The best bow mount for you depends entirely on what sort of performance you’re looking for. Your budget, if you’re going to be cruising freshwater or hitting the saltwater and of course whether you already have a brand in mind.
There’s a lot to drill down and as I’ve just gone through this process myself for bow mounts and transoms I’ve pulled together some comparison information here.
You’ll know the names Minn Kota and Motorguide for sure. But we’ve also thrown Aquos Haswing and Newport Vessels brands into the mix for some cheap bow mount trolling motors to have a closer look at these budget brands.
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Choosing the right option among the best trolling motors on the market is an important choice because you’re not just buying another piece of gear. You’re buying a tool that will help you get right into the habitats and hotspots where your preferred catch likes to stay.
You’re investing in a tool that can increase your fishing game exponentially which is something that you can’t take chances with.
We’ve compiled a list of trolling motors and put together an overview here to help guide you through.
Firstly, the importance of the right manufacturer
You have a go-to source for lures and other baits, right? You wouldn’t buy a rod and reel from a no-name company with zero reputation in the market, would you? The same thing applies when it comes to trolling motors. You need to know the major players in the game so you can avoid cheap, inferior products that could leave you in the lurch. So, what are the names you should know?
- Minn Kota
- Newport Vessels
- Cloud Mountain
Are there other brands on the market? Sure. Are they worth your time and money? That’s debatable. We’ll run you through trolling motor reviews for individual makes and models from the manufacturers we’ve listed to highlight the selling points, features, and capabilities on offer.
Note: When a model is refered to as C40 it means maximum thrust is 40 lbs
Note: The price guide provided is approximate only at the time of writing and price will vary according to the power/shaft lengths/extras etc chosen. It’s provided to help determine which brand/model fits your budget profile.
Minn Kota Terrova
A bow mount trolling motor with 3 different power output options – a 55lb system, an 80lb setup, and a 112lb system. The lower end motor is better for smaller boats, but the 80 and 112 lbs systems can be used on boats between 14 and 24 to 25 feet in length. A popular choice with happy buyers.
Price guide: $1,700 $2,050
Recommended for: Anglers with medium sized craft who need power, performance and reliability. They’re cost-effective, and Minn Kota is one of the most recognized manufactures of trolling motors.
Features: Wireless remote to a foot pedal to operate the motor. The motor also integrates with Minn Kota’s i-Pilot system, as well as its separate CoPilot functionality. The lift-assistance system allows you to stow or lift the motor with a single hand, which is why this is one of the models we recommend checking out if your have a bad back. Power steering and universal sonar built-in. The 36-volt system ensures more time on the water. There’s also a simple connection with most sonar systems. Weedless Wedge™ 2 prop. Digital Maximizer ™The advantage of having this technology on your side is battery efficiency. Being able to dial in the steady speed you want means you can conserve power through only using what you need. Minn Kota boasts achieving 5x longer run time on your battery charge.
Water Type: Freshwater only
Shaft Length: Choose from 45 or 60 inch lengths for the 80lb; 60″ or 72″ for 112lb;or 54″ for the smaller 55lb system
Motor Features: Stow and deploy lever, as well as a low-profile design and plenty of output power. Like all other Minn Kota trolling motors, the Terrova offers quiet running and fast cool down times, the i-Pilot GPS system. 2 year manufacturer warranty
Battery: 80lb 24v; 55lbs 12v; 112lbs 36v
Available upgrades: The Terrova is available in 55, 80 and 112 pound variations.
Minn Kota Riptide Terrova - saltwater
Minn Kota manufactures a number of Riptide motors, all of which are designed for use in saltwater. The Riptide Terrova brings the features of the freshwater motor to the saltwater environment.
Minn Kota Ultrex
Winner of the 2016 ICAST Best of Show Award the Minn Kota Ultrex is a powerful, capable trolling motor that offers a lot of benefits and features. It’s the first cable-steer trolling motor to feature electronic assistance steering with GPS technology integrated within it.
Price guide: sitting between $2,500- $5,000 for larger models
Recommended for: Medium size craft 16 feet or longer.
Features: I-Pilot, spot-lock, stable head control, remote operation, and better command of the foot pedal through a central interface. Lift Assist, the game changer to cut the weight of stowing & deploying. Weedless Wedge™ 2 prop
Water type: Freshwater only
Shaft length: Choose from 45″, 52″ or 60″
Motor features: The Ultrex offers important features that speak directly to usability and experience, including power steering and an improved foot pedal design. The built-in steering lock feature allows you to set your direction and then lock the motor in place so you don’t have to hold the wheel, and this feature integrates with, and is expanded on with the i-Pilot system. The advanced lift system makes it simple to stow or deploy the motor, too. 3 year Minn Kota warranty
Battery: 80lbs 24v; 112lbs 36v
Available upgrades: The base model offers 80lbs of thrust or upgrade to the 112lb model
Minn Kota Fortrex - freshwater bow
Good all-round performer, this might be the ideal option for you if you’re wanting plenty of power for a medium or larger boat but also has nimble controls. 80lbs 24v and 112 lbs 36v, an excellent, all-around performer.
Price guide: $1,400 – $2,500 depending on size and
Recommended for: Both amateurs and serious anglers. It has capability to combat wind, waves and currents for the entire day. Max boat length 25′.
Features: Heel/toe, responsive, cable-steer foot control for hands-free operation of the boat. Weedless Wedge prop.
Removable Bowguard 360 bracket. The beauty of this addition is 3 fold. The dual bearing system eliminates noise, it’s easily removed and it’s built to break-away on impact from any angle and reset itself.
Water type: Freshwater only
Shaft length: 45″ or 52″
Motor features: You’ll find a number of important features on offer here, including the motor’s mono-arm design for better strength and resilience. Like most of the company’s motors, it also includes a lift assistance lever to make stowing and deployment simpler. (Helpful addition for bad backs.) An illuminated directional reader shows your location at all times, and the foot pedal is designed to maximize responsiveness. 2 year manufacturer warranty
Battery: 24v 80lbs, 35v 112lbs
Available upgrades: Available in 80lb or 112lb
The Minn Kota Maxxum - freshwater bow
A family of trolling motors covering a number of different models, with power outputs ranging from 55 lbs t0 80 pounds of thrust.
Recommended for: This is an excellent option for anyone in the market for a medium-sized trolling motor designed for freshwater. It can teamed with most medium-sized boats (12 to 17 feet). The 80lb could go a little bigger.
Features: The mounting bracket on the Maxxum is one of the strongest on the market, and the motor also features the company’s unique Bowguard 360 Breakaway Mount® for impact protection. Foot control models feature a directional indicator.
Water type: Freshwater
Shaft length: 42 inches or 52 inches
Motor Features: This motor features Minn Kota’s trademark Digital Maximizer™ to extend battery life up to 5 times longer. It also includes a heel-toe/cable steer foot pedal. The composite shaft is backed by a lifetime guarantee, and the motor also features extra-wide windings to cool down faster.
Available upgrades: Step up from the 55 lb to 70 or 80 pound thrust models.
Minn Kota Edge - freshwater bow mount
$361.14 – $1017.51
Ranging in size from 45, 55 to 70lb model. These are all bow mounted and have foot controlled options. Note: Edge 45 and 55 models also offer a hand-steer choice.
Recommended for: The Edge 45 is recommended for smaller craft under 17 feet in length ranging up to 23′ for the largest model. These motors are cheap but offer excellent value for price.
Features: The latch and door bracket is one of the most important features here, and it secures the motor very well. The foot pedal is highly responsive, and the directional indicator delivers information at a glance. Power Prop™ to push through the weeds on the edge 45 model. All other sizes have a Weedless Wedge 2™ prop.
Water type: Freshwater only
Shaft length: Choose from 36, 45, 50 and 52 inches depending on motor size.
Motor features: One of the most important features of this motor family is the use of the composite shaft, which is guaranteed for life. Given this is a very affordable trolling motor, this is a boon. The motor is protected by a 2 year warranty, and the foot pedal features an ergonomic design for better comfort and usability. You also have 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse.
Available upgrades: Edge 45 is the base model, but you can upgrade to the 55, or 70 if you have a bigger boat.
Minn Kota Riptide Ulterra -saltwater bow
Part of the company’s wider Riptide line of saltwater tolerant trolling motors. Ulterra comes in 2 flavors – an 80 ST model with a 24-volt system, and a 112 pound setup with a 36-volt system. It also includes a 2 year warranty (as do most Minn Kota products).
Recommended for: Medium sized craft where saltwater performance is a consideration.
Features: You’ll benefit from a number of unique features with this trolling motor, including saltwater-proof engineering to protect the motor from corrosion. It’s easy to stow and deploy, and includes the i-Pilot system pre-installed for you.
Water type: Freshwater or saltwater
Shaft length: Optional length combinations are available depending on whether you choose an i-pilot remote or i-pilot link remote. 112 lb 60″ or 72″ shaft with either i-pilot remote or ipilot link remote/ 80lb 54″, 60″, or 72″ shaft choice with an i-pilot remote or an 80lb 60″ shaft with an i-pilot link remote.
Motor features: One of those is the composite shaft, which carries a lifetime guarantee. There is also a sacrificial zinc anode to help improve saltwater resistance, and the i-Pilot system offers greater utility and value. In addition, a foot pedal can be ordered as an accessory, and the whole motor is covered by a two-year warranty.
Available upgrades: The base model offers 80 pounds of thrust, but you can upgrade to the 112 pound model.
Newport Vessels - Pontoon series bow mount
Purpose designed for pontoon boats and deck boats as evidenced by the 55″ shaft length. The bow mount design allows plenty of room for fishing from sides and back of boat.
Price guide: $430 – $470
Recommended for: Pontoon boat or deck boat
Features: 10 point LED battery meter to easily keep an eye on the remaining charge in the battery. 8 speeds – 5 forward and 3 reverse. 3 blade 10″ diameter prop. 66″ battery cable for plenty of reach. 2 year limited warranty
Water type: Freshwater or saltwater. Manufactured from corrosion resistance components. Eg stainless steel and fiberglass composite shaft.
Shaft length: 55 inches
Motor features: 30° tilting head with flexibility of 6″ telescoping handle.
Available upgrades: choose either 55lbs or 86lbs of power
Batteries: 12v Lead-acid style deep cycle of marine batteries with a rating of 50amp/hr at least. (86lb model – 2 x 12v batteries)
Run time guide: 50AH (amperage hour) powers 2 1/2 hrs at speed 3 or 1 hr at speed 5.
Note: Doesn’t fold down, so may be a consideration for you
Our view: This trolling motor gets some mixed reviews from customers. At the end of the day, if you’re wanting something to team with your 20ft deck boat it’s cheap, has a 2 year limited warranty and that might be all you need.
We’ve noted that Aquos Haswing products generally are very well reviewed but there has an occasional challenge with customer support when there is a problem.
Aquos Haswing Cayman 12-Volt 55 Pounds Bow Mount Electric
‘Quiet mover, easy deployment, remote control’
The bow mount Cayman trolling motor offers 55lbs of thrust. Even though this is only a 12-volt system, it offers plenty of life. And can be used in both fresh and saltwater.
Price guide: $590 – $700 depending on model & upgrades
Suitable for: Smaller watercraft, including aluminum boats and small fishing boats up to 2750 lbs. The maximum boat length recommended is 18ft. It’s a good option for long hours of use with lightweight crafts.
Features: A bow cradle mount that offers easy deployment via a foot pedal. Wireless operation within 150 feet of the motor with a remote is handy addition so you can control the boat from the shore. Remote can be worn around your neck on a lanyard or attached to a belt and something you’ll appreciate when you’re fishing from the back of a bigger boat. Low noise technology keeps you running relatively quiet. Battery status indicator means that you can always tell what’s going on with a quick glance at the display (shows 3 levels).
Water type: Freshwater or saltwater (components are protected via sacrificial anode for corrosion resistance)
Shaft length: 48″ or 54 ” (aluminum alloy shaft)
Motor features: This motor offers some unexpected features. The remote control is one of those, but the hand control and foot-pedal, with 14.7 ft of cable, deployment system, are also nice additions. The shaft is adjustable to fit different boats and different user needs. The motor also offers a digital control that locks onto programmed coordinates and can even auto steer while traveling. (Note: It’s not Spot-Lock) 9.3″ x 3 blade prop. A 2-year warranty covers the motor.
Battery: 1 x 105AH deep cycle battery (not included in package)
Available upgrades: Cayman B 24v 80lbs
downgrades: You can purchase this model without the wired foot control and quick release bracket
Motorguide Xi5 80lb bowmount Freshwater
A wireless trolling motor option from MotorGuide. This trolling motor offers good performance and plenty of thrust, as well as innovative, unique features that improve usability.
Price guide: starting at $600 – $2,500; 55lb models $1600; 80lb 45″ 1800, 80lb 54″; $1840, 80lb 60″ $1850, 80lb 72″ $2000,
This motor is recommended for smaller to medium boats. deep V boat
If you’re looking for Motorguide’s kayak trolling motor, the xi3 is the model you’re after.
Features: This motor includes advanced GPS functionality that allows pinpoint location precision. The freshwater model has a foot pedal as a standard inclusion, or use the wireless GPS system to automate it. Sonar is easy to connect. Note that the Xi5 wireless trolling motor can be configured with any size motor you might need, from 55 pounds of thrust, all the way up to 105 pounds of thrust.
Water type: Freshwater (saltwater models are available)
Shaft length: Choose from shaft lengths as short as 45″ or increments 48″, 54″, 60″ all the way up to 72 inches. depending on your boat size and the motor strength. Composite shaft that’s backed by MotorGuide’s lifetime warranty.
Motor features: A number of features make this motor stand out, including the easy to read LED battery check system. The pedal that controls the motor is wireless (but it has been reported to be prone to moisture related corrosion). The shaft is made from a durable composite material, and the mount is low profile for better usability.
*Motorguide boasts their responsive steering has 50% faster steering rotation than competitors.
Available upgrades: This motor can be upgraded to any thrust rating from 55lb, 70lb, 80lb to
55lb 48″, 54″
80lb 45″, 54″ 60′, 72″
105lbs 48″, 54″, 60″, 72″, and shaft lengths.
55 electric steer
MotorGuide offers a comprehensive product line with Pinpoint® GPS giving the functionality to jog, anchor, cruise control etc. Dashboard has inbuilt LED display notifications to check motor functions such as remaining battery life. for power, prop activity, pinpoint GPS and to show remaining battery life.
digital power management to 5 battery life
- 12v for 55lb models
- 24v for 80lb trolling motors
- 36v for 105lb model
Xi5 model is available in saltwater options 55lb, 80lb 105lb
All the inclusions you’d expect wireless control or wireless foot pedal, Pinpoint® GPS, digital power management, LED dashboard
- 55lb – 54″ shaft – 12v battery
- 80lb – 48″, 60″ 72″ shaft – 24v battery
- 105lb – 60″, 72″ – 36v
80lb 72″ $2,050, 48″ $1850, 60″ $1,860
Maintenance – It’s good practice to always thoroughly wash your trolling motor with fresh water after being in saltwater
In the end, there is a trolling motor out there for virtually every fisherman. Whether you prefer the name recognition of Minn Kota, or want to investigate advanced wireless technology, like that available through MotorGuide’s motors, or the i-Pilot system, you’ll find a motor that will work for you.
Resources: safety precautions