A Guide To Trolling Motor Installations

This guide offers a detailed walkthrough on trolling motor installations, giving you a clear understanding of the process, from selecting the right spot to making the necessary connections.

Installing a trolling motor can be daunting, with many boat owners uncertain about the best practices and essential steps to ensure optimal performance. Additionally, unexpected trolling motor installation costs can quickly balloon and get out of control.

Leveraging in-depth research and hands-on experience, I’ll provide insights into the nuances of boat assessment, motor mounting options, wiring, and battery setup, among other crucial aspects.

I understand the excitement and challenges that come with boat enhancements, and this article will ensure your trolling motor installation process is smooth.

Assessing Your Boat And Trolling Motor

Before you start the installation process, you must assess your boat and trolling motor to determine the best installation spot, compatibility, and requirements. Some factors to consider are:

The boat’s size and weight will affect the thrust and voltage of the trolling motor you need. 

Generally, larger and heavier boats will need more thrust and voltage than smaller and lighter boats. 

The shape and design of your boat will affect the type and location of the trolling motor you can install. 

Some boats have flat or curved bows that accommodate a bow-mount trolling motor, while others have transoms for a transom-mount trolling motor. 

Ensure sufficient clearance and space is available to mount and operate the motor.

Determine what size electric trolling motor you need before installation because the features of your trolling motor will affect the installation’s complexity.

Some features to consider are:

Shaft Length

The shaft length is the distance from the top of the motor head to the propeller. You must choose a shaft length that matches the height of your boat’s bow or transom.

The propeller should be submerged at least 12 inches below the surface. 

Control Type

There are three main types of control: 

🤚 Hand Control
🦶 Foot Control
🎛️ Remote Control

Steering Type

There are two main types of steering: cable and electric. 

Cable steer trolling motors have a cable that connects the control unit to the motor head, allowing you to turn the motor by moving the cable. 

Electric steer trolling motors have an electric motor that connects the control unit to the motor head. This lets you turn the motor by sending signals through a wired or wireless connection. 

Tools And Materials Needed

A common question that pops up is, what do I need to mount the trolling motor? Below are the tools and materials that are required. 

Circuit BreakerAlways incorporate adequately sized circuit breakers.
Battery Terminal ConnectorsBattery terminal connectors are needed to attach the battery cables to the battery.
Wire ConnectorsUse marine grade wire connectors to join your trolling all wiring.

Mounting Hardware

Most trolling motor brands are supplied with the required mounting hardware. If you install a second-hand model, the following will be needed.

Screws Or BoltsScrews or bolts are needed to attach your trolling motor mount to your boat. Always use screws or stainless-steel bolts or coated with anti-corrosion material for marine use.
Nuts And WashersYou need nuts and washers to secure your screws or bolts on your boat.
Mounting PlateA mounting plate is needed to attach your trolling motor to the mount.

Trolling Motor Mounting Options

There are a few types of trolling motors that you can mount. Here are the two most common.

Bow Mount

A bow mount trolling motor is installed on the front (bow) of the boat, giving better control and maneuverability. 

Transom Mount

The trolling motor is installed on the back (transom) of the boat, providing visibility and accessibility. 

Installation Steps

The installation steps will follow the following general steps.

The location should be flat or slightly curved, have enough clearance and space for the motor head and shaft, and be close to the battery and control unit. 

You should consider the direction of the motor. Some motors can only be mounted on the left or right side of the boat. 

You need to drill holes in your boat where you will attach the screws or bolts for the motor mount. 

Use the mounting plate to measure the holes on your boat. 

Always ensure the following:

  • Measure twice, drill once
  • Ensure the drill bit matches the size of the screws or bolts you use. 

You need to attach the screws or bolts through the holes on your boat and secure them with nuts and washers. 

Always use a screwdriver and a wrench to tighten the screws or bolts and nuts. 

Attach the mounting plate to the screws or bolts on your boat. Align the holes or slots on the mounting plate with the screws or bolts on your boat. 

Attach the motor head and shaft to the mounting plate. Always follow the instructions that come with your trolling motor.

Ensure the motor head and shaft are securely locked in place.

Wiring And Connections

The next step of installing a trolling motor is connecting it to a power source, usually a 12-volt or 24-volt battery. 

You will need cables, connectors, fuses, and circuit breakers to ensure a safe and reliable connection.

To wire your trolling motor, follow these steps:

  • Determine the electrical requirements of your trolling motor. You can find this information in the user manual or on the label of the motor.
  • Choose the most appropriate battery type and size.
  • Choose the appropriate cable size and length for your trolling motor. 
  • Select the appropriate connectors, fuses, and circuit breakers for your trolling motor. 
  • Connect the wires from the trolling motor to the battery according to the wiring diagram provided by the manufacturer. 
  • If you have a bow-mount trolling motor, you may need to run the wires through the hull or along the gunwale of your boat. 
  • If you have a transom-mount trolling motor, you may need to secure the wires with cable ties or clips to prevent them from getting tangled or damaged.
  • Test the connection by turning on the trolling motor and ensuring it works properly.

Battery Setup

Trolling motors need a battery to operate, so during the installation process, you must ensure the battery is located in a dry, ventilated, and accessible area, away from heat sources or sparks. 

Secure the battery with straps, brackets, or boxes to prevent it from moving.

To set up your battery, follow the steps below:

  • Choose a location for your battery close to your boat’s center of gravity and has enough space for ventilation and maintenance.
  • Remove corrosion or dirt from the battery terminals with a wire brush or sandpaper.
  • Apply some petroleum jelly or anti-corrosion spray on the terminals to prevent.
  • Attach the battery cables to the terminals using ring terminals and wrenches. 
  • Connect the corresponding (+) and (-) cables to the matching terminals. 
  • Don’t let your boat’s cables or metal parts touch each other. 
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when securing the battery.

Initial Testing And Troubleshooting

Always test your trolling motor before fishing, preferably in calm water and away from other boats or obstacles.

Follow the steps below:

  • Turn on the motor and check if it works properly. You should be able to control the speed and direction of the boat easily.
  • Check for unusual noises, vibrations, sparks, or smoke from your trolling motor or battery. If there are any signs of malfunction, turn off your trolling motor immediately and disconnect it from the battery.
  • Check for any loose or damaged wires, connectors, fuses, or circuit breakers in your system. 
  • Check for leaks, cracks, dents, or scratches on your trolling motor shaft, propeller, mount, or housing. 

If you encounter any problems with the trolling motor that you cannot fix, contact the manufacturer or a qualified technician for assistance. 

Do not attempt to modify or repair your trolling motor without proper guidance or tools. Doing so may compromise the warranty or cause further damage.

Frequently Asked

Installing a trolling motor can be straightforward for those with some mechanical experience. Transom-mounted motors are generally easier to install than bow-mounted ones. Those unfamiliar with the process should seek professional help to do the installation.

The side of the bow where you mount a trolling motor often depends on the boat’s design and the operator’s preference. Typically, if the boat operator prefers to use their right hand for steering, the motor is mounted on the bow’s port (left) side and vice versa. Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations and consider any boat-specific constraints.

The trolling motor propeller should be submerged at least 12 inches below the water’s surface to operate efficiently and avoid cavitation. The exact depth can vary based on water conditions and boat load. It’s essential to ensure that the motor is deep enough to avoid drawing air but not so deep that it creates excessive drag or risks hitting underwater obstacles.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Kite Ship. The electrification of boating is the most exciting thing to happen to the marine industry in a generation! Welcome, and I hope that we can provide the portal you need to dive into the world of electric propulsion and power.