The Best Trolling Motor For Every Fishing Scenario

Last Updated on March 11, 2022

We independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.

Few tools have changed fishing from a boat like a trolling motor. If you’ve ever tried fishing without an electric motor, you know what I’m talking about; trolling motors have become essential to fishing.

Even the simplest trolling motor can aid an angler on any given day, but we’re here to talk about the best trolling motor.

Few trolling motors can obtain the privilege of being the best. It takes a rare combination of incredible features, efficiency, power, and the all-important price. I believe you get what you pay for, and that’s why I rated the Garmin Force the best overall.

That’s not the only trolling motor to make the list, and another nearly beat out the Force! Let’s find out which trolling motor challenges the Force.

Comparison Table – The Best Trolling Motors

ImageFeaturesRatingPrice
Best Overall
Garmin Force
Garmin Force
  • 50 and 57-inch shaft lengths
  • 24v or 36v
  • 100 or 120lbs of thrust
  • Brushless motor
9
Bass ProCabela's
Best Electric
Minn Kota Ulterra
Minn Kota Ulterra
  • 45" and 60" shafts
  • 24-volts
  • 80 pounds of thrust
  • Digital-Maximizer
8
Bass ProCabela's
Best For Bass Boat
Minn Kota Ultrex
Minn Kota Ultrex
  • 45", 52", and 60" shafts
  • 24-volts or 36-volts
  • 80lbs or 112lbs of thrust
7
Bass ProCabela's
Best For Money
Newport Vessels X-Series
Newport Vessels X-Series
  • 36-inch shaft length
  • 12-volt
  • 55lb thrust trolling motor
  • Transom mount
7
Amazon
Best Transom Mount
Haswing Protruar G
Haswing Protruar G
  • 35.5" Shaft
  • 24-Volts
  • 3HP/ 110lbs thrust
  • Transom mount
8
Amazon
Best 12-Volt
MotorGuide Xi3
MotorGuide Xi3
  • 36" or 54" composite shaft
  • 12-volt trolling motor
  • 55 lb thrust
  • Wireless operation
8
Bass ProCabela's
Most Powerful
Lowrance Ghost
Lowrance Ghost
  • 47", 52", and 60" shaft
  • 24v or 36v
  • 97lbs or 120lbs of thrust
  • Brushless motor
9
Bass ProCabela's

Reviews Of The Best Trolling Motors

Garmin Force

Garmin Force

BEST TROLLING MOTOR OVERALL

Specs

  • 50 and 57-inch shaft lengths
  • 24v or 36v
  • 100 or 120lbs of thrust
  • Brushless motor

Pros

  • Freshwater and saltwater trolling motor
  • Silent
  • Multiple power options
  • Futuristic Features
  • Wireless Chartplotter connectivity

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only two shaft lengths
  • Only compatible with Garmin sonar

Why We Chose It

Garmin has been a leader in fishing electronics for years. However, it wasn’t until recently that they introduced a trolling motor. When they released the Force, they didn’t hold back, this electric motor is easily the best trolling motor, but it comes with a high price tag.

The Force is corrosion-resistant so that it can be used in fresh or saltwater. However, it’s still wise to clean it each saltwater fishing trip. The fish will never hear you coming with the silent brushless motor, which is more powerful and efficient than traditional motors.

The Force was named correctly because of the futuristic features like gesture steering, which allows you to steer the motor by pressing a button and pointing the remote in the direction you wish to go. Chartplotter lets you create a course for the trolling motor to follow automatically. You can focus on fishing instead of running the trolling motor.

The Garmin Force isn’t for the average angler. It has many features that most will never use and it’s expensive. However, if you’re an angler looking to take your fishing to the next level, the Garmin Force will help you get there.

Minn Kota Ulterra

Minn Kota Ulterra

BEST ELECTRIC TROLLING MOTOR

Specs

  • 45″ and 60″ shafts
  • 24-volts
  • 80 pounds of thrust
  • Digital-Maximizer

Pros

  • Auto-stow and deploy
  • Power trim
  • Two-year warranty
  • Pre-installed i-Pilot integrated GPS
  • Universal Sonar 2

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only two shaft length options
  • Must purchase the Riptide model for saltwater use

Why We Chose It

Minn Kota was a leader in the trolling motor market for decades. It wasn’t until recently, when the Lowrance Ghost and Garmin Force debuted, that they were knocked off their pedestal. The Ulterra has two features that no other trolling motor has, and they’re the reason it’s the best electric trolling motor.

The first unique feature is the auto-stow and deploy. With the press of a button, you can automatically deploy or stow the trolling motor. Other trolling motors only have lift assist; the Ulterra does it all for you.

However, sometimes it gets stuck, so be sure to read my deep dive review into the Minn Kota Ulterra to know how to avoid the problems.

The other unique feature is similar, and that’s power trim. You can set the depth of your motor using a button on your remote. So you can quickly adjust the lower unit depth. The motor is not brushless, but Minn Kota developed Digital-Maximizer to help increase battery life.

The Minn Kota Ulterra is slightly more affordable than the Force. However, it’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination and is for anglers that are tired of stowing and deploying their electric motor. Work smarter, not harder!

Minn Kota Ultrex

Minn Kota Ultrex

BEST TROLLING MOTOR FOR BASS BOAT

Specs

  • 45″, 52″, and 60″ shafts
  • 24-volts or 36-volts
  • 80lbs or 112lbs of thrust

Pros

  • i-Pilot integrated GPS
  • Universal Sonar
  • Digital Maximizer
  • Bluetooth capabilities

Cons

  • Need to purchase the Riptide model for saltwater
  • Expensive
  • Not a brushless motor

Why We Chose It

Minn Kota has proven that they’re dedicated to improving their products year after year, and this includes the Ultrex. They’ve added features that will catch any angler’s eye. My personal favorite is Universal Sonar 2.

US2 allows the angler to use any sonar system they desire with the integrated transducer in the lower unit of a Minn Kota trolling motor.

You no longer have to strap and tape a transducer onto the bottom of your motor. Most other brands require you to use their brand-specific sonar, so if you’re adding the Ultrex to your bass boat that already has another brand of sonar, you don’t have to worry about running more wires and trying to make it look well kept.

i-Pilot enables you to use GPS functions like spot-lock with the wireless remote, smartphone app, or Humminbird electronics. So you can control your boat from anywhere in the boat. You’re no longer stuck on the front deck.

The Minn Kota Ultrex is the best trolling motor for bass boats because it offers many of the features that bass anglers need, like power steering, so you don’t get tired while operating your trolling motor. If you require greater details on the Ultrex, give my Minn Kota Ultrex review a read!

Newport Vessels X-Series

Newport Vessels X Series

BEST TROLLING MOTOR FOR THE MONEY

Specs

  • 36-inch shaft length
  • 12-volt
  • 55lb thrust trolling motor
  • Transom mount

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Telescoping handle and tilt adjustments
  • Corrosion-resistant materials
  • Ten LED battery indicator
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Lead-acid battery only
  • Short battery cables

Why We Chose It

Newport Vessels stands behind its products with excellent customer service. The X-Series for the price is unbeatable. Yes, there are cheaper trolling motors, but they don’t offer the quality or adaptability of the X-Series.

Newport Vessels makes all its trolling motors from corrosion-resistant materials so that you can use them in saltwater or freshwater. I love that the X-Series has a telescoping tiller handle and tilt adjustments so you can find the most comfortable position to operate it.

The ten LED battery meter lets you know exactly how much juice you have left in your trolling motor battery. Still, Newport suggests only using Lead-Acid batteries with it instead of Lithium-Ion. So you will have some additional weight from the Lead-Acid battery.

For the price, the Newport Vessels X-Series is virtually unbeatable. It’s an excellent choice for any angler looking for a versatile rear mount trolling motor. That’s why I named it the best budget trolling motor. Not because it’s the cheapest but because it offers the most features at a reasonable price.

Haswing Protruar G

Haswing Protruar G

BEST TRANSOM MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR

Specs

  • 35.5″ Shaft
  • 24-Volts
  • 3HP/ 110lbs thrust
  • Transom mount

Pros

  • Quiet brushless motor
  • Saltwater or freshwater
  • Folding handle
  • Kill switch

Cons

  • Only one shaft length
  • Not easy to find/ confusing advertising

Why We Chose It

Haswing has developed several models of the Protruar, so you are sure to find one that meets most of your needs. With that said, each model has limited options, so you might have to compromise on some features.

The Protruar G is the most powerful transom mount trolling motor with a max thrust of 110lbs, the equivalent of a 3HP outboard. That’s thanks in part to the brushless motor because brushless motors are more powerful than traditional trolling motors.

The folding handle ensures you will find a comfortable position to operate the trolling motor, and if you’re wearing the kill switch, it will shut the motor off if you fall out of the boat.

No matter if you fish in freshwater, brackish-water, or saltwater, the Haswing Protruar G can handle the demanding elements. I rated it the best transom mount trolling motor because of its unmatched power. Don’t forget to read up on all the Haswing trolling motors in my in-depth review!

MotorGuide Xi3

BEST 12V TROLLING MOTOR

Specs

  • 36″ or 54″ composite shaft
  • 12-volt trolling motor
  • 55 lb thrust
  • Wireless operation

Pros

  • Multiple shaft lengths
  • Built-In Pinpoint GPS
  • Middle of the road price

Cons

  • MotorGuide’s quality has come into question lately
  • Spot-Lock occasionally drifts

Why We Chose It

MotorGuide is a brand that has been around for decades, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more feature-rich trolling motor at this price than the MotorGuide Xi3. Most trolling motors with this many features require 24-volts to function correctly.

The Xi3 is a 12-volt 55lb thrust bow mounting trolling motor, which makes it perfect for fishing kayaks. You can read why I rated the Xi3 as the best kayak trolling motor here. I especially like the wireless remote control operation to avoid fighting with a foot-pedal in small spaces.

At this price, it’s tough to find a trolling motor with GPS capabilities, especially a trusted name brand.

The MotorGuide Xi3 is primarily for kayak anglers or other small fishing boats. While it has enough power to propel a bass boat, the large boat will quickly drain the 12-volt battery. If you’re stuck on MotorGuide, check out the MotorGuide X5.

Lowrance Ghost

Lowrance Ghost

MOST POWERFUL TROLLING MOTOR

Specs

  • 47″, 52″, and 60″ shaft
  • 24v or 36v
  • 97lbs or 120lbs of thrust
  • Brushless motor

Pros

  • Silent operation
  • Multiple shaft lengths
  • Customizable foot-pedal
  • Multiple power options
  • It doesn’t interfere with sonar
  • 360′ breakaway mount and automatic realignment

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Freshwater trolling motor only
  • Only compatible with Lowrance sonar

Why We Chose It

Lowrance might be a newcomer to the trolling motor market but they’re learned from years of manufacturing fishing electronics and created the only bow mount trolling motor comparable to the Garmin Force. You can see just how similar they are in my Lowrance Ghost Vs. Garmin Force review.

The Lowrance Ghost is deadly silent, so you can sneak up on the fish but that silence doesn’t negate the power the Ghost has; Lowrance claims 120lbs of thrust from this brushless motor. So you can quickly get to your favorite fishing spot.

If you’re like me and fish a lot of shallow areas, you will enjoy the 360-degree breakaway mount and automatic realignment because when you hit a rock or stump you don’t have to worry about damaging the trolling motor and it will “fix” itself back into the correct position.

The Lowrance Ghost is for the serious angler who loves having the newest gadgets installed on their boat. The features of the Ghost are world-class but they also come with a world-class price tag.

Buying Guide: Factors To Consider Before Buying A Trolling Motor

Factors To Consider Before Buying A Trolling Motor

Whether you’re buying a trolling motor for a small boat or a pontoon, there are several factors you need to keep in mind. The importance of each element will vary from situation to situation, but in general, you should keep a running checklist in your head of these-

  • Ease of use
  • Power
  • Efficiency
  • Quietness
  • Standard features
  • Price

Ease Of Use

I prefer my trolling motor to be simple to use. Sometimes this means it is a basic transom mount trolling motor for an inflatable boat, while other times, it is a high-quality bow mount trolling motor with lots of easy-to-use features.

I look at it this way; even if the trolling motor has the best features if they’re challenging to use, I’m unlikely to use them because they’ll only complicate my day of fishing.

Power

A deep cycle battery most often powers trolling motors. However, in theory, some trolling motors have multiple power options—the more voltage, the more powerful the trolling motor. However, brushless motors have changed the game and can produce nearly as much power as traditional electric motors using fewer volts.

The most powerful trolling motors will have a brushless motor connected to 36-volts. However, if you’re fishing from a Jon boat, you won’t need that much power to propel you, so a 12-volt 55lb thrust trolling motor will have plenty of power.

Efficiency

Nothing ruins a good day of fishing quicker than the trolling motor batteries dying. I’ve tried paddling and fishing from a boat, and it’s not the same as paddling a kayak. I spent more time paddling than I did fishing. So now, when I go buy another trolling motor, I check how efficient it is.

This usually means once again going with a brushless motor.

Some companies, like Minn Kota, try to get around using a brushless motor by using Digital-Maximizer, which only uses the exact amount of power the trolling motor needs at that time.

These programs help increase efficiency, but Minn Kota will have to get onboard with brushless motors sooner or later if they want to stay relevant.

Efficiency also has to do with the batteries you choose. A Lithium-ion marine battery is more efficient than a Lead-Acid battery.

Quietness

Quietness of A Trolling Motor

Have you ever swam at the lake and heard a boat passing? It might have sounded much closer than it was; this is because water amplifies sound. That’s why having a trolling motor that’s virtually silent is so essential. Even electric motors make enough sound that will spook fish.

I know I’m beating a dead horse, but brushless motors are once again superior in this regard. They are the quietest motor on the market. Brushless motors are relatively new to trolling motors, but the technology has been proven in power tools for years now.

Standard Features

The standard features range widely, as you’d expect, from high-quality to low-quality trolling motors. This is where you have to look at your style of fishing and determine which features you will use the most.

If you’re just looking for a trolling motor to place on the back of your Jon boat to get from point A to point B, then your needs will be vastly different than the tournament bass angler.

Price

Price goes hand in hand with standard features. The more features a trolling motor offers, the higher the price. You can find a good transom mount trolling motor for under $300, but a high-quality bow mount trolling motor will cost you more than $3,000.

You’ll Also Need

If you’re a gear guy or gal, there’s always something else you need! Well, this is true when buying a trolling motor. There are a couple of other items you need to purchase to protect your trolling motor and power it.

Circuit-Breaker and Trolling Motor Battery

Circuit-Breaker

Unless you like seeing your money go up in smoke, literally, I highly recommend buying and installing a circuit-breaker. It will protect your electric motor from power surges when something gets tangled around the prop.

A 50 or 60 amp circuit-breaker should do the trick but see what your specific trolling motor recommends installing.

Trolling Motor Battery

Purchasing the best trolling motor battery is almost as important as buying the best trolling motor. There are many things you need to know to buy the correct marine battery, but the quick explanation is this:

Deep cycle batteries power is measured in volts, most are 12v, but some are 24v. The Ampere Hour Rating is how long that battery will last, drawing that many amps. So a 15aH battery will last one hour when 15 amps are being used.

There are primarily two relevant types of trolling motor batteries, Lead-Acid and Lithium-ion. Lead-Acid batteries are heavier but cheaper than Lithium-ion. Just like with brushless motors, Lithium-ion batteries are the latest and greatest.

One Last Cast

You now know the Garmin Force is the best trolling motor. However, the Lowrance Ghost is right there with it if you’re willing to spend over $3,000 for a trolling motor.

If your price range is around $500 or less, the Newport Vessels X-Series and Haswing Protruar G are excellent electric motors, especially for inflatable boats.

Did your favorite trolling motor not make the list? Let me know in the comments below why I should add it to the best trolling motor list!