
The bow mount type trolling motor is installed in the front of your boat. It is better suited for medium and larger vessels, which have enough space up front to allow it to be positioned properly. Having it on a smaller boat can be impractical, sometimes you can’t install it right and it can be difficult to operate.
This type of electric trolling motor allows the user to have better maneuverability. This is very important sometimes, if you wan’t to navigate through a difficult terrain.
The transom mount type is mounted on the stern of your boat, and clamps or special mounting systems are used to keep it in place. This option is more popular for smaller vessels such as kayaks or canoes. The reason for this is that the transom mounted trolling motor is much easier to operate for the person sitting in a kayak.
There are two basic types of controls you have when buying a trolling motor. You can either control it by hand or by foot. The type of motor you will get depends on your personal preference in the first place, but also on a few other things.
Hand controlled trolling motors have a lever (handle) which you use to steer your boat. One of the advantages it offers are that the response time you get from it is immediate, meaning you can precisely navigate through potential obstacles you may encounter in the water. Also, it takes up less space on board. A downside is that you are required to have a hand on the controller to steer your boat, which diverts your focus from the activity you are doing.
A foot controlled trolling motor is in our opinion more practical. You get a pedal which you place in your boat and step on to control the functions of your motor. This is very useful, because it leaves your hands free to operate the fishing rod and other equipment.
The downside is that the response of the motor is not immediate when you press the pedal, which you may find a little annoying. Also, you have to place the pedal in your boat, which can be a problem if you are using a kayak or some other smaller vessel.
Finally, there are models out there which offer wireless remote control. Of course, this comes at a higher price. You get a remote to steer your boat and to control the speed you are going. Whichever type you choose, give yourself time to get used to the controls.
There are a few features you can get on your trolling motor which can make your experience even better. Some are nowadays pretty standard, while others are high tech and require you to spend a little more money. We already mentioned that there are trolling motors available which have wireless control.
The first nice feature is a battery gauge. It is included in the head of the unit, and it displays how much power you have left in your battery. This is very useful to know, since you can easily see how much time you have left on the water, and when you need to start going back to recharge the battery.
Some trolling motors can be self-directed. This means it can steer the vessel on it’s own. It does this by following the shoreline or a certain depth. It can even be adjusted to steer you in a straight line. This allows you to have both free hands and feet and to completely concentrate on your fishing. However, if you are just starting to use trolling motors, try to master manual controls first.
More modern types of trolling motors come with digital displays. These displays show you the speed you are currently going at, as well as the depth underneath you. Knowing this information is very helpful, because depending on the fish you are after a certain movement speed is better than others. Also, some fish dwell at certain depths so knowing if you are at the right place can certainly be helpful not to go home empty-handed.
There are innovations happening constantly, and manufacturers are trying to improve their products and offer new features before the competition does. This tends to go hard on your pocket, so you have to determine which of these is useful to you, and which you can live without and buy some other piece of equipment for your boat.
When we talk about comfort, we talk about the ease of use of your trolling motor. This is in some way a blend between many of the points we already mentioned above. Since you are going to spend long hours on water, you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable while operating your motor.
This depends of the type of your boat, and if you are going to mount the motor on the bow or transom. It should be in hands reach, and the height should also be adequate. If not, your hands are going to get tired. This is where an adjustable shaft is also useful.
If you choose to have a foot controlled trolling motor, the pedal should be positioned so your foot sits in a comfortable position. The whole point is that you have a good time while out on the water, and not to have to strain your body and worry about the motor which should be there to serve you.
Q: How do trolling motors work?
Q: How do I determine the thrust requirements?
Q: What is the difference between saltwater and freshwater trolling motors?
Q: What are the best batteries for trolling motors?
Q: How do I calculate my motor run time?
Q: How to maintain a trolling motor?
Globo Surf Overview
Trolling motors are fantastically useful in many situations you will find yourself in. They make fishing more fun and much easier. Also, they eliminate the need for paddling to the middle of the lake and back when you are in your kayak for example.
There are many things to consider when choosing the best trolling motor for kayak. We hope that the information we presented was useful to you, so that you know how to find the right product for your boat. If you are unsure, check out the products in our trolling motor reviews to find the best one. You will certainly make a good choice!
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Have you tried a trolling motor that made it onto our list? Which type and model did you get? How well did it perform on your vessel? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.
Globo Surf Trolling Motors Review