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Choosing The Right Trolling Motor

trolling motor
The key to finding the right trolling motor is knowing the way you fish. Things like the size of your boat, how often you fish, and the waters you fish in all factor into which trolling motor is right for you.

A trolling motor is great for fishing a larger area than you could by just drifting. It’s also much better than firing up your outboard motor to move around. Trolling motors are quiet and won’t scare fish away like an outboard will. This allows you to be more mobile on the water and search out pockets of active fish. Because of this, a trolling motor is well worth the investment to any angler. However, there are a lot of things to consider before you invest in a trolling motor.

What To Look For In A Trolling Motor

When you’re looking for a trolling motor, you need to think about what kind of fishing you do. It’s also important to think about what kind of fishing you’d like to do in the future. Since a trolling motor is a pretty big investment, always go with the one that will allow you to grow as a fisherman. Here’s what to look for:


One of the main things to consider about trolling motors is how much thrust they provide. A trolling motor with more thrust can push a bigger boat through rougher waters. To determine how much thrust you’ll need, think about the size of your boat and the nature of the water you’ll be fishing. A small jon boat in a small, private lake won’t require as much thrust as a full-size fishing boat on the great lakes. Long story short, the bigger your boat and the rougher the water you fish in, the more thrust you’ll need from your trolling motor to control it. Most trolling motors will state the length of the boat they’re designed for on their packaging or brochures.

Batteries and Voltage

When it comes to the voltage you’ll need for your trolling motor, it’s all about endurance. The things to consider to determine what you need are how often you fish and how long you stay on the water. If you only fish a few hours at a time on the weekends, a 12-volt system will serve you well. If you fish multiple times per week from dawn til dusk, you’ll want to invest in a 24-volt trolling motor system. A 12-volt system runs on one 12-volt deep cycle marine battery, and a 24-volt runs on two of them in series.

For more information on marine batteries, check out our Marine Battery Basics article.

Bow Or Transom

A bow-mounted trolling motor mounts on the front of a boat, while a transom-mounted one mounts on the rear. The benefit of a bow-mounted trolling motor is that it gives you a decided control advantage in rougher waters. However, if you do a lot of walleye fishing or you prefer to backtroll, then a transom-mounted trolling motor is the way to go. Neither mount style necessarily works better for a specific species, and this largely comes down to your own personal fishing style.

Hand Or Foot Control

This is another aspect that comes down to personal preference. Most anglers prefer the foot-controlled models because it allows them to keep their hands free while they troll. However, the hand-controlled models often offer more precise steering and throttle.

Shaft Length

The recommended trolling motor shaft lengths depends on whether you have a bow-mounted or transom-mounted unit. Here are some handy guides that will help you find the right shaft length for your boat.

Shaft Length For a Bow-Mounted Trolling Motor

Bow to WaterlineRecommended Shaft Length

 Shaft Length For a Transom-Mounted Trolling Motor

Transom to WaterlineRecommended Shaft Length

For a boat that measures more than 26″ from the top of its transom to the waterline, you’ll want to look into a custom trolling motor with a shaft long enough to meet your needs.

For more Fishing and Boating Tips and Buyer’s Guides, check out our Fishing and Boats & Boating Blogs.


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