Hands down, the best trolling motor for a bass boat is the Minn Kota Terrova 80. The Minn Kota Terrova series is time tested with a lot of positive customer feedback and positive reviews. Also, the Terrova series has all the latest options available that Minn Kota has to offer.
There are a lot of other great motors out there so in this post we are going to cover my top electric trolling motors and why I picked them.
Top five trolling motors for bass boats
- Minn Kota Terrova 80
- Motorguide Xi5-80
- Minn Kota Ulterra 80
- Motorguide X3 70lb foot control
- Motorguide X3 45lb hand control
When you are bass fishing or any type fishing for that point, a good trolling motor can make the difference between have a good or a bad day. If you maintain your system, the motors on this list will always give you the best chance at having a great day fishing.
I have personally been a Minn Kota user for years. I have purchased four Minn Kota motors and currently own two motors that I use for different applications. From time to time, the motors have needed repair for different reasons, but it always comes down to use and maintenance not manufacture error.
I have friends that own the Motorguide products and swear they are the best thing ever. In my research, each product on this list is top quality, and all factors had to be weighed to come up with clear winners.
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1. Minn Kota Terrova 80
The Minn Kota Terrova series 80lb thrust motor is my top pick for many reasons starting with being a core motor for Minn Kota that has been time tested. I searched back for product information and was able to find motor manuals for the Terrova series motors dating back to 2006. That doesn’t mean that the Terrova line isn’t older, but it started using the Terrova Model name in 2006.
The Terrova series is available in three voltages (12, 24, and 36) but the voltage on this list is 24 volts because of weight concerns in bass boats. You can order a Terrova motor shaft in three lengths (45”, 53”, and 60”), I would stick with the 60” shaft if you have the room on your boat.
With a full list of control options, you can customize your motor for whatever use works best for you. The base option is a co-pilot remote that looks like an alarm key fob for basic motor controls. The standard is the I-pilot remote, which gives you a list of amazing options, like GPS autopilot, GPS spot loc, and jog.
For those of you that are tech guys, like me, the I-pilot Link system can connect your chart plotter to your trolling motor for ultimate control for an easy way to set waypoints or contour lines for your motor to follow. Also, for bass fishermen, the optional foot pedal is a must for hands-free fishing.
Finally, all the newer motors are starting to include transducer options in the lower unit of the motor. Live-action transducers can change the way you fish and are an option to consider.
Customer reviews: 5
2. Motorguide Xi5-80
The Motorguide Xi5 80lb thrust motor is the Motorguide companies top of the line motor. The Xi5 has a long list of features to compete, and a lot of bass tournament winners sear by this motor.
The Motorguide Xi5 is available in all three standard voltages (12, 24, and 36) the 80lb is a 24-volt motor which is the same as Minn Kota. Motorguide offers an extra-long motor shaft of 72” available on the 80lb and 105lb size motors. The motor shaft is made of composite material, and the manufacturer claims it to be flexible and damage resistant. From the research I have done the motor shaft is very durable but I am not going to run a motor into a rock to find out, lol.
The list of options on the Xi5 is impressive. Control options are normally a key fob style remote, or a wireless foot peddle. You can link this motor via an ethernet cable to current models of Lowrance depth finders to unlock the motor’s full list of navigation options but check your compatibility list or include a new depth finder in your budget.
This Xi5 also claims to be more energy efficient than other manufacturers, and I think every day, each motor improves with digital control on all the electric components. Weight is also an advantage for this motor as it is slightly lighter than a comparable Minn Kota motor.
Finally, the price is a plus for Motorguide. While I was comparing the motors and trying to match each model up to the listed retails, I found they were about 10% lower for Moterguide.
Customer reviews: 4
3. Minn Kota Ulterra 80
The Minn Kota Ulterra 80lb thrust motor is a newer line for Minn Kota with all the bells and whistles you would expect for a new motor. Along with all the options of the Terrova line of motors, it has one amazing trick, auto-deploy.
When you arrive at your fishing destination, all you need to do is remove the motor stabilizer strap and turn on the power switch. After your remote has found the motor your simple press, the deploy button, and the motor lowers itself into the water. You can remotely adjust the depth that the motor sits in the water to keep the prop fully submerged during operation.
I wanted to rate this motor at the top of the list, but I had a big problem doing so. The customer reviews are all over the place on the Ulterra from the “best thing ever” to “it failed on me in the first hour.” From personal experience, I know that when you start out installing your trolling motor system, there is a learning curve and little mistakes that you are not aware of can greatly affect your motor’s performance. Although I want one of these motors, I don’t own this model so I can’t confirm the reviews Pro or Con.
Customer reviews: 4
4. Motorguide X3 70lb foot control
The Motorguide X3 70lb foot control motor is all about value.
The X3 line of motors is available in 12 or 24 volts with the 24-volt motor having 70lbs of thrust. The motor shaft is available in 45” or 50” so it will not perform well on larger boats that ride high in the water. Additionally, X3 motors have a durable stainless steel motor shaft.
A wired foot pedal controls The X3 motor. Many Bass anglers are very talented at standing on the front of their boats and tapping this peddle to move their boat effortlessly. Some people have noted that the speeds on the foot pedal are very high, but I found in my research that there are directions on changing the presets of the five speeds.
Deploying and stowing this motor is like lifting a feather, you slowly lower the motor down and to stow lift and fold it to the deck. Positioning the X3 motor can be a bit of a challenge because it is recommended that the motor lay flat on the deck when stowed.
Finally, the X3 70lb is quiet and powerful, so it is a great option when the budget comes into play.
Customer reviews: 4
5. Motorguide X3 45lb hand control
I had to put the Motorguide X3 45lb hand control motor on the list because not only is it priced right but if you have a small bass boat you still need a bow mount option.
The X3 hand-controlled motors are available in 12- and 24-volt models but the 45lb is a 12-volt model. The X3 hand-controlled motors only come with 50” stainless steel shafts.
As far as control options, you have a handle to steer and turn for throttle control. I would consider a handle extension because, in a small boat, you would not want to be right on the front.
The main things about the X3 motor are size and cost. You can get into this motor for way less than any other bow setup. Since the X3 45lb is a 12-volt motor, you can use just about any deep cycle battery to run it and get your feet wet, to say. The motor is small enough that if you decide you want to stay with it, you could buy a quick-release bracket and remove the motor when you don’t plan on using it.
As an honorable mention, I will say the Minn Kota Edge is also a budget-friendly option in this category.
Overall: 3.3 *
Customer reviews: 4
(* = I had to minus .5 on the overall score for overall power, thrust)
When doing research and sorting through all the different motors, a real pattern started to develop with the two leading manufacturers, both producing a large number of quality products. It is not to say that other companies are not producing good products, but these two companies have a solid track record that you can count on.
I have dealt with Minn Kota customer service many times in warranty issues and technical customer support issues and have always been happy in the end. I have heard from friends with Motorguide products that their customer support is also great. We can call these two companies equal in that category.
There are a lot of great trolling motors out there, so picking the right one can be confusing. You should consider that an electric trolling motor will wear out over time so if you don’t get the perfect motor the first time, you will learn a lot and can pick a motor more suited to your need.
Also, one final note, spend the extra money on a saltwater version of your motor. The cost difference is not that much, and the durability difference in the motor is worth every penny.
Featured photo By Wayne National Forest – WNF_BoatingLaunchOhioRiver_AthensRangerDistrictMariettaUnit_SR06112015, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59021640