How to Choose the Best Trolling Motor for Your Needs

Posted February 27, 2020

If you're fishing the last thing you want to do is scare the fish away. We look at how to choose the best trolling motor for your needs.

Are you a fan of trolling? Need to be extra quiet when fishing the shallows? Or perhaps you’re interested in learning the method? Well, if so, then a trolling motor may be the right tool for you.

Trolling involves a baited line, swimming plug, or any other artificial lure moving steadily through the water at a slow speed. Usually, trolling fishing is done by keeping the line in motion by drawing it along with the movement of the boat.

That means to successfully catch fish using the trolling method, a quality trolling motor is required. But with so many options, how do you choose one?

We’re here to help. Here’s our guide on how to choose the best trolling motor for you and your boat.


The trolling motor thrust is an important consideration when making a choice. The thrust is the measure of how much the motor drives the boat across the water.

How big is your craft? The bigger your boat, the more pounds of thrust you’ll require from your motor. If you’re not sure how much thrust you’ll need, it’s suggested that for every 200 pounds your craft weighs, you’ll require five pounds of thrust.

So, to understand how much thrust your boat’s motor will need, do the math. Add its estimated weight to its maximum weight capacity, divide by 200, and then you’ll be left with the required thrust figure.


Of course, power is another big factor to consider. Again, how much battery power you require in your trolling motor depends on the size of your vessel.

Trolling motors are offered in three voltage selections. These are 12-volt, 24-volt, and 36-volt motors.

As you can imagine, 12-volt motors are the more affordable option but are the least powerful. They run off a single 12-volt battery.

Next 24-volt motors are powered by two 12-volt batteries, and 36-volt motors are charged by three 12-volt batteries.

Typically, fishermen who sail in large fishing boats often choose a 24 or 36-volt trolling motor. Anglers who use smaller fishing vessels for shorter periods of time more sporadically usually opt for a 12-volt battery.

The less powerful 12-volt batteries also work well for kayaks, canoes, and dinghy boats used for recreational fishing. A good trolling motor battery really depends on the size of your vessel and how much power you need.

After all, a 12-volt battery may work fine for a tiny fisherman’s boat but it will hardly move a huge pontoon boat with several fishermen aboard.

Shaft Length

The shaft length of your trolling motor is another consideration. The propeller of your trolling motor needs to reach the water, after all.

If you’re sitting in a canoe or kayak, you won’t need a long length, of course. But if you’re fishing from the deck of a large boat or a pontoon craft that’s further away from the surface of the water, more length is required.

Take some measurements while your boat is in the water. If you’re using a transom-mount, be sure to measure the distance from the top of the transom to the surface of the water.

For bow mounts, measure from the top of the bow to the surface of the water. Read that measurement, add 18 inches, and voila! You’ve got the precise shaft length your trolling motor requires to work with your vessel.

Bow vs Transom

You’ll also need to decide whether to go for a bow or a transom trolling motor.

Trolling motors are available either as bow mounts which are built on the front of the boat or as transom mounts, which fit onto the stern.

Both have their pros and cons; however, one may be more suitable for you than the other. Bow mounts offer the driver more opportunity to move freely and are more suited to a bigger vessel. Many fishermen who use bass boats prefer to use bow mounts.

Transom mounts, on the other hand, can clamp onto any boat, but they offer less control. Usually, they’re suited to smaller crafts.

If you’re not sure what to pick, opt for a bow mount if your vessel is 14 feet or longer. If you’re sailing in a smaller craft like a dinghy, kayak, or canoe, then a transom mount will work well.

Foot and Hand Controlled Motors

To use your foot, or not to use your foot, that’s the question -- at least when you're deciding how you’d like to use your trolling motor. The simplest trolling motors are hand-controlled, while the more expensive and swankier options offer foot pedals or even remote units.

Foot pedals allow you to keep your hands free, which is useful for bass fishermen who are navigating around the deck and casting from the bow. However, as well as being more expensive, foot pedals can take up more space on deck and often have a slower response time.

The Best Trolling Motor for You

With our guide, now you know how to choose the best trolling motor to suit you and your boat. With the right motor, your life at sea can change for the better and you’ll be catching plenty of fish before you know it.

With a quality trolling motor installed to your trusty boat, you’re sure to enjoy fishing and boating a whole lot more than you already do.

We’re here to help you find the perfect battery for your trolling motor. Check out our range of lithium marine batteries which work wonders for a range of boats including bass boats and sailboats.