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9 Best Trolling Motor for Saltwater & Freshwater Fishing

Whether you’re fishing in saltwater or freshwater, a trolling motor is a vital piece of equipment. Choosing the right trolling motor can be tricky, though, so we’ve compiled a list of the nine best trolling motors for both types of fishing.
 
Whether you’re looking for strength and durability or speed and agility, we’ve got you covered. There are a few things to consider before making a decision. One critical factor is the type of water you’re troll fishing, whether it’s saltwater or freshwater.

There’s a difference between the two, which is why there are trolling motors for saltwater, freshwater, and even both.

This is where we can help. Continue reading to find one that fits your needs, and what you should consider before making a purchase.

Best Trolling Motor Overall

4.7/5

Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted

Best Trolling Motor For Beginners

4.7/5

Minn Kota Endura C2 40 Freshwater Transom Mounted

Best Trolling Motor by Budget

4.6/5

Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36 lb Thrust Saltwater

1. Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted

Best Overall

Standout Features:

The Minn Kotas Endura C2 30 Transom Mounted Trolling Motor is the best trolling motor at its price range. This product is made for small boats that are able to fit 30″ propellers, which makes it perfect for kayaks and small fishing boats. The motor gives you a great power output with half horsepower, which adds up to 2,000 pounds of thrust in low speeds. It has all-aluminum components, alloy zinc anodes on the lower unit so corrosion will not take away this part’s life expectancy.

This Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted has an ergonomic handle design so the user will have complete control when navigating their water territory. For greater control, there are three trims available: dual mode, power mode and manual mode. This trolling motor runs on a 12V battery, giving the user 70 hours of continuous run time. There is no need to worry about corrosion or rust because there are stainless steel shafts housed in an all-aluminum housing which will prevent these components from rubbing against each other and corroding.

We really liked that this trolling motor has a strong aluminum propeller. This is a great feature because the unit will not feel any resistance when it’s in action, and it can go through any type of waters without being bogged down by debris or other things that could get caught in-between the metal blades. The manufacturer has used an aluminum propeller because this material has long been known to be lightweight and sturdy, which makes it perfect for boat propulsion at high speeds. The only downside is that there may be some electrical interference from surrounding items so while you are out on the water, make sure to take precautions so this won’t affect your motor performance.

As with most trolling motors manufactured today, this unit comes pre-wired with a heavy-duty battery clamp and a six-foot battery lead. It also comes with the necessary hardware to install so you will not have any issues in this department. Of course, it is recommended that before you install your motor on the boat, be sure that there are no leaks because if there are any cracks or holes, that means water can enter inside and damage your boat’s electrical system.

Be aware that this unit does not come with mounting brackets so you will have to purchase them separately, but again at this price range for a trolling motor of its capabilities, it has surpassed our expectations by miles! We loved how powerful it is when in action. This product also has an incredibly quiet running speed which makes it great for lakes or rivers where noise is a big issue – not only for the boater but for all of the fish in that area.

2. Minn Kota Endura C2 40 Freshwater Transom Mounted

Best for Beginners

Standout Features:

The Minn Kota Endura C2 40 features a large 40lb thrust motor and an increased battery life at 8 hours. This trolling motor is powered by 12-volt saltwater deep cycle batteries which connect to the troll, making it compatible with many types of fishing boats (including jon boats). The motor also features several mounting options such as transom mount and bow mount that make it easy to attach to any boat. Making this model great for both freshwater and saltwater fishing trips, the Endura C2 40 comes in two different colors: white and black.

A disadvantage of this product would be its weight and size. At 15 pounds and 11x7x9 inches, this is not a lightweight option for some types of fishing trips. Also because of its power, the battery life may be bothersome depending on the user.

The advantages of this product are its features. The 1 hour charger allows for easy recharging, while the 5-year warranty provides peace of mind in case there is any damage to the trolling motor due to use. Also, the large 40lb thrust motor enables it to move through strong currents and rough waters with ease. This makes it great for both fishing trips that take place in lakes or rivers.

Another advantage of this product is that because it has a waterproof design, the boat’s owner can fish in even saltwater without worry about exposing their boat’s compartments to water (which could cause corrosion). Also, users don’t have to worry about getting stuck out in harsh conditions as the trolling motor sports a hold-in-place feature that allows it to stay in one position as water currents move.

This device has been reviewed as being very affordable and the fact that it comes with a 5-year warranty makes it great for those who have never owned a trolling motor before.

The big 40lb thrust of this trolling motor is great for both saltwater and freshwaters fishing trips. The removable handle gives more mounting options depending on how boaters wish to use their boat, while its waterproof design means they don’t need to worry about exposing compartments to water (which could cause corrosion). Its large power ensures easy movement through even rough waters, making it ideal for lakes rivers. While its size and weight are also disadvantages, the 1-hour quick charger and 8 hours battery life make up for this.

The main difference with the C2 40 vs the C2 30 is the size of the motor. The C2 30 features a 30lb thrust, which is still great for trolling through rivers and lakes while keeping costs low.

3. Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36 lb Thrust Saltwater

Best by Budget

Standout Features:

The Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36 lb Thrust Saltwater is a great option for kayaking enthusiasts. One of the main features is a smooth throttle control, which will allow a more efficient and enjoyable experience. This is extremely beneficial because it can be used for more than kayaking. It also includes a ten-inch shaft with stainless steel propeller that provides better handling capabilities. With its ergonomic design it is easy to use and allows for optimal comfort.

The Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36 lb Thrust Saltwater is able to handle up to five speeds, going from 0-4 knots of speed, which will make it easier to navigate the beach or waterways without getting caught on obstacles or having any trouble stopping. The weight of this motor is forty pounds making it lightweight enough for most people to easily put in a vehicle and pull out onto the water by themselves.

One of the main disadvantages is that it may not be a great option in very shallow water, because it does run off gas and needs to have access to air. This can make it difficult in places where there aren’t any waves or when the water level is low. In addition, this model seems to be more effective in saltwater rather than fresh water. It also isn’t recommended for use if you plan on going over 3 knots since this will cause damage to the motor.

The customer service from Newport Vessels is also top-notch. For instance, we had an issue with the motor casing arriving broken. After contacting the Newport Vessels customer service, they sent out a replacement part immediately and it arrived in a timely manner.

In terms of battery power, the Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36 lb Thrust Saltwater doesn’t seem to have a replacement option. This is a major drawback because it takes two 12-volt deep cycle batteries and sometimes people may need/want to change their battery after they start using this motor more.

Once again, this is great for kayakers since it’s lightweight, has multiple speeds, and the throttle control is smooth. It also allows for more comfortability because of its ergonomic design. However, this may not be ideal for people who are looking to navigate in shallow waters or obstacles with little water access because it needs air to stop.

 

4. Minn Kota Endura C2 45 Freshwater Transom Mounted

Standout Features:

The Minn Kota Endura C2 45 Freshwater Transom Mounted​ trolling motor weighs in at a little over twenty pounds and measures about four feet long. Its size makes it very versatile for use on different types of vessels, including kayaks. This unit is perfect for freshwater trolling because of its 45-pound thrust and 18 inch width. According to the package, the trolling motor will carry a vessel with a 2000 lbs load or less up to 3 mph or 4 mph if the battery depth has been moved forward. In short, this trolling motor was designed with fishing kayaks in mind because it fits well into them and can get them up to speed quickly which is very useful when trolling from a kayak. In addition, the trolling motor is easy to clean and maintain. It was specifically designed for freshwater use so it can be left out in a boat without being affected by saltwater corrosion.

The trolling motor does have a downside to its weight, however. Because of its low weight, it does not do well on large boats or those with heavy loads as would be seen on larger fishing vessels. If you are looking for a trolling motor that will work well regardless of your vessel size then Minn Kota Endura C2 45 Freshwater Transom Mounted​ trolling motor might not be the ideal choice for you. However, if you need something compact and light for use on kayaks, canoes, and smaller boats then this trolling motor is your best bet.

We used the Minn Kota Endura C2 45 during our kayak fishing trip. We were trolling at around three miles per hour, which is two more than this trolling motor can handle according to the package. Our trolling motor ran for about an hour and a half before it began showing signs of overheating. However, after we pulled back in to shore to let our trolling motor cool down it only took five minutes for it to start running again, so overheating wasn’t much of a big deal on this trolling motor especially if you are by yourself or with one other person who is operating another trolling motor.

The battery life on the Minn Kota Endura C2 45 Freshwater Transom Mounted​ trolling motor was very impressive as well. It lasted over two hours, which was more than enough time for our trip even though we were trolling at a faster speed.

In relation to how this product compares to other trolling motors, it is very comparable to the Minn Kota Endura C2 40 Freshwater Transom Mounted trolling motor. The biggest difference between the two is thrust power. This trolling motor only has 45 pounds of thrust while the other model has 40. However, this trolling motor does weight less than half (45lbs vs 80 lbs) and take up even less room (18 inches vs 25 inches).

Both trolling motors are made exclusively for freshwater use but they can both be used in salt water if precautions are taken to ensure that saltwater will not damage any part of the trolling motor including its electrical components. If you are looking to spend a little bit more money on your trolling motor then it would be worth checking out both models since they are pretty much the same trolling motor with a few different features. They both have a 36-month warranty and come with a trolling motor bracket that can be used to attach it to a trolling motor mount.

5. Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb Thrust Saltwater

Standout Features:

If you want something built especially for saltwater, you should look into Newport Vessels. All their motors are high-quality and efficient, so the 36 lb. is no exception.

This saltwater trolling motor handle is made of stainless steel. This material makes it suitable for saltwater use. The 30’’ fiberglass allows the motor to work better in deep water while its mount is made of heavy-duty nylon mount.

It has eight different speeds, five for going forward and three for going reverse. It features a five-point LED battery meter and 36 lbs. of thrust. These are some of its best features that are more than enough to power kayaks and other small vessels.

However, keep in mind that this product is specially made for saltwater, you can also use it in freshwater. This makes it one of the most versatile trolling motors on the market of such quality.

6. Newport Vessels NV-Series 46 lb Thrust Saltwater

Standout Features:

Another highly popular trolling motor by Newport Vessels, the NV-Series 46lb. is a motor of choice for many fishermen, sailors and more. What stands out about the motor is its features, specifications, and overall quality.

It has 46 lbs. of thrust which is great for saltwater fishing. The fiberglass shaft is adjustable so you can set it up any way you like. The motor has eight speeds, 5 of which are for going forward and 3 for going reverse. All the speed variables are at the handle for easy approach and maneuver.

The motor features a 5-point LED battery meter that allows for easy battery level reading. It’s located at the head of the shaft for easy access.

The combination of stainless steel, magnesium, and zinc make the motor durable and reliable. Its qualities make it suitable for saltwater, resistant to warp and UV.

7. Cloud Mountain Thrust Electric

Standout Features:

Cloud Mountain’s trolling motors come in a different range from 36 to 86 lb. thrust that are 36, 40, 46, 50, 55, 60 and 86lb. They also come with different shaft lengths of 36 and 28 inches. The motors have five power levels.

There are motors with 8-speed levels, 5 of which are for forward and three are for reverse.

The head is made of aluminum with reinforced nylon bracket, telescopic handle, and fiberglass composite shaft. All models feature a LED battery indicator that tells you about the battery level.

All of these models are suitable for both freshwater and saltwater. The ability to handle both types of water make it one of the most versatile devices on the market.

Cloud Mountain offers a 1-year warranty along with its products and has a large number of pleased customers and positive reviews to back up its quality.

8. Goplus Thrust Transom Mounted Electric

Standout Features:

This sturdy and durable trolling motor is a motor of choice of many experienced anglers and fishers. It’s efficient and easy to maneuver with.

It features a 6’’ telescopic handle that’s fully adjustable and comfortable. The handle allows for easy control in freshwater and saltwater.

The motor features eight speeds, 5 for going forward and another 3 for going revere. These speed levels give you all the control for an entirely controlled and smooth ride.

The unique thing about this motor is its three-blade propeller that allows the smoothest movement through water, as well as grass and marsh.

It features a 10-point LED lights battery indicator that tells you about how much battery life you have left. With this, it’s impossible to be left without the battery in the middle of the water.

The reinforced nylon bracket provides strength, ablation resistance and stability. The device also features a fiberglass composite shaft that gives high tensile strength and warp resistance. Its head is made of aluminum for prolonged motor life.

9. Black Haswing 12V 55 lbs Bow Mount Electric

Standout Features:

Designed to deliver ultimate control, quiet operation, and durability, this trolling motor is ideal for both saltwater and freshwater. The motor has a wireless hand control and a quick release bracket. It’s also energy efficient with a long-lasting battery for long hours of trolling.

The motor features a Depth Collar that allows you to change depths quickly and with ease. It locks in tight once you find the perfect depth. When you want to move from there, you should tighten the Depth Collar down the bottom of the shaft. The motor has an eye-catching design combined with synchronized level wind system and 6-pin centrifugal brake for better control.

Its lift handle is ergonomically designed to carry the motor easily. The dual release pedals help with deploying and stowing with only one hand. With its technology and encapsulated electronics and stainless-steel hardware, this motor is one of the best saltwater/freshwater trolling motors on the market.

Buying Guide: Trolling Motors

If you’ve never bought a trolling motor, the choice may be a bit trickier than you imagined. It’s because there are many different products on the market all delivering a large variety of features and specifications.

Here’s what you should consider deciding on the best model that would fit your needs:

Bow or Transom Trolling Motor?

Choosing between bow or transom trolling motors is a decision that the angler may have to make. There are pros and cons to both trolling motor types, so let’s take a look at how they compare to one another.

The first thing you will notice about trolling motors is where on the boat they are mounted. The bow trolling motor mounts directly in front of the boat’s bow or windshield, while transom trolling motors mount on either side of the back end of your vessel.

Transom trolling motors are generally smaller trolling motors which means that they will not give as much thrust as other trolling motors can provide. Bow trolling motors are larger and more powerful, but heavier than transom trolling motors, which can make it difficult to store them when not in use.

You will also need to factor in the trolling motor’s power source. Bow trolling motors generally come with 12-volt or 24-volt batteries, while transom trolling motors usually take one of two forms: a trolling motor mounted to the trolling motor mount and connected to the boat’s battery via cables, or a trolling motor that can be stored in a storage compartment on board and charged by plugging it into an AC outlet.

Keep in mind that bow trolling motors do not fit in all boats. You will need to ensure that there is enough room in your bow for you to safely use this type of trolling motor without hitting the propeller guard when turning corners.

Thrust Power

Thurst power for trolling motors is important because the more power, the faster you can go. Thrust power is measured in pounds in standard trolling motors, with the most common trolling motor power ranges covering 1.5 lbs to 10 lbs of thrust. The standard trolling motor is rated in pounds is because trolling motors are used for speed and displacement rather than lifting capacity, which is measured in kilowatts. 

Thrust power depends on the size of your boat. For boats under 12 ft. you would need about 30 pounds of thrust power. For vessel larger than 22 ft. you would need 101 pounds of thrust power.

Experienced anglers and fishers will tell you to buy the largest motor you can get within reason. A too large model could dwarf the size of your motor so make sure to choose wisely. Measure everything carefully before buying a trolling motor for your boat.

Thrust Power vs Voltage/Thrust Ratio

A trolling motor’s thrust is driven by its voltage and amperage ratings per horsepower rating. Amps is how much electricity goes through the trolling motor per hour, while horsepower determines how fast this electricity can be driven through the trolling motor head at top speed. More amps will allow a trolling motor to provide more thrust power at any given time, but will also increase drag against water resistance on the trolling motor body due to increased electrical draw from faster rotation. More horsepower will allow a trolling motor to push water at a higher speed but will decrease the time that it can be driven in any one direction without damaging components.

Trolling Motor Thrust Power Ratings & Usage

Most trolling motors have a thrust power rating of between 1.5 lbs and 10 lbs. Trolling motors with less than 1.5 pounds of thrust are considered ultra-light trolling motors and should only be used for trolling small objects such as rowboats and inflatable rafts or toys. Trolling motors with more than 10 lbs of thrust are used for trolling bass boats and deep-diving, large trolling motors.

1.5 – 3 lb – Lightweight trolling motors that can be used on rowboats or small inflatable rafts. Not large enough to push larger watercraft effectively over long distances. Terrestrial use only due to limited seaworthiness of lightweight trolling motor body design.

3 – 5 lb – Light trolling motor power range that is the standard for most trolling motor brands on the market today, including Minn Kota’s PowerDrive V2 trolling motors and MotorGuide’s W55 trolling motors. Provides a good balance between speed, controllability, and weight capacity that they can push without damaging components.

5 – 7 lb – Heavy trolling motor range. These trolling motors are used to push large bass boats and similar watercraft over long distances with high speeds and energetic acceleration. Poor for small objects due to the trolling motor’s larger size, weight, and power draw at high amperage levels.

7 – 9 lb – Used exclusively with trolling motor accessories such as trolling motor mount trolling motor bases and trolling motor shaft extensions. At this power level, it is rare that a trolling motor accessory will not be able to keep up with the speed of the trolling motor head no matter how much thrust is applied. Trolling motors with more than 10 lbs of thrust can tow extremely heavy loads such as mud buggies, boats packed full of people, or extremely heavy trolling motor accessories such as trolling motor flippers and trolling motor wheels.

10 lb – Trolling motors with more than 10 lbs of thrust are known as deep-diving trolling motors for their ability to be driven continuously at high speeds without damaging components. Not only can these trolling motors push very large objects extremely quickly, but they can also provide a reliable and powerful thrust even in water that is too shallow for small trolling motors to function effectively. Cannot be used with small trolling motor accessories due to the trolling motor’s larger size, weight, and power draw at high amperage levels.

Shaft Size

This is another crucial matter to consider. The shaft size determines how much control you’ll have over your boat. For best performance, it’s recommended you go for a stable balance between a long and short shift.

When the shift is short, it’s hard to submerge it during harsh conditions. Still, if the shift is too long, you’ll have many problems in shallow water. That’s why, for safe and enjoyable boating, you need to choose just the right shaft size.

To do this, you need to find the height of the bow or the stern. Boats that are deep V need a longer shaft, while small boats like canoes can work with a short shaft.

Look into this carefully because a thing like a shaft size can significantly affect how efficiently will your boat operate. Choosing the right size isn’t as hard as it may seem if it’s your first time looking into this.

Length

Shaft length of 42’’ is considered to be standard. Still, there’s a way to determine the length of your boat that you can do yourself.

Check the distance from where the shaft is mounted on the deck to the water. Now add from 16’’ to 20’’ and take the closest measurement.

Longer shafts are always recommended for rough water. This is because you want the prop to stay about 6’’ below the surface when your boat rolls and pitches.

Use the adjustment on the mount to fine-tune the vertical position of your motor. These little details will help the performance of your trolling motor and the overall boating experience.

Although it may seem hard, it’s not. Just take things with ease, measure everything several times before you make the decision and if needed, look for professional advice for your case precisely.

Batteries and Voltage

All electric trolling motors come in three different power systems:
• 12 volts
• 24 volts
• 36 volts

To simple things up, a 36-volt motor would need three 12-volt batteries in order to work. A 12-volt motor would use only one 12-volt battery while a 24-volt motor would use two of those.

The cheapest option would be the 12-volt battery. It’s also the one that’s easiest to operate. Still, it doesn’t offer nearly as much power as the other two batteries. A 24-volt and 36-volt batteries give you more time to spend in your boat. These are the batteries you choose for increasing thrust power and smoother ride.

For boats up to 16 ft. long, a 12-volt battery will do a fair job. It will push your boat through harsh conditions with enough ease. However, if you have a larger boat, opt for a 24-volt or 36-volt battery for a better experience.

Battery Indicators

A battery indicator is a useful thing to have and luckily, most trolling motors feature it in the head of the device. This indicator gauge shows how much power is left in the battery.

It’s recommended you don’t pass on this feature because it’s always good to know when you should think about charging your battery.

Maintenance

Trolling motors are quite heavy-duty, but still, they need a bit maintenance now and then. If you don’t look after your trolling motor on a regular basis, it will perform less than well and eventually break down. Luckily, these aren’t hard to maintain.

The exterior is the easiest to fix. Check the bolts and screws and tighten them when needed. Make sure to also remove all weeds from them. Cleaning the exterior of your trolling motor will help with better performance and clean and polish look.

While you’re at it, check the shaft. Sometimes, this part can become sticky. To get rid of this, apply some Armor All or anything similar to it and the problem is gone.

Now check if there’s any damage on the prop. Use fine sandpaper for treating any scratches you find. This isn’t the most crucial thing, but some significant scratches can affect your boat’s performance.

Replace all wires that are worn or frayed and check connections for corrosion. If you come across loose connections, make sure to replace them.

Brush the battery with extra caution while it’s not connected to anything in the process.

Laws To Be Aware Of When Buying

There are some laws you should be mindful of that depend on the state you live in. The rules are also different depending on the body of water, so make sure to check on all the regulations before you head out for fishing.

Still, here are some common regulations that apply almost everywhere:

  •  All vessels must be registered and titled. Also, you’re obligated to carry the registration card at all times when using the vessel.
  • Another thing you have to carry at all times are flares and other distress signals. This law is especially important for coastal waters under USCG jurisdiction.
  • You must have some navigational lights, though a simple hand torch can serve the purpose, too.
  • You should always carry a sound-producing device along with you in case of some emergency. If this is required where you are, carry a whistle on-board.
  • One of the stricter rules is that you have to wear a PFD. If you have a child with you that’s under 13 years old; it must wear it at all times. Still, the rule often doesn’t apply to canoes and kayaks.