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Best Trolling Motors of 2021

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Best Trolling Motor Reviews of 2021

Best-in-class
Minn Kota Terrova

Minn Kota Terrova Freshwater Trolling Motor with Universal Sonar 2 and i-Pilot GPS

Best trolling motor with GPS

The i-Pilot GPS system makes navigation a cinch even when tackling new lakes and rivers.

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1 Minn Kota Terrova Review

Freshwater fishing or recreational boating is more fun when your boat has enough power to take you anywhere you want. With 80 lbs of thrust, this trolling motor works wonders on mid-sized and larger boats alike.

Two features we particularly like are the easy-to-deploy and spring-loaded Lift Assist systems. With their help, you can lower and raise the motor with minimal effort. Designed with easy navigation in mind, the motor also features a low-profile, electric foot pedal and comes with a GPS system.

You can use the Spot-Lock function on the GPS to record paths or mark a point. Furthermore, this trolling motor is compatible with the Humminbird fish finder – just what you need for a perfect fishing weekend.

Best value
Minn Kota Endura C2 55

Minn Kota Endura C2 55 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor

Best freshwater trolling motor

Ergonomic steering and speed control allow for a seamless driving of a mid-sized fishing boat.

Check price on Amazon

2 Minn Kota Endura C2 55 Review

Minn Kota is a brand known for its responsive, easy to control transom-mount motors – a few reasons it’s one of the most popular choice among anglers – and the Endura C2 55 doesn’t disappoint. It’s perfect for mid-sized boats and packs a wealth of features developed for smooth sailing across lakes and marshes.

Like our best in class, it has five forward and three reverse speeds, as well as a 6-inch telescopic handle designed for easy control. Using a 12-volt battery, is not as powerful as the Goplus, but it’s still powerful enough to go through underwater vegetation.

Cool and quiet operation bring further value. It will unlikely scare the fish population, while excellent dissipation of heat enhances the battery life as well as the motor lifespan. No doubt, the best trolling motor for freshwater fishing enthusiasts.

Also great
Newport Vessels 23M1000203

Newport Vessels 23M1000203 NV-Series 55lb Thrust Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor

Great saltwater trolling motor

A 55lbs thrust and three-blade propeller ensure outstanding performance when navigating through seawater.

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3 Newport Vessels 23M1000203 Review

The Newport Vessels 23M1000203 can be defined as a hybrid between our best value and the best in class, bringing the best of both worlds for saltwater fishing.

In terms of power, it comes with a 55lbs thrust, just like our best value. It has eight total speeds – five forward and three reverse – and, like our best in class, it comes with a three-blade propeller.

Designed to use with a 12-volt deep cycle or marine battery, this trolling motor is perfect for occasional use.

Best budget
Newport Vessels Kayak

Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36lb/55lb Saltwater Trolling Motor

An affordable saltwater pick

Eight speeds and intuitive operation make it perfect for novice fishing enthusiasts.

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4 Newport Vessels Kayak Review

If you’re new to fishing and have only bought a small boat so far, the Newport Vessels Kayak trolling motor could fit you just right.

This motor features a digital control panel and is very easy to use. Boasting 36 lbs of thrust, it can power inflatable and wooden boats alike. Ideal for saltwater fishing, it features an all-aluminum motor head and stainless steel hardware.

It doesn’t come with a GPS or other bells and whistles, but this trolling motor does what it’s supposed to do, and buying it won’t break the bank.

What is a trolling motor?

A trolling motor is a small boat motor designed to move the vessel in shallow waters, to keep it still against the current when you don’t want to deploy the anchor or to propel it quietly to prevent spooking off fish.

This type of motor is often preferred by freshwater anglers fishing in marsh areas, although saltwater trolling motors are also available on the market.

Trolling motor vs. outboard motor. What is the difference?

The main difference between a trolling motor and an outboard motor is the size, which ultimately determines the use.

  • Outboard motors: Are larger boat motors designed to be used as the primary source of propulsion. They are typically affixed either to the bow or the stern of the boat. Not only these motors move the boat quicker; you can also use them to steer the vessel. Although most outboard motors can be adjusted to various positions to use in shallower or deeper waters, they are typically unsuitable to use in very shallow waters or waters with dense vegetation.
  • Trolling motors: Are much smaller than the outboard ones. They are usually used on smaller boats, helping anglers move quicker through shallow waters or areas with dense underwater vegetation, but are rarely used as the primary source of propulsion. Because these motors are quieter than the outboard motors, anglers use them to move without spooking any fish in the fishing areas, while still employing an outboard motor to get from the shore to the fishing spot.

Which one should I pick?

Since outboard and trolling motors are quite different, it may seem like an easy choice. However, before deciding, consider the size of your boat as well as the area where you plan to fish, especially if you want to buy only one motor.

If you have a larger, heavier boat or plan to go fishing in a large lake or in the sea, a small electric outboard motor may be more suitable for you.

If your boat is small and light, such as an inflatable boat, small wooden or plastic vessel, or a kayak, or if you don’t mind a slower speed as long as the motor is whisper-quiet, then a trolling motor is undoubtedly the right one for you.

Bow or transom trolling motor?

Once you decided that a trolling motor is right for you, the next step is to decide whether you want a bow or transom model.

  • Bow mount trolling motor: It is designed to be mounted on the front of the boat. Its main advantage is better control and maneuverability, but you’ll usually have to sit in an awkward position to control it. Furthermore, bow mount trolling motors are usually incompatible with hand tillers.
  • Transom mount trolling motor: As you could imagine, it’s designed to be mounted on the rear of the boat. The main advantage of this type of motor is that it’s easy to handle, ergonomic, and usually compatible with hand tillers. For these reasons, transom trolling motors are much more popular than the bow mount ones.

How to pick the right shaft length?

Almost all models of trolling motors come with different shaft lengths, designed to work with various types of boats. To determine the ideal shaft length for you, measure the distance between the transom/bow and the waterline for your boat, then check out the tables below:

Bow to waterline distance

Shaft length

0-10 inches

36 inches

10-16 inches

42 inches

16-22 inches

42-45 inches

22-28 inches

48-52 inches

28-34 inches

54-62 inches

34-44 inches

72 inches

Transom to waterline distance

Shaft length

0-10 inches

30 inches

10-16 inches

36 inches

16-20 inches

42 inches

How powerful should a trolling motor be?

Unlike outboard motors that have the power expressed in horsepower, the power of a trolling motor is expressed in pounds of thrust. However, figuring out how powerful the motor should be is easy.

As a rule of thumb, you’ll need about 2 pounds of thrust for every 100 pounds of fully loaded boat (people and gear included). In other words, a small 30lbs motor would be enough to move a boat of around 1,500 pounds.

Considering that the best trolling motors go up to 100lbs of thrust or more, you can find the right motor size for your vessel quite easily.

Best trolling motor battery

Most trolling motors are electric and powered by batteries; however, most manufacturers don’t supply the batteries with their motors. To figure out what battery you need, you should consult the motor’s instruction booklet. If you don’t have it, you’ll typically need:

Motor size

Battery

Up to 55 lbs. of thrust

12 volts

60-90 lbs. of thrust

24 volts

100-112 lbs. of thrust

36 volts

A thing to remember is that not all batteries are suitable to use with trolling motors. Unlike most battery-powered tools and equipment, such as cordless drills or cordless lawn mowers, for example, trolling motors can’t be used with regular, lithium-ion batteries. The best batteries for trolling motors are the deep cycle, marine-grade batteries.

What is the difference between freshwater and saltwater trolling motors?

From a design or functionality standpoint, there is no difference between freshwater and saltwater models. However, the latter is usually made from corrosion-resistant materials to withstand the harsher environment and damaging action of salt.

As a result, you can use a saltwater trolling motor in freshwater too, but it is not recommended to use a freshwater motor in saltwater lakes, the sea, or ocean.

Features to look for before buying a trolling motor

With all the above in mind, finding the best trolling motor for your boat shouldn’t be hard. However, you should also check the following features before buying.

  • Steering: Some trolling motors come with a handle you can use for steering, others have a foot pedal, while the newest models even feature remote controls. Most anglers prefer the models with manual steering, but if you need to keep your hands free, a foot pedal or remote control could save the day.
  • Battery indicator: While the speed and actual capacity of the battery will determine the runtime, it’s always nice to know how much power you have left. The best trolling motor batteries have LED indicator lights that will let you know when to get back to the shore.
  • Self-directional features: While the steering is usually done as described above, a few trolling motors also have GPS and self-directional features responsible for steering or controlling the course. These models are more expensive, but they can save you a lot of hassle, especially if you’re a professional angler or on windy days.
  • Speeds: The best trolling motors have at least five forward and three reverse speeds. This feature allows you to switch between higher moving speed or longer runtime, based on your circumstances.
  • Ergonomics: Never underestimate how easy to use and steer the trolling motor is. Some models come with adjustable, telescopic handles which are easier and more comfortable to use.

Best Trolling Motor for the Money

Best value
Minn Kota Endura C2 55

Minn Kota Endura C2 55 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor

Best freshwater trolling motor

Ergonomic steering and speed control allow for a seamless driving of a mid-sized fishing boat.

Check price on Amazon

Share your thoughts

1 Comment
  1. Mark B

    Very clear and useful information.
    Thanks
    Mark

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