Types of Electric Trolling Motors

Types of Electric Trolling Motors

As a serious angler with your own boat, having a trolling motor is a must. It ensures that you can move fishing spots as necessary while also giving you complete control over the boat. When choosing an electric trolling motor for your craft, it’s essential to consider all the options in detail before making a purchase.

There are three primary types of electric trolling motors: bow, transom, and engine-mount motors. These motors vary depending on where they’re installed on your boat. Additionally, bow motors are divided into three types—hand control, foot control, and remote control—depending on how they are operated.

In this article, I’ll look at each type of trolling motor mentioned above in greater detail. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll have a clear idea of which trolling motor is right for your boat.

Bow Mount Trolling Motor

As the name suggests, a bow mount trolling motor is installed at the bow (or the front) of your boat. Traditional anglers most commonly use these motors. These motors are a great option to invest in when you progress from a beginner angler to an intermediate one.

Their biggest advantage is the control and maneuverability they offer – it is perhaps the best out of all the trolling motors available to you. Since you can completely control your craft, you become more efficient at fishing.

This control is due to the location of the motor, which is the same as the location of the thrust —at the bow. This, in turn, makes it easier to keep your boat pointing into the current, and the motor “pulls” your boat through the water, giving you the best maneuverability possible.

Bow mounts are a great option for anglers with medium to large boats. If your boat is 14 feet (426.73 cm) or larger and you’re a traditional angler, this is the way to go.

Bow mounts are generally divided into three subtypes, depending on how they are operated – hand control, foot control, and remote control.

Hand Control Bow Mount Motors

Hand trolling motors are more reliable and reactive than foot trolling motors. They’re smaller than foot-controlled alternatives, making them a good option for people with smaller boats. Being able to control your motor by hand also reduces the mess on the deck of your craft.

However, this reliability (and because they’re a relatively new technology) means that they’re more expensive than foot-controlled alternatives. Check out our review of the MinnKota Endura C2.

Foot Control Bow Mount Motors

Foot-controlled motors are controlled by pressing a pedal on the floor of your craft. The pedal must be pushed down for the motor to operate, which can be tiring for an angler.

However, it also ensures that your hands are free when you’re in the water, allowing you to adjust your line as needed or engage in any other activity you had planned. Though foot-controlled trolling motors are not as reactive as hand-controlled alternatives, they are more durable and far more cost-effective.

Additionally, since they’re an older style of trolling motor technology, they’re preferred by long-term anglers who are already familiar with these motors.

Remote Control Bow Mount Motors

Remote-controlled motors are controlled remotely. Early versions were wired and worked similarly to electric foot controllers.

Wireless remotes soon followed, and fishermen could easily move around the boat while still controlling the motor. Along with this evolution, GPS autopilot became a standard feature.  

The current remote bow mount electric trolling motors feature Bluetooth and advanced GPS autopilot. Some people refer to these systems as digitally controlled trolling motors. We have a section below in this article recapping this type of motor control.

Transom Mount Trolling Motors

Transom mount trolling motors are installed on the transom (or the back) of the boat. They’re usually attached to your craft with the help of a clamp-on bracket, and they’re generally hand-controlled or tiller-steered, similar to gas trolling motors.

The fact that transom mount motors are almost always hand-controlled motors means that they don’t take up much space on your craft, making it a good option for smaller boats, including canoes. These motors rarely come pre-installed and will usually be an after-market add-on.

These motors are a good choice for trollers, and if you’re simply looking for a motor that will help you move from one place to the other, this is the best option for you. Transom mount motors are easier to control, though they don’t offer the level of control and maneuverability that bow mount motors do.

It should be noted that transom mount motors are the most affordable option if you’re looking for a trolling motor for your boat, making these motors excellent for beginner anglers on a limited budget.

Engine Mount Trolling Motors

An engine mount trolling motor is attached to your outboard engine and is the best option if you’re looking for a trolling motor but don’t have much deck space to spare.

Additionally, they’re the option of choice for boats where there isn’t space to install a bow mount or transom mount motor, as well as for versatile, multi-purpose boats.

This motor only provides your craft with thrust, and you will be able to control the speed, motor direction, and thrust settings of the motor through a wired remote. When it comes to steering the boat, you’ll be using either the outboard wheel or steering by hand.

That said, these motors are the most challenging option to control. If you’ve never used or worked with a trolling motor before, starting with an engine mount can be very difficult. Furthermore, these models are the most expensive option, even though they lack several features you would find on more traditional models.

Digitally Controlled Trolling Motors

The three types of motors I’ve already discussed are the most common options on the market. However, there’s one other type of motor available that is quickly becoming the most popular – digitally controlled trolling motors.

These trolling motors use the latest technology available on the market and, as the name implies, are controlled digitally. The method of control is different depending on the motor and include:

  • A handheld remote
  • An app on your phone via Bluetooth
  • Direct communication between your motor and other marine electronics on your boat, which you can then control via a multifunction display

How these motors are mounted to your boat varies depending on the brand and the model, but they tend to be bow-mounted. They’re often available with a range of high-tech features, including autopilot functionality and an internal GPS.

That said, this technology does have its drawbacks, and these motors are usually the most expensive option available to you.

Considerations To Keep in Mind When Buying a Trolling Motor

Aside from the type of trolling motor, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind when making a purchase. These include:

  • The length of the shaft. Choosing a shaft length for your trolling motor will depend on the height of your boat. You need to measure the height from the mount point (bow, transom, or engine) to the waterline and use this measurement to determine the proper shaft length.
  • The thrust of the motor. Thrust is determined by the weight of the trolling motor, and the bigger your boat, the more thrust it will need. It should be noted that thrust is directly linked to boat size. Using a higher thrust model for a smaller boat may seem like a good idea but can actually be rather dangerous.
  • Power. The more thrust your motor has, the more power it’ll require. You’ll need to consider how much space you have on your boat for batteries when choosing a motor.
  • Where you will be finishing. Some brands offer different trolling motor models depending on whether you’re fishing in saltwater or freshwater, so you’ll need to consider this factor.
  • Additional features. What extra features do you need from your motor?

Final Thoughts

There are three primary types of electric trolling motors you can buy: bow mount motors, transom mount motors, and engine mount motors. You can also buy digitally controlled trolling motors, though these are less common because they use newer technology.

The type of motor that is right for your needs will depend on what kind of angling you’re indulging in, the amount of control and maneuverability you’re looking for, and your budget. You’ll also have to consider the amount of deck space you have available on your boat and the size of your craft in general.