Trolling motors are great for controlling the subtle movements of your boat when you are fishing in shallow water or along the shoreline. The right trolling motor can make a big difference in your fishing experience and there are a lot of things to consider. Ideally, you want a motor that is quiet; however, you also want one that has the right amount of thrust for your boat and one that will match your fishing conditions. Here are the main things to consider before you purchase:
This is the most important thing to consider when purchasing your trolling motor. Thrust is the measure of how powerful a trolling motor is and it’s measured in pounds (lbs). The larger your boat, the more thrust you will require. To find the appropriate amount of thrust, you can refer to this chart from TrollingMotors.net:
Bow or Transom Mount?
Where you choose to mount your trolling motor is really a matter of personal preference. Transom motors are usually the most cost effective and ideal for smaller boats. They are generally operated by hand and have less precise steering than their bow counterparts because they have to push the boat through the water.
Bow motors require a flat bow to be installed (bass boats or all-purpose fishing boats are best) and can be controlled hands-free using a pedal. They are generally more expensive but can offer precise steering and have more robust features, such as autopilot.
You will need to ensure that the shaft length of the trolling motor is appropriate to the size of your boat, especially for bow mounted motors. The distance between the transom and the waterline is generally the same for most boats; however, bow distances can vary greatly. For a rough shaft length estimate for bow motors, measure the distance from the top of your bow to the waterline and add about 18 inches. For transom motors, shaft length is generally between 30″ to 42″, depending on boat length.
Where you usually fish will also play a role in determining which motor is best for you. Do you fish in fresh or salt water? Are you on a large body of water or a small pond? If you typically fish in small lakes with very little current, you can usually get away with buying a motor with the minimum thrust. However, if you tend to fish in bodies of water with fast moving currents, you will want to get a motor that exceeds the minimum level of thrust recommended for your boat type.