Technology for today’s angler has come a long way from the ole’ rowboat with a can of freshly dug up worms. Using GPS (global positioning system), trolling motors and fish finders can work together to give an angler a handful of features.
Features that allow the angler to focus on fishing rather than steering the boat. So, what is the best trolling motor and fishfinder combo? A trolling motor fishfinder combo works best when the manufacturers work together to create easy and seamless operation between the trolling motor and its paired fish finder.
Here are our top three recommendations for the best fish finder and trolling motor combo.
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How Is Pairing a Trolling Motor to a Fish Finder Beneficial?
The first and most apparent reason for pairing a trolling motor to a fish finder is the hands-free capabilities it will create for you. Spend more time casting, jigging, trolling, changing lures, tying lines, and cutting bait. Normally, you might have to have one hand on the trolling motor’s tiller handle or one foot on the foot pedal control switch to steer and control your boat’s speed.
Either way, you have to be constantly thinking about your position, what is around you, and how you need to adjust to maintain the route you want or to get to the fishing spot you desire.
Next, a fish finder and trolling motor combo that can connect to each other and share data will add a lot of high-end functions and convenience. No messy wires are one of the conveniences that can make your life easier. When you add a transducer to the bottom of your motor you will need to run a wire from the bottom of your motor to your fishfinder. It can be challenging to keep the wire out of your propellor and your stowing mechanism.
With a fish finder and trolling motor combo that utilizes GPS technology, you can free yourself from needing to be in constant control of the boat by inputting routes for your boat to follow. You have many options when charting routes.
First, you can manually enter the route, waypoints, and spot-locks. Second, you can program your trolling motor to follow depth contours and shorelines or use live maps to follow certain seaweed lines or drop-offs.
Either way, your trolling motor will follow the path accurately and will allow you to focus on fishing. Find a honey hole where you keep hitting on nice fish? Then drop a GPS anchor point that you can lock on for that day and save it in your fish finder so you can return to it in the future.
Another benefit of a trolling motor fishfinder combo is it makes it easier to fish with kids. We all love to share the joys of fishing with our children, but there are some challenges, to be honest.
Shorter attention spans, restlessness, and boredom can work together to require our attention constantly. This is another reason to leave your motor’s steering and speed control in the hands of the GPS and fishfinder motor combination.
Check out our article How much should my electric trolling motor system cost?
Who Are the Major Manufacturers Who Produce Trolling Motor Fish Finder Combos?
The major manufacturers who produce the best combos are some of the industry’s biggest names—familiar names like Minn Kota, Humminbird, Garmin, Lowrance, and Motorguide. Minn Kota, Garmin, and Lowrance have the added benefit of manufacturing both the motor and the fish finder.
Minn Kota has partnered with Humminbird to make an equally powerful combination. Whichever you choose, you can be confident that you are purchasing equipment from the most highly respected and trusted brands on the market.
You could spend hours researching which trolling motor brands pair well with which fish finders, but we did that for you. Here are our top three combo recommendations for 2020.
Minn Kota Terrova RT 80 72″ + Humminbird HELIX 9 CHIRP GPS G4N
- Trolling Motor: The Minn Kota Terrova is a beast of a trolling motor. With a 72-inch shaft and 80lbs of thrust, this motor works well with any fishing boat. It is constructed with an indestructible shaft and corrosion-resistant metal parts. Possess its own autopilot and GPS spot lock along with the i-Pilot Link Integrated GPS Trolling System. The i-Pilot Link links well with Humminbird fish finders.
- Fish Finder: The Humminbird Helix 9 is an incredible fish finder that utilizes dual spectrum CHIRP sonar. This Humminbird Helix fish finder has built-in internal GPS and uses the Humminbird enhanced base map. Feel free to download premium charts of lakes and coastlines produced by Humminbird and upload them right into your fishfinder. Seamlessly compatible with most Minn Kota trolling motors.
- Together: Couple the Minn Kota Terrova and the Humminbird Helix 9 with the i-Pilot Link Integrated GPS Trolling System. These two are a match made in heaven. Use the Humminbird full-color HD screen or the wireless Link remote to store your favorite fishing routes and to let them drive for you. Word on the lake is the Walleyes are biting around 22-feet of water? Set your i-Pilot link to follow a depth contour of 22-feet and sit back and jig while your boat travels a path in that depth range.
Garmin Force Trolling Motor – 57″ + Garmin ECHOMAP™ UHD 93sv
- Trolling Motor: This 57-inch Garmin Force trolling motor is a powerful and efficient motor. The 24-volt Force is more efficient by running with as much power as some 36-volt trolling motors made by the competition. The Garmin Force also has its own built-in sonar that can be wirelessly paired with a Garmin chart plotter/fishfinder.
- Fish Finder: The Garmin ECHOMAP contains a 9-inch touch screen with preloaded inland water maps. This chart plotter uses CHIRP sonar and has the option to add a transducer for additional detail. Easily link your Garmin ECHOMAP plotter with the Garmin Force trolling motor for extra features. Learm more with our article.
- Together: The Garmin connect will couple together the Garmin ECHOMAP and the Garmin Force trolling motor seamlessly. Use the ECHOMAP to route waypoints, follow tracks, and to mark your favorite fishing spots.
Lowrance Ghost Trolling Motor + Lowrance Elite-9 Ti² Active Imaging 3-in-1 with US/Can Nav+
- Trolling Motor: The Lowrance Ghost is one of the quietest trolling motors on the market. Run your motor at higher speeds with no sound or interference with sonar. Available with its CHIRP sonar and SideScan/DownScan imaging that connects easily to the Lowrance chart plotter.
- Fish Finder: The Lowrance Elite-9 contains Active Imaging sonar, which delivers clear images of fish and structure below and near the boat. Maps update in real-time to mark changes in depths and structure throughout the season. Easy to see high-resolution color display.
- Together: Link together the Lowrance E-9’s C-MAP and Navionics systems to the Lowrance Ghost trolling motor for additional features. Navionics will automatically plot the safest routes around a landmass, shoals, and other fixed hazards and control your trolling motor to follow that route.
Motorguide does not make fish finders, but their XI3 Wireless Saltwater trolling motor is still a great motor to consider. The motor is wireless and comes with a small wireless remote with built-in Pinpoint GPS navigation.
The Pinpoint GPS anchor feature will hold your boat in place without deploying your anchor. Click a button when you find a good fishing spot and lock-in. You can then set up a radius for you to maintain with your anchor point.
Powering Your Fish Finder
Many times you will need to power your fish finder from a different power source because of voltage. We are starting to see many people with multiple fishfinder head units use a separate battery to power them. One large benefit is the peace of mind that you don’t need to worry about draining your main motor battery. Dashboard solar panels are a great way to recharge your battery during your fishing day.
Check out our article How to Select a Fish Finder Battery for Your Fishing Trips.
So back to the original question, what is the best trolling motor and fishfinder combo? The answer is it is up to your preference. Each trolling motor fishfinder combo has its own set of pros and cons. However, make sure you know which combos are designed to interact with each other.
With Minn Kota, their fishfinder and trolling motor combo works with Humminbird. Garmin and Lowrance manufacture both trolling motors and fishfinders so they naturally can be paired together with their brand. Whichever combination you choose, you will be happy with how the combo will free up your time to focus on fishing rather than navigation.
Can different brands of equipment work together?
Typically one brand of equipment can only work within its own brand of products, but there are some exceptions. Commonly the computerized equipment like chart plotter/depth finders communicate in a system called NMEA 2000 however that doesn’t mean that the data sent through that protocol will be understood by the other devices. Normally basic model transducers can use a conversion cable to be interchangeable. Also, Motorguide makes an effort to produce the largest number of connectors and adaptors for other manufacturers’ equipment.
What brand of fishfinder or chart plotter will work best with my Minn Kota trolling motor?
Humminbird brand fish finders and chart plotters have partnered with Minn Kota to connect easily to all Minn Kota trolling motors that contain i-Pilot technology.
Is the GPS built-in to my trolling motor also used, or is it only the GPS in the fishfinder used?
When you couple together a GPS enabled trolling motor and a fish finder, the GPS systems in both devices are used and communicate with each other. The fishfinder GPS communicates with the trolling motor GPS to relay coordinates and route information. The motor then uses its built-in GPS to steer the motor in the correct direction to complete the route or go to a designated waypoint.
Is it better to purchase a trolling motor fishfinder combo manufactured by the same company?
You may want to purchase a trolling motor and fishfinder manufactured by the same brand, and that is great. However, it is unnecessary to buy in a combo if the trolling motor and fishfinder were designed to interact. For example, Minn Kota and Humminbird are intended for each other.
Can I upload lake maps to my fish finder trolling motor combo?
Yes, most chart plotters and fish finders can connect wirelessly to your laptop or mobile device, and you can download and upload premium lake maps to your chart plotter. Brands like Garmin will have thousands of lake and river maps already preloaded onto your chart plotter. It will then update the maps using sonar to detect changes in depths and underwater structure.