Effectively fishing with precision from a boat is nearly impossible without some form of trolling motor.
As many anglers already know, trolling motors allow you to position your boat (or kayak) around or on precision fish holding areas and make it possible to do so when dealing with wind or current, or simply for follow depth contours of weedlines.
Best Budget Trolling Motor
Best Overall Trolling Motor
Best Trolling Motor For Kayaks And Small Craft
In this article we will take a look at some of the best bow mount trolling motors on the market today as well as the features that set them apart.
Trolling motor models reviewed
Minn Kota is at the top for trolling motors on the market today, and has a wide variety of models and designs to fit most anglers’ needs for fresh and saltwater fishing.
The Edge is one of the budget friendly versions on the market offered by Minn Kota, and gives the casual angler on the water today a big bang for their buck.
The edge is a “cable drive” style trolling motor and uses a foot pedal with a series of pulleys and cables to give anglers an instant response for direction change by either leaning back on their heel for one direction and pushing down and forward with their foot for the other.
This setup is immensely popular for bass anglers as well as others to be able to back out of areas quickly when fishing heavy cover like timber of docks in ultra shallow water, where waiting for an electric motor to spin the head could take too much time.
The Edge has 5 different speed settings to choose from that you can adjust depending on things like current or high winds, a nearly indestructible composite shaft that is built to flex and not bend out of shape, ultra quiet for shallow water use and less spooking of fish, directional indicator that moves with the head, letting the angler know exactly where the head is facing.
- Very affordable
- Simple to use
- Ultra responsive steering
- Limited thrust options
- Due to cable drive, pedal has to remain near motor
- Limited speed settings compared to other models
The Minn Kota Powerdrive is the staple trolling motor in the Minn Kota line up and one of the most popular trolling motors today.
Unlike the Edge, the powerdrive features electric motors for steering, and will this makes it slightly slower in terms of steering response it has other benefits that the edge doesn’t.
With an electric pedal setup you have a generous amount of cable, allowing you to use the pedal in other parts of the boat, and even allowing you to control a bow trolling motor from the back of a boat if need be.
Some of the features of the powerdrive are a digital maximizer, to give the user 5 times more run time on a single battery charge, and also allowing you to set precise speed control anywhere from 0 to 100, conserving battery life.
The weedless Wedge 2 blade prop for use in heavy vegetation, the blade will help slice through the weeds and only 2 blades mean less chances for weeds to wrap up or bog up the motor, and an indestructible composite shaft that is the hallmark of the Minn Kota brand of trolling motors.
The Powerdrive is also i-pilot compatible for wireless control.
- Awesome battery life
- Weedless prop
- Customization options like ipilot
- Limited thrust options
- Not as responsive as a cable drive ( takes longer to spin the head a full 360 degrees )
Riptide PowerDrive has long been a popular choice for saltwater anglers who want reliable performance with smart boat control features.
The i-Pilot uses GPS to control your trolling motor allowing you to set spot-locks, record paths, control speed and steering, and more from the large LCD screen. You can also control it from your phone.
The prop design (the Weedless Wedge 2) has swept-back flared blades to power through vegetation efficiently. Control i-Pilot directly from your Apple or Android device with the Minn Kota mobile app.
- Spot-Lock feature great for fishing structure
- i-Pilot allows for auto pilot operation keeping you on chosen heading
- Can be controlled from iOS or Android devices via Minn Kota app
- Not the cheapest model
Motorguide is right up there with Minn Kota in terms of best trolling motor manufacturers on the market today, but features different traits in terms of construction and offerings.
The Xi3 requires 50% less effort when it comes to stowing or deploying the trolling motor compared to other trolling motors on the market today, and this is due to its more compact design.
This smaller and more compact model also produces 40% less noise compared to competitors as well.
The xi3 has an industry leading GPS system so you can use the anchor, jog, head lock, and cruise control features when on the water, and has the Chartplotter integration with NMEA 2000 network.
One other big difference of the xi3 is that it does not come with foot pedal at all, Motorguide has decided to eliminate that altogether in favor of the key fob system, but you can still buy a pedal separately for the trolling motor if that is something you decide you can’t live without on the water.
The elimination of the foot pedal actually can work very well for anglers looking to strap this thing to a kayak or other smaller watercraft where the pedal would take up too much room and space is limited, allowing you to control all features of the trolling motor on a lanyard connected remote that’s less than half the size of the one for your T.V.
- Compact design
- GPS integrated
- Keyfob control
- Some anglers might want a pedal
- Not quite as robust due to being compact
The Cayman has a ton of features that come in a very affordable package for anglers seeking out a bow mount trolling motor.
With this electric drive trolling motor you get multiple options for control and it comes with both a foot pedal as well as a key fob style remote allowing you to control the trolling motor from anywhere in the boat.
One very cool feature of this trolling motor is its mounting system. You can mount the base on the vessel of your choosing, or get multiple to mount on a fishing kayak or over vessel other than your boat, and simply attach the trolling motor as needed, this trolling motor is designed to be easily portable, making it great to swap to other watercraft as needed.
The trolling motor also features cruise control to keep a constant chosen speed on the water for as long as needed. This trolling motor is an all around great fit for budget anglers or anglers who get into situations with kayaks or other smaller watercraft that may way to portage or go to secluded fishing locations off of the beaten path, allowing for easy transport.
- Multiple control options
- Cruise control
- Tri blade prop might gather vegetation
- Shorter shaft length might not be long enough for larger vessels
- Very large sized foot pedal
Best Bow Mount Trolling Motors – Our Verdict:
All the trolling motors here fill a particular niche in fishing, and there is one on this list to suit every angler’s needs on the water today from kayaks to small boats and large Deep V-style boats for fishing big waters.
Best Overall – The Minn Kota Riptide Powerdrive
The Riptide is one of the most popular trolling motors available, and for good reason. Spot lock, control via smart phones, powerful but with a long battery life, it’s a great choice.
The prop design is great for efficiency and working through aquatic vegetation.
Best for kayaks and small craft – The Motorguide Xi3
Lightweight, quiet and easy to stow, the Xi3 is a high quality trolling motor for small craft, including kayaks.
The key fob controller is easy to use and perfect for this kind of use and the Xi3 has GPS for spot lock and cruise control functions.
Best budget trolling motor – Minn Kota Edge
WIth the Minn Kota name symbolising quality and performance, this is a great entry-level trolling motor that will provide reliable service for those looking for a basic motor with pedal control.
Trolling Motor Buyers Guide
Let’s take a look at some important things to consider when choosing a trolling motor, this will depend on things like boat type and size among other things.
Thrust is a very important consideration for what trolling motor you should buy. This really depends on your boat size more than anything.
For boats 17 feet and above, you should be looking for trolling motors with around 70 pounds of thrust due to the boat’s weight and high wind and current conditions.
This will give you ample power to hold position. For smaller boats from 12’ to 16’ you will probably be fine with a 55 pound thrust trolling motor and for kayaks and smaller craft even less.
As a rule of thumb when I purchase a trolling motor I usually pick one with thrust that is more than enough, or slight overkill, but for smaller vessels bigger trolling motors in the 70lb range are impractical and are 24 volts, requiring two batteries vs one.
Shaft length is equally as important as thrust. The larger the boat the longer your shaft length will need to be. This is due to the distance between the top of the bow in your boat and the waterline.
You want to make sure your trolling motor will be at least a foot under water, but I would recommend much more on bigger vessels to compensate for choppy water. You can always raise it up in shallow water conditions to avoid hitting the bottom.
Be sure you’re aware of the voltage of the trolling motor you are considering buying.
Higher thrust trolling motors that are 24 volts require two deep cycle batteries linked together instead of only one battery for smaller thrust trolling motors that are 12 volts.
Be sure you have ample space in your boat if two are required.
Other features like pedals, hand held remotes, GPS and fish finder compatibility and more are features that are personal preference.
Just choose wisely based on your local fishing conditions, and needs.