A trolling motor is an indispensable tool for the bass fisherman as it is used for boat navigation and positioning. While the right trolling motor can lead to productive days on the water, an improper or underpowered motor can result in poor steering, less effective casting and overall frustration. In this article, we’ll discuss what you should consider when selecting a trolling motor for your boat.
Minn Kota vs. MotorGuide
Minn Kota & MotorGuide are the two most popular trolling motor manufacturers, and everyone seems to have an opinion on which brand is best. The short answers is neither! Both companies make quality motors, and each has their own strength. MotorGuide trolling motors tend to offer a bit more value for the money while Minn Kota’s line offers more features and bells-and-whistles. Both companies have good service and support, but MotorGuide tends to have a better network of repair centers, especially in the Southern United States. The best bet is to find a motor that fits your needs and pocketbook and select that one, regardless of brand.
Motor thrust is a very important thing to get right when selecting a motor. There’s nothing worse than an underpowered trolling motor, and it will result in frustration and missed fishing opportunities. While it’s a great idea to get as powerful a motor as you can afford, many people won’t want to spend hundreds more if it’s not necessary.
The rule of thumb for trolling motor thrust is that you’ll want 1 pound of thrust for every 50 pounds of boat weight. So, for example, the calculation to determine appropriate thrust for a 3,600 lbs boat would be:
3,600 lbs Boat / 50 lbs = 72 lbs of Thrust
When performing your calculations, make sure you account for the fully-loaded weight of a boat including fuel, gear and passengers. If you often fish in strong winds or currents, you’ll likely want to get an even stronger motor than the one recommended by this calculation.
Battery & Electrical
You’ll want a dedicated marine battery to power your trolling motor, and there are two 12-volt types to choose from. Standard deep-cycle marine batteries are the most affordable and should last between 1-2 years. The more expensive, but better option, is a AGM battery which will have a longer lifespan and offer extended run-time over standard marine batteries. You may also want to get a trolling motor circuit breaker to protect your trolling motor from overloading in the event the prop gets stuck on something beneath the water. If you want something a little cleaner than hooking your battery directly to your battery with cables, or you plan on removing the motor often, you may want to install a trolling motor plug port on your boat for simple and clean power interface.
Trolling motors come in 12v, 24 or 36v systems which require 1, 2 or 3 batteries, respectively. Most trolling motors with 60 lbs of thrust or less will be a 12v system, and those in the 80 to 100 lbs range will be either 24v or 36v. These larger motors are necessary for heavier boats requiring more power, but are also a good choice for small boat owners who want extended run times and additional battery reservers for long or demanding days on the water.
You’ll need a charger to replenish your batteries, and they usually come in two types. Traditional on-board chargers are hard-wired to the batteries and need to be plugged into an AC outlet at the end of the day. DC alternator chargers use the boat’s outboard motor to recharge. While convenient when on the water, they usually take longer to charge than a standard AC on-board charger. You can purchase a trolling motor specific minn kota battery charger as well as a standard 12-volt marine battery charger.
For more information on trolling motor electrical issues please refer to this detailed article on trolling motor wiring and diagrams.
How you control your trolling motor will largely by determined by which type of motor you have. Transom mount motor are almost all hand controlled, while most freshwater bow mount motors use a foot pedal of some sort. Another option for bow-mount motors is wireless control. Both Minn Kota & MotorGuide offer this – MotorGuide with a wireless foot pedal and remote, and alternatively the CoPilot Remote accessory from Minn Kota. The Minn Kota i-Pilot for sale, new this year, uses GPS technology to control the trolling motor and adds yet another possibility for advanced boat control.
Trolling Motor Accessories
Apart from the motor itself, there are a number of accessories which can make using your motor out on the water easier and more convenient:
Trolling Motor Quick Release
Most bow mount trolling motors bolt directly to the boat’s deck, so if you want to easily remove it, you’ll want to get a trolling motor quick release. Like the name implies, it allows you to remove the trolling motor simply by flipping a switch or pulling a pin. There is a unique Minn Kota quick release for each individual model line, while MotorGuide’s quick releases are universal for all their motors.
Many bow mount motors have a recessed sonar transducer built-in to the motor. This offers two advantages: the transducer is protected from being snapped off, and it creates a clean, wire-free shaft as all wires are run on the inside of the motor shaft.
Knowing how much power is left in your motor batteries can be very helpful, especially in tournament situations, as well as offering peace-of-mind that you won’t run out of power out on the water.
Unless you always fish in clear, deep waters you’ll want to make sure you get a weedless prop. These props are designed to push away vegetation and can be used without fear of getting snagged and jammed with vegetation.
About the Author
Trollingmotors.net specializes in Minn Kota & MotorGuide trolling motors and is dedicated to helping Bass fishermen select the right motor through education, detailed product information and superior service.