Best Transom Mount Trolling Motor: Freshwater Value Guide
Looking for the best transom mount trolling motor? Look no further, this article has got you covered.
For newbies, the transom is the stern/rear of the boat and this is the section where this style attaches to your boat. Adding one, allows you to make precise movements while fishing off a skiff in the shallows. Or for use as the main motor for inflatables, canoes or kayaks too.
Transom motors are very simple to install, take up little space, and are budget friendly. But which one is optimal for your needs? The answer depends on your boats size and where you use it. Follow these basic considerations as an outline:
Amount of thrust (2 pounds of thrust per 100 pounds total boat weight)
Pick the shaft length.
Determine power supply (12 or 24 volts)
Power & Steering Control Type: Tiller, Remote Or Foot Control
The article starts with a detailed comparison table, followed by in-depth reviews and finishes with a buyers guide. If you want to skip to a certain model easily, click the navigable table to contents. Otherwise, read the entire article.
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The Newport Vessel’s NV-Series 55lb is the best transom mount trolling motor for a small skiff this year. In fact, it’s a great choice for inflatables, kayaks and other fishing boats under 16-feet. With 55 pounds of thrust you have more than enough power to run a vessel that has a full load.
It’s a 12 volt motor, so you will need to have a single lead acid or lithium deep cycle battery to power it. For longevity, I recommend at least a 50 amp-hour (AH) battery, more AH equals longer time on the water. Included is a 50-amp circuit breaker to help protect from electrical damage. As well, the motor comes with 4-feet of 10 AWG cables.
Rugged Build Quality:
Using superior materials the NV-series 55-lb future-proofs this electric trolling motor. By incorporating saltwater corrosion resistant materials to increase durability. Including stainless steel parts and a sacrificial zinc anode (saltwater trolling).
The top housing, made of fiberglass composite has a 5 stage LED battery level checker. As well, it comes with a 6-inch telescoping tiller handle with 30-degrees of tilt.
For power control, it has an 8-speed control (5 forward and 3 reverse speeds). It’s pretty quick and gives lots of torque no matter which setting you use. At settings 1 or 2, it sips electricity and can go a for the entire day on a good battery. On the water, its silent which makes for a fun cruise with conversations you can actually hear.
Next, the adjustable 30-inch shaft is also fiberglass composite. Making change to the depth of the shaft is great for rivers with shallow spots and swift currents.
At the bottom is a 3 blade fiberglass reinforced nylon propeller. Fishermen will love that the propeller handles pond weeds and kelp without a problem.
One issue found is when you advance and then reverse really fast. It makes a weird loud clunk sound, that could be from propeller slack. Speaking of the propeller, ensure you secure it down tight. Or you might experience a little shaft vibration that scares fish away.
Moving on, if you run a small boat on high speed with an undersized battery, expect the breaker to trip. As I mentioned, you need at least a 50-amp battery, even better 75+ amps to cover high speed uses.
Also don’t expect GPS or sonar for any of the models in this article.
Skiff owners who want the best cost to performance ratio option will love the NV-Series 55lb. This freshwater trolling motor uses high-quality, future-proof construction methods. Combined with easy to use and whisper silent hand steering control. Simply put, it’s the best trolling motor for a transom boat in freshwater.
AQUOS doesn’t have the same brand power as big options like Minn Kota or Newport Vessels. So, you will need to take a leap of faith from a somewhat unknown Chinese manufacturer. But for the price you get a wired foot pedal and wireless remote electric steering. Which is awesome for fishing boats.
Here I’m talking about the remote controlled 55-pound thrust / 39-inches shaft length model. Although if you prefer the classic manual steering, AQUOS has other options.
Forget The Handle/Tiller
Anglers like this electric trolling motor due to the easy to operate 360° control. Both types allow them to keep fishing while making plotting you next moves. This version fits watercraft up to 18-feet (5.5 meter) weighing 2750-pounds (1247 Kg). Concerned about your transom width? The bracket is 5.1-inches between mounting bolt to the other bolt.
Likewise, it’s a 12 volt motor, so run it with a single lead acid or lithium deep cycle battery. The brand states you need a 105 amp-hour (AH) battery. For battery cables, they span a decent 4.9-Feet.
It also has a zinc anode, which means you can use it in saltwater too. For extending battery life, the Cayman T uses the DIGIMAX digital speed controller. Which conserves battery power and maximizes time on the water. Its other purpose is to apparently provide smooth step-less speed control. More about my experience with this later.
Another ease of use feature is the LED battery indicator. Next, the adjustable 39-inch shaft is a cast aluminum, not my favorite choice. Propeller wise you get a mid-range 3 blade unit.
Speaking About Steering
As I mentioned, this manufacturer claims to use variable speed control. But on the water the throttle feels stepped and the increments are larger than expected. I noticed while using the handheld remote that it overcorrects by about 10 degrees.
The next problem is the sheer size of the foot control, its huge and feels a bit cheap. The response is slower than the remote which will create a learning curve to get used to. Once you do though, it’s a capable system for anglers.
On to noise, it has a bit more versus what Minn Kota or the NV delivers but not enough to deter buying it.
Buy this best transom mount trolling motor if you want versatile steering options. Both remote control and wired pedal! For trolling use you get a semi-quiet capable trolling motor with some caveats. Keep in mind though, buying from lesser known companies can be risky.
Top Brushless Transom Trolling Motor For An Inflatable Tender
The model I’m reviewing today is the 65-pound thrust freshwater motor with a 35-inch shaft. It’s a 12-volt trolling motor with a brushless AC motor. The motor controller uses a built-in microcomputer. Thus, it can do a real-time check the battery condition.
If you have plans to troll open water, that could have lots of wind, then you may need a lot of thrust. As a result, this is best for using as the main motor for small to medium-sized inflatable boats. For those of you searching for a secondary motor, you’d be better off with their 24-volt, 85-lb thrust model.
To give you peace of mind, Seamax Marine is a Canadian manufacturer from British Columbia. Their primary business is inflatable boats. So it’s great to know they also build trolling motors. Although I suspect, the actual building of the motor is overseas.
2 Horsepower Brushless Motor
The PowerMax uses brushless AC motor that is 3 times more efficient than brushed motors. Seamax claims it can provide 65 pounds thrust output which equals 2-horsepower. But the math doesn’t actually add up, maybe they used a special calculation to get this number.
This trolling motor uses a patented step-less speed controller. Found on the aluminum telescopic handle that adjusts up/down to 90 degrees. There’s also a real-time battery voltage indicator. Likewise, it has an adjustable 35″ powder coated boat grade alloy shaft. Depth changes are easy via a single click collar. For safety the tilting mount bracket uses anti-theft quick released taper-locks.
As well, it’s designed for both freshwater and saltwater due to the sacrificial anode. Encapsulating the underwater assembly is an impact resistant aluminum motor shell.
My main complaint with the PowerMax is the noise at higher speeds. There is a pronounced whine, so don’t choose this for stalking fish. But for driving to and from shore it will work fine.
Next is more of a personal gripe, the mounting bracket is plastic and only has a 2.5-inch opening. This limits the transom thickness for installing this motor.
Purchase the Seamax Marine PowerMax if you need a main motor for your inflatable tender. You get a powerful efficient brushless motor that’s perfect for lakes and the ocean. But don’t expect whisper quiet operation, as it’s noisier than others.
If budget is a concern for you when choosing the best transom mount trolling motor, then consider the Endura C2. It’s from one of the most popular trolling motor companies on the market, Minn Kota.
For this article, I’m discussing the 30-pound thrust with a 30-inch shaft freshwater model. It’s a 12-volt trolling motor that’s perfect as the main motor for a variety of small boats. Such as canoes, kayaks, skiffs or Jon boats with two people pulling around a pond or small lake. Especially because it only weighs 13-pounds!
First, there is the solid 10-position composite mount bracket. That also has a handy quick-release lever lock. It’s super easy to install, as well it resists flexing, warping, and UV damage.
Next, you get the indestructible composite shaft. Proven by the fact Minn Kota gives it a lifetime warranty. Instead of breaking on impact like metal shafts, it will flex. Another bonus is it’s lighter than metal, so there’s less strain on the bottom motor unit.
Speaking of the motor, inside it has unique bearings to reduce friction. So, it makes almost no sound, and super easy to use. In fact, it only draws 32 amps per hour on a 60 amp hour battery. Therefore, you get more time out on the water and prolongs battery life. Also to tell you where the battery level is at it has a built-in LED battery checker.
For steering, it features an ergonomic, telescopic handle tiller which extends out 6-inches. Moving on, the Endura C2 provides 5 speeds forward (1-3 are great for trolling) and 3 speed reverse.
Last but not least, is the power propeller, including a washer, nut, and prop pin. It’s okay but for better performance I would upgrade to the “Weedless Wedge” propeller.
Why So Affordable?
So buying an inexpensive trolling motor is bound to have downsides. This one is no different especially if you use it in windy environments. The 30-pounds of thrust is simply not enough if you operate in strong currents. It’s best suited to calm ponds.
Next, the included propeller is weak and gets stuck in heavy vegetation. Cracks or breaks in the blades are not uncommon, so you should upgrade it.
Motor speed issues arise as well. Reversing ability complaints and vibration at high speed are prevalent. But at this very low price I’m not surprised that the motor is finicky.
Pick the Minn Kota Endura C2 if you are wallet conscious and only need a trolling motor for calm waters. The price is amazing, but you have to expect some downsides.
Like it’s little brother the Endura C2, the Endura Max is a trusted model from Minn Kota. This is due to the ultra low energy consumption it uses. At lower speeds this motor sips energy due to the addition of the “Digital Maximizer.” That delivers up to 5 times longer run time on a single battery charge. It surprised me that I could operate it for a full 8-hour day and still have almost half the battery charge left.
Today it’s all about the 40-pounds of thrust version. Combined with a 36-inch composite shaft that’s rated for freshwater use. Moreover, it’s a 12V trolling motor that draws 42 amps. If you match it, with the recommended 105 amp hour deep-cycle battery.
Starting from up top, you maneuver using an ergonomic telescopic (6-inches) handle. To rotate the lower unit 180° you only have to move the tiller 45°. Allowing for more steering response with less effort. Plus trolling motor stays out of the way of your outboard or kicker motor.
For power, you use a variable speed control by twisting the tiller handle. This lets you dial in your exact speed, and deliver only as much power as you need. Also, to tell you where the battery level is the push-to-test battery meter.
Moving down to the simple to use 10-position mount bracket made of composite. This material reduces flexing, warping, and UV damage. For ease of install, it has a quick-release lever lock.
Below The Water
Next, you get Minn Kota’s indestructible composite shaft with a lifetime warranty. The bottom motor unit contains extra large windings and commutators to dissipate heat. Plus a unique bearing system to lower friction which reduces noise that can spook fish.
Like the Endura C2, the Max version gets the power propeller. Again it’s a disappointment, so upgrade to the “Weedless Wedge.”
Reverse with the Endura Max is a problem, it seems weaker than others. Some boaters even complain it doesn’t function.
The other common issue is vibrations during medium to higher speeds. As well as noise above water, it’s nowhere near silent. Yet not loud enough that you can’t converse with your passengers.
Choose the Endura Max if you prioritize energy consumption over any other feature. Doing so gets you a good performer, albeit one that’s noisy and vibrates at faster speeds.
This is the best transom mount trolling motor designed for kayaks under 11-feet. While paddling is terrific for exercise, an electric trolling motor makes fishing and moving much easier. Luckily, the Kayak Series is just like the tried and true design of the NV Series trolling motors.
For today, I’m covering the 36-pound thrust version. This amount of power provides excellent low speeds for trolling techniques. By the same token, the upper speeds offer enough help to get upriver as needed.
Kayak Specific Features
On top of the unit, is the durable alloy motor head. Made of corrosion resistant magnesium, zinc, and stainless-steel hardware for saltwater use.
Power and steering comes from the extendable handle tiller. With five forward speeds and three reverse speeds you will get a smooth and efficient ride. The five light LED indicator shows the current charge of the battery.
Be aware, NV require you use a 12-volt lead-acid style deep-cycle battery (flooded, SLA, AGM or Gel). Size wise, for best performance use at least a 50 AH battery.
Lithium Battery Use
If you want to use lithium technology, understand that the battery lights won’t show accurate readings. To be safe, a 12-v lithium-ion battery with an output rated less than 13.5V is best.
I appreciate the extended battery cables that provide for flexible battery placement. At 5.6 feet (1.7 meter) its compatible with all transom mount kayaks, canoes, and bass raider style plastic boats.
Moving down to the wing nut adjusted depth collar and nylon mount bracket. The quick-release lever lock makes tilting and stowing a snap. The greatest width for the transom mount is 3.5-inches. If you want an easy installation, NV recommends the “RAILBLAZA” kayak motor mount.
Next, is the height adjusting 24-inch shaft made of fiberglass. It’s 1.15-inches in diameter and tough against impact. A shorter shaft allows for stealthy moves through the shallows without spooking fish.
At the bottom, is the rust resistant powder coated lower motor unit. Measuring 13.7-inches in length with a 3.2-inch diameter, if you want to add sonar. Then attached to this motor is the smaller 2 blade fiberglass reinforced prop.
The main complaint I see time and again is problems with the battery gauge. Especially if you try to power with lithium, which is weird since NV states it won’t be accurate. I’m shocked how little energy this thing takes, if you use a 50+ amp hour battery, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Also, the prop blades are not as strong as others and I would upgrade it if possible. Next, users complain of vibrations at upper speeds, although I didn’t experience this.
Don’t compromise, this is the best transom mount trolling motor for a kayak available. Buying it, gets you reliable freshwater and saltwater troll motor at an amazing price.
Buyers Guide: Transom Mounted Trolling Motor
Before making a selective decision, you need to consider some vital considerations. Answering the five questions below will help you choose the best option for your needs.
1. What Is Thrust, And How Much Does My Boat Need?
Thrust (measured in pounds) is the amount of power a motor uses to propel a vessel through water. How much your trolling motor needs depends on the size and weight of the boat.
The general rule of thumb is that you need at least 2 pounds of thrust for every 100 pounds of total vessel weight.
Total vessel weight means the heaviest potential weight. So, you need to calculate it loaded with people, gear and full fuel levels. What if I don’t even know my boats weight? You can find it in the NADA vessel directory.
Acquiring as much thrust you can afford is great for battling winds and current. But remember, more thrust underwater can create vibrations that scare of fish.
2. How Much Runtime Do I Need?
To answer this question you need to consider two factors. First is the battery capacity measured in amp-hours. The second is the motors current draw, which is a measurement in amps. Now you do an easy equation with these two factors:
Take a battery’s amp hour rating (AH) and divide it by the “average amperage draw” of the motor. Most companies state amperage draw in maximum amps, so get the average by dividing the max rating by 2.
Example: 100 AH Battery divided by 25 A (average amp draw) = 4 hours battery runtime
Keep in mind, you need to further consider the type of battery you choose to use. As it’s vital, you never want to deplete a lead-acid battery to 0% of its capacity. In fact, it’s best to use between 20-80% AH of a battery’s capacity to ensure longevity.
Another consideration that effects runtime is where are you operating your boat? Adverse weather and water conditions will also lessen how long your motor will run. Strong current, choppy waters, or wind gusts, creates more current draw and short run times.
3. Which Speed Control System Is Best?
The best way to control the speed of your transom mount trolling motor is a personal decision. There are three modes of speed control, ranging from basic to sophisticated:
The absolute basic is a simple 2 speed, high or low button or switch on the motor head. This is too simplistic for trolling but fine for small tender boats.
Classic multi-speed motor found on the tilling handle. You twist the handle in either direction. In general, you get 5 Forward and 3 Reverse speeds. It’s an improvement for trolling and making basic docking maneuvers.
New variable speed controllers. Often combined with micro-processors to extend battery life. Actual control can be selectable via twisting the handle. Otherwise, newer versions are remote control or wired foot pedal controls. Best for making precision movements during fishing or docking.
4. Which Shaft Length Does My Boat Need?
The shaft length you need, depends on the depth of your transom. Making assumptions or mistakes risk harm to both the performance and the propeller.
A good rule of thumb is for the motor unit meant to be underwater to be at least 10″ submerged. Doing this helps to reduce prop cavitation, vibrations and noise.
To determine the correct shaft length for your motor do the following measurement. Measure between the bow (for bow mount) or transom mounting surface and the waterline. Write down this measurement, then compare to the trolling motor brands (if available) shaft length table.
5. Does Saltwater Ruin Trolling Motors?
Yes! This is a critical factor to ensure long term use of you trolling motor. Salt is much more corrosive than freshwater so combating it requires a different construction. If you are fishing on saltwater, a rust-resistance motor is a must-have.
Overall, a freshwater motor will last longer than salt version. You take considerable risks running a freshwater motor in oceans. Expect oxidation, rust and dead motors if you choose to do this.
In fact, many manufacturers claim their product is dual purpose, many aren’t. The best way to determine saltwater rating is to look for these specific features.
Built with premium-grade alloys coated with zinc.
Painted or powder coated with corrosion-resistant finish.
Includes a sacrificial anode fixed to the prop.
If you use a freshwater trolling motor in saltwater, often this will void your warranty!
Budget For Use
If money is a concern, maybe a freshwater trolling motor is the easiest selection. This version is often more affordable than a saltwater option. The reason for this is because freshwater doesn’t harm the internal.
Lake, pond and river boaters tend to worry about cutting through weeds. Which is why freshwater products feature heavy-duty props. Saltwater models don’t have this worry, so these props don’t feature.
In contrast, dual and salt specific trolling motors demand extra rust protective additions. As a result they ten to be more expensive, yet are also more powerful to fight against ocean currents.
By now you should have all the information to select the best transom mount trolling motor. Remember to think about where you operate your boat. Select the right amount of thrust and shaft length. How you will power it and what other features are important for the application.