Selecting quality hardware is pivotal in securing your trolling motor to your boat. To ensure the effective operation of your trolling motor, the right mounting hardware must be used.
This guide will walk you through the necessary components, the tools required, best practices for installation, and additional accessories that can enhance your motor mounting experience.
I haven’t listed the actual prices here because we would end up with an article long enough to turn off all but the most dedicated angler. You can find those in this trolling motor installation costs guide.
However, links to all manufacturers are included, which should simplify the project’s pricing. I have also written an in-depth guide on each of the installation components needed to install a trolling motor.
Now, let’s take a high-level view of the core components required for this task.
Depending on the voltage of the trolling motor, you will need one to three 12v batteries. The operating instructions will have a section explaining how many you need.
These, or other suitable battery connectors, are essential for connecting the terminal ends on the motor’s power leads to your battery.
Remember you are making electrical connections in a water-based environment. This makes it critical that all connections are secure and waterproof – or contained in a waterproof enclosure,
This is necessary to recharge your trolling motor batteries after usage. The battery charger you select must be compatible with the type of batteries that you use.
As trolling motors typically have 3-5 feet of power leads, some setups might necessitate extra wire lengths to connect to the batteries.
Calculate the distance from where the trolling motor is mounted to the batteries to determine the required wire length.
After determining the needed length, consult the instruction booklet or the manufacturer to identify the appropriate wire gauge.
For those with a 24v or 36v trolling motor, short wire lengths are needed to connect your trolling motor batteries in series. Ensure the wire is the same gauge as the rest of your trolling system. Refer to our battery wiring diagrams for detailed wiring instructions.
The mounting bracket forms the foundational structure to which your trolling motor will be attached. It should be sturdy, corrosion-resistant, and compatible with your boat’s design.
The right bracket ensures that the motor remains fixed, even when faced with strong water currents or maneuvering through challenging terrains.
A circuit breaker should not be optional and should be included as an essential safety device that protects your trolling motor if the propeller encounters underwater obstacles.
The circuit breaker will also protect the engine’s electrical systems in case of a short circuit, possibly caused by water ingress.
Trolling Motor Plug & Receptacle
This facilitates a swift disconnection of the trolling motor wiring, which is advisable during charging.
Bolts and Screws
Bolts and screws are the primary fasteners holding the bracket and the motor to the boat. Ensure you select ones made of marine-grade stainless steel to prevent rusting and corrosion.
Their size and length will largely depend on the model of your trolling motor and the thickness of your boat’s hull or deck.
Washers and Nuts
Washers are used to distribute the pressure evenly and protect the boat’s surface. Nuts, on the other hand, secure the bolts in place.
As with bolts and screws, opting for marine-grade stainless steel is advised for longevity and strength.
📃 List of Power Tools for the Mounting
While manual tools can be used, power tools can expedite the mounting process:
- Cordless Drill: For drilling pilot holes.
- Screwdriver Bit Set: To fit various screw head types.
- Ratchet and Socket Set: For tightening bolts and nuts efficiently.
💡 Installation Tips and Techniques
Proper installation is as crucial as the hardware itself. Here are some installation guidelines to ensure your trolling motor is securely mounted.
Proper Boat Positioning
Before starting, position your boat on a stable surface. If using a boat trailer, ensure it’s on level ground. This aids in aligning the trolling motor correctly.
It also reduces the risk of errors during installation.
The mounting location of a trolling motor is important. There are four possible positions where you can mount a trolling motor on a boat:
- Bow mount
- Transom mount
- Engine mount
- Side mount
Bow-mounted electric trolling motors are the most common type on leisure fishing boats. With power surpassing 100 pounds of thrust on certain models, these motors offer precise and quiet maneuverability. This is beneficial for both fishing and observing wildlife.
These motors are typically stored flat on the front deck using built-in mounts. They flip over the bow, positioning the motor head underwater when in use. This design is ideal for boats with flat, open bows.
When mounting a bow mount trolling motor, it’s preferable to position the shaft as close to the boat’s centerline as possible.
This positioning ensures consistent steering and prevents the boat from drifting to one side. If the shaft is mounted off-center to the left or right, it can cause a directional pull, making the boat veer when intended to move straight.
However, certain situations may make mounting the motor at the center challenging. Being off-center by a few inches typically doesn’t create a noticeable difference.
Steering discrepancies may be evident if the mounting is off by a foot or more. If faced with this challenge, and removing mounting obstacles or selecting a different motor isn’t feasible, there are a couple of options to explore.
i-Pilot or Autopilot: Most trolling motors offer an Autopilot or i-Pilot feature that provides an automatic bearing setting capability.
This means the motor adjusts to maintain a direct path even if the boat drifts due to off-center mounting.
For significant off-center mounting, opting for a motor equipped with the standard Autopilot or i-Pilot may be beneficial.
Manual Compensation: It’s possible to manually adjust for off-center steering and boat drift by increasing steering effort in one direction and reducing it in another.
Operators often adapt to these adjustments with practice, making it a viable alternative.
This is the easiest position to mount the trolling motor. It generally requires no additional mounting hardware or wiring.
If the motor is mounted next to the main outboard motor, it may require some adjustment regarding the thrust line, as discussed in the bow mounting description above.
An engine-mounted trolling motor is attached to the outboard motor’s cavitation plate.
To ensure a secure attachment, you must drill holes in the metal cavitation plates and have correctly sized nuts and bolts.
Side mount trolling motors are typically utilized for kayaks and canoes because these boats lack a transom. Occasionally, small Jon boats may also feature a side-mounted trolling motor, although this usually involves a transom mount that may need modification.
The mounting bracket that should be used for a side mount trolling motor is generally a horizontal metal bar, or rail affixed to the kayak or canoe’s top, extending outward from one side of the gunnel.
This extended section of the bracket allows for the attachment of the trolling motor, often using a standard transom mount.
One benefit of side-mounted trolling motors is their accessibility from the vessel’s center, eliminating the need to sit at the far rear to operate the tiller.
The downside of mounting these motors is that the thrust is directed away from the center line. To compensate for this, the steps outlined above, when mounting, an off-center bow-mounted motor should be applied.
Choosing the Right Hardware Materials
Always opt for marine-grade materials. They are specifically designed to resist the harsh conditions of the marine environment, like saltwater, which can accelerate corrosion.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
- Do not over-tighten screws and bolts, which can damage your boat or the motor bracket.
- Ensure the mounting location doesn’t interfere with other boat operations.
- Periodically check all hardware for signs of wear or loosening.
🔧 Trolling Motor Mounting Accessories
Beyond the essentials, several accessories can enhance the functionality and longevity of your trolling motor.
Quick Release Plates
These plates allow for the swift removal of the trolling motor, which can be useful for storage, maintenance, or security purposes.
Stabilizers reduce the vibrations and motion of the motor while in operation. This reduces wear on the mounting hardware and ensures smoother boat navigation.
Wiring and Connectors
Quality wiring and connectors ensure efficient power transmission to the trolling motor. Always use marine-grade wiring and water-resistant connectors to prevent potential malfunctions.
The proper hardware, tools, and installation techniques are crucial in efficiently operating your trolling motor. Regularly inspecting your mounting hardware can pre-empt potential issues, ensuring that your maritime adventures remain uninterrupted.
⚙️ List of Electric Trolling Motor Manufacturers
The following is a list of the most common suppliers of trolling motor manufacturers:
- Garmin Force – link
- Haswing – link
- MinnKota – link
- Lowrance – link
- Newport Vessels – link
- Watersnake – link
❓ Frequently Asked
How often should I inspect and replace trolling motor mounting hardware?
Regular inspection of the mounting hardware is recommended every few months or after intense usage. Depending on the wear and tear, some components might need replacement annually, while others can last several years. Always ensure that the hardware is free from corrosion and securely fastened.
Can I use non-marine-grade hardware for temporary fixes?
While non-marine-grade hardware can be used temporarily, it’s not recommended for long-term use. Such hardware is not designed to withstand a marine environment and can corrode quickly, compromising the motor’s stability and safety.
Are there any specific brands known for high-quality trolling motor mounting hardware?
Several manufacturers produce high-quality trolling motor mounting hardware. Brands like MinnKota and Newport Vessels are well-regarded in the industry. However, always check product reviews and consult with fellow boaters or experts before making a purchase.