Best Trolling Motor for Pontoon Boat: A Buyer’s Guide

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Updated on:

Best Trolling Motor for Pontoon Boat: A Buyer’s Guide

Tackle Village is reader supported. If you buy a product through links on the site we may make a small commission

Updated on:

A trolling motor on a pontoon boat can transform your pontoon boat from a cruiser to a fishing machine. If you’re looking at putting a trolling motor on your pontoon boat, stick around, and we will show you our picks for the best electric trolling motors for pontoon boats.

Best Trolling Motors for Pontoon Boats: Quick Picks

Best Overall

Minn Kota Terrova 80

Minn Kota Terrova 80

9.7

The Terrova 80 has more than enough power for even the largest, pontoon boats, like ones over 20 feet in length.

It is also one of the best trolling motors on the market, and has every gadget feature you will ever need if you fish often on the water.

Best Value

Minn Kota Powerdrive

Minn Kota Powerdrive

9.6

The powerdrive is our best all-around trolling motor for pontoon owners who don’t want to buy trolling motors with a hefty price tag.

The Powerdrive gets the job done, pure and simple, and is incredibly reliable.

Smart Choice

Motorguide Xi5

Motorguide Xi5

9.5

If you plan on power fishing and covering water quickly in a pontoon, the Xi5 is hard to beat.

It boasts what is arguably the best GPS integration systems, and the wireless foot pedal really comes in handy when your on the water.

Best Trolling Motor for Pontoon Boats: Full Reviews.

MotorGuide Xi5

MotorGuide Xi5

MotorGuide Xi5
Our Score

The Xi5 is one of the staple trolling motor designs in the fishing industry today and it has some very impressive features that have made it quite popular among anglers.

The Xi5 features a wireless foot pedal design, allowing the fisherman to break free from the normal spot of being stuck near the bow or front deck of a pontoon, and allowing them to have precise control from anywhere in the pontoon.

The Pedal allowing you to control the trolling motor from the rear of the boat, while you monitor boat positioning, depth finders, GPS, and other crucial things that require focus are great, and your family and friends can fish from the front while you maintain position.

 Along with the wireless pedal, there is also a key fob style controller that you can hang around your neck, eliminating the use of a pedal altogether. The Xi5 has one of the bestintegrated GPS systems available in a trolling motor unit, meaning it will track contours or maintain spot locking very well.

The trolling motor shaft is made from a composite material, so it has great flexibility and bend and won’t break or warp when hitting obstacles, which is a big step up from their other models, and earlier metal shaft versions. The shaft on the Xi5 series also comes with a lifetime warranty.

  • Wireless remote and pedal
  • Composite Shaft
  • Awesome GPS integration

Minn Kota Terrova 80

Minn Kota Terrova 80

Minn Kota Terrova 80
Our Score

Minn Kota is one of the top trolling motor brands in the U.S. alongside Motorguide and they produce some exceptional trolling motors, one of which is the Terrova.

The Terrova is a very durable and reliable trolling motor that is loaded with features. One of the main features of the Terrova is the GPS system which features capabilities like spot lock.

The spot lock anchoring system will keep you at a designated spot and work against wind or current to allow you to fish with precision.

There are two different types of GPS integration systems available with the Terrova, the I-Pilot, and the I-pilot link systems.

The two GPS systems are essentially the same, with the exception of the I-Pilot link fob, which allows you to integrate the trolling motor directly into your Humminbird fishing units.

The I-Pilot link remote control also features a colored touchscreen display over the button layout of the standard I-Pilot remote.

The Shaft is made from a composite material and can take a serious battering, and can last through decades of natural wear and tear, and the Terrova also has a battery life indicator present to show you how much charge is remaining in the batteries.

The pedal design has a lot of things going on, and you can choose between left and right button pedals, or the heel-to-toe directional steering controls that are similar to a cable drive pedal, but electrically operated instead of using cables.

The shaft length of the Terrova varies between models with lengths of 45, 54, 60, and 72 inches, and the Terrova comes in three models capable of 55, 80, and 112 pounds of thrust.

  • Multiple wireless remote options
  • Spot lock, follow contour, and GPS positioning and tracking
  • Very reliable platform

Minn Koto Riptide 80ST

Minn Koto Riptide 80ST

Minn Koto Riptide 80ST
Our Score

The Minn Kota Riptide comes in many different models which include the Terrova model, like the one mentioned earlier in this post, but the Riptide also has a big difference in the way it was constructed.

All Riptide models by Minn Kota are saltwater rated and designed solely with saltwater use in mind, whereas the black standard models are only rated for use in freshwater.

The main difference in construction and components is the use of stainless steel for all metal parts, whereas in the freshwater variants only critical components are stainless steel.

Anything that can be adversely affected by highly corrosive saltwater is made of materials that provide maximum corrosion resistance.

This particular model of the Riptide has 80 pounds of thrust with a 60-inch shaft length, making it suitable for any medium to large pontoon boat.

The Riptide features the Minn Kota trolling motor digital maximizer as well, which means you can get up to 5 times longer battery life over other trolling motors on the market.

The Riptide also comes with I-pilot and the wireless remote, giving you all the same great features like spot lock as with the freshwater versions.

  • Saltwater rated
  • Corrosion-resistant components
  • I-Pilot

AQUOS HASWING Mount Trolling Motor

AQUOS HASWING Mount Trolling Motor

AQUOS HASWING Mount Trolling Motor
Our Score

The Haswing has a ton of features that come in a very affordable package for people seeking to put a trolling motor on their pontoon boat.

The Hawsing has features such as multiple options for motor control and it comes with both a foot pedal as well as a smaller wireless remote allowing you to control the trolling motor from anywhere in the boat and you can keep it around your neck with a lanyard.

The Haswing trolling motor does have a cruise control mode to keep a constant chosen speed to fight the wind and current, or to simply keep you moving at a steady pace while you cast.

This trolling motor is an all-around great fit for budget anglers or for pontoon boat owners who fish on a small level when at their lake home or with friends and family, and don’t need all the crazy features and costs associated with high-end trolling motors.

  • Budget-friendly
  • Wireless hand controls and foot pedal
  • Cruise control

Minn Kota Powerdrive

Minn Kota Powerdrive

Minn Kota Powerdrive
Our Score

The Minn Kota Powerdrive is the mid-level offering from Minn Kota, and it is very reliable, durable, and gets the job done, at the cost of high-end features like GPS integration coming stock with the trolling motor.

The Powerdrive features a standard electric pedal setup that features a cable plugin to the trolling motor, and a generous amount of cable length, allowing you to use the pedal that, depending on your pontoon size, will allow you to control a bow trolling motor from the back of a boat, or from your steering console seat.

The Powerdrive does include the digital maximizer that is featured on the higher-end models and can extend the life of your batteries by up to 5 times.

Another great feature of the Powerdrive is the rotary thrust control, which allows you to set your thrust power anywhere from 0 to 100, which also aids in conserving battery life.

The Power Drive trolling motor features the weedless Wedge 2 blade prop for use in heavy vegetation, and the blade will help slice through the weeds and grass.

The 2 bladed design means fewer chances for weeds to wrap up and bog the motor.

Like with all Minn Kota trolling motors, the Powerdrive has a nearly indestructible composite shaft, and if you did want features like I-Pilot, the Powerdrive is also I-Pilot compatible and you can get it with the purchase of the kit from Minn Kota.

  • Budget-Friendly
  • Weedless prop design
  • Digital Maximizer for extended battery life

Pontoon Trolling Motor Buying Guide

Buying a trolling motor for a pontoon boat is different from a standard fishing boat used by an avid angler, and purchasing one is actually less complicated. Let’s look at what you need to consider when purchasing a trolling motor for your pontoon boat.

Thrust

You can actually get away with less thrust on a small to medium length pontoon boat compared to a fiberglass fishing boat.

Pontoons aren’t light per se, but the amount of the boat that contacts the water is much less than that of a deep Vee fishing boat for example.

If we look at an 18-foot pontoon boat, for example, you will find that you can likely get away with a trolling motor with 55 pounds of thrust and running only 12 volts, or one battery.

Fiberglass fishing boats will always outweigh a pontoon boat of a similar length because fiberglass is a much heavier material than the thin aluminum that makes up a pontoon, so less is actually more when it comes to thrust and power.

Motor Control

Every pontoon boat is different in terms or seating arrangements and front deck sizes, and this is why most of the trolling motors on this list consist of electric foot pedals and wireless control options.

If you want to stay very close to your trolling motor the entire time you are using it when fishing, then control options, are less of a concern, and you could opt for a cable drive pedal trolling motor, but in our opinion, being able to move the pedal around as needed, or use a key fob style control is always the better option.

Durability

Most trolling motors today are built with a high standard in terms of component and material quality.

Stainless steel and corrosion-resistant materials are used often for components where ever they are needed the most, and this is true not only with saltwater trolling motor variants but also with freshwater variants.

at the end of the day, durability boils down to the old adage of “you get what you pay for” and the cheapest trolling motors naturally will have a much shorter lifespan over mid to high-end models and brands.

Shaft Length

Shaft length is very important, and for a pontoon, you will want to ensure you get a long enough shaft so that the trolling motor can sit well below the waterline.

Shaft length is important for any boat, but some pontoons sit higher than others, and if you want to be sure you are purchasing a trolling motor with enough shaft length an easy way to find out what you need is to simply launch your boat and measure the top of the deck to the waterline.

Once you measure your depth, simply get a shaft length with at least 30 inches to spare.

Where to mount it on my pontoon?

Bow mount trolling motors allow you to control the front of the boat and is the best option for precise control on a pontoon.

Bow Mount

A bow-mounted trolling motor is the most commonly used on any boat including pontoons.

Bow mount trolling motors allow you to control the front of the boat and is the best option for precise control on a pontoon.

If we were to recommend a trolling motor to anyone, it would almost always be a bow mount. You can also remove a bow mount trolling motor from the mounting plate for storage or when you simply don’t need it on your pontoon.

Engine Mount

You are more likely to see an engine-mounted trolling motor on a pontoon over anything else, but they do have some downsides.

If your pontoon has power steering control like many modern boats have, it will be difficult to steer the boat when only running the trolling motor, unlike the older cable steer boats that were more common decades ago.

The power steering problem is a big one, and no one wants to be cranking against hydraulic steering in an attempt to maintain the course.

If the steering issue isn’t a concern for you then an engine mount trolling motor could be a viable option, but it will still lack the precision control that a bow mount trolling motor is capable of.

Transom Mount

Transom mounted trolling motors are not really suited for use on pontoons at all, for several reasons.

One of the major reasons is finding a suitable location to mount the trolling motor, and transom mount trolling motors are designed to clamp onto the vertical flat wall of an aluminum boat.

The other major issue is steering, as most pontoon boats have a wall/railing around their edges, this can make it very troublesome in terms of steering the trolling motor via the tiller style throttle control if you could even mount one somehow to have the clearance for the motors’ head and throttle to swing left and right without obstructions.

We would almost always advise against using a transom-mounted trolling motor on a pontoon.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size trolling motor does a pontoon boat need?

The size of the trolling motor depends on the size of the pontoon you own, and as we mentioned earlier, pontoons are much lighter than their fiberglass fishing boat counterparts, and an 18-20 foot pontoon boat mounted with a trolling motor that has 55-65 pounds of thrust should be just fine.

Do trolling motors work well with pontoon boats?

The main issue with trolling motors and pontoons is mounting them, and when you do mount one you want to make sure it’s centered on the bow.
If your trolling motor is to the left or right side your boat will not track well and will veer off course often, causing you to fishtail.
The wind is also a concern, as pontoon boats being light, with high sides are essentially big wind sails, and blow around the water very easily. If you have ever tried to trailer a 20-foot pontoon in heavy wind gusts from the flanks you will know what I mean.
But in calm and normal fishing conditions a properly mounted trolling motor will serve you well on your pontoon.

Where do you put the trolling motor on a pontoon boat?

In almost all cases you will want to put the trolling motor centered on the bow, this will ensure you track straight in whatever direction the trolling motor is on point, and you will also have a more responsive trolling motor when it comes to directional changes.

Photo of author
AUTHOR
Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species.