How Do I Mount A Trolling Motor On An Aluminum Boat?

How to mount a trolling motor on an aluminum boat is very simple. For a transom mount motor after you position your motor correctly you only need to tighten the clamps. For a bow mount trolling motor, you will bolt the motor mount through the deck with or without a quick release plate.

In this article, we are going to discuss some finer points of how to mount a trolling motor whether it be a small car topper boat or a larger trailered boat. We hope this can help you have the best day out on the lake fishing, whether your boat is small or large.

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The transom of a small aluminum boat

How to mount a trolling motor on a small aluminum boat

Small aluminum boats are commonly called car toppers, rowboats, or even dinghies. Most boats in this size class range from 10 to 14 feet long and can be made of wood, fiberglass, plastic, aluminum, or a combination of materials.

Towing a small boat behind your vehicle on a trailer is common or placing it on the roof of your vehicle. However, if you place a boat on top of your vehicle you should put it upside down, requiring you to empty your boat.

Your trolling motor will also need to be capable of being removed from your boat. Most transom mount trolling motors have screw clams to fasten them securely to the back of your boat.

When attaching your transom mount trolling motor to your boat, the first thing you will need is to locate the center of your boat for best balance and boat control. Then loosen the screw clams on the trolling motor and place it as close to the center as possible.

Small aluminum boats commonly have a piece of plywood installed as a mounting plate for your motor. Tighten the screw clamps on your trolling motor until it is firmly gripping the transom of your boat.

If you are using a gas motor consider using an oversize box-end wrench to place on the screw clamp handle and add a quarter turn to the clamps. Doing this will firmly secure the motor and reduce the chance of your motor vibrating loose.

How to bow mount an electric trolling motor on a small aluminum boat

I prefer bow mount electric GPS trolling motors over transom mount motors. A bow mount motor will need to screw to the deck of your boat.

Many small boats do not have a deck, and if that is so for your boat you can make a deck by attaching two pieces of 2 by 4’s crossways. The first piece should be cut to fit at about twelve inches from the tip of your boat and the second should be about thirty inches from the tip of your boat.

The 2 by 4’s you cut need to be attached by screwing the 2 by 4’s to your boat. The 2 by 4’s can also go under the top rail and be secured by clamping pressure from the plywood deck. If you use the pressure method double-check for a solid connection to your boat.

Next, you will need to cut a piece of plywood in a triangle shape to cover the area in front of your boat. The triangle piece of plywood should be thirty inches long and as wide as your boat where the second 2 by 4 is attached, roughly 24 inches, depending on your boat.

Screw the plywood to the 2 by 4’s with heavy-duty wood screws. Then you will need to attach a quick-release trolling motor bracket for your trolling motor to the deck you have just made.

Usually, you will need to attach four bolts from the bottom half of the bracket to the deck and four bolts from the top of the bracket to the motor. Follow the bracket directions for detailed directions to finish the mounting.

Products I recommend for small boat bow mount motor setups

How to mount a trolling motor on a large aluminum boat

We like to say that a boat is no longer a small size boat once it is longer than fifteen feet. Most boats above fifteen feet long have a solid metal transom and decking on the front and sides.

Larger boats also have a main motor that is larger than a trolling motor. Many boats above twenty-one feet long will have multiple motors, such as the main motor, a gas trolling motor, and a bow mount electric trolling motor.

Mounting a trolling motor on the transom of a large boat is similar to a small boat as far as how to attach it, but you need to position the motor to the side. We recommend loosening the screw clamps just enough that you can slide the motor on the transom, but the bracket doesn’t move forward and back.

Once the motor is sitting on the transom, look to make sure the propeller is below the bottom of the boat. Next, turn the motor in both directions. If your motor moves freely and is below the boat then you can tighten the screw clamps.

If you have an option of what side to choose, then place your motor on the side with less weight, so you balance the boat evenly.  Also, you can try to find a place to put your batteries to help with your boat’s balance.

How to bow mount an electric trolling motor on a large aluminum boat

The first and most important thing is to buy the correct size trolling motor for your boat. With a small aluminum boat, it is simple to buy a small cheap motor, and it will work out fine, but on a large aluminum boat, there are a lot of variables to consider.

Click here to read our article What size trolling motor do I need for my boat?

Next, you will need to decide if you are going to use a quick-release mounting plate for your motor. We recommend a larger boat with a larger trolling motor skip the quick-release unless you use your boat for more water sports than fishing. When you are water skiing or tubing you will want to remove any extra weight you can.

At this point, you will want to find a spot as close to the center of your boat as possible to mount your motor that won’t interfere with your windshield, lights, or anchor. Double-check to make sure you have space to attach the mounting bolts of your motor to the underside of your deck.

Once you have finalized the location, it is as easy as drilling holes to match the mounting bracket. Then you insert your bolts, tighten them, and put on your motor bracket covers. Then you will need to follow the directions for your wiring system.

Click here for our article Tips on installing an electric trolling motor?


With the details we have covered, you will have no trouble mounting trolling motor on an aluminum boat and be on your way to a great day on the water.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you mount a trolling motor on the side of a Jon boat?

Yes, you absolutely can mount a trolling motor onto the side of your Jon motor. It doesn’t matter what side you mount it to, you have the freedom to choose. The only thing that matters is that you position the trolling motor either towards the front or the back of your boat. 

When you are deciding where to mount your trolling motor, there is one major thing that you have to keep in mind, and that is weight. Trolling motors aren’t light, so adding this extra weight to one side of your boat could cause it to become unbalanced and unstable.

So, if you add your trolling motor to the side of your Jon boat, you might find that you also need to add something of a similar weight to the other side of the boat. But other than this, there will be no issue with mounting your trolling motor to the side of your boat. 

What side of a boat do you mount a trolling motor?

But, you shouldn’t just choose a random side of your boat to add a trolling motor to. To decide which side to mount your trolling motor on, you will need to consider a variety of things.

First and foremost, the side of the boat that you steer from. If you steer from the port side, you should consider fitting your trolling motor starboard, as this will not limit your view. 

Additionally, you should also consider your fishing habits before adding your trolling motor. Trolling motors are great, but you don’t want the addition of this to affect your fishing ability.

So think about where and how you fish before you mount your trolling motor. There is no right side of the boat to mount your trolling motor, as different sides will be more appropriate for different people depending on circumstances. 

Does trolling motor need to be centered?

Ideally, your trolling motor should be centered when you mount it onto your boat. However, there is nothing that says it needs to be centered. Effectively, your trolling motor can be placed anywhere in your boat as long as it does not interfere with the other components of the boat. 

In a perfect world, you should aim to place your trolling motor as central to the stern as possible (without interfering with the main motor of the boat), but this isn’t always possible.

After all, what good is installing a trolling motor central if it is just going to get in the way? So, yes, it is better to have your trolling motor centered on your boat, but it is not the end of the world if it is not. 

Can you put a trolling motor on a deck boat?

Yes, you can put a trolling motor on a deck boat! This is slightly different from mounting a trolling motor on a Jon boat due to the size difference in these boats. Typically, you will need to use a piece of apparatus known as a ‘mounting clip’ to mount your trolling motor onto a deck boat. 

It is also important to bear in mind that you cannot apply a trolling motor for a small boat onto a deck of boats. When it comes to larger boats, you will also need to use a larger trolling motor, as a smaller trolling motor will be unable to do the job.

As soon as you have a trolling motor suitable for the size of your boat, you can attach it using your mounting clip and a large clamp. 

Can you put a trolling motor on the back of a boat?

A lot of the time, no, you will not be able to mount a trolling motor onto the back of a boat. This is simply because of the size of the back of the boat, and the fact that a lot of important components of it are located on the back. But, in some cases, you will be able to put a trolling motor on the back of your boat. 

In some cases, you might simply be able to clamp your trolling motor onto the back of the boat. This is assuming that there is room alongside the other important parts of the boat. But sometimes, due to the shape of the back of your boat, you might need to create a custom mount.

So, the answer is yes and no, you might be able to mount your trolling motor onto the back of your boat, but it will depend on your individual boat.