If you’re a pontoon boat owner, you know that these spacious vessels are perfect for leisurely cruises, fishing adventures, and social gatherings on the water. However, to make the most of your pontoon boat experience, you might want to consider adding a trolling motor to your setup. A trolling motor can provide you with quiet, precise control over your boat’s movement, making it an essential tool for anglers and anyone who enjoys a relaxed day on the water. But with so many options available, how do you choose the best trolling motor for your pontoon boat? In this guide, we’ll break down the key factors to consider when choosing a trolling motor for you pontoon boat. I’ll also recommend my favorite options.
Best trolling motor for a pontoon boat
In terms of best quality for the price, I’d say the best trolling motor for a pontoon boat is the Newport Vessels Newport Pontoon.
Despite its nimble size, it can generate up to 86lbs of thrust, which should be enough power for just about all pontoon boats. The shaft is also 55 inches long which should easily be long enough so it extends from the boat into the water.
Another great feature is that it comes with an adjustable mount that allows you to attach the motor to anywhere on your boat. Last but not least, the motor is very affordable, and only costs $469.
1. Know Your Boat’s Specifications
Before you start shopping for a trolling motor, it’s crucial to understand your pontoon boat’s specifications. This includes its size, weight, and the type of water you’ll be navigating. Here are a few key considerations:
Size and Weight:
The size and weight of your pontoon boat will determine the power requirements for your trolling motor. Larger and heavier boats will require more thrust to move effectively through the water. Measure the length and width of your boat and calculate its weight to get a better idea of the power you need.
Saltwater or Freshwater:
Consider the type of water you’ll be using your pontoon boat in. If you plan to navigate saltwater environments, you’ll need a trolling motor specifically designed for saltwater use, as these motors are built to withstand the corrosive nature of saltwater.
2. Determine the Required Thrust
Thrust is the measurement of the motor’s power and determines how effectively it can move your pontoon boat through the water. To determine the required thrust for your boat, use the following guidelines:
- For boats up to 18 feet in length, you’ll typically need a trolling motor with 30 to 55 pounds of thrust.
- For boats between 19 and 22 feet, opt for a motor with 70 to 80 pounds of thrust.
- For larger pontoon boats over 22 feet, consider a trolling motor with 101 pounds of thrust or more.
Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, and factors like wind, current, and the number of passengers on board can affect your motor’s performance. It’s often a good idea to choose a trolling motor with slightly higher thrust than the minimum requirement for your boat’s size.
3. Decide Between Bow and Transom Mount
Trolling motors are typically available in two mounting options: bow mount and transom mount. Each has its advantages and is suited to different types of pontoon boats.
Bow Mount Trolling Motors:
- These are mounted at the front (bow) of the boat and are controlled with a foot pedal or a wireless remote.
- Bow mount motors provide better control and maneuverability, making them ideal for anglers who want to maintain precise positioning.
- They are also suitable for pontoon boats used for fishing because they allow you to quietly approach fish without scaring them away.
- If you plan on doing water sports such as water skiing, bow mounts might be better because it will be less in the way.
Transom Mount Trolling Motors:
- Transom mount motors are mounted at the back (transom) of the boat and are controlled with a hand tiller.
- They are generally easier to install and are a more budget-friendly option.
- Transom mount motors are suitable for pontoon boats used for general cruising and recreational purposes.
Your choice between bow and transom mount will largely depend on your intended use for the pontoon boat. If fishing is a priority, a bow mount motor might be your best bet. However, if you’re primarily interested in leisurely cruises, a transom mount motor may suffice. If you put the motor in the back, make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of your pontoon’s anchor.
4. Consider Shaft Length
The shaft length of your trolling motor is an essential factor to ensure that it reaches the water at the appropriate depth. If the shaft is too short, the propeller may not submerge enough, resulting in reduced efficiency. Conversely, if the shaft is too long, it can be difficult to stow and might be prone to damage in shallow waters.
To determine the correct shaft length for your pontoon boat, measure the distance from the mounting location (either bow or transom) to the waterline. Add a few inches to this measurement to ensure the motor can be submerged adequately, even in choppy waters or when carrying additional weight.
5. Think About Control Options
Modern trolling motors offer various control options to suit different preferences. Here are the primary control types to consider:
Foot Pedal Control:
- Foot pedal control provides hands-free operation, allowing you to focus on fishing or other activities.
- It’s particularly popular among anglers who need precise control over their boat’s movements.
Hand Tiller Control:
- Hand tiller control is a simple and straightforward option where you control the motor’s direction and speed with a handle.
- It’s typically found on transom mount motors and is easy to use for casual boating.
Wireless Remote Control:
- Wireless remote control allows you to operate the trolling motor from anywhere on the boat, providing convenience and flexibility.
- It’s a great option for those who want to adjust the motor’s settings without being tethered to a specific location.
The control option you choose will depend on your personal preference and how you plan to use your pontoon boat. Anglers often prefer foot pedal or wireless remote control for precision, while casual boaters may find hand tiller control more than sufficient.
6. Battery and Power Source
Trolling motors require a power source, typically a marine battery. When choosing a trolling motor, consider the following battery-related factors:
- Deep cycle marine batteries are commonly used for trolling motors. They are designed to provide a consistent power supply over extended periods. This makes them ideal for long days on the water.
- Lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly popular due to their lighter weight and longer life span, but they can be more expensive.
Size and Capacity of Battery:
- The size and capacity of your battery will determine how long your trolling motor can run before needing a recharge. It’s essential to choose a battery that matches the motor’s power requirements and your intended usage.
- Ensure that your pontoon boat has a suitable compartment or dedicated space for the battery, as these batteries can be heavy and need to be securely mounted.
To prolong your trolling motor’s battery life, consider installing a battery charger that can maintain and recharge the battery when needed.
7. Explore Additional Features
Trolling motors come with various additional features that can enhance your boating experience. While these features may not be essential, they can add convenience and functionality to your setup. Some popular features include:
- GPS Integration: Trolling motors with GPS capabilities can provide precise boat positioning and navigation. They can also allow you to create and follow specific routes on the water.
- Spot-Lock: This feature uses GPS technology to hold your boat in a fixed position, even in strong currents or windy conditions. It’s particularly useful for anglers who want to stay in one spot while fishing.
- Wireless Connectivity: Some trolling motors can be controlled through smartphone apps, allowing you to adjust settings, check battery status, and receive software updates remotely.
- Digital Displays: Trolling motors with digital displays provide real-time information on battery status, speed, and other essential parameters.
- Quiet Operation: Look for trolling motors with features that reduce noise and vibration, ensuring a quieter and more enjoyable boating experience.