trolling motor reviews
trolling motor reviews

Best Trolling Motors: Buying Guide & Reviews

Best Trolling Motors

Trolling Motors Best – A trolling motor is a must-have for any boat.

A trolling motor is a great way to maneuver in tricky areas, sneak up on fish without disturbing them with an outboard or loud noises, and remain in place when the tide, wind, or current pushes. This motor is also great for stealthy trolling.

A powerful trolling motor might be all you need if you fish out of a Jon Boat.

It pays to research trolling motors before you buy one that doesn’t fit your boat or isn’t right for you.

We want to make your life easier by providing a complete guide on how to buy the best trolling motor.

The Best Bow-Mounted Trolling Motors

  • Minn Kota Fortrex 80/112
  • Minn Kota Terrova 80/112
  • MotorGuide X3 45

The Best Transom Mounted Trolling Motors

  • Minn Kota Endura Max
  • MotorGuide R3 40/36″
  • MotorGuide R5

Best Engine-Mounted Trolling Motor

  • Minn Kota EM

Review of the Best Trolling Motor

Bow Mounted Trolling Motors

Minn Kota Fortrex 80/112

Shaft lengths:45″ and 52″.

Thrust:80 lb. Or 112 lbs.

Batteries are required24-36 volts

Minn Kota is the most popular brand in trolling motors. We have a lot of them on our favorites list. Fortrex is a great example of this, with its uncompromising performance allowing it to get the job done in all conditions, every day. It’s bomb-proof simplicity is something we really love. While it doesn’t have all the Terrova features, it isn’t plagued with technical problems.

Two thrust options are available for the Fortrex: 80 pounds and 112. They draw on a 24 or 36 volt system. This is pretty standard for Minn Kota trolling engines.

The 80 provides plenty of thrust to support a boat and load that is appropriately sized, but it does this with a slower “ramp-up”, than the 112. The larger motor is better if you fish in strong winds, but it can still deliver a lot of power. Be careful when you are using this motor.

The shaft is made of a composite material and comes in two lengths. Minn Kota’s highly-respected weedless prop the Weedless Wedge 2 works well and lives up to its name.

There’s much to love about Fortrex, as you can see. You won’t have to fight the motor with this foot pedal while you fish. The motor runs cool and quiet, and Minn Kota’s Digital Maximizer technology ensures that there is always enough battery power to last the day. You won’t be able to outfish the motor at low throttle settings, but you will have hours of use if you run these motors at 50% or more.

Both systems are heavy and mounted via the sliding hinge. Minn Kota installs the Fortrex with an air-filled piston, spring, and gas-filled piston, reducing the felt weight when they are lowered into the water or stowed. This is a nice touch that your back and arms will appreciate.

This is an excellent choice if you own a larger boat and are looking for a bow-mounted trolling engine.

Pros

  • Both options offer plenty of power
  • Amazing mounting system
  • Precise pedal
  • Amazing battery life
  • Simple, bomb-proof simplicity

Cons

  • This is not a good choice for small boats.

Minn Kota Terrova 80/112

Shaft lengths:45″, 54″, 60″, 72″, and 72″.

Thrust:80 lbs. Or 112 lbs.

Batteries are required24-36 volts

Minn Kota’s Terrova, like the Fortrex, is made for larger boats and/or in bad weather. It has a wide range of high-tech bells, whistles that sets it apart from the competition. It’s up to you whether you choose this, but our research shows that even though some of these may be amazing, they are often not sustainable long-term.

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The Terrova shares the power plants of the Fortrex and are functionally identical. This means you can expect incredible power and even jarring levels thrust with the larger one. The Digital Maximizer by Minn Kota works well here too. Battery life is great as long as the throttle is controlled properly.

The Terrova as well as the Fortrex share the same excellent weedless prop, and an amazing mounting system that makes lifting and lowering this monster of a motor very easy.

Those are the only similarities.

You’ll be able to see that the Terrova has four shaft lengths. This allows you to accommodate a wider variety of boats.

The i-Pilot system, which controls the model’s function and offers a wide range of incredible features, will be what really wows you. You can use your smartphone to control speed and direction, as well as rely on the large LCD screen of the Terrova when paired with an Android or iOS smartphone. Transducer-friendly, it can mount your fish finder’s heart.

The i-Pilot system offers “Spot Lock,” which is essentially a GPS-enabled automated anchor that will keep your boat in its place without you having to do anything. You can adjust this position in increments of five feet.

You have an incredible trolling system that is hands-free.

Unfortunately, long-term problems with electronics that drive these amazing features are common. Minn Kota has been working on this, along with the software that powers Spot-Lock in order to improve its performance under rough conditions.

The Fortrex might be for you if you prefer simplicity and bomb-proof functionality. The Terrova might be a better choice if you like the sound of bells and whistles.

Pros

  • Both options offer plenty of power
  • Amazing mounting system
  • Amazing battery life
  • Innovate remote control
  • Amazing high-tech features

Cons

  • There are some durability issues with electronics
  • This is not a good choice for small boats.

MotorGuide X3 45

Shaft lengths:36″ and 45″.

Thrust:45 lbs.

Batteries are required 12 volts

Many anglers don’t need a big boat. Some find the Minn Kotas too expensive. MotorGuide’s X345 45 is a great option if you have a loaded weight of around 2000 pounds. It’s also very affordable. MotorGuide may not have the same reputation as Minn Kota but it has been a friend of fishermen for many years and can be seen on the bows or sides of bass boats.

This is why rock-solid performance is so important.

The X3’s powerful motor generates 45 pounds of thrust. This is plenty for aluminum boats such as the Crestliner Bass Hawks. The excellent prop is attached via a stainless shaft and composite shaft. You won’t have any corrosion problems.

This model has been well-received by long-term users. We appreciate that, because trolling motor problems can be frustrating when fishing is on.

The X3 can be controlled via a foot pedal and four feet of cable. We find it responsive and simple to use. The X3 is also battery-sipping which means more time on the water. You won’t have to store multiple batteries and keep costs low. This will allow you to maximize deck space and minimize your need for additional batteries.

MotorGuide’s X3 isn’t overpriced and will not deliver more power than what you need. This is a great place for trolling motors that are reliable and affordable.

Pros

  • Boats less than 2500 lbs when loaded have plenty of power
  • It is easy to install
  • Amazing battery life
  • It is easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Reliable

Cons

  • Boats under 2500 lb. are best

Transom-mounted trolling motors

Minn Kota Endura Max

Minn Kota 1352145 Endura Max Freshwater Hand-Steer Transom-Mount Trolling Motor with Digital Maximizer, 45 lb Thust, 36' ShaftShaft lengths:36″ and 42″.

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Thrust:40, 45, 50 and 55 lbs.

Batteries are required12 volts

Minn Kota understands that many people use a trolling engine as the only engine on small boats. The Endura Max is their answer to these anglers. This is a popular choice for anything from Jon Boats to canoes, with a range of shaft lengths available and thrust ratings.

Endura Max comes in a variety of thrust models: 40, 45, 50 and 55 pound models. They also come in a 36-inch or 42 inch shaft. This makes it very versatile and easy to mount to many boats.

The telescoping tiller allows you to control the throttle from any position. You can also use the variable speed throttle to prevent problems such as accidentally turning the throttle down and draining your battery.

This is a wonderful feature that we look for when looking at transom-mounted motors. The Endura Max’s tiller allows for precise and easily-adjustable speeds. This excellent throttle is simple to use, whether you are underway or trying to maneuver into tight spots.

The Endura Max, like the bow-mounted Minn Kotas that we reviewed above, is equipped with a Digital Maximizer which extends battery life. In real-world, and really hard usage, the Endura Max still provides 9-10 hours of power, which is more than enough for most anglers.

To get the maximum thrust from your engine, the 3 1/4-inch Power Prop is included. You can also switch to an aftermarket Weedless Wedge 2 to suit your needs. Composite shafts are tough and reliable, making them the best in the industry.

This bow-mounted trolling engine is a favorite of ours. It’s easy to use, durable, and offers a wide variety of options.

Pros

  • Small boats have plenty of power, and there are many options for getting fit.
  • It is easy to install
  • Amazing battery life
  • Amazing throttle
  • Reliable

Cons

  • Some deck layouts may require a shorter power cable

MotorGuide R3 40/36″

Shaft lengths:36″

Thrust:40. lbs.

Batteries are required12 volts

Transom-mounted motors are an area in which MotorGuide can really give Minn Kota a run, and it’s this area that MotorGuide excels. The R3 motor is great for small boats. However, it only comes in a 36-inch shaft. The Minn Kota Endura Max is a better fit for smaller boats.

MotorGuide’s R3 provides 40 pounds of thrust for boats weighing less than 2000 pounds. This motor can be used to replace an outboard on lighter Jon Boats. You’ll often see this motor in that role.

Mount the R3 using the standard transom clamp. It’s very strong and secure.

Telescoping tillers allow for five forward and two backward speeds. We found that this is sufficient and that you can expect great battery life if the throttle is kept at reasonable settings.

Reach is easy with six inches of telescoping capability, no matter where you are in the stern. We prefer the Minn Kota’s continuous throttle option, but the MotorGuide is a great tool in real-world use.

The R3 is a reliable motor that has a great reputation. We believe it can be relied on year after season.

Pros

  • Small boats can have plenty of power
  • It is easy to install
  • Amazing battery life
  • It is easy to use
  • Reliable

Cons

  • Only one shaft length

MotorGuide R5

Shaft lengths:42

Thrust:70, 80, and 105 lbs.

Batteries are required 24-36 volts

The R5 is a good choice if you have a larger aluminum boat that can bow-mount or need more power than many transom-mounted motors. It’s only available in a 42 inch shaft length. However, it can be very attractive if your boat is a good match for the R5.

The R5 transom trolling motor is massive. It comes in three thrust ratings: 70, 80, and 105 pounds. You can choose to use a 24-volt system for two of the lower ratings or a 36-volt system for the 105. If you do this, you will need to consider deck space.

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The R5 is an excellent investment for those who need it. It is also a good choice for anglers who use a trolling motor to replace a small outboard.

The R5 is smooth and cool and has a great reputation for reliability. Whatever powerplant you choose to use, the thrust is delivered by a composite shaft that ends in a prop with three blades.

The long tiller controls the boat. Telescoping is not possible, but it isn’t really necessary. This is not the best choice for small Jon Boats. The R5 has a variable throttle like the Minn Kota’s. This is a thoughtful addition which makes it one of our favorite boats.

We are happy to help you with larger boats and as an alternative for a small outboard.

Pros

  • Small boats get huge power
  • It is easy to install
  • Amazing battery life
  • Amazing throttle
  • Reliable

Cons

  • Only one shaft length

Trolling Motors with Engine Mounted Trolling Motors

Minn Kota EM

Minn Kota EM 55 Engine Mounted Trolling Motor

Thrust:55, 80, 101 lbs.

Batteries are required 12, 24, and 36 Volts

We have included a model with an engine mounted to give you a complete overview.

After careful consideration, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this motor and mounting system.. The alternative mounting options are superior because of their poor battery life, maneuverability and durability.

This is a caveat, but if you’re looking to operate an engine-mounted trolling vehicle, there aren’t many options. Minn Kota is the only company we trust. We are not aware of any engine-mounted motors manufactured by MotorGuide, and those that do don’t compare favorably to Minn Kota.

This motor is bolted to your outboard’s cavitation plate, unlike other options. Because of its position, the motor is protected from bumps and bruises unlike other options.

Minn Kota’s EM Series, which stands for Engine Mount, allows one prop to be powered by one of three motors: a 55 pound motor, an 80 pound motor, or a 101 pound thrust model. You’d expect that increasing the thrust costs more than a single battery. So think carefully about how many motors you actually need, how many storage spaces you have and what you are already doing.

An 18-foot corded remote controls the EM’s speed settings. This gives you full control of forward and reverse speeds. Although we are not happy with the fact that this isn’t wireless, it is an option. If this is your only choice, you will need to learn how to live with it.

Your outboard controls steering. Because of this, and the small turning radius it will provide, engine-mounted motors are less efficient in tight spaces than bow-mounted models. This motor is acceptable if you are looking for quiet trolling in a straight line.

The EM uses the Weedless Wedge 2 pro, as do all the other larger Minn Kotas. We have nothing but praise for that. It’s quiet and cool and it runs quietly. We are impressed by its stealth.

Seal failure and eventual leaking are two of the most common problems with the EM series. Corrosion can occur if water gets into the prop housing. Even worse, your hull’s hydrodynamic efficiency will determine how long the battery lasts. This is why, as we have already mentioned, you can expect poor performance relative to other options.

Pros

  • Powerful options
  • Quiet
  • Control of the throttle can be set to infinitely variable settings

Cons

  • Corded remote
  • Low durability and seals that are not strong enough
  • Battery life is very poor
  • Low maneuverability

What is a Trolling Motor?

Trolling motors are small electric motors attached to propellers by means of a shaft. It is mounted on the deck of your boat or gunwale and can be controlled by foot, hand or electronics. This allows for precise, quiet maneuvering.

Hope Our guide will help you choose the best trolling motor battery.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.