How to Find the Best Trolling Motor for Pontoon Boats
Adding a trolling motor to your pontoon boat can revolutionize the way you fish on the waters. It allows you to move around without scaring off nearby schools of fish, which in turn increases your chances of bagging that prize fish you’ve always wanted.
Unless you bought a pontoon boat which was designed specifically for anglers, your pontoon probably didn’t come with a trolling motor already installed. Fortunately, finding the right pontoon trolling setup for your boat is quick and easy. With a little bit of research and planning, you’ll be out on the water and ready to go.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Trolling Motor for Pontoon Boats?
Like with most pontoon-related products, you’re not going to want to jump on the first trolling motor that you see for sale. In order to get the best bang for your buck, you need to do a little bit of research and determine which trolling motor is best suited for your setup.
Here are some important factors to consider when researching for your new trolling motor:
- The brand of the motor.
- The size of your pontoon boat.
- The amount of thrust the motor has.
- Any special features that the motor comes with.
Now that you have a good idea the things to consider, let’s look at why some of these factors are important.
Your trolling motor brand
Don’t make the mistake that many other pontooners do when shopping around for a trolling motor and choose the cheapest motor that fits your boat. The brand of your trolling motor matters, especially if you’re using a fish finder.
While it’s good to take other people’s recommendations into consideration when buying your trolling motor, especially lifelong anglers, your biggest concern is selecting a motor that’s compatible with your fish finder equipment.
You’re going to want to choose a trolling motor that’s made by the same brand as your fish finder or has been made specifically for your fish finder. For example, if you have a Humminbird fish finder, your best bet for getting the most out of your setup is to go with a Minn Kota trolling motor, as they’ve been designed to work with Humminbirds. Alternatively, if you’re using a Lowrance fish finder, you’d want to use a Motor Guide pontoon trolling motor.
With that said, you won’t have any problems installing a baseline run-of-the-mill trolling motor, regardless of your fish finder brand. However, advanced motors with things like GPS technology and other high-tech sensors will need to communicate with a fish finder that’s compatible with their hardware.
The size of your pontoon and the thrust of your trolling motor
Once you’ve decided on the right brand for your trolling motor, it’s time to look at different models and find the right one for your boat. The size and weight of your boat come into play when determining this. While you don’t want a motor that’s going to cause a lot of ruckus in the water, you also want one that can actually pull your boat.
A good rule of thumb when shopping around for a trolling motor is to divide your pontoon’s total weight in pounds by 100, then take the answer and multiply it by two. Imagine your 24’ pontoon boat weights about 3,500 pounds with all the gear and passengers on board:
3,500 / 100 = 35. 35 x 2 = 70
So if you’re wondering what size trolling motor for 24 pontoon boat, you’d want to get one with a thrust around 70 pounds.
The last thing to consider before buying your trolling motor is any features that come with it. Do you want a basic motor or one that’s high-tech and designed to maximize your fishing trip? As I mentioned earlier, some of the newer trolling motors come with a cool GPS feature that helps you better track fish. Other perks may include:
- Wireless piloting capabilities from anywhere on board.
- Added durability for saltwater fishing.
- Different speed settings.
- Autopilot and copilot features.
The Best-Selling Trolling Motors
Now that you know a little bit about what to look for when finding a trolling motor, let’s have a look at some of the top motors on the market.
When it comes to electric trolling motor reviews, the Motorguide Xi5 is the Cadillac of pontoon trolling motors. If you’re a serious angler with a Lowrance fish finder, you won’t find a better trolling motor on the market that offers you the most for your money.
One of the biggest advantages of Xi5 series is its versatility. You can choose one with thrust power of 55, 80, or 105 pounds, which covers virtually any size pontoon boat. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about figuring out your pontoon boat trolling motor shaft length with the Xi5, as it comes with 45”, 54”, and 60” shafts.
To see a quick demonstration of the Xi5's high-tech features, take a peek at this video:
Some of the other awesome features that you get with the Motorguide Xi5 include:
- Extremely durable and protected working parts, as well as the option for saltwater protection.
- A multi-speed motor.
- The option of buying built-in sonar and GPS pre-installed.
- An easy-to-use electric foot pedal.
Overall, if you’re using a Lowrance fish finder and are looking for a pontoon trolling motor that’s high-tech and great for any fishing trip, the Xi5 series is a great one to have.
If you’re an angler who doesn’t spend a lot of time in saltwater, the C2 'freshwater' trolling motor is perfect for you. This clamp mount trolling motor is perfect for all freshwater lakes. It even comes with a durable, state-of-the-art propeller that’s able to cut away any vegetation that’s likely to get tangled in the motor.
While the C2 isn’t a fancy trolling motor with a number of high-tech features, its powerful enough for the average pontoon, is durable, and has a relatively long battery life. This makes it perfect for the casual angler who’s looking for a good mid-range trolling motor.
Some of the nice features that come with the Minn Kota C2 include:
- The shaft is built from steel and is very durable.
- It doesn’t have the flimsy, delicate feel that other budget trolling motors have.
- Comes with a 6” telescopic handle to make steering as convenient as possible.
- One of the easiest clamp mount trolling motors to set up.
Do you want a high quality motor with enough thrust to power the average pontoon? If so, this Newport Vessels model is perfect for you. It’s easy to set up built from durable aluminum as well as composite fiberglass materials, which means that it’s able to withstand the wear-and-tear from saltwater fishing.
If you want to purchase a budget trolling motor that doesn’t have the frills of the high-tech models, but can withstand heavy usage and not break down, this is for you. Its adjustable shaft length makes it fit nearly any type of pontoon boat, and since it’s lightweight and portable, you’ll have no problems quickly mounting it to your boat.
Have a look at this video to see it in action:
Setting up this trolling motor is easy. As a battery-operated clamping motor, all you need to do is attach it to a convenient part of your pontoon and give it a battery, then you’re good to go. Have a look at these cool settings that makes this Newport Vessels trolling motor a great functional trolling motor to have:
- Can be powered with either a deep cycle battery or a 12V marine.
- Comes with five forward and three reverse speeds, giving the engine a total of eight speeds to choose from.
- It’s built with durable materials that are strong enough for use solely in salt water if needed.
- Comes with an easy-to-read LED battery meter.
With a sticker price less than $200, it’s not hard to see why this Newport Vessels trolling motor is one of the top selling mid-range motors on the market!
Other Things to Know about Trolling Motors
Once you have your trolling motor picked out and purchased, it’s time to find a good spot on your pontoon to mount it. As a rule, there are three spots that pontooners choose to mount their trolling motor:
- The bow.
- The transom.
- The engine.
Each of these sections have their own pros and cons, but overall, it depends on you. While mounting the trolling motor to the engine is a popular choice because of convenience, I find that attaching it to the bow is easier to control.
Have a look at this short video for more information:
A note on installing the motor
These days, a lot of the trolling motors for pontoon boats can be conveniently clamped to a part of the boat. This is optimal, as it allows you the opportunity to move your motor and get a feel where you like it best.
If you happen to have a trolling motor that needs to be actually installed, as in something that requires mounting and modifications, make sure that you have ample working space before proceeding with the installation. The last thing you want to do is play a trolling motor in a cramped space that makes it hard to access.
Choosing Your Shaft Length
Another thing that you want to consider is which shaft length is right for you. To learn more about determining the right length of your tolling motor shaft, have a look at this detailed article. Some important points to remember are:
- The average shaft length for a pontoon trolling motor is approximately 60”.
- If you have no idea what length to go for, 48” is the agreed upon safe option.
- Motors mounting to the bow should have a longer shaft than those mounted to the engine or transom.
- Do a lot of fishing in deep waters? Go longer than 48”.
You’ll Need Accessories for your Trolling Motor
Now that you know how to select and install the right trolling motor for your pontoon, you’re almost ready to get on the water. However, you’re going to need batteries and a charger before you go. After all, you don’t want to have your trolling motor die on you in the middle of the trip, just when the action gets started. Check out these accessories to get you started:
It’s always a good idea to have a battery charger. That way, if you run out of juice, you have a way to extend your fishing trip. This MinnKota portable power bank is perfect for 12-volt batteries. It’s durable, easy to carry, and comes with a three-year warranty.
Want to keep your battery protected while also making it easier to hook up to your trolling motor? If so, the Smart Battery Box is just want you need. It also comes with a number of other neat features, including:
- A LED battery meter.
- USB charging ports for your phone and other devices.
- A non-slip rubber bottom.
- 10 and 60 amp circuit breakers to protect equipment from electrical damage.
Is your trolling motor in a hard-to-reach location? Stop struggling with operating it and use one of these extension handles. These affordable handles give you full control of your trolling motor while taking away any unnecessary discomfort caused by the location or positioning of your motor.
Additionally, since these handles are designed for trolling motors and low-powered gasoline motors, they’re likely to fit any trolling motor you have.
The Last Say on Trolling Motors
After reading this guide, you’re officially ready to go out there and find a trolling motor that works best for you. Once you have a state-of-the-art fish finder and one of these best trolling motors for pontoon boats, it’s time to hit the lake or bay.
Adding a trolling motor to your pontoon boat is a great way to optimize it for fishing without spending the extra money on an angler’s package. It’s also an excellent way to increase your action, making your fishing trip much more fun.