For the pontoon user who wants a quality all-around motor that will allow them to take their boat anywhere & do anything the NEWPORT 8 Speed 55 lb thrust model is hard to beat. You get a top-quality motor with composite fiberglass shaft, stainless steel hardware and available zinc which makes it one of the least expensive saltwater capable models on the market. The 6-inch ergonomic handle makes operation easy and the 5 forward/3 reverse speeds give you excellent control. A 5 LED battery meter lets you keep a constant eye on power level and can be used with either a 12-volt deep cycle or marine battery.
- This is suitable for both fresh and saltwater use
- The motor is ultra-quiet and operates at a low temperature
- Backed by a 2-year manufacturer warranty
- Is hand control only, does not include foot pedal or remote option
- Is only available with a 30-inch shaft
If you have a smaller pontoon boat, are on a budget and still want big power the GOPLUS New 86 lb thrust trolling motor is a must. This small, affordable motor has much more power than meets the eye. The 3-blade propeller allows for smoother travel. The 36-inch fiberglass composite shaft and aluminum head offer exceptional strength and resistance to corrosion. A 10-point led battery level indicator ensures you will never be stuck mid-trip with a dead battery again. With 5 forward and 3 reverse speeds and an adjustable telescopic handle provides the ultimate level of control.
- Weighs only 22 lbs.
- 3 blade design increased the quality of ride
- The composite shaft is stronger and more corrosion resistant than other options
- Can handle thick vegetation with ease
- Not suitable for larger boats
- The manufacturer warns against continued operation of more than 30 minutes at a single speed setting
The Endura Max is designed to provide long-lasting reliability by overcoming two of the main problems with electric trolling motors, durability and battery life. A digital maximizer insulates the internal components, reducing heat during operation and increasing the life of the motor. By using higher quality materials for better operation while requiring less power. With 55 lbs of thrust, 10-speed settings ( 5 forward & 5 reverse), a telescoping handle and easy to use lever lock mount you will be on the water in no time and comfortable relying on this motor the entire trip.
- A total of 10-speed settings for the ultimate control
- Extended life of unit increases reliability and decreases replacement costs
- Composite construction will not corrode, warp or crack
- Cooler operating temperature allows for long periods of use
- This motor is louder than other similar models
- Not suitable for use in saltwater
First time user be warned: There is somewhat of a learning curve to using a trolling motor. Lessen that curve and increase your enjoyment by selecting a motor that is easy to use and constructed with high-quality materials so there is less worry if you make a mistake. The Newport Saltwater NV Series happens to be such a trolling unit. The extendable handle allows for easy, comfortable use. A built-in LED battery indicator helps prevent a mid-trip loss of power, which can leave you stranded far from shore. The 30-inch nylon transom mount allows for a perfect fit on a variety of watercraft. Plus, it is built to last even if you make a few mistakes along the way. High-quality hardware will not only handle fresh or saltwater use with ease, it is more forgiving should you miss a scheduled maintenance day. A durable fiberglass shaft is not only corrosion-resistant but also less likely to break should you hit bottom or glance off a rock.
- Operation temperature is cooler than many other models in this class
- Easy to use extendable handle and LED battery indicator are perfect for beginners
- Operates at a quieter than expected level
- Simple design does not include any of the common bells and whistles
- With only 46 lbs of thrust it would not be suitable for larger pontoon boats
The Edge offers an excellent combination of features, flexibility, and cost. The composite shaft is strong, yet flexible, allowing you to depend on it to flex when needed without breaking. There are three models available with either 45, 55 or 70 lbs of thrust. A Power Prop allows for a smooth, powerful operation that will move your boat swiftly & push through vegetation with ease. The durable composite shaft includes a core that is guaranteed for life. The five-speed setting, easy to read directional indicator and heel/toe control pedal allows you to get where you are going with ease and confidence.
- Very powerful and nearly indestructible, the perfect combination to overcome whatever you encounter
- Easy to use and provides excellent control
- Easy to mount using the included hardware
- The power cord is very short
- The plastic handle is not as high quality as expected and does not extend
If you are interested in finding a trolling motor at a bargain price, then you need to consider the x3. Motor Guide is a leader in supplying quality trolling motors, so even though you are purchasing a “no-frills” budget model, there are no concerns when it comes to quality. That being said, this motor is not without some rather appealing features common to most Newport models. The Patented Variable Ratio Steering (VRS) will assist even the least experienced operator and better counter the negative effects of higher winds or current. The adjustable shaft length allows for use on a variety of watercraft. Additionally – the composite construction is weather and abuse-resistant. Stainless steel and aircraft-grade aluminum are corrosion resistant and will allow for hassle-free use for many seasons to come.
- The new bow mount design makes installation easier and can be used on a variety of vessels
- Composite shaft, locking pins and mount are stronger and more corrosion resistant than previous designs
- Precision response steering provides a far greater level of control than expected
- With only 45 lbs of thrust, this motor may not perform as well on larger boats
Serious anglers do not need just any trolling motor, they need a trolling motor that helps them fish effectively. The Xi5 uses the latest in technology to provide a motor that is precise, reliable and easy to use. It is wireless-capable, out of the box, making set up easy and quick. A sophisticated ball-bearing steering transmission allows for precise changes in direction every time and reduces operational noise overall. Plus, it can be operated at 50% greater speeds. A new generation coating protects the electronics from damage while those same state of the art electronics allow the motor to operate on less power and at a lower temperature. This allows additional features such as GPS guided steering and an anchor setting that will maintain position even in windy conditions. The anodized aluminum mount is corrosion resistant and easy to set up.
The included electronics system allows for interface with GPS and some mapping systems for precision deployment
The remote foot pedal allows for wireless use from anywhere on the boat
Detailed owner’s manual included
Two shaft lengths, 45 or 54 inches, allow for use on a wider variety of boats
There is a learning curve associated with mastering the wireless foot pedal
Longer shaft length does limit the ability to operate in shallow waters
The Riptide Ulterra 112 is without a doubt one of the most advanced and powerful trolling motors available. With 112 lbs of thrust it is more than capable of effortlessly taking-on your favorite lake, manoeuvering your boat through weed beds, and even countering heavy currents. The advanced navigation system includes improved GPS interface and i-Pilot wireless control, which will track movement and let you return to a previous location with the touch of a button. The automatic stow/deploy feature, power trim, battery gauge, and weedless prop mean you can conquer any obstacle nature throws your way. State of the art design with increased corrosion resistance allows for use in both fresh and saltwater environments.
Includes wireless, remote hand control unit compatible with i-Pilot and i-Pilot linked features
Able to be used in both fresh and saltwater conditions
The variable-speed motor, weedless prop, and built-in battery gauge allow for hassle-free operation
With 112 lbs of thrust this motor is capable of effortlessly moving any pontoon
Costly, with a price tag is approaching that of a small gas outboard
It is available only in white, something many boaters concerned about showing dirt and grime will not appreciate
Adding a trolling motor to your pontoon boat is about versatility. Maybe you want to take your friends and family down to the water, but regulations do not permit the use of gasoline outboards. Or there is a section of your favorite lake that is shallow and unsuitable for your larger outboard but leads to a near-perfect beach. Of course, a trolling motor is also invaluable when accessing a tightly spaced dock or your favorite fishing spot. But before you can enjoy the benefits of a trolling motor you need to find the right one for your boat.
Let us help you. The following list of preferred features, terminology and tips will help you narrow the field and hopefully select the perfect trolling motor for you and your boat.
Electric trolling motors measure power in terms of thrust rather than horsepower used to do so, when discussing gasoline-powered motors.
There are three descriptions you will need to be familiar with when it comes to the weight of your boat: the weight of the boat itself, passenger weight and total weight. The weight of the boat refers to the unloaded weight of just the boat. Passenger weight refers to the maximum allowable weight of passengers when fully loaded. Total weight includes the maximum allowable weight of all passengers and gear. It is important to select a trolling motor that provides enough thrust to reliably move your boat at its maximum total weight. A general rule of thumb is to have a minimum of 5 lbs of thrust for every 200 lbs of gross weight.
This includes current, tide, wind, rain and changes in the sea state (how the combination of these factors are interacting at any given time). Water and weather conditions will impact how your boat handles and which trolling motor is suitable. For example, operation in rough conditions will require a trolling motor with more thrust and a longer or adjustable shaft. It is also possible you will face a faster loss of battery power.
When determining the power supply needed it is important to remember that larger motors and continued operational power both require battery capacity. Trolling motors are available in three sizes – 12V, 24V and 36V. Even if you have a battery pack suitable for running your motor, it may be necessary to add additional backup batteries.
Shaft length is measured from motor to propeller and is important because it determines whether you will be able to mount a specific motor in a manner that ensures proper positioning of the propeller. The average shaft length is 42”, however, there are models available that are either longer or shorter. Many of today’s trolling motors feature an adjustable shaft that allows for operation on a variety of boats.
Most trolling motors operate best when the propeller is at least 6 inches below the water’s surface. To determine the proper shaft length for your boat, measured from the deck (where the motor will be mounted), to the waterline, add between 16-22 inches (consult owner’s manual for specific measurement) and select the next closest shaft length (round up rather than down).
For example, if you measure 22 inches deck to the waterline and the owner’s manual indicates you should add 19 inches your total is 41 inches. You will need a 42-inch shaft length.
Recommended Shaft length – Bow Mounted
Bow to Waterline Recommended Shaft Length
- 0”-16” 36”
- 16”-22” 42”
- 22”-28” 48”-52”
- 28”-34” 52”-62”
Recommended Shaft Length – Transom Mounted
Transom to Waterline Recommended Shaft Length
- 0”-10” 30”
- 10”-16” 36”
- 16”-22” 42”
- Over 22” Consult Owner’s Manual
Many models, regardless of the manufacturer, will be available in a variety of sizes with different shaft lengths and thrust ratings. You will soon realize that a small trolling motor can move a much larger boat than expected, especially when it comes to pontoons as their design makes them very light for their size. However, it is very important to avoid underpowering your boat. Doing so can result in increased wear and tear on the motor which will reduce motor life and dependability. When in doubt it is recommended you opt for the larger trolling motor. Unlike gasoline outboards which increase in size and weight as the horsepower grows, trolling motors do not vary greatly in size regardless of thrust rating so there is little chance you will overpower or add too much weight to your pontoon.
Trolling motors are generally mounted in one of two locations – the bow or transom.
Bow mounted trolling motors are best for low-speed operation, such as fishing and may include foot pedal or remote control for operation.
Transom mounted trolling motors are used for both low-speed operations and as an auxiliary power source. Smaller or less expensive models may be operated by hand, like tiller operated outboards. Larger or more expensive models will often include either a foot pedal or a remote-control unit.
Almost every trolling motor will include a release that allows the motor to be pulled from the water and stowed, usually on deck, when not in use. On basic models, this will be a pull rope that when used, releases a pin on the mount and allows the motor to pivot. More expensive models will include a motorized system that can often be operated from either the motor itself, the foot pedal or handheld remote.
Propeller – Unlike gasoline outboards, which offer a wide range of prop styles and sizes, trolling motors all come with the same basic design. The biggest difference between propeller options is either a 2 or 3 three-blade design and whether the propeller is weedless. Three-blade models provide more thrust and reduce vibration, however, they can run at hotter temperatures and consume more power. Most weedless models are three blade designs as it is the additional power that prevents hang-up. Unfortunately, you generally do not get a choice when it comes to propeller design and they are not interchangeable.
There are two options when it comes to speed control: single speed or digital variable speed. Single-speed models require the operator to select a speed, usually by turning the handle or associated dial to a forward or reverse setting, and the motor will run at the speed until it is manually changed. The digital variable speed setting still requires the operator to set a speed, but the motor adjusts automatically to maintain that speed after considering the weather, current, and other environmental factors. When first introduced, DVS was only available on more expensive models. In the current market, DVS comes standard on many bargain-priced basic models. The advantages of DVS include more control, increased efficiency, and longer battery life.
Motors that utilize stainless steel hardware and composite shafts or motor housing will be more resistant to corrosion which is a must when operating in saltwater conditions (but still beneficial even if the boat never leaves freshwater). Motors specifically designed for saltwater will generally include additional protective measures such as better wiring, seals and zincs.
In addition to the basic features discussed already there are several upgrades you may want to consider. Although these add-ons usually come at a cost many manufacturers have started offering base models that can be upgraded or customized later. This allows owners to obtain the accessories as needed and without paying the entire cost upfront.
Some of the more popular accessories include integrated GPS, LED battery monitoring, additional forward or reverse speeds and remote operation such as foot pedals or handheld units. One of the newest options, which is growing in popularity, is the ability to link your motor to your smartphone via a free app, such as i-Pilot from Minn Kota. Apps of this type will allow you to monitor your motor’s temperature, battery life, and even position. Many will also allow remote operation of the motor, tie into the GPS and allow you to control speed, direction and even maintain position with a simple push of a button.
When shopping for a trolling motor you will notice a few major manufacturers dominate the market, and a few newcomers are always entering the game. The newcomers may be of interest, especially if they are offering a technological advance not available on the open market yet. However, the three major competitors are generally the best choice for time tested quality and reliability.
Minn Kota are the Nike of gear-driven electric trolling motors for pontoon boats and even mounted on smaller vessels such as kayaks. They invented the first gear-driven electric motor in the 1930s and have gone on to become the undisputed industry leader. Since the production of the first motor in 1934, their selection has grown to one of the largest in the world – which includes a variety of sizes, styles and advanced technologies. They continue to top all the absolute global production figures and live up to their excellent reputation.
Although not as old as Minn Kota, and often considered a close but second-runner in the industry, MotorGuide is still a well-regarded source for trolling motors. The first to develop the foot pedal technology, a common feature on today’s models, they continue to be a leader in innovative features.
This is the newest manufacturer on the block, but they are quickly making a name for themselves. Founded in 2008 they soon built a reputation for providing high-quality products while focusing on keeping cost manageable. One niche that Newport Vessels have carved out is making trolling motors that are useable in both fresh and saltwater, a rarity even from larger manufacturers.
1. Can a trolling motor push a pontoon boat?
Yes. Trolling motors are much stronger than their size implies, and pontoon boats require very little thrust to propel them.
2. How to mount a trolling motor on a pontoon boat?
Motors are mounted in one of two locations, the bow or stern. Due to the hull and deck design, it may be necessary to add an extension or mounting platform for some trolling motors.
3. How long should a trolling motor shaft be on a pontoon boat?
As previously mentioned – The shaft length is determined by the distance from the boat’s deck to waterline and manufacturer recommendations and this should be your guide. However, most pontoon boats will require a shaft length of approximately 60 inches.
4. What size trolling motor do I need for a 16 ft pontoon boat?
The minimum recommended thrust for a 16 ft pontoon boat is 40 lbs.
5. What size trolling motor do I need for a 20 ft pontoon boat?
The minimum recommended thrust for a 20 ft pontoon boat is 70 lbs.
6. What size trolling motor do I need for a 24 ft pontoon boat?
The minimum recommended thrust for a 24 ft pontoon boat is 80 lbs.
7. What are the pontoon boat trolling motor mounting options?
There are several options when it comes to mounting the trolling motor to your pontoon boat. Unlike other types of boats, it is unlikely your pontoon will have a transom onto which the motor can be mounted, this means you will need to look for other options. Some motors, especially those designed for bow mounting, will include a mount that allows for flush mounting of the control unit. In other cases, you will need to add a mounting bracket to accommodate the motor, which may be available from the motor manufacturer or your boat manufacturer.
As always, we create our content with you, fellow divers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next dive is a great one!