Determining the Right Pontoon Trolling Motor Shaft Length

pontoon trolling motor shaft length

If you’re someone who loves spending hours fishing on a pontoon boat, you probably know how beneficial a trolling motor can be. Unfortunately, a lot of angler packages that come with many popular pontoon boats don’t include trolling motors. Even though these motors can be added to most pontoon boats, many manufacturers charge a lot of money to throw one in.

Fortunately, selecting and installing your own trolling motor can be a piece of cake. In this article, I will explain how to go about determining the right pontoon trolling motor shaft length for your boat.

Do your research

If you haven’t bought a trolling motor yet, do some research on various models. Look online, ask about trolling motors at your favorite fishing store, or talk to your angler friends. There are a lot of good companies out there who make motors that are affordable and reliable, and you want to make sure that you buy the one that best suits your needs.

Some popular trolling motors for pontoon boats include the following:

Additionally, if you already have a fish finder installed in your pontoon, check and see if that manufacturer makes trolling motors. Many companies make both, and they design them to optimally work together. So ideally you'll want the same brand pontoon fish finder and trolling motor.

Choosing the Best Length for You

Generally speaking, the average shaft length for a trolling motor is around 60”, or 152cm, if you intend on mounting the motor on the bow of your boat. While this is a good rule of thumb, there are other things to consider when determining this length.

If you really want to play it safe, you can choose a 48” shaft for your trolling motor. While this is a universally safe option, shorter shafts mean that you won’t get the most out of your motor.

A helpful tip for determining distance

Here’s a piece of advice for determining how long your shaft should be. Go to where you plan on mounting your trolling motor and measure the distance from your mounting point to the water. Take that distance and add 20” to it (approximately 51cm).

Things to Consider

Getting the shaft length right isn’t something that you can just estimate. Optimizing your trolling motor will require you to take a number of factors into consideration. Before making any major decisions, consider the following:

Motor placement

The two most common places to mount your trolling motor are at the bow or in the rear. Motors mounted on the bow need to haves slightly longer shaft since the bow is typically one of the highest points of the pontoon.


If you decide to mount your motor on the bow, you’ll need to make sure that you have enough clearance. In the event that you don’t have proper space to attach your trolling motor, you will have to make modifications to your front gate to accommodate it.

If you’re worried about clearance or you don’t want to undertake any modification projects, you can always put the motor in the back.

The water conditions

Where you’ll spend more of your time cruising will also help you determine how long your shaft should be. Rivers, shallow lakes, and bodies of water that don’t experience a lot of waves can use a shorter shaft. Large bodies of water, like bays and big lakes, need a long shaft length.


  • Trolling motors on the bow should be longer than ones on the back.
  • If you don’t have open space to mount your motor on the bow and you don’t feel like modifying the fencing, mount it on the back.
  • Deeper water requires motors with longer shafts, as opposed to taking your pontoon in shallower waters which require shorter shafts..

If you’re unsure of what to do when choosing a shaft length, remember that it’s easier to be too long than too short. While a long shaft can get in the way, a shaft that’s too short will greatly reduce the effectiveness of your trolling motor.

Measuring Shaft Length

Remember, it’s important to properly measure the length of your motor’s shaft. Failure to do so will result in getting the wrong size troll motor, which could have a negative impact on how well you troll. What’s the point of having a trolling motor if it’s not going to help you fish?

To measure the shaft, you’re going to need to start at the bottom of the head and measure down to the start of the propeller housing. You’ll be happy to know that most trolling motors advertise the length of the shaft. Still, being able to measure the length of the shaft can be helpful. You may want to buy a second-hand motor, after all.

Other Things to Know

If you’re an avid angler, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want to add a trolling motor to your setup. Since trolling motors help you quietly creep across the water without disturbing nearby schools of fish, you’re more likely to come home with a prized catch.

If this is your first time buying a trolling motor, I’d recommend that you don’t cut any corners and settle for a subpar motor. A cheap trolling motor will either be too weak or noisy, and it will almost certainly be working against you throughout your fishing trip.

Power is important

Don’t underestimate how important power is when choosing a trolling motor. Most anglers regret buying a weak motor that can barely move their pontoon. Avoid this by making sure that you get a motor with enough thrust to carry you.

A good rule of thumb when determining how much thrust you need is to take the weight of the pontoon boat in pounds and divide it by 100. Then, take that result and times it by two.

For example, say your pontoon weighs 2,200 pounds. When you divide that by 100, you’re left with 22. Then you times 22 by 2 and you get 44. This means that a boat with at least 44 pounds of thrust will work the best for your pontoon.

Get to Fishing

Using a trolling motor will guarantee that you have an action-packed fishing adventure. Now that you’ve learned about determining the right pontoon trolling motor shaft length, put one on your boat and hit the waters.

Featured Image by NJR ZA

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