The Best Trolling Motors for Freshwater and Saltwater in 2024 – Buyers Guide

Best Trolling Motors for Freshwater and Saltwater

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The world of trolling motors might be perplexing, especially if you’ve never explored it before. Choosing a trolling motor is more of a guessing game for many individuals because there are so many versions and each comes with its own set of pricing tags. As a consequence, many people wind up with a trolling motor that isn’t ideal for them, which frequently affects how they enjoy their fishing outings.

This post is here to help. It will go through everything, including what trolling motors are and how to choose the right one for you, so that you are fully informed before making a selection. It will also explain seven renowned trolling motors. The overall aim? When you make your purchase, you should be able to make the greatest possible decision…

What Exactly Are Trolling Motors?

What Exactly Are Trolling Motors

To begin, it’s worth noting that “trolling” is simply another term for “fishing,” therefore trolling motors are essentially just fishing boats with small engines. They may be used on everything from tiny boats (including kayaks and canoes) to huge ships, and are generally attached to the stern. Most trolling motors are powered by electricity, which helps to keep noise levels (and running expenses) low. It’s also feasible to locate petrol-powered trolling motors; however, they’re considerably less common.

Why do fishermen use trolling motors, and why are they so popular? Trolling motors enable for greater distances to be traveled with ease. Would you really want to paddle the whole length of a huge lake, losing time that you could be catching fish? They can also be rather inexpensive to acquire, making them accessible to anglers of all budgets.

What Laws Are There Surrounding Trolling Motors?

The laws regulating trolling motors differ from state to state, just like any other legislation. Rules may also be different depending on the body of water in the same state, so it’s always a good idea to double-check before setting out on your fishing excursion.

Some of the more commonly encountered rules regarding trolling engines on bodies of water include the following:

  • The vessel must be licensed and titled, and the registration card should be carried at all times while it is in use.
  • Flares, for example, are a type of distress signal that must be kept on at all times. This is especially important in coastal waters under the control of the USCG.
  • Navigational lights are frequently required, but they can be as simple as a handheld light.
  • In case of an emergency, it is a good idea to bring a sound-generating device on-board. Most people keep a whistle on hand if this is the case.
  • A PFD must often be worn, and the rules are frequently more stringent for youngsters under the age of 13. Kayaks and canoes, on the other hand, are sometimes exempt from this.

What Maintenance Do Trolling Motors Need?

What Maintenance Do Trolling Motors Need

Trolling motors, like all fishing equipment, are extremely robust and can endure a lot of punishment. They do, though, require some maintenance. The motor may function at less than optimal levels or even fail completely if it isn’t maintained. Owners of trolling motors, on the other hand, won’t be frustrated by the upkeep procedure since it is not overly time consuming.

The most simple part of trolling motor upkeep is the outside. While conducting this check, make sure all screws and bolts are tightened if required, as well as any weeds or trash. This external clean will not only help the engine to run more smoothly, but will also give it a beautiful, clean appearance that you may be proud of. You may also inspect the shaft while cleaning the outside, since it can sometimes become clogged up. If it starts to stick up , apply a product like Armor All lightly to fix the issue.

After that, you should get your prop in tip-top shape. Make sure there are no damages on the prop, which were caused by a particularly harsh surface such as a rock, before proceeding. Any scratches may also be treated by using fine sandpaper. Not treating them won’t cause any problems, but these scratches may have an impact on performance. Weeds and fishing line should both be removed while inspecting the prop. This might force you to take the prop out entirely; follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when doing so.

The electrical parts of the trolling motor should also be inspected at this time. Any wire that has worn or frayed should be replaced, and all connections should be checked for corrosion. Any loose connections should be reattached at this stage. It’s also critical to make sure all wiring is neatly concealed and secured during this phase so it isn’t damaged when the motor is in operation. When cleaning the battery, you may use a wire brush. It goes without saying that handling the battery carefully and avoiding connecting it to anything are two very important rules to follow.

How to Choose a Trolling Motor

The second step is to figure out where you’ll be fishing and what kind of equipment you’ll need. After that, it’s time to figure out which trolling motor would work best for your needs. With so many trolling motors available, it should be easy for you to eliminate the ones that aren’t appropriate for you, saving you time.

How to Choose a Trolling Motor

There are several variables to consider when selecting a trolling motor, most of which are equally crucial. Thrust is one of the most significant aspects to think about because it measures how much power a trolling motor has. The more people you have on board, the more thrust will be required in order to reach peak performance. A boat with a length of 14 feet, for example, will require 32 pounds of thrust to perform well, but a boat with a length of 20 feet will need 74 pounds. Of course, the more powerful a trolling motor is, the more expensive it is generally, but there’s no sense in trying to save money by not having enough power.

Because of this, it’s crucial to select the correct power system for your trolling motor. They usually come in three varieties: 12V, 24V, and 36V. A 12V motor with a lot of thrust is usually fine for small boats (less than 16 ft). Vessels over 16 ft must use a 24V or 36 V motor instead.

It’s also critical to choose where you want your trolling motor to be positioned. Bow-mount and transom motors may be found for purchase, but most people choose the latter. This is especially true for tiny vessels and kayaks, because a bow-mounted trolling motor needs a lot of space at the front of the boat in order to function properly. If you have enough room for a bow-mount, it might be worthwhile; this type of trolling motor offers superior control and agility over other styles.

It’s also critical to get the shaft length of your trolling motor correct. If it’s too short, it won’t perform at its best in slightly challenging circumstances; if it’s too long, operating in shallower water will be difficult. Shafts for kayaks should be short, while those for larger boats must be somewhat longer than the height of the bow/stern.

Trolling motors may also include various extras that you can choose to add to your motor, as well as your financial situation. One of the most popular features is a battery gauge, which will prevent you from getting stranded in the middle of a lake since you ran out of battery. Some more expensive trolling motors now have digital displays built in, saving time while hunting for fish.

So, when picking out a trolling motor, there are a lot of factors to consider. This implies you’ll need to spend some time looking for the best trolling motor for you, and it’s better not to make a hasty decision. You’ll be very satisfied with your purchase if you spend some time selecting the trolling motor that’s perfect for you; but if you end up with an unsuitable trolling motor, it will only add stress and worry to your fishing trip.

Buying a Trolling Motor Battery

You’ll need a battery to go with your electric trolling motor, so if you’ve purchased one, be sure to pick one up. But don’t worry; these aren’t have to be pricey, so regardless of your budget, you should be able to locate one. But what should you look for when shopping for the finest trolling motor batteries? Here are the most essential things to consider…

  • Battery Life. To be ready for an emergency situation, you’ll want your battery to retain a charge for at least some period of time. Otherwise, you might find yourself stranded without electricity.
  • Vibration. Batteries will usually vibrate, but the best ones minimize it to a bare minimum. Vibrating batteries are less probable to fail, resulting in lower long-term costs for you.
  • Spill-Proof. It’s critical to test a battery for spill-worthiness. This is due to the fact that spill-proof batteries will keep acid out. Furthermore, spill-proof batteries may be placed almost anywhere on the boat, making them very handy.

Best Freshwater Trolling Motors

You should now have a decent sense of what you require in a trolling motor. To assist you further, we’ve compiled a list of the top freshwater trolling motors available in the United States…

Minn Kota Edge 45 Bowmount Foot Control Trolling Motor

Minn Kota Edge 45 Bowmount Foot Control Trolling Motor

Minn Kota is a well-known manufacturer of trolling motors, and they have a variety of models to choose from. Although this isn’t one of their more inexpensive motors, enthusiasts will undoubtedly enjoy what they get for the money. It’s a trolling motor that can be installed in seconds thanks to the latch and door mount, which also means it can be removed for cleaning and maintenance with no problem at all. It’s also designed to be durable, with the composite shaft guaranteed for life. Everything else comes standard with a two-year warranty.

Perhaps the most significant feature of this trolling motor is that it comes with an ergonomic foot control pedal, which makes controlling the speed of your boat a lot easier. The five forward speeds add to the simplicity. If you’re looking for a trolling motor that’s suitable for use in freshwater, this might be an excellent option. It isn’t ideal for people who intend to utilize their trolling motor in saltwater, as Minn Kota has another model called Riptide to accommodate them. This could be a fantastic alternative for individuals searching for a high-quality, dependable freshwater trolling motor.

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Minn Kota Terrova 80 Bow-Mount Trolling Motor

Minn Kota Terrova 80 Bow-Mount Trolling Motor

Okay, this is a trolling motor for real fans that is by far the most expensive on this list. It does include quite a bit of equipment, including plenty of power, some interesting gadgets, and a solid build. The pre-installed i-Pilot may be the largest selling feature of this trolling motor because it allows you to stay focused on your fishing. Because it will utilize GPS technology to remember your favorite fishing spots, you’ll be able to use cruise control knowing that your boat is in good hands. You’ll have a full 80 pounds of thrust available when you’re in command, ensuring that even the most severe weather can be readily handled.

When it comes to the more practical aspects of this trolling motor, it has everything you could want. The materials used in its construction are all of the highest quality, and the engine is firmly fixed while also being worry-free; furthermore, the foot pedal makes management very simple. So, if you’re willing to spend big bucks on a trolling motor (this one costs around $1,550), the Minn Kota Terrova 80 is an excellent option.

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Haswing and Aquos 12V 20lbs Transon Mounted Electric Trolling Motor


While the last one is certainly for those with deep pockets, this one is at the other end of the scale, as it is one of the most affordable trolling motors available. Despite its low price, it nevertheless has enough features to satisfy many fishermen, although it is only suitable for the tiniest boats due to its small thrust output of 20 pounds. Most of the time, this is only used by individuals who wish to add a trolling motor to their kayak or inflatable.

It shouldn’t be considered for bigger boats, regardless of its low price. Despite its inexpensive price, it nevertheless includes an integrated LED display – something not available on other more expensive models – that informs you when your battery power is running out.

What else does this insanely low-cost trolling motor have to offer? The adjustable depth collar, four distinct speeds (two forward, two reverse), and a shaft length of 23.6 inches are all important features. It also includes an adjustable handle so you may personalize it to your preferences.

So, while the trolling motor in this article may not have all of the bells and whistles that some other trolling motors do, it should provide excellent value if you are on a tight budget. It’d also be a wonderful first trolling motor – if you discover that you enjoy adding one to your kayak, you might always upgrade to a more advanced model later.

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Goplus New 86lbs Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor

Goplus New 86lbs Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor

For the price, it’s incredible that this trolling motor is able to provide such high performance, coupled with some genuinely useful features. For around $175, you can buy a trolling engine with the capacity to generate 86 pounds of thrust, enough to power a boat measuring up to 21 feet. This performance is only seen in more expensive trolling motors, so it will be quite attractive to bigger boat owners looking for ways to cut costs. The fact that it has eight speeds (five forward, three reverse) adds to its attractiveness.

There’s also a really nice gadget that comes with the trolling motor, and it’s a 10-point LED battery indicator. This means you’ll never miss when your battery goes out at inopportune moments. Other features include a six-inch adjustable handle and three blade propeller, which ensures that the boat moves efficiently through even the muddiest of environments. This trolling motor is only suitable for freshwater usage, however. It’s also worth noting that this trolling motor may not appear to be the most durable, but it does perform well.

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Haswing Cayman 12v 55lbs Bow Mount Electric Trolling Motor

Haswing Cayman 12v 55lbs

The trolling motor from Haswing is designed for both freshwater and saltwater use, with the primary feature being its massive 10 distinct speed settings – two times more than other models. This gives excellent control, allowing you to cruise gently or accelerate slightly. A 48-inch shaft length makes this trolling motor an especially appealing option for certain buyers, and the fact that it has such a long shaft (48 inches) is another reason to choose it. Of course, this implies that it’s not suitable for usage in shallower bodies of water.

The Haswing Cayman is a medium-priced trolling motor, and it isn’t so cheap that it’s accessible to everyone. If you like the appearance of it, you should anticipate to pay around $430. It is also feasible to purchase a fast release plate for this trolling motor, although standard fittings are also excellent quality.

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OutSunny 12V Transom Mounted Thrust Electric Fishing Boat Trolling Motor

OutSunny 12V Transom

The 36-pound thrust version is ideal for folks on a tight budget, and it comes in two versions: one with 36 pounds of thrust, and the other with 55. Both are identical in terms of thrust (eight speeds, adjustable lever lock bracket, and a 6” extendable handle), apart from the fact that the unit with greater power is more costly. Aside from the amount of force, both are equally as same; they include eight settings, an adjustable lever lock bracket, and a 6” extendable shaft.

Despite the fact that it costs a reasonable number of money, this electric trolling motor is quite robust owing to the composite shaft and metal head. It may also be used in saltwater, but performance is better when utilized in freshwater. You don’t get as much with this trolling motor as you would with a $500 model, but for the price it is fantastic.

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Intex Trolling Motor for Intex Inflatable Boats

intex trolling motor

The Intex Challenger 3 and Seahawk are examples of inflatable boats that will benefit from the use of this trolling motor. While the name implies it’s designed for use with Intex models such as the Challenger 3 and Seahawk, it works with all types of inflatables that have built-in motor mount fittings. There’s no denying that this is a simple trolling engine, but at $120, you’d expect more? It does an excellent job at accomplishing basic tasks, making it ideal for novices or occasional fishers.

The Hobby People Danube Trolling Motor is an excellent choice for small-scale trolling. It comes with a battery meter and overload stop switches, as well as an automatic escape weed control key. There are eight speeds (five forward and three reverse), all controlled by a single handle on the left side of the shaft. A deep cycle marine 12V battery will be required to run this motor, and it must have a minimum 60 ampere hour rating.

Best Saltwater Trolling Motors

Trolling motors aren’t only used on calm waterways and lakes, so people want to attach them to their boat or kayak and go fishing in the ocean. So, here are the top five saltwater trolling motors…

Newport Vessels 55 Pound Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor

The Newport Vessels ATV 1250 is a high-quality trolling motor that’s well regarded in the field of trolling motors. It produces 55 pounds of force, which should be plenty for most fishermen planning to add a trolling motor to their boat or kayak. It also has eight distinct speeds (five forward and three reverse), making it versatile for many conditions.

This is a saltwater-ready trolling motor with an 8.75 horsepower (6 kW) engine that is suited to both fresh and sea water. This is due to the fact that the hardware is made of stainless steel. The head is composed of aluminum, keeping the weight down, while the shaft is constructed of fiberglass, making it quite robust. The 30-inch shaft length also makes it ideal for the vast majority of tiny boats. It also has an LED battery meter, so you can tell when the battery is running low. In conclusion, this trolling motor manages to deliver a lot of features for its price!

Newport Vessels 55 Pound Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor

Seamax 55lbs 12V Electric Trolling Motor

Seamax 55lbs 12V Electric Trolling Motor

Trolling motors that don’t work in saltwater are rare. The trolling motor included with the SeaMax Elite is designed specifically for those who want to go out into the ocean and use it. Although it can also be used in freshwater, the Seamax trolling motor has a maximum thrust of 55 pounds, making it only suitable for small to medium-sized boats like kayaks and inflatables. Users will notice that despite its lack of power, it performs well, which is due to its 55 pounds of thrust. The majority of users should also discover that the motor lasts longer than most others, since it is equipped with a marine grade circuit breaker. This trolling motor is intended to be used with a Deep Cycle Marine battery, so it’s an excellent choice for people who already own one of these batteries.

There are quite a few more great elements on this trolling motor, including eight speeds that may be adjusted simply by rotating the handle. There’s also an adjustable collar, allowing you to submerge the propeller to depths ranging from 150mm to 300mm – making it ideal for people who want their machine in various water levels. It should also be noted that Seamax offers a two-year warranty on this product, so you can shop with confidence.

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Newport Vessels NV-Series 36lb. Thrust Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor

Newport Vessels NV-Series 36lb

If you’re searching for a saltwater trolling motor that was designed specifically for the water, Newport Vessels has an option that may be perfect for you. As with any motor produced by this renowned firm, it is built to the highest standards, resulting in a superior ride experience. The major advantage of this saltwater trolling motor is that it is constructed from stainless steel and can therefore be used in saltwater environments, while the 30-inch fiberglass shaft enables it to perform well in deeper water.

The Sun Joe SJ50 is a great option for small craft like kayaks, because it has all of the characteristics that you want in a trolling motor. It has an 8-speed mechanism, which allows users to customize the engine speed and working speed; it features a five-point LED battery meter; and it produces 36 lbs. of thrust, more than enough for most tiny boats including kayaks. It should also be mentioned that although this trolling motor was created specifically for saltwater use, it may also be utilized in freshwater.

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Minn Kota 70 SP Saltwater Bow-Mount Trolling Motor

Minn Kota 70 SP Saltwater Bow-Mount Trolling Motor

The Minn Kota trolling motor is a high-quality motor with a great reputation. If you’ve read any of the other reviews on this page, you’ll already be familiar with Minn Kota trolling motors. This does imply, however, that the price reflects this, which should not worry serious hobbyists. With a substantial amount of thrust, this saltwater motor can tow larger boats while the CoPilot hand control feature makes operating this engine an absolute pleasure. So it may cost around $1,000 dollars , but you get a lot for your money.

The 54-inch shaft on this trolling motor ensures that it can operate in even the deepest of water, although it isn’t as appropriate for use in freshwater as some other saltwater trolling motors. This trolling motor also comes with various optional accessories, such as i-Pilot and a foot pedal. It does not include a battery, so one will be necessary to purchase separately. It does come with a comprehensive guarantee, therefore you may feel secure about your purchase.

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MotorGuide Xi5 Wireless Trolling Motor – Saltwater

MotorGuide Xi5 Wireless Trolling Motor

The biggest disadvantage of this trolling motor is that it is the most costly on the list, therefore only for those with big pockets. While it costs roughly $1,500, you get a lot for your money, and this engine will go well with any boat. The wireless technology, which allows instructions and steering to be given from anywhere on the boat, is the most significant feature to consider.

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Other things to note about this trolling motor are that it has a built-in battery meter, digital speed control, and a unique deploy and stow mechanism. Despite the fact that there’s nothing wrong with this saltwater trolling motor, you wouldn’t expect anything less given the price! Don’t forget that a decent battery will also be required, adding to the total cost.

Best Minn Kota trolling motors

Many consumers are loyal to Minn Kota, which is entirely reasonable given that they produce such fantastic motors. To that end, here’s a list of the finest Minn Kota motors:

  • Minn Kota 70 SP: The Minn Kota 70 SP is designed for saltwater fishing and is corrosion resistant, as well as incorporating built-in GPS to ensure that your boat does not stray from its intended location. The technology is so advanced that all you have to do is establish a route and the engine will take care of the rest. The only drawback is that it’s a little pricey, but you definitely get what you pay for.
  • Minn Kota Terrova 80: The Terrova 80 from Minn Kota is, in terms of trolling motors, the equivalent of a Ferrari. It’s more expensive than the other versions offered by Minn Kota (iPilot), but with a built-in GPS to keep the boat on track and a foot pedal control for easier operation, you can’t go wrong if you have the money for it.
  • Minn Kota Edge 45: The Edge 45 is simple to operate, with a composite shaft that is both lightweight and extremely durable. It has 5 variable speeds with the touch of a button and comes with five distinct modes: easy, hard, medium, expert, and custom.
Shane Baker

Shane Baker

My name is Shane Baker and when I am not with my family or working here I am out fishing! I caught my first fish when I was 6 – it was a trout at a stocked pond here in TX. Ever since fishing has been a passion of mine!

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