When it comes to your angler boat, choosing a trolling motor isn’t as simple as choosing an outboard motor. With a trolling motor, your main focus isn’t going to be on sheer power. That’s because you don’t want to scare the fish away. Experienced fishers know a trolling motor should get you from Point A to Point B in the water without blowing your cover, so to speak. There are several types of trolling motors available, starting at 12 volts and going all the way up to 36 volts. Here’s how to help you decide on the best option for your particular boat.
Pounds of Thrust
When you talk about an outboard engine’s output, you refer to its horsepower. Horsepower is also used to describe how powerful a car’s engine is; for instance, deluxe sports cars will generally have a higher level of horsepower than small sedans. However, trolling motors are talked about in a different manner. When referencing a trolling motor, you’ll use the term “pounds of thrust” instead. So how many pounds of thrust do you need?
There are a few different ways to calculate that. One formula suggests having five pounds of thrust for every 400 pounds of boat. That means a 600-pound boat would need 7.5 pounds of thrust, but that’s a suggestion, rather than a hard and fast requirement. The boat police aren’t going to roam the water, waiting to pull over boaters and write them a ticket for having a different thrust-to-weight ratio. In many cases, it may be better to err on the side of a little too much power rather than not quite enough.
When shopping for a new trolling motor, you don’t simply need to look at the weight of your fishing boat. You also need to measure the shaft length. If you’ve never done that before, you’ll need to get a tape measure and start at the bow. Extend the stick to the transom to calculate the length.
This is an important number to have on you when you go shopping for a trolling motor, but you also need to know if you’re getting a transom mount or a bow mount. A transom-mounted motor is designed to go on the back of the boat, while a bow-mounted motor will be placed at the front. Keep in mind that transom mounts are generally easier to install, since the space requirements aren’t as complicated as they are for bow-mounted motors. However, many boaters feel that a bow-mounted motor is easier to navigate through the water. You’re more likely to see transom motors because of the simplicity aspect, but if you have the space and ability to install a motor on your bow, then go for it.
Do not, however, remove critical supplies from the front of your boat to ensure the motor will fit. That includes a Coast Guard-approved flotation device. Removing the life jackets from your boat is about as smart as cutting out the seat belts in your car. States like Pennsylvania even require you to wear a flotation device in winter if you’re using certain types of watercrafts. That regulation is designed to keep you from going into shock when you fall into cold water.
The Cost of the Motor
It’s common to get so caught up in things like pounds of thrust and shaft lengths that you forget about one of the most important factors: the cost. If you’re torn between 12 volts and 24 volts, then you can use the price tag as a tiebreaker. If the 24-volt trolling motor is only slightly more expensive than the 12-volt, then you should consider buying it, because you’ll get more bang for your buck. But if the price difference is substantial, and you don’t mind the risk that your boat will be a little underpowered, then go with the 12-volt.