Best Bow Mount Freshwater Trolling Motors (2021 Reviews)

photo of a man fishing off boat with bow mount freshwater trolling motors

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Boat owners with available space on the bow to mount a trolling motor enjoy ultimate control. But trying to select the best bow mount freshwater trolling motors can be daunting. There are so many models, sizes, thrust ratings plus high-tech features. How do you choose the best model for your boat?

To lessen your stress, I’ve gone out on the water to test and review six freshwater trolling motors. These reviews cover both 24 and 36-volt models, plus new “selectable voltage” models.

Keep in mind, these are freshwater specific and you shouldn’t use them in saltwater due to lack of corrosion protection. If you do use it in brackish water be sure to have a quick release mount to remove and clean it immediately after use.

In this article you’ll receive in-depth reviews of each model, and a comparison table. Before you move on to the reviews, refresh yourself with the 3 main factors to choose a trolling motor for your vessel.

Factors To Select Bow Mount Freshwater Trolling Motors

Beyond bow mounted, you have some choices to make to help pick a trolling motor for freshwater. Below are 3 main decisions you need to make to choose bow mount trolling motors for your boat.

  • Thrust Levels – Measured in pounds of thrust. This is the power the motor uses to propel a boat through the water. Boat weight is the key factor. In general, you need 2 pounds thrust for every 100 pounds (45.36 kg) of full boat weight. “Full” means people and gear included.
  • Shaft Length – Measured from the top of the bow to the waterline, plus 16 inches (40.64 cm) to account for rougher waters.
  • Volts – Choose between 12, 24 or 36 volts systems via deep-cycle batteries wired in series. 12 volts for small boats and short running times. 24 or 36 volts for medium/large boats wanting long-running times.

Moving on, to make reading easy, I wrote this article in two sections. To begin, there is a tabbed section of comparison tables of all the models covered. Next are single comprehensive reviews of each trolling motor. Plus, you can click to a specific product or section via the table of contents. Alright, let’s discover the best freshwater trolling motor for the bow of your vessel.

We updated this article in January 2021 to make sure that the information is correct for today’s standards. Including re-reviewing each of the trolling motors. New for this year is the inclusion of a cable-steer model from MotorGuide. Read on to discover which bow mount freshwater trolling motors are going to be the ideal fit for your vessel in 2021. 

Comparison Chart

The Best Bow Mount Freshwater Trolling Motor In 2021

Purple label with gold anchor stating Editor's choice
Lowrance Ghost Freshwater Trolling Motor
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 97(24v) / 120 (36v)
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 47
  • Motor Voltage: 24 V or 36 V Selectable
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: Info Not Available
  • Propeller Type: 2 Blade Composite
  • Type Of Steering: Fly-By-Wire Steering
  • Steering Control Type(s): Wired Foot Pedal
  • GPS: Total Integration With Lowrance GPS Featuring Anchor Lock, Course Lock, Way Point Navigation, Steering, Speed, & More
  • Sonar: HDI Nosecone Transducer, Lowrance 2D CHIRP Sonar & DownScan Imaging Compatible With HDS LIVE, HDS Carbon and Elite Ti2 Displays Only
  • Battery Cable Length: Info Not Available
  • Weight: 65 Pounds
  • Special Features: Brushless Motor, 360 Degree Breakaway Mount, Selectable Voltage, Gas-Assist Manual Stow/Deploy
  • Package Includes: Trolling Motor, Compass-1 (TMC-1), N2K-T-RD Network T-Connector, Sonar Adapter Cable 9P Mini to 9P, HDI Nosecone Transducer
  • Warranty: 3 Years/ Lifetime For Shaft
What We Like
What We Do Not Like

Lowrance Ghost Review

In 2021, the Lowrance Ghost is absolute best bow mount freshwater trolling motor. It was one of ICAST 2019’s most anticipated products and if you use their chartplotters, you will love this motor. The Ghost pairs with both HDS12 or HDS Live units from Lowrance. I was lucky enough that before the Covid-19 pandemic I got to try this insane trolling motor on a buddy’s Phoenix 921 Pro XP.

For ultimate versatility, the Lowrance Ghost introduces a hybrid battery power setup. It’s uses a selectable toggle on the foot pedal to switch from 24-volt to 36-volt power supply. This is such a great feature for boat owners who plan to upgrade from a 19 foot to 21+ foot boat. No longer do you need to buy a bigger trolling motor, the Ghost is future proof.

The thrust ratings the Ghost are equally impressive. Delivering 97 pounds of thrust at 24 volts and 120 pounds of thrust at 36 volts. It tops every other trolling motor in this article at 36 volts, now coming in 47″, 52″ and 60″ shaft lengths.

Initial Impressions:

This motor is permanent to this vessel, so I can’t speak to the installation process. I’m told it was a breeze as the entire unit only weighs 65 pounds (29.48 kg). Plus it has double drilled mounting holes which fit the same bolt pattern as the Xi5, Fortrex or Ultrex.

Let’s move on to the actual trolling motor, it’s a built to beast-like standards. Down at the bottom is a typical 2-blade propeller with slight curved tips attached to the lower motor unit. It’s inside the motor unit, where Lowrance gains a big advantage over Minn Kota and MotorGuide. Inside is a brushless motor and it’s one of the first trolling motors to receive this technology.

Lowrance Brushless DC Motor

I’m not going to explain the difference of brushed vs brushless motors, as it’s a complicated topic. What’s important to understand is this type of motor is a big step up from a traditional brushed motor. Brushless provides more efficiency, more thrust with less maintenance and less degrading parts.

On the water this trolling motor is simply silent, you can hear a pin drop when its running. In fact, it’s 7 decibels quieter than brush motors. When running it on the “5” setting for speed there is no discernible water noise or motor noise. Which is a spectacular for using it in shallow water ways. Next, I got the boat (loaded with gear plus two people) up to 3.7 miles per hour (6 km/h) at full speed (10 on the dial). That’s pretty impressive as at full power its 40% more efficient than competitors.

To power the motor, you can use lead acid, AGM, or Lithium deep cycle marine batteries. I like to think of this type of motor like a smart battery charger. If the motor senses excess volt readings, it will shut down, preventing overheating.

At the other end of the lower motor unit is the nose cone. Inside is a built-in “HDI” transducer. Which provides 2D Lowrance CHIRP sonar and DownScan Imaging. Combining brushless with this transducer eliminates sonar interference and gives super clear imaging. I also appreciate that the nose cone is replaceable via simple Allen keys and grease. Meaning no more having to send the motor to a shop if the transducer gets damaged!

Shaft & Above The Water

Moving on to the shaft, its composite but as of now you only get a 47-inch shaft length option. The best part of the shaft is it rotates in the middle section, so actual steering is under the water surface. Plus it has a mechanical 360 degree breakaway “knuckle” to take the brunt of hits from structures. Bass fishermen no longer have to worry about breaking the shaft. Another small feature I like is the shaft depth tension knob, it’s large and easy to grip. Other motors use small knobs that are a pain to twist when your hands are wet.

With the upper head unit not rotating, it further reduces noise above the water. The only time it moves is when you lift it out of the water, to allow the head to auto right itself for stowing. To show directions there is a “magnetic” LED arrow indicator on top. Inside the head is a stepper motor that controls the steering of the shaft.

The full aluminum mount unit is flat which is nice if you like to step to the edge of the bow for bed fishing. Inside the mount is a heavy-duty gas assist spring with built in stabilizer bar. This assists you on lift for stow and slows the pivot action for deploy. Which ensures smooth entry into the water, helping to avoid spooking any nearby fish.

Digital Steering Control

Another nuisance reducing feature is the cable management. The Ghost controls steering by a fly-by-wire control system via a single NMEA cable. This makes a hug difference as it eliminates the typical cables that bundle around the head unit.

Tethered to the fly-by-wire system is the foot control pedal, which is the only control for now. As the pedal moves so do the buttons, which means no more accidental slips of the foot off the side hitting buttons. Tension feels like a cable steer which I know anglers will love. For buttons there are 3 programmable Bluetooth buttons and an anchor lock. On the right side there is a large speed rotary speed dial from 0-10.

Then up top is a cool feature, the on/off switch mount can flip from right to left!! So if you prefer to tab the right side of the pedal instead of left, unscrew a tab and flip the button.

Why Not Top Choice For Bow Mount Freshwater Trolling Motors?

I can’t give the Lowrance top spot due to the lack of models on the market. It’s too new, and we all know new products need time to work out the “kinks”. The only slight problems I had is unlike cable steer the foot pedal is super responsive. The obvious solution is that I need more time to get use to it.

Also, the propeller that’s included is a flimsy and the blade surface is small. Instead, I’d replace it with a weedless wedge from Minn Kota. Last but certainly not least, the cost, it’s about 3 thousand dollars! But for the cost you get a beast of a trolling motor.

Verdict:

Bottom line, if you own Lowrance electronics, are serious about bass fishing and willing to pay a cost; buy a Ghost. Just do yourself a favor, replace the propeller. Finally, be ready for a bit of a learning curve with the foot pedal.

Most Popular Minn Kota Freshwater Trolling Motor

Minn Kota Terrova Freshwater
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 80
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 60
  • Motor Voltage: 24V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 50 Amps
  • Propeller Type: Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
  • Type Of Steering: Electric Wired
  • Steering Control Type(s): i-Pilot® Handheld Remote & Wired Foot Pedal
  • GPS: i-Pilot Remote Delivers Speed, Steering, Spot-Lock, Plus Ability To Record/Retrace Travel Paths
  • Sonar: Universal Sonar 2, Compatible with Humminbird Electronics
  • Battery Cable Length: 5 feet
  • Weight: 60 Pounds
  • Package Includes:Trolling Motor, Multi-function Foot Pedal, Heading Sensor, MKP-32 Prop, Mounting Hardware, Cables, and i-Pilot GPS System
  • Warranty: 2 Years
What We Like
What We Do Not Like

Minn Kota Terrova 80 Pounds/60 Inch Review

For 2021 the most popular bow mount freshwater trolling motor from Minn Kota is the Terrova. This motor has enough thrust to control medium bass boats and v-hulls under 23 feet (7.01 m) long and under 4000 lbs. In fact, the Terrova is the king of freshwater trolling motors from Minn Kota on the market today.

It’s popular because it’s reliable, tough and the new-and-improved spot lock is flawless. For 24-volt mid-range motors, the Terrova has excellent performance in the weeds. The “Weedless Wedge” two blade prop thrashes through the thickest vegetation. If you fish near structures or in shallow waterways the Terrova is the trolling motor for you.

First Impressions

Out of the box, the body is that its durable and rugged. The unit on the mount provides a simple on/off button and battery level indicator.

The shaft is composite so you can bash against docks and rocks without worrying about damage. As an added bonus, Minn Kota provides a lifetime guarantee on it. Using the depth collar for the shaft is a bit stiff but works with a little elbow grease. At the bottom you have the lower motor unit and the awesome 2-blade prop. In total, it looks and feels as rugged as any product from Minn Kota.

For installation, you will need a space of 13.94 inches in length by 8.52 inches in width. Or 35 centimeters (length) by 21.64 centimeters (width) for our international audience. For ease of long term storage it’s ideal to buy a separate quick-release mount.

To stow or deploy the motor the Terrova provides the lift-assist system. This is a stainless steel, nitrogen gas-charged spring that cuts the pivot weight in half. Depress a foot lever and with one hand you can stow and deploy with ease.

Out On The Water

For this review, I’m in a 20 foot SeaCraft CC with the Terrova 80/60 bow mount freshwater trolling motor. The 80 pounds of peak thrust and 60 inch (1.52 meters) composite shaft is excellent for controlling the boat. Powered via a 24-volt battery system I can fish for over 6 hours at 25% speed without significant power drain. I attribute this the Digital Maximizer™ which equates to a variable speed motor.

Powering the trolling motor into life I notice the amount of noise coming from the upper head area. Wow, it’s loud for a trolling motor. Yet I’ve heard from tons of Minn Kota fans that this noise doesn’t translate to noise underwater. During my tests this does appear to be true.

This unit comes with the Terrova wired foot pedal which offers a ton of features. Including two main steering options (heel/toe pedal and left/right steering buttons). Plus buttons for activating Spot-Lock, momentary/constant on button, and AutoPilot. As well as a rotary speed dial on the right side of the pedal.

Minn Kota GPS System

Included with this trolling motor is the i-Pilot® remote and Bluetooth heading sensor. The Terrova 80/60 has everything needed for precision control of your boat. If you use Humminbird electronics though, I recommend upgrading to the i-Pilot® Link™. The Link system is what enables you to match your fish finder to the trolling motor.

Beyond controlling steering and speed the i-pilot GPS system features include:

  • Spot-Lock With Jog. This is the anchor mode. It holds you in place for hours. With Spot Lock, if the boat shifts more than 5 feet (1.52 m) the motor will kick in. Next, it will bring the boat back into place. Next using the included heading sensor it allows you to Jog your locked location 5 feet (1.52 m) in any direction.
  • The iTrack Record/Playback Route. Allows you to trace a route, save it, and follow it again. It stores up to 16 iTracks, each up to 2 miles (3.22 km) long.
  • Autopilot. Choose a heading and the motor will stay on course without lifting a finger. It holds the boat in a straight line without going off course.
  • Cruise Control. This feature controls boat speed on the remotes screen. With this mode you can entice fish as you troll in 0.1 mile-per-hour increments.
  • Mobile App Compatibility. Control i-Pilot from your Apple® or Android™ device. This is a big plus if the batteries in your remote die or you buy a unit without a foot control.

The freshwater Terrova also has a built-in universal sonar 2 transducer. A sonar transducer is the device that allows you to connect to your fish-finder.

Downsides To This Bow Mount Freshwater Trolling Motor?

As I mentioned before, this trolling motor is noisy above water. For some this is a big deterrent and others don’t care as long as it doesn’t alert fish. I found it annoying as the day progressed but this is a personal choice.

The second downside is electronic compatibility, if you use Hummingbird, it’s great. If not, such as Garmin, Lowrance or Simrad the Terrova isn’t ideal.

Next I did notice a difference from traditional cable steer to electronic steer. With electronic the pedal is slow to respond compared to cable. This change takes getting used to, so if you are upgrading from cable steer its something to keep in mind.

Verdict:

The Terrova 80/60 is a great trolling motor for anglers, especially those targeting bass. Its optimal for bass vessels or v-hulls under 23 feet (7.01 m) in length. Boaters love the flawless spot lock and a weed-killer propeller. In the end, buying the Terrova assures you a popular choice for over a decade.

Runner-Up Best Bow Mount Freshwater Trolling Motor: Ideal For Vessels Up To 23 Feet

top marks label in blue with yellow check mark
Garmin Force 57 Freshwater
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 80 (24v) / 100 (36v)
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 57
  • Motor Voltage: 24 V or 36 V Selectable
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 54 A (24v) / 57 A (36v)
  • Propeller Type: Proprietary Plastic 2 Blade
  • Type Of Steering: Electric Wired
  • Steering Control Type(s): Wired Foot Pedal
  • GPS: High Sensitivity GPS Featuring Gesture Ability, Jog, Anchor Lock, Heading Hold, Cruise Control, Autopilot, Chartplotter, & More, Plus It Floats!
  • Sonar: Ultra High-Definition Sonar Nosecone Transducer Featuring High-Wide CHIRP (150-240 kHz) Down To 800' Below Boat, Depth/Speed/Temp, & More
  • Battery Cable Length: 3.5 Feet
  • Weight: 70 Pounds
  • Special Features: Brushless Motor, Selectable Voltage, Built-In Heading Sensor, Dual Gas-Springs Scissor Style Stow/Deploy
  • Package Includes: Trolling Motor, Foot Pedal, Remote, High Efficiency Propeller, Stabilizer, Assembly and Mounting Hardware, Documentation
  • Warranty: 3 Years/ Lifetime For Shaft
What We Like
What We Do Not Like

Garmin Force Review

The Garmin Force won “best boating accessory” at when it debuted at ICast 2019. So why didn’t it top the Lowrance Ghost in my reviews? The honest answer is, personal preference, both motors are terrific. I based my choice on the fact that this trolling motor has a bit less peak thrust power than the Ghost.

As a brand, Garmin is the type of company to go-big-or go-home. You will definitely see this with the Force, as they went big from the innovation perspective. I love that they developed a trolling motor that delivers an “old-school” cable steer feel. While also giving anglers all the latest sonar, GPS and networking capabilities.

The variable voltage brushless motor, is 30% more efficient than other 36-volt models. Yet it doesn’t match the Ghost in peak thrust with lower peak thrust in both models. With 80 pounds of thrust at 24-volts and 100 pounds of thrust at 36-volts for the 57-inch model.

Built Like A Tank

During Minn Kota’s supremacy the Fortrex and Ultrex were the tanks. Next, the Terrova was the technology packed trolling motor. Today it’s Garmin turn as the “built-like-a-tank” trolling motor packed with tech. In fact, expect the Garmin Force to take up quite a bit of the bow space on your boat.

For all the space it takes though, you do get an ultra tough scissor-lift mount. Manual stow and deploy is easy due to the dual gas spring lift assist system. No more stomping on the unit to finish deployment or harsh pulling up for stowing. On top of the mount unit is a digital display for speed, battery life, power control, anchor lock and GPS rating. The responsive steering control comes from either a remote or wireless foot pedal. More about the steering control later.

Next, at the bottom it has proprietary 2-blade propeller connected to the of the lower motor unit. You also get a replaceable skeg which I appreciate as I can make fixes instead of sending it to a shop. Inside the removable nose-cone unit is the built-in sonar. Including CHIRP traditional and Ultra High-Definition ClearVü and SideVü scanning sonars. Compatible with the following Garmin devices:

  • The GPSMAP 8400 & 8600 Series
  • GPSMAP 7400 & 7600 Series*
  • The GPSMAP 10×2 and 12×2 Series*
  • GPSMAP 7×2, 9×2 and 12×2 Touch Series*
  • ECHOMAP Ultra Series
  • ECHOMAP Plus Series*

*Partial sonar support includes high wide CHIRP, ClearVü (800 kHz) and SideVü (455 kHz)

Moving up to the shaft, it is fiberglass but has a lifetime guarantee. This specific model has a 57-inch shaft, the other model Garmin provides is a 50-inch shaft.

Garmin Point-And-Go Gesture Steering

Unique to the Force is the sunlight-readable remote control. It’s different from any of the other remotes, due to it using hand gestures for steering. Just wave your hand in a direction and the motor rotates toward the direction. Plus it has programmable buttons to control of a chart plotter.

Now, let’s talk foot pedal. While it does come paired with a foot pedal from factory, you need to calibrate it with the motor. Vessel owner that try to calibrate will realize using this method is problematic. I tried this method, and it took many times to calibrate, once it did the performance wasn’t great. I have since learned you need calm windless conditions for proper calibration.

The foot pedal is wireless standard but you can also hard-wire it in if you prefer. Be sure to use the sensitivity set screw on the underside to help mimic cable steering. Once its dialed in, operation is butter smooth with a tension that is precise.

On The Water Go-To Performance

If you already use Garmin chartplotter, you will love the simple integration. It makes using the built-in autopilot near perfect. I was able to create routes to a waypoint, and follow tracks as I moved. It’s amazing having all the trolling motor commands in a dashboard on top of the screen. Anchor lock, cruise control and heading hold all work very well. On screen there is absolutely no sonar noise which is refreshing.

The big advantage of this bow mount trolling motor is its silence, both above and below the waterline. Does the head sound? Yes it does whine a little but nothing compared to an old Minn Kota Ultrex.

Another great feature is how strong and powerful it is, it pulls speeds of 4 mph (6.44 km/h)! I don’t personally need it to go this fast, but it’s nice to know it can.

Downsides Of The Garmin Force Trolling Motor?

During last years review, the problematic point was the waypoint feature. As a vessel would near a set way point the motor would turn the propeller off and the boat drifted across the spot. The anchor lock never activated? To sort of remedy it, I activated anchor lock when the prop shuts of and use jog to shift to the waypoint. Not the level of performance I expected at this high price point. Since then software updates have fixed this issue for the most part, but I wanted to mention it anyways.

The other problem is the foot pedal itself and how it operates. Its super sensitive and will go a little crazy on you at times. Like I mentioned before you need to adjust sensitivity screw. I do know that in the summer of 2020 Garmin did a software update that did calm the pedal. It’s just something to consider if you fish in tight spaces.

Verdict:

The Garmin Force trolling motor holds true to its name. It’s as powerful, efficient and as quiet as you’d want. The chartplotter integration is perfect, and if you enjoy “Livescope” you’ll love the Force. The caveat of this choice is the foot pedal sensitivity, but you get used to it.

Industry Standard For Bass Boats Under 23 Feet

Minn Kota Ultrex Freshwater
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 80
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 45
  • Motor Voltage: 24 V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 56 A
  • Propeller Type: Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
  • Type Of Steering: Hybrid - Cable-Steer Foot Pedal, Electric-Steer Wireless Remote
  • Steering Control Type(s): i-Pilot® Handheld Remote & Cable Heel-Toe Foot Pedal
  • GPS: i-Pilot® GPS Featuring Spot Lock With Jog, Auto Pilot, Record Paths, Cruise Control & More
  • Sonar: Universal Sonar 2 Compatible With Hummingbird Electronics
  • Battery Cable Length: 5 Feet
  • Weight: 77 Pounds
  • Special Features: Lift-Assist Style Stow/Deploy
  • Package Includes: Trolling Motor, Multi-Function Foot Pedal, Heading Sensor, Mounting Hardware/Cables, and i-Pilot Remote GPS system
  • Warranty: 2 Years
What We Like
What We Do Not Like

Minn Kota Ultrex 80 Pound/ 45 Inch Review

If you are new to angling, you might not know about the Minn Kota® Ultrex. For bass anglers the Ultrex has been the industry leader in hybrid bow mount trolling motors. By hybrid, I mean it’s uses a mix of cable-steer and electric-steer design. Providing fluid power steering and steering lock with the Ultrex foot pedal. Plus all the latest GPS capabilities via the i-Pilot remote.

The Ultrex does cost more than a Terrova with 80 pounds thrust and 45″ shaft. But for purist bass anglers who love cable steering and want spot lock, it’s reliable value for money.

Owners of the cable steer Minn Kota Fortrex understood leg fatigue at days end of fishing. While cable steering is great for precision control, it increases leg fatigue overtime. Fatigue reduces your focus so Minn Kota developed the Ultrex. Delivering the exact feel of a cable-steering but with power steering to ease fatigue.

The model of Ultrex in this review is a 24-volt, 80 lbs thrust motor with a 45″ shaft. Inside the very stable head control, is a variable speed motor. Variable speed trolling motors let you select an exact speed to deliver only as much power as needed. This can increase battery efficiency by five times, to ensure for a full day of fishing.

This model of Ultrex is ideal for boats weighing up to 4,000 lbs and under 23 feet (7.01 m) long. In this package you get an i-Pilot remote and built-in Universal Sonar 2 transducer. Beyond the motor and controls, it includes a lanyard, heading sensor, prop and the hardware.

Ultrex Foot Pedal

The composite foot pedal is a power steering-assisted heel/toe cable steer. It’s comfortable for small and big foot anglers alike. Tension is firm and smooth, the power assist is light and nimble. The buttons include momentary thrust, Spot Lock, North orientation, autopilot, and continuous thrust.

Another advantage of the Ultrex foot pedal is the “Steering Lock.” If you take your foot off the foot pedal, the motor head remains pointed in the direction you left it. No recoil or readjustment, just easier steering all day.

The i-Pilot GPS Remote & Universal Sonar 2

This trolling motor gives you an i-Pilot® remote and Universal Sonar 2 transducer. If you use Humminbird electronics, I recommend upgrading to the i-Pilot® with Link™. The Link system allows you to match your chart plotter to the trolling motor.

  • Spot-Lock With Jog. This is the anchor mode. If the boat shifts more than 5 feet (1.52 m), the motor will kick in to bring the boat back into place. The Jog feature allows you to move the boat from an anchor locked location 5 feet in any direction.
  • Go-To. Select any Spot-Lock or iTrack you want to return to, and Go To will take you right back.
  • iTrack Record/Playback Route. Trace a route, save it, and then follow it again. Storing up to 16 iTracks, each up to 2 miles (3.22 km) in length.
  • Autopilot with CoPilot. Choose a heading and the motor will stay on course without lifting a finger. It holds the boat in a straight line without going off course. CoPilot controls speed, steering, prop on/off and high-speed bypass via the remote.
  • Cruise Control. Set and maintain boat speed on the remotes screen to entice fish as you troll in 0.1 mile-per-hour increments.
  • Mobile App Compatibility. Control i-Pilot from your Apple® or Android™ device. This is a big plus if the batteries in your remote die or you buy a unit without a foot control.

The Universal Sonar 2

This is an integrated transducer built-in to the nose cone of the lower motor unit. It has waterproof shielded cable connections to reduce sonar interference. Although I admit when I hooked it this one up I did see some random pixels on screen.

Problems With The 2021 Minn Kota Ultrex

As of 2019, I’ve noticed an uptick of customer complaints with the Ultrex. Not for the GPS, but for cables snapping. During spot lock, the upper head unit can spin 360 degree as it senses corrections. If you install the cables too tight or too loose they can pinch and break. The other weird issue is the on/off switch no disengaging, often this is a warranty repair.

The next issue is that Spot lock for the Ultrex works best in breezy to windy conditions. In dead calm conditions it can over-correct as it tries to sense for wind moving the boat.

Verdict:

Pick the Minn Kota Ultrex if you are a serious bass angler with a boat under 23 feet (7.01 m). It’s the best value for the price. You get improved foot control, i-Pilot GPS functionality, and sonar integration. When it works, its one of the best hybrid cable/electric steer trolling motor out there.

Most Affordable Cable Steer Trolling Motor

green budget friendly label
MotorGuide Tour Series
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 82
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 45
  • Motor Voltage: 24 V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: Info Not Available
  • Propeller Type: New 2-Blade Katana Weedless Propeller
  • Type Of Steering: Cable Steer
  • Steering Control Type(s): Wired Metal Foot Pedal
  • GPS: None Included
  • Sonar: 83/200 kHz Traditional 2D sonar compatible with all brands; Plus 455/800 kHz HD+ Compatible With Lowrance, Humminbird, And Garmin
  • Battery Cable Length: 5 feet
  • Weight: 74 Pounds
  • Package Includes:Trolling Motor, Foot Pedal, Mounting Hardware
  • Warranty: 3 Years Limited & Lifetime On Shaft
What We Like
What We Do Not Like

MotorGuide Tour Series Review

The MotorGuide Tour bow mount trolling motor is the most affordable pick for 2021. This isn’t the old tour series from MotorGuide, nope, it’s a total redesign. From prop to pedal, this new version delivers unequaled durability and reliability. Like the 360 Breakaway shaft, Zero-G lift-assist, no-flex foot pedal and Katana prop. Add to this the rugged aviation-grade extruded aluminum mount.

For boaters new to the Tour series, this is a true cable steer motor. One that uses traditional stainless steel pull-pull cables to control steering. Die hard shallow-water anglers love this because it delivers ultra smooth, responsive control.

Today, Motorguide provide two versions of the Tour. One 24 Volt model with a 45″ shaft and 82-pounds of thrust. Another 36 Volt model, also with a 45″ shaft but an increased 109-pounds of thrust.

New 360 Degree Breakaway System

The new update for the Tour is the 360 degree breakaway system that uses a two-piece shaft assembly. The assembly has an oversized metal outer column. Along with an unbreakable inner composite shaft warrantied for its lifetime. In layman’s terms, the design absorb impacts from any shallow-water accidents. During an impact the shaft can shift near parallel with the hull to pass through an obstruction. On the bottom of the shaft is the new Katana weedless propeller. Which delivers increased power and 30% more efficiency than the old style propellers.

No-Flex Metal Foot Pedal

It’s back! MotorGuide brought back the simple zero-flex foot pedal made of tough metal. It includes a nice and big “Momentary” button switch that’s easy to hit when you’re focusing out on a target. Plus the side speed dial provides small incremental speed changes with ease. Another new physical change to the pedal is a raised lip at the heel area of the pedal to prevent slipping off.

Zero-G Lift Assist & Bulldog Locking Latch

To save your spine, the Tour uses the “Zero-G” nitrogen gas filled spring lift assist system. The biggest complaint about the old Tour series was how cumbersome it was to lift the motor out of the water. Now when pulling it out, a gas powered shock that takes 50% of the effort off of your back. To deploy, it’s just as simple with the provided cable pull. As you drop, the shock slows the motor into the water reducing jarring splashes.

Next, it has the patented Bulldog Locking Latch that releases very easily on command. As well as bites down hard if the waves gets rough.

Verdict

If you pride yourself as a shallow-water angler and prefer a cable steer motor buy this motor. It’s reliable, simple, easy to lift and ultra quiet. The steering control moves “on-a-dime” and the motor is tank tough.

Perfect For Solo Fishing In Bass Boats Up To 23 Feet

Minn Kota Ulterra Freshwater
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 80
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 60
  • Motor Voltage: 24V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 56 Amps
  • Propeller Type: Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
  • Type Of Steering: Electric Wired
  • Steering Control Type(s): Ulterra Foot Pedal & i-Pilot®Link Remote
  • GPS: i-Pilot® Link™ Featuring Spot Lock, Auto Pilot, iTracks Record/Playback Routes, Cruise Control & More
  • Sonar: Universal 2 Sonar Transducer Plus Humminbird MEGA Down Imaging (DI) - Crystal-Clear Coverage To 125 Feet Below Boat
  • Battery Cable Length: 5 feet
  • Weight: 69 Pounds
  • Special Feature: Automatic Stow/Deploy Plus Power Trim System For Ultimate Solo Fishing
  • Package Includes:Trolling Motor, Multi-Function Foot Pedal, Heading Sensor, Mounting Hardware/Cables, and i-Pilot Link GPS system
  • Warranty: 2 Years
What We Like
What We Do Not Like

Minn Kota Ulterra 80 Pounds/ 60 Inch Review

The Ulterra is like a Terrova, but with the two added features to aid solo boaters and fishermen. First is an automatic stow/deploy system and second is a power trim system. You can operate either via the included i-Pilot remote or the wired foot pedal. No more back breaking stow/deploy.

The model of Ulterra for this review is the 24-volt, 80 lbs thrust motor with a 60″ shaft. Which is capable of controlling vessels that weigh up to 4,000 pounds (1.81 t) and under 23 feet (7.01 m) length. You also get the upgraded i-Pilot Link remote that pairs to Humminbird electronics.

For sonar, it features a built-in transducer with Humminbird MEGA Down Imaging. This provides crystal-clear coverage down to 125 feet (38.1 m) below your boat. As a result, you can separate fish from structures or target individual species.

Beyond a motor and controls, you get a lanyard, heading sensor, prop and the mounting hardware.

Using The Freshwater Minn Kota Ulterra

For deploying or stowing the motor you can use the included i-Pilot remote or the wired foot pedal. Either pressing the far upper right button on the remote twice. Or on the foot pedal by pressing the mode button until the yellow light turns on. Next press the lower center stow/deploy button twice. I love that when I start the stow process the head unit auto-corrects to turn the prop to the side.

It’s good this motor has the automatic stow deploy because it’s very heavy for a 24-volt motor. Coming in a 69 pounds (31.3 kg), it’s 18 pounds (8.16 kg) heavier than the Terrova. Although I attribute the extra weight to the extra equipment for stow/deploy system. Like the Terrova it has the composite shaft and Weedless Wedge prop. Which performs great against rocks and vegetation.

Using the power trim is also great for on the go depth changes of the prop. With the Link upgrade and Hummingbird you can even auto adjust on screen for depth contours.

Traditional cable-steer anglers will love that the Ulterra is a hybrid design. So you get the classic feel of heel-toe steering combined with wireless steering too. The motor steers fast but this trolling motor’s head unit is noisy.

A couple owners tips, first add a quick-release mount bracket. While it’s not rated for saltwater I know boaters do use it for light inshore applications. It’s best, to remove the motor at the end of day and give it a full rinse with fresh water. Two, is to add a ram shock mount to reduce vibrations on the motor in rough waters.

The i-Pilot GPS With Upgraded Link

This Ulterra comes with the “i-Pilot Link” control steering. Which provides the following controls in the palm of your hand:

  • Spot-Lock with Jog. This is the anchor mode, that keeps you in place. When the boat shifts more than 5 feet, the motor kicks in to bring the boat back into place. Jog mode moves your spot five feet forward, backwards, left or right on press of a button.
  • iTrack Record/Playback Route. Lets you record a route and follow it again. Storing up to 16 iTracks, up to 2 miles (3.22 km) long.
  • Autopilot With CoPilot. Set a waypoints and the system navigate to it without drifting off course. CoPilot adds handheld control of speed, steering, prop on/off and a high-speed bypass.
  • Cruise Control. Control boat speed from the remote screen adjusting in 0.1 mile-per-hour increments.

With Link, you can pair the motor with Humminbird electronics for total onscreen control. Plus it expands features to offer circle mode, offset mode for iTrack, and more.

Any Problems With the Freshwater Ulterra Trolling Motor?

The typical problem that boater complains about is with the “stow/deploy” system and trim. Micro-computers around water tend to have issues and this one is no different. It’s also affected by dust, so be extra careful trailering your boat on gravel roads. While Minn Kota delivered software updates, I still see issues with these systems.

To help correct processor issue it must have “clean power” to operate. This means you must use the correct wire size and clean terminals. Do yourself a favor and upgrade to a Battery Tender connection and keep up with maintenance. Otherwise, you could have a frustrating day out on the water.

Verdict:

Pick this motor if you fish alone on a medium-sized bass boat, center console or a flats boat under 23 feet (7.01 m). It’s amazing if you fish alone and want the convenience of auto stow and deploy. Using technology rich bow mount freshwater trolling motors make angling a breeze. But keep in mind this one needs special care compared to other models in this article.

Great 36-Volt Wireless Trolling Motor For V-Hulls Over 24 Feet

Motor Guide Xi5 105 lbs/ 72
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 105
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 72
  • Motor Voltage: 36V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 41 Amps
  • Propeller Type: 3-blade Machete III Glass-Filled propeller
  • Type Of Steering: Electric Wireless
  • Steering Control Type(s): Wireless Foot Pedal & Pinpoint GPS Remote Control
  • GPS: Pinpoint GPS Featuring Anchoring, Jog, Heading Lock and Cruise Control
  • Sonar: 83/200 kHz Sonar Transducer, Compatible with Lowrance, Simrad & Mercury VesselView Electronics
  • Battery Cable Length: 5 feet
  • Weight: 65 Pounds
  • Package Includes:Trolling Motor, Wireless Foot Pedal, Lanyard, Wireless Pinpoint GPS Handheld Remote
  • Warranty: 2 Years Limited
What We Like
What We Do Not Like

Motor Guide Xi5 105 Pounds/72 Inch Review:

If you own a v-hull that spans over 24 feet (7.32 m) and prefer a wireless trolling motor this is a great choice. The MotorGuide Xi5 has 105 pounds of thrust with a 72-inch shaft. This size is near perfect for vessels under 5,500 pounds (2.49 ton). It’s uses 36-volt power via 3, 12-volt deep cycle batteries to operate via a variable speed motor.

First Impressions

Out of the box the Xi5 is the standard black that all bow mount freshwater trolling motors have. The coating is less tough than the Terrova due to discoloration of the unit overtime. For weight, it comes in at about 65 pounds (29.48 kg). On the deck of the boat the unit is low-profile and sleek. The shaft is a composite material that’s rust resistant and guaranteed for life. For a propeller you get the 3-blade Machete III propeller that plows the motor through the water.

MotorGuide Wireless Steering

On to the foot pedal, its wireless and powered by two AA batteries. For steering control, it uses heel-toe for left-right steering control. As well, the pedal features buttons for anchor mode, power button and motor on/off. On the upper side there is a rotary dial to change the speed of the variable motor. All works as expected but might be a bit sensitive for novice users.

For a remote, with this model you get the Pinpoint GPS that is gateway compatible. “Gateway” means that it pairs with your Lowrance, Simrad or Mercury VesselView chartplotters. I like that the remote is small and fits in the palm of my hand. Yet it lacks the digital display of the Terrova remote and kind of underwhelming. Where it exceeds over the Terrova remote, is in performance. On the water I can use it anywhere on the boat and it functions perfectly.

Another bonus for this model is the built-in sonar transducer. MotorGuide uses Universal Sonar 2 (US2) dual beam sonar technology (83 and 200 kHz). It also has a thermometer in the nose-cone to show real time temperature readings on a sonar screen.

On the water the Xi5 is near silent when running and the anchor mode is amazing. Although at one point it needed to make an adjustment and almost threw me off the boat. My fault for not paying attention though.

What’s Pinpoint GPS?

As I mentioned, this model comes with Pinpoint GPS. It’s MotorGuide’s answer to Minn Kota’s i-Pilot GPS. Fishermen and pleasure boaters alike will enjoy the features that include:

  • Anchor Mode. Using a GPS satellite, two digital compasses, and an algorithm for precise anchoring. Locks the boat in place fighting strong winds and currents. It’s 3 times more accurate than the competition and accurate within 5 feet (1.52 m) of a fixed coordinate.
  • Jog Mode. While in anchor mode, press any direction on the controller to jog/move boat in 5 feet (1.52 m) increments.
  • Autopilot/Cruise Control. Maintains your boat speed in either the “heading lock” or “route record” modes. Also compensates for winds, tides or currents which can alter the boats speed.
  • Heading Lock. Allows a user to select a desired compass heading. The GPS will set course and navigates the boat in a straight line to the way point. Compensating for wind, tide or currents which can push the boat off course.
  • Route Record. With this feature you can record and playback up to 8 routes ranging up to 4 miles (6.44 km) each. It allows you to engage anchor during recording without interrupting the route recording.

Downsides Of The Freshwater Xi5?

Unfortunately while I was using the foot control I had some issues. Such as it not pairing at first and then disconnecting while running the motor near a bridge. The foot pedal does have a bit of a learning curve not found in standard cable type motors. Boaters coming from cable steer will find the transition difficult with this pedal.

Another nuisance I experienced with the freshwater Xi5 was intermittent GPS signal loss. It happens when the boat passed under trees or bridges. While annoying, if you pay attention to overhead obstacles the motor works great. If it does lose GPS out in open waters, it might need a circuit board replacement. I just wish MotorGuide would find a fix for the foot pedal and GPS loss.

Verdict:

Own a large v-hull, center console or boat over 24 feet (7.32 m)? Want total wireless control of your trolling motor? Then a MotorGuide Xi5 112 lbs/72″ model is the electric steer trolling motor for you. Bear in mind though, it comes with a couple caveats.

Finishing Up:

By now you should be better informed about which bow mount trolling motor is best for your boat. Remember to select the trolling motor based on the length and total weight of you boat. Next pick a peak thrust rating, shaft length and the amount of volts. After you’ve decided the size of a trolling motor, the next decisions are all about personal choice.

As always, thanks for letting Outdoors Informed help with your research. Doing so lets you spend less time indoors and more maneuvering you boat.

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Last update on 2021-04-09

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