How to Choose a Trolling Motor
- 16 May, 2017
Whether you’re looking for more control of your boat or just tired of rowing, a trolling motor can be a great option. Not only do trolling motors provide precision movement along the water, but also offers anglers a chance to get close to the fish without spooking them.
As fishermen we understand that certain baits, techniques, reels, and rods work more effectively then others depending on the fish we are after. This same approach should be taken when picking a trolling motor.
Basic Concepts to Keep in Mind:
- Boat Size & Thrust
- Mounting Location
- Shaft Length
- Features & Benefits
1. Boat Size & Thrust
Before selecting a trolling motor it is imperative that you understand your boat, and how a trolling motor will affect it on the water. The main idea to keep in mind here is that you will want a trolling motor that produces enough thrust or kinetic energy to actually move you and your boat to the desired destination. A trolling motor with inadequate thrust for your fishing needs can be compared to sitting in a kayak without a paddle. Essentially it is worthless, so take the time to understand your specific needs. The first step is to consider the actual length of your boat and compare it to a trolling motor thrust chart like the one here.
Using the chart as a reference you can also take into consideration the weight of your boat as well as the items in your boat. For example, if you typically bring a lot of gear with you or fish with other people frequently remember to add some additional weight to your calculations. It is also important to consider the fishing conditions, are you fishing a small pond or are you venturing into rougher waters that will require more thrust? After reviewing your fishing style and setup you should be able to pinpoint the correct thrust you need, and remember that bigger is better if you can afford it when it comes to thrust.
2. Mounting Location
Now that you’ve dialed in on the amount of thrust you need it is time to decide on the placement of your trolling motor. There are two primary options for mounting your trolling motor; the bow (front of the boat) or transom (rear of the boat). Both locations offer different advantages. A bow mount offers greater control as it pulls the boat through the water rather then pushing. So if your honey hole requires you to fight some wind and waves at times a bow mount would work best. Keep in mind that this type of mount requires a sturdy mounting device as well as additional space to hold the motor in place. If space is limited then a transom mount may work better for you. The advantage of this type of mount is that it is less complex then a bow mount, as you can simply clamp it on to the back of your boat; taking up less space and reducing installation time. Depending on the type of fishing you do will also have an impact on what mounting position will work best for you. For example, if you like trolling the waters say for walleye then a transom mount would work well. If you are looking for precise control when approaching docks and other structures in the water for say catching bass a bow mount will offer you the most accuracy.
Similar to differences in thrust trolling motors also come in three different voltages. Options include: 12, 24, & 36-volt motors. Usually a 12-volt motor will be efficient especially if your boat is between 5-16ft long. Another important consideration to make when looking at voltage is again how much space you have available on your boat. As a 12-volt motor requires one marine battery, a 24-volt motor requires two marine batteries, and a 36-volt motor requires three marine batteries. Obviously a 36-volt motor will typically provide longer outings on the water then a 12-volt motor so think about how frequently you will require your trolling motor to be running. Also perhaps just as important in selecting the voltage of your trolling motor is to ensure that you get buy a deep cycle marine battery of good quality. Nothing is more frustrating then dealing with a bad battery especially when out on the water. Be assured that your fishing trip will be maintenance free and get yourself a well-suited battery.
4. Shaft Length
Almost there! We now know the thrust, voltage, and mounting location of our trolling motor. The next calculation to make is the shaft length of the trolling motor. The first step
to selecting shaft length is to measure from either the bow of your boat to the waterline (if planning a bow mount) or from the top of the transom to the waterline (for rear mounting). Once you have determined this length the rule of thumb is to add 18” to determine your shaft length. Also look for a trolling motor that is adjustable, meaning one that you can adjust the depth of your motor to help better control the shaft length when in certain situations.
5. Features & Benefits
You now are equipped with the basics when it comes to selecting a trolling motor! Some additional things to keep in mind for easier use of your trolling motor include looking at hand or foot operated options, digital readouts, and construction of your shaft. For example a stainless steel shaft will last a lot longer and hold up better then other metals used to compose a shaft. The same goes for props as well, my suggestion would be to buy the most durable trolling motor you an afford to ensure as many fun fishing days out on the water as possible. Happy Trolling!
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