It doesn’t matter if you’re out enjoying the water for fun, or in the process of fishing for beginners who wishes to fish from a boat.
Paddling can take it out of you, and quickly ruin the following experience. Small boat motors are easy to fit and operate, clean to run and make it easy for you to reach your precise destination or fishing spot.
In this best trolling motor review, we’ll take a look at a handful of the best motors available so you can see if any match your particular needs.
There are lots of choices, but hopefully one of our selection will be the best small outboard motor for you.
- What is a Trolling Motor?
- Top Trolling Motors Reviews
- 1. Goplus Electric Trolling Motor 46/55/86 LBS Thrust Transom Mounted 8 Speed with Adjustable Handle for Fishing Boats Freshwater and Saltwater Use
- 2. Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor (30″ Shaft)
- 3. ATTWOOD/MOTORGUIDE 940500020 Bow Mount X5-80Fw Fb / 24V Boating Equipment, 45″
- 4. Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb. Thrust Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor with 30″ Shaft
- 5. Intex Trolling Motor for Intex Inflatable Boats, 36″ Shaft
- What to Look For When Buying a Troll Motor
- Final Verdict
What is a Trolling Motor?
A trolling motor is a small electric boat motor which attaches on small to medium sized boats. For smaller boats, these come in the transom type which connects to the stern of a compatible boat.
In this instance, they can be used as a small boat motor for its primary means of propulsion in the same manner as a fuel powered outboard motor.
For medium to larger boats, the trolling motor fastens to the bow and is used as a secondary means of propulsion for exact placement for fishing when a large engine would scare fish away.
In both instances, these motors run silent and are battery powered, and can be used as a positioning aid when fishing or merely enjoying time on the waves.
A small trolling motor can make any boat experience more relaxed and enjoyable without the need for paddling, or for sitting away from the boats primary controls and still being able to maneuver where you wish.
An electric outboard trolling motor on most occasions will be removed from the boat via a quick release mechanism, and can often be used by one person.
With this in mind, the motor size should be considered, as should the overall size. The motor should also be easy to use by one person, and by using one hand if necessary.
Top Trolling Motors Reviews
1. Goplus Electric Trolling Motor 46/55/86 LBS Thrust Transom Mounted 8 Speed with Adjustable Handle for Fishing Boats Freshwater and Saltwater Use
For small to medium sized boats up to 16-feet long, this motor is a real powerhouse and can fit numerous types of vessels including kayaks (with brackets), Canoe, inflatables, Gheenoes, tenders and Jon boats with ease.
- Comes with easy to follow instruction manual
- Can easily navigate through thick vegetation
- Includes a robust transom mount for quick and easy installation
- Lots of power from the 12v trolling motor for the price
- The shaft is the ideal length for shallow or deeper waters
- Runs on 12v Battery for 46lbs & 55lbs models. 86lb model runs on 24v
- Only ideal up to medium-sized vessels
- Adjustable 6-inch handle – Telescopic handle allows for easy maneuverability
- Ease of Handling – The Saltwater Trolling Motor has 5-forward speeds and 3-reverse speeds to give ultimate control at your fingertips
- Smooth Movement – Unique 3-blade propeller design allows for smooth travel through underwater vegetation
- Battery Power Indicator – There is a 10-point LED indicator which helps to protect the battery life. Easily visible to see power remaining
- Robust and Durable – These electric trolling motors come with nylon brackets which gives the utmost strength, resistance to vibration and overall stability
- Composite Shaft – Being comprised of a 36-inch fiberglass composite, the shaft offers high tensile strength while being resistant to corrosion
- Aluminum Head – A durable aluminum head provides motor durability
- Weight – 22 lbs. For both the 55lbs thrust trolling motor and the 86lb thrust model. 19.4lb for 46lbs thrust model
The GoPlus trolling motor is ideally priced in the sub $200 market, but comes with strength, durability and up to an 86lb thrust trolling motor which can power you all day long.
’s ease of use and power to price ratio are better than you can find on more expensive equivalent products. Rated highly in many electric trolling motor reviews for smaller vessels.
2. Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor (30″ Shaft)
This transom mount trolling motor is designed for small boats due to its limited thrust. For larger vessels, the Minn Kota family offer bigger models such as the Minn Kota 55lb thrust trolling motor. This naturally comes with more power and a higher price.
- The motor comes covered by a two-year warranty
- The motor runs quietly and won’t be spooking fish
- Highly durable and built to last for years
- Most basic of the Minn Kota Endura C2 freshwater transom-mount trolling motors
- Under-powered – slow speeds even on full power
- No battery indicator
- Expensive for features
- Boat Type – Small freshwater
- Mount Type – Transom 10 position locking
- Speeds – 5-forward & 3-reverse
- Control – Telescopic 6-inch control handle
- Power – Runs on 12v battery
- Shaft – 30-inch in length
- Thrust 30lbs.
Out of all of the Minn Kota trolling motors for sale, this is the smallest, and although durable it does appear to be flimsy in construction.
Many users have said it is underpowered even under normal conditions in small boats. At a top speed of 5mph at full power, isn’t what anyone would expect from Minn Kota trolling motors.
For a basic model that costs over $200. Users might feel cheated when there are trolling motors available with higher power, more features and fall into a cheaper price range. It’s good, but there are plenty better.
3. ATTWOOD/MOTORGUIDE 940500020 Bow Mount X5-80Fw Fb / 24V Boating Equipment, 45″
For the larger sized boats which are in the 16-feet to 25-feet range, this MotorGuide trolling motor can offer plenty of power.
It is however designed more for deep waters because of the shaft length, with the shortest out of all models being 45-inches.
- Great battery life
- Variable Ratio Steering (VRS) – sensitive boat placement
- Foot control
- Aircraft grade aluminum construction
- Saltwater or freshwater use
- Bow mount – not ideal for overall boat powering
- Takes up a lot of space
- Foot-pedal might require fastening into the boat
- Foot control might not appeal to everyone
- Power – 24 volt
- Thrust – 80lb
- Propeller – 2-Blade Weedless Prop
- Dual cable – Dual cable with the VRS eliminates torque effects on steering-feedback
- Durability – Corrosion-resistant construction with precision bearings
- Battery – Battery indicator with digital powerdrive management extends battery life
- Steering – LED direction indicator
This is the only best bow mount trolling motor in our outboard motor reviews because it was intended to only cover smaller boats and kayaks.
However, it was quickly found this trolling motor should be included for its overall quality. For many anglers, it might not be ideal because of the bow mount, or it’s hefty price tag which is currently over $1000.
But for this, you get solid MotorGuide trolling motor mounts which include an impact safety feature to prevent damage. It also allows anglers to maneuver a boat on their own if they are fishing from a standing position.
For serious anglers, it can provide a significant number of years usage, and it can easily takes attachments such as GPS and sonar which will then allow precise movements in the following fish automatically.
These are features many new models are including, and are a fantastic option for fishing from a pontoon to keep you moving at regular intervals. Minn Kota offers these as additional add-ons for some of their larger models.
If you can justify the price tag and are an avid angler, it is an excellent choice for bigger boats.
4. Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb. Thrust Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor with 30″ Shaft
This is another transom mount trolling motor made for smaller boats such as inflatable kayaks, small fishing boats, tenders, and dinghies.
It can be used for boats in the mid-range size because of the decent thrust power, but it might put unnecessary strain on the motor over time.
It comes with plenty of features which aren’t found on more expensive brands so could this be the best saltwater trolling motor for the money?
- Comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty
- Components are made from corrosion-resistant materials
- Relatively inexpensive compared to other models
- Lightweight construction makes it easy to transport on and off your vessel
- Becomes slow when used on heavier boats or Kayaks
- Switching from forward to reverse can cause problems
- Build quality not good on some units – water killed the motor
- Power – 36lb of thrust
- 30-inch high-strength fiberglass composite shaft
- Heavy duty nylon mounts
- 8 speeds (5 forward & 3 reverse)
- Battery – 12V
- 5-Point LED battery power meter
- 6-inch telescopic handle
- Stainless steel hardware – suitable for freshwater and saltwater
- 2-Blade prop system
The Newport Vessels Trolling Motor fits into the lower end of the market being priced up to the mid $150 range. But, while being cheap, it might be underpowered if users have solidly crafted vessels which are on the heavier side.
It does perform well on smaller vessels, but durability might be questioned if user reports are correct, and you might find the manufacturer warranty being used at some point. It is definitely at the bottom end of cheap trolling motors which are available.
5. Intex Trolling Motor for Intex Inflatable Boats, 36″ Shaft
Although this model is initially built by of the most significant names in inflatable kayak brands, it doesn’t mean it is limited to being a trolling motor for Kayak use.
This Intex electric trolling motor packs enough thrust to power 4 adults comfortably in any of the Excursion, Challenger, Mariner and Seahawk models. It can also fit any other inflatable models if they have the correct motor mounts.
- Suited for both saltwater and freshwater adventures
- Comes with an adjustable mounting bracket for ease of installation and removal
- Includes a tension knob for better control over steering
- Consists of a tilt-lock lever for efficient mount support
- The maximum speed of 7 knots – makes it one of the fastest trolling motor models.
- Long battery life
- The manufacturer offers poor customer service
- Some boats might not be suitable for an Intex Trolling Motor
- Power – 40lbs thrust from the 36-inch shaft
- Compatible with almost any inflatable boat
- Battery 12V Battery
- Speeds – 5-forward & 3-reverse speeds
- Suitable for Freshwater and Saltwater
- Battery meter
- Automatic escape weed control key
- Dry operation protection and overload protect controls
- Adjustable handle – tilts up to 45, 30, 15, 0 degrees and tilts downward to 0 – 75 degrees.
- Telescope handle extends to 6 inches
Any owner of an inflatable boat with trolling motor requirements could do far worse than checking out this trolling motor from Intex. It packs a raft of features which are not found on many higher priced models.
For a price in the low $120 range, it offers more than enough value for an electric boat motor.
What to Look For When Buying a Troll Motor
When you are considering purchasing a trolling motor, there are a few things to consider. Some of which will be dictated by the fact you might already own a boat.
Regardless of this, there are factors to consider which apply, so here are some purchasing considerations to look out for.
When it comes to buying a trolling motor, there is a general rule to follow in the length of shaft you should aim for.
This is dictated by either the distance from the transom to the waterline or from the bow to the waterline.
Many motors come with adjustments on the shaft which allow you to adjust the height, but some models are a fixed length.
Here are essential guides of shaft lengths depending on your vessel.
|Waterline to Bow (inches)||Shaft Length in inches|
|23 or above||42 or more|
|Waterline to Bow (inches)||Shaft Length in inches|
|17-22||48 - 52|
|23 or above||52 - 62|
Both lengths have advantages and disadvantages so finding the best length of shaft for your needs can be crucial. A short shaft won’t be able to be submerged if the water conditions are harsh.
On the other hand, longer shafts won’t be able to be used in shallow water.
Other things to consider is the boat type where a Deep V styled boat will need a longer shaft whereas shallow-bottomed boats require shorter shafts to keep them moving with less motor strain.
Your overall boating or fishing experience can be affected by the thrust power, so what size trolling motor will depend mostly on the size of your boat.
In most cases the higher the thrust power, the better you can power or maneuver your boat. If your motor is underpowered, it will be strained and will eventually wear out and die.
On calmer waters such as lakes, this might not be too much of a problem, but if you venture out to see, the conditions are very much different.
When buying a trolling motor, it is best to purchase the largest you can afford. This might in some cases appear to be overkill if you have a smaller vessel, but it will mean the motor can run at a lower output while powering you through the water.
Strain will also be less of an issue because you might never use it at full power, thus extending battery life in the process.
One guideline to follow rather than thinking you can get away with a 30lb thrust trolling motor is to use a simple formula of 5lb of thrust per 200lbs of boat weight.
This will have a significant effect if you hit choppy waters and you have a 55lb trolling motor on hand rather than a smaller one which now shows it is underpowered.
Boat types will also have a decision in the size, and although they are generally heavier, a Deep V boat will have more to drag through the water than a flat-bottomed boat. A larger motor with more thrust power can run cooler because there is less strain overall.
Freshwater Vs. Saltwater
This might have an overall impact on your trolling motor design as some are designed specifically for freshwater usage. If you strapped one of these to your boat, you could find after a while the seals are corroded, and water begins seeping in.
When deciding on which type of trolling motor to opt for water types, it is advisable to choose an option which is suited for saltwater regardless of if you ever decide to hit the ocean or not. Here are a few reasons why saltwater trolling motors are better:
Materials: the best materials should be corrosion-resistant, and this includes fiberglass composite, and in some cases anodized steel or aluminum. If other materials are used aside from these, they will corrode and lead to failure.
Seals: These are the first area to go on a trolling motor because they often surround moving parts. Even high-quality seals will over time begin to fail, but you can prolong the time in between changing them to extend your motors life by choosing marine grade plastics that houses all your electronics or moving parts to prevent saltwater exposure.
Anodes: In most cases, these are made from zinc. These sacrificial anodes are used as another means of preventing component-corrosion. If possible, you should check for these on your trolling motor design before buying.
Transom or Bow Mount
There are two trolling motor types which although similar in function, they fix to the boat in a very different manner.
A bow fitting motor generally takes up more room and requires the fitting of the large mount fixing bracket that enables you to raise and lower the motor as needed.
This is vital if the motor is secondary propulsion and only used for delicate movement of the boat once the primary source is not running.
A bow motor is found on larger boats and can offer increased mobility and speed because they pull boats through the water rather than push.
When maneuvering to precise locations, they can also keep you in position rather than you need to drop an anchor, and then it is easy to change position depending on where the fish are located.
Transom mounted motors sit at the back (stern) of the boat and are more often than not attached by large C-clamp type fittings.
These take up less room because most of the construction sits outside the boat. Most smaller boats are designed with this transom type motor in mind and don’t have necessary space in which to fit a Bow type of trolling motor.
For many people, these are ideal because they can be used as a primary means of propulsion, and are easier to control for new users because of the hand control.
Depending on which type of trolling motor you decide, this will have a direct impact on the length of the shaft as previously mentioned in the relevant section.
Foot or Hand Controlled
Again, this is directly related to the type of boat and motor. Foot controlled Bow trolling motors allow for steady movement while your hands are free to do other things, such as fishing.
Within reach, the foot pedal can be placed anywhere depending on the length of the cable to the pedal. However, if there are a few people on your boat, these pedals can be in the way unless they are sunk lower than the level of the boat deck.
Also, depending on the model of foot controlled trolling motor, there can be a slower response rate in speed or change in direction.
A foot control pedal can also be difficult for new users to become accustomed to as they require the foot to be pushed in the direction of travel.
Hand controlled motors, on the other hand, can be used by pretty much anyone. They also provide an instant response so anglers can maneuver in precise directions.
When they are used as the primary power source, it is easy to control sitting at the stern and resting your hand on the tiller whole controlling the speed.
This can be helpful if the waters are choppy and there is a chance of the boat bobbing where a foot controlled trolling motor would be difficult to steer.
One item which is added to many bow mounted trolling motors is a direction indicator. This can reduce any disorientation when using a foot operated trolling motor while fishing.
Voltage and Batteries
A trolling motor comes in 3 power variations depending on the motor size. These will either 12v, 24, or 36 volts. This would require either 1 12v battery, 2 or 3 respectively. This should also be a consideration because not all boats are equipped with space to store 3-batteries comfortably.
As you would expect, the 12v trolling motor variant is the cheapest, but the downside is they don’t offer the length of time you can spend on water like the 24v or the 36v options.
Also, with the larger battery capacity, thrust power is increased and will lead to a much smoother ride across the water.
While a boat up to 16-feet in length would only require a 12v trolling motor battery to operate correctly. This could soon change if the waters became choppy or your boat is larger, then you would benefit from motors which require larger battery capacity to allow smooth running.
When deciding on battery type, there are again options to consider.
Wet-cell batteries are the most affordable, and like motor vehicles, they contain acid. These are designed to be charged and run down many times over, and for this reason, they are popular.
The downside of this is they require more maintenance, and for ease of topping up with distilled water, they aren’t sealed and pose the risk of falling over, and leaking through the filling plugs. Another downside is they can corrode with performance being affected.
AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery models are the next step up and are sealed. This means they won’t leak if they fall and require no maintenance.
Other plus points are they charge faster, and the charge remains in the battery for longer. This can mean more time on the water without worry of being stranded.
When purchasing a marine battery (regardless of type), you need to look for ampere-hours. From this, you can calculate how much battery power you’ll have on one charge. It is also worth checking and making sure they come with a built-in breaker, this is a great safety feature because power can be cut if there is a problem with the motor.
To do this, you can easily take the amp hours of your battery, and divide it by the amp hours of your motor. Example being a battery of 100 amp hours and a motor of 20 amp hours gives 5 hours running time.
This being said, it does depend on how you use your motor, i.e., full speed, maneuvering or being loaded with people.
Charging time also varies, and the higher the amps in your charger, the faster your battery will charge. With a regular 5-amp-charger, a single 12v battery would take 12-hours of charging.
Battery life can also change depending on usage and quality of battery (plus type). A wet-cell battery will last from 1 year up to 2 and a half years with regular use.
All in all, a good battery will provide enough power as is recommended, and anything outside of this should be accounted for, but, some of the above models incorporate battery meters which show the amount of power remaining. As you will see, not all the expensive ones offer this.
One other way you can save battery power is having a variable speed trolling motor. This will cut down on power use when you are only after delicate positioning.
After all, things considered, and the above 5 trolling motors, we came to a conclusion and recommend one above all the others. Our recommendation is:
Goplus Electric Trolling Motor 46/55/86 LBS Thrust Transom Mounted 8 Speed with Adjustable Handle for Fishing Boats Freshwater and Saltwater Use.
The reasoning behind this is simple. There are many anglers around who already own smaller boats, or they often rent when they hit the water.
Foot-pedal operated trolling outboard motors are out of the question, so a transom mount option is the best option.
Compared to other trolling motors in this review of this design, they all come with shorter shaft lengths so these will be limited to very small boats whereas the GoPlus can cater for a medium-sized boat with ease.
It is light enough for one person to install and uninstall from a boat, and with the telescopic control handle, it means a single person can maneuver their craft without the need to sit right next to the motor. The motor is super quiet and can be used alongside fish finders to position your boat in the ideal location.
The GoPlus solid construction with the features it offers such at the 10-point battery power meter makes it an ideal choice for anyone.
It is also constructed from all non-corrosion materials which are often only found on more expensive models.
Any angler, or person who is checking buying outboard motor options won’t go far wrong with this trolling motor which will provide years of use with very minimal maintenance.