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Whether you’re fishing from a bass boat or a pontoon boat, a trolling motor is equally important to successfully, and quietly finding those fish. To troll, you need a trolling motor, and naturally you don’t want just any motor. With all of the choices out there, finding the best electric trolling motors for pontoon boats can seem like an daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve taken a look at the motors that are available, and we can present to you all the information you need, along with our recommendations to help you make your choice.
Top 5 electric trolling motors for pontoon boats
Serious anglers and casual fisherman alike need a trolling motor on their boat. Trolling is one of the most effective strategies for catching the most popular game fish, and when you’re having trouble finding the them (we’ve all been there) trolling is a tried and true method of locating them. Not to mention a quiet way to move around the lake without alerting them to your presence.
Let’s look at 5 of the best trolling motors for pontoon boats that you can order online, today!
*Best value trolling motor for pontoon boats
- 86 pounds of thrust
- 55 inch fiberglass shaft
- Mount can be placed anywhere on your pontoon boat
- 8 speeds
This Newport Vessels motor is designed specifically for pontoon boats, unlike some of the other motors on this list. It’s made to stand up to saltwater, so you can use this whether you’re out on the ocean or trolling around the lake.
With 86 pounds of thrust, 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds, this motor can get you anywhere you want to go and it can do it fast. The ability to mount it at pretty much any point on the boat with a flat surface makes it very flexible. You can mount it on the bow as a pure trolling motor, or at the stern on lighter boats as the only motor.
With a 50Ah battery like this one (the minimum recommended for this motor) you’ll get an hour of continuous use at top speed, and 2.5 hours at a medium speed. For longer battery life, use a battery with higher Ah.
- 86 pounds of thrust
- Fiberglass construction
- 8 speeds
- Impressive battery life
With 86 pounds of thrust, the Newport NV-Series will troll right through strong currents and high winds, so you never have to worry being pushed off course. The shaft is 36 inches long and made of composite fiberglass, so it gives you plenty of flexibility with depth placement and it’s strong enough to handle any water conditions.
This motor has five different forward speeds, and three reverse speeds, along with an LED battery meter that gives you a clear indication of how much battery life is left. Best of all, it weighs just 25 pounds, giving it an incredible power-to-weight ratio.
Battery life will vary depending on the speed you use, the size and weight of your boat, and weather conditions. Some users report up to 10 hours of continuous use, and at top speed you still should get a couple of hours out of it.
- Foot control
- Five speeds
- Tough composite shaft
The MinnKota Edge is a popular and reliable trolling motor for your boat. Since this is a bow-mounted, foot controlled motor it’s best suited for boats that already have an outboard motor, and are in need of a trolling motor only. It does come with hand controls, so in a pinch you could use it as the main motor on a pontoon boat.
It has five forward speeds, but no reverse speeds. For trolling, the lack of reverse speeds isn’t an issue. If it’s your only engine, that could become a problem. It’s certainly one you could work around, if you needed to.
It’s commonly reported that only one 12V battery is needed, even if two are recommended. For many users the motor is powerful enough that one battery gives it all the juice they need. Note that if you’re using this in waters with lots of weed growth, you’ll need to purchase an aftermarket propeller with a weed wedge on it.
*Best premium trolling motor for pontoon boats
- 55 pounds of thrust
- 48 inch shaft
- Rated for boats up to 2750 pounds
- Wireless remote control
- Cruise control
- Suitable for fresh and salt water
The Haswing from AQUOS is jam packed with great features, making it a very appealing motor. While it has a foot control petal, the wireless remote means that you can troll without being glued to the bow to for steering and speed control. In addition to standard mounting gear, it also has a quick release mounting plate that makes installation and removal fast and convenient.
If you’re in fairly open water, the cruise control is great, and the variable speeds allow you to conserve battery life by slowing down a bit. The propellers can rotate through 360 degrees, allowing you to move in any direction.
The shaft is 48 inches, which makes it compatible with most types of fishing boats, but may be a bit short for some pontoon boats. And, since it’s rated for both fresh and salt water use, it’s one of the most versatile motors you can buy.
- 55 pounds of thrust
- 8 speeds
- Designed for pontoon boats
- Tough composite shaft
Another offering from Minn Kota, this motor is designed just for pontoon boats. It’s meant to be bow mounted and likely can’t be mounted at any other point on the boat without some serious modifications.
55 pounds of thrust should be plenty of power for trolling, and with five forward speeds and three reverse speeds it’s a motor that can adapt to many different situations. While it comes with a tiltable, extendable hand tiller, it also comes with a foot pedal, so can choose which way you prefer to use it.
The shaft is made of Minn Kota’s exclusive Indestructible Composite, which they guarantee for life, so you can trust that it can handle getting beat up a bit out on the water.
Buying a trolling motor
How to choose a trolling motor
Before you decide on the specific motor you’ll use, it’s helpful to have an idea of what, exactly, you need in a motor and how your intended use of the motor will shape those needs. Here are the big things you need to pay attention to:
- Thrust- your motor needs to be able to move your boat at a reasonable speed
- Controls- some trolling motors only have a tiller, others have foot petals, some have remotes
- Durability- trolling motors are small and slender, but they’re used to move heavy objects. You need tough materials to make sure it lasts
- Variable speeds- how fast or slow do you want to go?
- What’s the motor for- do you need a trolling motor to supplement an outboard engine, or will this be the primary propulsion?
What to Look for in a Trolling Motor
Here are some basics for what you should be looking for:
- Fiberglass shaft
- At least 55 pounds of thrust
- At least an hour of battery life at top speed
- Five speeds, minimum
Trolling Motor Frequently Asked Questions
How much thrust do I need?
This will depend on your boat. Larger boats need more thrust, of course. A good rule of thumb is two pounds of thrust for every 100 pounds of fully loaded boat weight.
How long a shaft do I need?
52 inches is probably the shortest you can go if you’re mounting it on the bow, and you go a bit shorter if you’re mounting on the stern (these lengths are assuming you’re on a pontoon boat.) When in doubt, always go longer. The shaft on a trolling motor is adjustable, so if you get a shaft that’s too long you can easily fix that by raising it. But it the shaft is too short, there’s nothing you can do.
Do I need a professional to install a trolling motor?
Trolling motors are fairly simple to install. Most people are able to do it on their own without any problems. The motors themselves can be heavy, so you may need help lifting it.
Do I need to buy batteries?
Trolling motors don’t come with batteries included. They use large, 12V marine batteries and often require two of those batteries. If you don’t already have them, you’ll need to buy them and connect them to your trolling motor. This 120 ah trolling motor battery from VMAX will power just about any trolling motor you hook it up to.
Can I use a trolling motor as my only engine?
If your boat is small enough, yes. Small, one or two person pontoon boats are light enough that a trolling motor is all you need. Kayakers often use them, too. For most boats, though, a trolling motor is not strong enough to be the main engine, and is really only useful for trolling.
Where on the boat does the trolling motor go?
The bow or the stern. Usually, you see them on the bow because there’s a big outboard engine at the stern. Check this before you buy, some models are not made to be mounted anywhere but the bow.
Trolling motors can be an indispensable piece of equipment for your pontoon boat, as long as you buy the right one. While all five of the motors listed here are excellent, the Newport Vessels Pontoon Series Saltwater Electric Pontoon Trolling Motor is the best bang for your buck. It’s designed specifically for pontoon boats and has enough thrust to propel almost any size boat.
While the AQUOS is attractive as a premium option, with its long list of great features, the relatively short shaft length may not work with some pontoon boats. Other trolling motors top out at 55 pounds of thrust, but that may not be enough for larger boats. Even if you don’t need 86 pounds of thrust to move your boat, having that extra power in a lighter boat gets you more speed and more battery life.