Types of Electric Trolling Motors: A Comprehensive Guide

Electric trolling motors can be categorized by voltage, thrust, mounting styles, and control systems. Here is a snapshot of what you need to know:

At a glance:

1️⃣ Electric trolling motors come in 12, 24, or 36-volt options, with higher voltages offering more power and longer battery life. 

2️⃣ Thrust options range from low (up to 55 lbs.), medium (55-80 lbs.), and high (over 80 lbs.) capacities to accommodate different boat sizes and water conditions. 

3️⃣ Mounting styles include transom mount, bow mount, and engine mount, each with their own benefits and suitability for various boat sizes.

4️⃣ Control systems can be hand-controlled, foot-controlled, or wirelessly remote-controlled, offering varying levels of convenience, precision, and efficiency for anglers while fishing.

As a marine industry professional of nearly 10 years, I’ll draw on my knowledge and expand on each of these categories in more detail.

But before we begin, take a look at this article to brush up on how electric trolling motors work to better appreciate the differences between the types of trolling motors. Now, let’s begin!


Electric trolling motors are typically offered in 12, 24, or 36-volt options. The choice of voltage impacts the motor’s power and run time, as well as the number of batteries required for operation. 

Higher voltage motors, like 36-volt options, offer more power and longer battery life but require additional batteries, increasing the overall setup complexity and cost.

Ultimately, the type of trolling motor that is best for an angler’s needs will depend on their fishing preferences, budget, and the specific characteristics of the water they frequent.

🚀 Thrust Options

When choosing an electric trolling motor, one of the critical factors to consider is the thrust capacity of the motor. Various thrust options are available, and they generally fall into three categories: low, medium, and high thrust.

Thrust LevelThrust RangeSuitable ConditionsPower RequirementTypical UsageExample
Low ThrustUp to 55 lbs.Smaller boats, calm water conditions12vShorter fishing trips, conserving battery life12v motors with 55lbs. of thrust or less
Medium Thrust55 lbs. – 80 lbs.Wider range of boat sizes and water conditions24vVarious angling situations24v motors with over 55lbs. up to 80lbs. of thrust
High ThrustOver 80 lbs. (up to 115 lbs. or more)Larger boats, rough water conditions, longer fishing expeditions36vLonger fishing expeditions, navigating rough water36v motors with over 80lbs. up to approximately 115lbs. of thrust

Other main factors, including voltage and thrust, must be considered when choosing the size of the trolling motor you need.

⚙️ Mounting Styles

There are three primary mounting styles for electric trolling motors: transom mount, bow mount, and engine mount.

Transom Mount

Transom mount trolling motors are generally user-friendly and tend to be the most affordable option among trolling motor types. 

They are typically mounted on the stern of the boat using a simple clamping system. This mounting style is popular for smaller boats and is known for its ease and simplicity in both installation and operation.

Bow Mount

Bow mount trolling motors are designed to be mounted on the front of a boat, providing better control and steering compared to transom mount motors. 

They offer a variety of control options, such as foot pedal controls or wireless remote controls, depending on the model. 

Bow mount motors are ideal on larger boats as they allow anglers to better navigate and position the boat for optimum fishing conditions.

Engine Mount

Engine mount trolling motors are mounted directly onto the outboard or inboard engine of the boat, typically by attaching to the cavitation plate. 

This type of trolling motor saves space on the boat and allows for a cleaner look, as there is no need for additional mounting brackets. 

Engine mount motors are suitable for medium to large boats and provide an unobtrusive solution for those who want the benefits of a trolling motor without taking up valuable onboard space.

🎛️Control Systems

Electric trolling motors come with various control systems to enhance the user experience and provide convenience while fishing. This section delves into three major control systems: Hand Control, Foot Control, and Wireless Remote Control.

Cable-steer motors, on the other hand, provide a more direct steering experience, with the angler maneuvering the motor using a foot pedal or hand tiller. 

Hand Control

Hand-operated trolling motors are steered with a tiller and are the most straightforward variety, requiring manual operation and offering the fewest features, but are often the most budget-friendly option.

Since these systems are easy to operate and require minimal effort, they are popular among recreational fishermen.

However, manual steering may require more attention and can be less efficient when navigating larger bodies of water or handling strong currents.

Foot Control

Foot-controlled trolling motors provide hands-free operation, allowing anglers to focus on other tasks like casting, reeling, or adjusting equipment. 

This control system uses foot pedals, which may offer enhanced responsiveness compared to hand control. Additionally, foot-controlled trolling motors often integrate features like autopilot and GPS tracking, streamlining the navigation process and improving fishing efficiency.

Wireless Remote Control/ ElectricSteering

High-end trolling motors offer wireless remote control options (also called electric-steer motors), which enable precise steering and speed adjustments using handheld remote devices or foot pedals. 

These systems employ advanced technologies like servo-controlled steering, allowing precise and dynamic boat control. 

Wireless remote control trolling motors may also include features like automatic steering, depth-based navigation, or integrated GPS systems like the Minn Kota Terrova.

🔎 Key Features to Consider

When selecting an electric trolling motor, looking into various key features is essential to ensure a smooth and efficient boating experience. In this section, we will discuss four crucial factors to keep in mind: Battery Life, Saltwater Resistance, Noise Level, and Weight.

Battery Life

One of the essential aspects to consider when choosing a trolling motor is battery life.

The required battery power depends on the motor’s thrust level: 55 lbs. or less requires 12 volts and one battery, 68-80 lbs. needs 24 volts and two batteries, while 101-112 lbs. demands 36 volts and three batteries.

Considering your motor’s voltage and battery capacity can highly impact your time on the water, selecting a trolling motor that matches your needs and battery setup is crucial.

Lithium batteries are a considerable investment but an example of one of the best-performing battery types on the market at the moment.

Saltwater Resistance

Depending on where you intend to use your trolling motor, saltwater resistance can be an essential factor.

Exposure to saltwater can cause corrosion in unsealed electrical components, leading to damage and reduced lifespan. However, there are specific trolling motors designed to resist corrosion from saltwater use.

Choosing a saltwater-resistant motor can save you money and ensure better performance in these environments.

Noise Level

A quiet trolling motor is crucial for anglers, as excessive noise may scare away fish.

Electric trolling motors are typically quieter than gas-powered motors, but some models may produce different noise levels.

Be sure to research and compare the noise levels of different models before committing to a purchase.


Lastly, the weight of a trolling motor can affect boat stability, speed, and general handling.

Heavier motors typically provide more thrust but can also consume more space and impact the boat’s overall performance.

Choose a motor that provides the necessary thrust while maintaining the correct weight for your boat.

🔑 Key Takeaways

In summary, there are three ways to characterize electric trolling motors, which are below:

1️⃣ Electric trolling motors are available in 12, 24, or 36-volt options. Higher voltages mean more power and battery life, but increase complexity and cost.

2️⃣ Thrust capacity varies: low thrust for small boats/calm waters, medium for different conditions, and high for large boats/rough waters.

3️⃣ Trolling motors can be mounted as transom (affordable, good for small boats), bow (better control, for larger boats), or engine (space-saving, for medium/large boats).

Nice to e-meet you. I’m Justin, a seasoned sailing journalist and communications pro with more than 25 years of extensive industry experience. And a track record of successfully promoting teams and events on the global stage.