Best Bow Mount Freshwater Trolling Motors (2020 Reviews)

Boat owners with available space on the bow to mount a trolling motor enjoy ultimate control. But trying to select 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.

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 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 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 get started.

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Table of Contents

Comparison Chart

Preview
MotorGuide 940800360 Xi5 Wireless Freshwater Trolling Motor (Xi5-105FW 72" FP SNR GPS, 36-Volt), Black
Editor's Choice
Minn Kota Terrova Freshwater Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with 72-Inch Shaft, Universal Sonar 2, and i-Pilot GPS (36-Volt, 112-Pound)
Minn Kota Ulterra Freshwater Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with 72-Inch Shaft, MEGA Down Imaging, and i-Pilot Link GPS (36-Volt, 112-Pound)
Product Name
Motor Guide Xi5 (72) Freshwater
Minn Kota Terrova (72) Freshwater
Minn Kota Ulterra (72) Freshwater
Verdict
Lightweight & Inexpensive Wireless Motor
Top Overall Performance
Best Option For Solo Anglers
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
105
112
112
Shaft Length (Inches)
72
72
72
Motor Voltage
36 V
36 V
36 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
41 Amps
46
52
Shaft Material
Composite
Composite
Composite
Propeller Type
2 Blade Composite
Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
Type Of Steering
Electric Wireless
Electric Wired
Electric Wired
Steering Control Type(s)
Wireless Foot Pedal & Remote Control
i-Pilot® Handheld Remote & Wired Foot Pedal
Ulterra Foot Pedal & i-Pilot®Link Remote
Weight (Pounds)
55
65
73.5
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
Not Available
20 x 8 x 6
13.94 x 8.52 x 6
Battery Cable Lengths (Inches)
60
60
60
Stow/Deploy System
Manual Stow/Deploy
Lift Assist Manual Stow/Deploy
Auto Stow/Deploy Plus Power Trim
GPS Included
Sonar Transducer Included
Warranty
2 Years Limited
2 Years
2 Years
Preview
MotorGuide 940800360 Xi5 Wireless Freshwater Trolling Motor (Xi5-105FW 72" FP SNR GPS, 36-Volt), Black
Product Name
Motor Guide Xi5 (72) Freshwater
Verdict
Lightweight & Inexpensive Wireless Motor
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
105
Shaft Length (Inches)
72
Motor Voltage
36 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
41 Amps
Shaft Material
Composite
Propeller Type
2 Blade Composite
Type Of Steering
Electric Wireless
Steering Control Type(s)
Wireless Foot Pedal & Remote Control
Weight (Pounds)
55
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
Not Available
Battery Cable Lengths (Inches)
60
Stow/Deploy System
Manual Stow/Deploy
GPS Included
Sonar Transducer Included
Warranty
2 Years Limited
Editor's Choice
Preview
Minn Kota Terrova Freshwater Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with 72-Inch Shaft, Universal Sonar 2, and i-Pilot GPS (36-Volt, 112-Pound)
Product Name
Minn Kota Terrova (72) Freshwater
Verdict
Top Overall Performance
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
112
Shaft Length (Inches)
72
Motor Voltage
36 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
46
Shaft Material
Composite
Propeller Type
Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
Type Of Steering
Electric Wired
Steering Control Type(s)
i-Pilot® Handheld Remote & Wired Foot Pedal
Weight (Pounds)
65
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
20 x 8 x 6
Battery Cable Lengths (Inches)
60
Stow/Deploy System
Lift Assist Manual Stow/Deploy
GPS Included
Sonar Transducer Included
Warranty
2 Years
Preview
Minn Kota Ulterra Freshwater Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with 72-Inch Shaft, MEGA Down Imaging, and i-Pilot Link GPS (36-Volt, 112-Pound)
Product Name
Minn Kota Ulterra (72) Freshwater
Verdict
Best Option For Solo Anglers
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
112
Shaft Length (Inches)
72
Motor Voltage
36 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
52
Shaft Material
Composite
Propeller Type
Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
Type Of Steering
Electric Wired
Steering Control Type(s)
Ulterra Foot Pedal & i-Pilot®Link Remote
Weight (Pounds)
73.5
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
13.94 x 8.52 x 6
Battery Cable Lengths (Inches)
60
Stow/Deploy System
Auto Stow/Deploy Plus Power Trim
GPS Included
Sonar Transducer Included
Warranty
2 Years

Preview
Top Marks
Lowrance Ghost Freshwater Trolling Motor with 47 inch Shaft. Ultra-Quiet with the Most Thrust and the Longest Run Time. Hdi Sonar, Waypoint Anchoring, Autopilot
Garmin Force, 80/100#, 57", 24/36V, Foot Steer
Budget Friendly
Minn Kota Ultrex Freshwater Bow-Mount Motor with 45-Inch Shaft, Universal Sonar 2, and i-Pilot GPS (24-Volt, 80-Pound)
Product Name
Lowrance Ghost
Garmin Force 57″
Minn Kota Ultrex (45)
Verdict
New For 2020 Ultra Premium Motor
iCast 2019 Winner – Quiet & Built Like A Tank
Industry Standard For Bass Boats Under 23 Feet
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
97(24v) / 120 (36v)
80 (24v) / 100 (36v)
80
Shaft Length (Inches)
47
57
45
Motor Voltage
24 V or 36 V Selectable
24 V / 36 V Selectable
24 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
unknown
54 A (24v) / 57 A (36v)
56 A
Shaft Material
Composite
Fiberglass
Composite
Propeller Type
2 Blade Composite
Proprietary Plastic 2 Blade
Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
Type Of Steering
Fly-By-Wire Steering
Electric Wired
Cable-Steer Foot Pedal, Electric-Steer Wireless Remote
Steering Control Type(s)
Wired Foot Pedal
Wired Foot Pedal
i-Pilot® Handheld Remote & Cable Heel-Toe Foot Pedal
Weight (Pounds)
65
70
77
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
65 x 23 x 9, 11.75 x 7.25 x 4.5 (Pedal Mount)
40.25 x 8 x 13.3, 12 x 9 x 4.5 (Foot Pedal)
45 x 18.8 x 8.5
Battery Cable Lengths (Inches)
Info Not Available
42
60
Stow/Deploy System
Gas Assist Stow/Deploy
Dual Gas Springs Lift Assist
Lift Assist Manual Stow/Deploy
GPS Included
Sonar Transducer Included
Warranty
3 Years / Lifetime Shaft
3 Years / Lifetime Shaft
2 Years
Top Marks
Preview
Lowrance Ghost Freshwater Trolling Motor with 47 inch Shaft. Ultra-Quiet with the Most Thrust and the Longest Run Time. Hdi Sonar, Waypoint Anchoring, Autopilot
Product Name
Lowrance Ghost
Verdict
New For 2020 Ultra Premium Motor
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
97(24v) / 120 (36v)
Shaft Length (Inches)
47
Motor Voltage
24 V or 36 V Selectable
Maximum Amperage Draw
unknown
Shaft Material
Composite
Propeller Type
2 Blade Composite
Type Of Steering
Fly-By-Wire Steering
Steering Control Type(s)
Wired Foot Pedal
Weight (Pounds)
65
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
65 x 23 x 9, 11.75 x 7.25 x 4.5 (Pedal Mount)
Battery Cable Lengths (Inches)
Info Not Available
Stow/Deploy System
Gas Assist Stow/Deploy
GPS Included
Sonar Transducer Included
Warranty
3 Years / Lifetime Shaft
Preview
Garmin Force, 80/100#, 57", 24/36V, Foot Steer
Product Name
Garmin Force 57″
Verdict
iCast 2019 Winner – Quiet & Built Like A Tank
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
80 (24v) / 100 (36v)
Shaft Length (Inches)
57
Motor Voltage
24 V / 36 V Selectable
Maximum Amperage Draw
54 A (24v) / 57 A (36v)
Shaft Material
Fiberglass
Propeller Type
Proprietary Plastic 2 Blade
Type Of Steering
Electric Wired
Steering Control Type(s)
Wired Foot Pedal
Weight (Pounds)
70
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
40.25 x 8 x 13.3, 12 x 9 x 4.5 (Foot Pedal)
Battery Cable Lengths (Inches)
42
Stow/Deploy System
Dual Gas Springs Lift Assist
GPS Included
Sonar Transducer Included
Warranty
3 Years / Lifetime Shaft
Budget Friendly
Preview
Minn Kota Ultrex Freshwater Bow-Mount Motor with 45-Inch Shaft, Universal Sonar 2, and i-Pilot GPS (24-Volt, 80-Pound)
Product Name
Minn Kota Ultrex (45)
Verdict
Industry Standard For Bass Boats Under 23 Feet
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
80
Shaft Length (Inches)
45
Motor Voltage
24 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
56 A
Shaft Material
Composite
Propeller Type
Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
Type Of Steering
Cable-Steer Foot Pedal, Electric-Steer Wireless Remote
Steering Control Type(s)
i-Pilot® Handheld Remote & Cable Heel-Toe Foot Pedal
Weight (Pounds)
77
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
45 x 18.8 x 8.5
Battery Cable Lengths (Inches)
60
Stow/Deploy System
Lift Assist Manual Stow/Deploy
GPS Included
Sonar Transducer Included
Warranty
2 Years

Best Overall Bow Mount Freshwater Trolling Motor

Purple label with gold anchor stating Editor's choice
Minn Kota Terrova 112 lbs/ 72
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 112
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 72
  • Motor Voltage: 36V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 46 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: 65 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
  • Most Popular Reliable Freshwater Trolling Motor
  • Excellent 112 Lbs of Peak Thrust
  • Flawless Spot Lock Anchor Mode
  • Quiet Below Water Surface
  • Ultra Durable Materials
  • Awesome Weedless Wedge Propeller
What We Do Not Like
  • A Bit Noisy Above Water
  • Only Compatible With Hummingbird
  • Foot Pedal Learning Curve

Minn Kota Terrova 112 Pounds/72 Inch Review

For 2020 my pick for best bow mount freshwater trolling motor is the Minn Kota Terrova. This motor has more than enough thrust to control large bass boats and v-hulls over 24 feet long. In fact, the Terrova is the most popular freshwater trolling motor on the market today.

It’s popular because it’s reliable, tough and the new-and-improved spot lock is flawless. For 36 volt motors, the Terrova is better than the others, solely based on its 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.

My first impression of 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.

Is Installation Difficult?

I’ll admit I didn’t install the motor I tested, but through research from friends and forums it seems easy. To mount on the bow of your boat you will need a space of 13.94 inches in length by 8.52 inches in width. 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 23 foot SeaCraft CC with the Terrova 112/72 bow mount freshwater trolling motor. The 112 pounds of peak thrust and 72 inch composite shaft is excellent for controlling the boat. Powered via a 36 volt battery system I can fish for over 8 hours at 25% speed without significant power drain. I attribute this the Digital Maximizer™ which is basically 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 blue-tooth heading sensor. The Terrova 112/72 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. Or as most boater know is as, anchor mode. It holds you in place for hours. With Spot Lock, if the boat shifts more than 5 feet the motor will kick in to bring the boat back into place. Next using the included heading sensor it allows you to Jog your locked location 5 feet in any direction.
  • iTrack Record/Playback Route. This allows you to trace a route, save it, and follow it again. It stores up to 16 iTracks, each up to 2 miles long.
  • Autopilot. Choose a heading 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 controls 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 freshwater Terrova also has a built-in universal sonar 2 transducer. This 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 112/72 is the perfect reliable trolling motor for fishermen. Especially this who use large-sized over 24 foot bass boats or v-hulls. Its flawless spot lock and a weed-killer propeller delivers precise control in any condition.

Great Wireless Choice For Large 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
  • Good 105 Lbs of Peak Thrust
  • Complete Wireless Electric Steering
  • Great Price!
  • Pairs With Lowrance, Simrad & Mecury VesselView
  • Anchor Mode Locks Boat Into Place
  • Near Silent Operation
What We Do Not Like
  • Lost GPS Signals Near Structures
  • Past Battery Like Issues
  • Wireless Foot Pedal Connectivity Problems

Motor Guide Xi5 105 Pounds/72 Inch Review:

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

While the Xi5 is less expensive than my top pick, it has some issues that dropped it below the Terrova. It lost points for having less peak thrust than the Terrova and the poor wireless foot pedal. I’ll discuss more about that issue later in the review.

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. 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. It is a pivot operation of heel-toe for left-right steering control. As well, it has an 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.

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 chart plotters. 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 is very basic. On the water I can use it anywhere on the boat and it functions well.

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.

What’s Pinpoint GPS?

As I mentioned, this model comes with Pinpoint GPS. It’s MotorGuides 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 of a fixed coordinate.
  • Jog Mode. While in anchor mode, press any direction on the controller to jog/move boat in 5 feet increments.
  • Auto Pilot/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 each. It allows you to engage anchor during recording without interrupting the route recording.

Downsides Of Xi5 Series Bow Mount Freshwater Trolling Motors?

First, be aware that older pre-2017 models of the Xi5 are prone to battery drain issues via the foot control. Although, in late 2017 a major software update happened to help rectify this. Unfortunately while I was using the foot control I had other issues. Such as it not pairing at first and then disconnecting while running the motor near a bridge. Boaters coming from cable steer motors will find the transition hard with this pedal.

Another nuisance I experienced with the freshwater model was intermittent GPS signal loss. This is particularly apparent as you pass under trees or bridges. While annoying, if you pay attention to overhead obstacles the motor works great. I just wish MotorGuide would find a fix for the foot pedal, it’s the big let down of this trolling motor.

Verdict:

Own a large v-hull, center console or boat over 24 feet? 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 one caveat, the bad wireless foot pedal.

Perfect For Solo Fishing In Bass Boats Over 23 Feet

Minn Kota Ulterra 112 lbs/ 72
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 112
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 72
  • Motor Voltage: 36V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 52 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: 73.5 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
  • Automatic Stow/Deploy & Trim
  • Powerful Thrust Rating
  • Includes Humminbird MEGA Down Imaging
  • Pedal Feels Like A Cable Steer
  • Simple Chartplotter Integration
What We Do Not Like
  • Auto Stow/Deploy Can Be Problematic
  • Needs Constant Power Maintenance
  • Heaviest 36V Motor
  • Noisy Above Water

Minn Kota Ulterra 112 Pounds/ 72 Inch Review

What’s the difference between the Minn Kota Terrova and Ulterra? To put is simply, the Ulterra is a Terrova 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.

The model of Ulterra for this review is the 36-volt, 112 lbs thrust motor with a 72″ shaft. Which is capable of controlling vessels that weigh up to 5,500 pounds. You also get the upgraded i-Pilot Link remote that pairs to Hummingbird electronics.

For sonar, it features a built-in transducer with Hummingbird MEGA Down Imaging. This provides crystal-clear coverage down to 125 feet 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.

On The Water

The motor I’m using is on my friend Steven’s Nitro ZV21 Pro boat. 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 this is the heaviest 36-volt motor I tested. Coming in a 73.5 pounds it is 8 pounds heavier than the Terrova and 23 pounds heavier than the xi5. 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 perform great while being durable 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 angler will love that the Ulterra is a hybrid. So you get the classic feel of heel-toe steering combined with wireless steering too. The motor steers fast but there is a bit of noise above water from the head unit.

Owner Tips

Since I could only test the motor for a day I asked my friend Steven about the installation. He found installation to be straight forward as this motor replaced an older 2015 Terrova model. He also had a couple insider tips. One is to add a quick-release mount bracket in case you ever plan to use the motor in saltwater. Two, is to add a ram shock mount to reduce vibrations to the motor in rough waters.

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 long.
    Autopilot With CoPilot. Set a way points and the system navigate to it without drifting off course. CoPliot 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, it allows Humminbird to pair with it for total onscreen control. Plus it expands features to offer circle mode, offset mode for iTrack, and more.

Any Problems With the Ulterra Trolling Motor?

The typical problem that boater complains about is with the “stow/deploy” system. 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.

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:

If you own a larger bass boat, center console or a flats boat over 23 feet in length, get this trolling motor. It’s amazing if you fish alone and want the convenience of auto stow and deploy. Technology rich bow mount freshwater trolling motors make angling a breeze. But keep in mind it needs special care compared to other trolling motors.

Top New Choice For Bass Boats Over 22 Feet

top marks label in blue with yellow check mark
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
  • Massive Thrust Ratings
  • Hybrid Selectable 24 or 36V Power
  • Pairs Perfect With Lowrance Electronics
  • Silent, High Efficient Brushless Motor
  • 360 Degree Beakaway Two Piece Shaft
  • All Steering Occurs Under Waterline
  • Can Use Lead Acid, AGM or Lithium Batteries
What We Do Not Like
  • Super High Price
  • Fly-By-Wire Steering Learning Curve
  • Only One Shaft Length
  • Flimsy Propeller

Lowrance Ghost Review

Brand new for 2020 this is my runner-up pick for best bow mount freshwater trolling motors. It was one of ICAST 2019’s most anticipated products from Lowrance, it’s the Ghost. If you use their chartplotters you will love this trolling motor. The Ghost pairs with both HDS12 or HDS Live units from Lowrance. I was lucky enough that before the 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, too bad it only comes in a 47 inch shaft length.

Initial Impressions:

This motor is already installed, so I can’t speak to the installation process. I’m told it was a breeze as the entire unit only weighs 65 pounds. 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 brush-less 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 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 us 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 is flippable! 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.

Dual 24/36V Trolling Motor For Carolina Skiffs Up To 23 Feet

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
  • ICAST 2019 Winner
  • Hybrid Selectable 24 or 36V Power System
  • Aluminum Mount You Can Stand On
  • Powerful, Efficient, Quiet Brushless Motor
  • Ultra High-Definition Down & Side View Sonar
  • Point-And-Go Gesture Steering
  • Simple Garmin Chartplotter Integration
What We Do Not Like
  • Waypoint & Go-To Overcorrects
  • Super Expensive
  • Customer Complaints of Poor Service

Garmin Force 57 Review

The Garmin Force won “best boating accessory” at ICast 2019, so why didn’t it top the Lowrance Ghost in my reviews? The answer is, that in the available time I had with each motor the Force had more “hiccups.” As a seasoned owner of other Garmin products this isn’t a big surprise to me though.

Garmin is the type of brand to go-big-or go-home and with the Force they definitely went big on innovation. 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.

But some things need time to perfect, like how the “way-point” feature wouldn’t anchor as I got to a destination. I’m told that there has since been an update to address this but I tested it before such an update. It’s possible with this fix it would surpass the Ghost, but I can’t confirm it myself. Anyways, on to my thoughts of 2020 Garmin force bow mount freshwater trolling motors.

First Look

At the bottom it has proprietary 2 blade propeller that you can change out to an aftermarket one. On the bottom of the lower motor unit is a replaceable skeg. I appreciate I can make fixes instead of sending it to a shop for minor repairs. 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)

The shaft is apparently fiberglass but has a lifetime guarantee. This specific model has a 57 inch shaft, the other model Garmin provides is a 50-inch shaft.

Components Above The Water Surface

Most owners buy the Fortrex or Ultrex for their tank-like form, which they are, but so is the Force it’s a beast. Expect it take up quite a bit of the bow space on your boat. For all the space it takes, you 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.

While it doesn’t match the Ghost for power, it’s still respectable. 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. On the water the motor is whisper quiet, in fact I only hear the light wave ripples when it’s on.

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.

Garmin Point-And-Go Gesture Steering

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

Although it comes paired to the foot pedal from factory, it needs user calibration with the motor. On the water trying to calibrate it is finicky. After attempting this several times, its performance wasn’t as expected. I have since learned you need calm windless conditions for proper calibration.

The foot pedal is wireless standard but you can hard-wire it in if you prefer. Be sure to use the sensitivity set screw on the underside to help mimic cable steering. 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.

Downsides Of The Garmin Force Trolling Motor?

Where it was problematic was the point at which the boat arrived at a waypoint. As the boat was nearing the way point the motor turns the propeller off and the boat drifts across the spot. The anchor lock never activated, so I tried with another waypoint and the same thing happened. To remedy it I activate anchor lock when the prop shuts of and use jog to shift to the waypoint. Frankly this isn’t the level of performance I expect at this high price point.

Verdict:

In total, the Garmin Force trolling motor holds true to its name. It is as powerful, efficient and quiet as you’d expect. The chartplotter integration is spectacular, if you enjoy “Livescope” you’ll love the Force. But performance wise it needs a micro-processor update. Once Garmin fixes the kinks, this bow mount trolling motor could be unbeatable.

Best Budget Friendly Pick For Bass Boats Under 23 Feet

green budget friendly label
Minn Kota Ultrex (45) 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
  • Industry Standard For Bass Fishing Trolling Motors
  • Tank Tough Scissor Lift Mount
  • Hybrid Cable Steer & Electric Steer Motor
  • Powerful 80 Lbs of Peak Thrust
  • Energy Efficient Variable Speed Motor
  • i-Pilot Spot Lock With Jog Is Amazing
What We Do Not Like
  • Uptick In Costumer Complaints
  • Cable Snap Issues
  • Faulty Power Button Problems

Minn Kota Ultrex 80 Pound/ 45 Inch Review

If you are new to angling you can be forgiven for not knowing about the Minn Kota® Ultrex. For most 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 with steering lock with the Ultrex’s 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 GPS capabilities, this is the best value for money.

Minn Kota Fortrex owners know how their legs can get tired throughout a day 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. It takes time to get used to it compared to traditional cable steering. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t perfect it right away.

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.

Ultrex bow mounted freshwater trolling motors are ideal for boats weighing up to 4,000 lbs. In this package it has 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 button controls are 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.

i-Pilot GPS Remote & Universal Sonar 2

Included with this trolling motor is the 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. Redesigned with a larger LCD screen the remote controls steering and speed. Plus the following GPS system features:

  • Spot-Lock With Jog. This is the anchor mode. Upgraded in 2017, if the boat shifts more than 5 feet 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 take you back there automatically.
  • iTrack Record/Playback Route. Trace a route, save it, and then follow it again. Storing up to 16 iTracks, each up to 2 miles in length.
  • Autopilot with CoPilot. Choose a heading 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. This controls 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 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 2020 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 power button on some is faulty.

The next issue is more of a personal experience heads up than a problem. 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. At least this is something I have experienced.

Verdict:

Pick the Minn Kota Ultrex if you are a serious bass angler with a boat under 23 feet. 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 motors.

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 2020-08-15

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