Best Bow Mount Saltwater Trolling Motors (2021 Updated Guide)

white and black colored trolling motor on the bow of a boat in water

You are here because you have a boat with available space on your bow to mount a trolling motor. The boat is for saltwater use and you want ultimate control to reach the best spots for angling or other uses. But trying to pick the best bow mount saltwater trolling motors can be overwhelming. Due to the amount of models, sizes, thrust ratings plus high-tech features. But don’t worry I’ve got you covered, as I rated and review 3 top trolling motors for saltwater use.

To make your reading easy, I wrote this article in three sections. First, is a quick explanation about what to look for to pick the right motor. Second is a detailed comparison table of all the models covered. Then third, are single detailed reviews of each trolling motor. If you’d rather skip to a specific review, do so via the table of contents. Or read the entire article to get a complete idea about which saltwater trolling motor is best for you.

We updated this article in July 2021, half of the models that were in the article for this year are now sold out. So, this is our late season refresh for what is still available. We also did a re-review of each trolling motor. Read on to discover which of these three bow mount saltwater trolling motors are going to be the best fit for your vessel in 2021. 

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Table of Contents

How-To Pick Bow Mount Saltwater Trolling Motors

Beyond bow mounted and choosing either hand steer or electric steer you have some choices to help pick a trolling motor for saltwater. Below are 4 factors to decide which bow mount trolling motor will match your boat.

  • Thrust – Measured in pounds of thrust. This is the power the motor uses to propel a boat through the water. The amount needed depends on the weight and length of your boat. 
  • Shaft Length – Measured from the top of the bow to the waterline plus 18 inches (45.72 cm) for rough waters.
  • Battery Power – Either 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.
  • Corrosion Resistant – Look for materials that are marine-grade, rust-proof, like stainless steel, aluminum, or zinc made to high standards.

 

Comparison Chart

Preview
Editor's Choice
MotorGuide 941700110 Xi5 Wireless Saltwater Bow Mount Trolling Motor — 48-inch Shaft, 80-Pound Peak Thrust — GPS
Minn Kota 1363762 Riptide Terrova Saltwater Electric-Steer Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with Digital Maximizer & Copilot, 80 lbs Thrust, 54" Shaft
Budget Friendly
AQUOS HASWING White 12V55LBS 54inch Bow Mount Trolling Motor with Remote Control, Wired Foot Control, Quick Release Bracket for Inflatable Boat Bass Boat Aluminum Boat Fishing Freshwater/Saltwater
Product Name
MotorGuide Xi5 (48) SW
Minn Kota Riptide Terrova 80lbs/54″
Haswing Cayman B
Verdict
Best Bow Mount For Fish & Ski Boats (17-21ft)
Best Manual Deployed Motor For Flats Boats (sub-19 ft)
Basic Affordable Motor For Jon Boats Under 17 Feet
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
80
80
55
Shaft Length (Inches)
48
54
48
Motor Voltage
24 V
24 V
24 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
56 A
56 A
55 A
Shaft Material
Composite
Composite
Stainless Steel
Propeller Type
3 Blade Machete III Glass-Filled Prop
Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
3 Blade Prop / 9 Inch Diameter
Steering Control Type(s)
Wireless Handheld Remote
CoPilot Remote
Wireless Handheld Remote & Wired Foot Control
Weight (Pounds)
51.5
55
34
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
63 x 18 x 11
65.7 x 17.5 x 6
57.9 x 16 x 12.2
Battery Cable Lengths
60 Inches
60 Inches
59
Pivot & Fold
GPS Included
Warranty (Years)
2
2
2 Years (Motor) 3 Months (Remote)
Editor's Choice
Preview
MotorGuide 941700110 Xi5 Wireless Saltwater Bow Mount Trolling Motor — 48-inch Shaft, 80-Pound Peak Thrust — GPS
Product Name
MotorGuide Xi5 (48) SW
Verdict
Best Bow Mount For Fish & Ski Boats (17-21ft)
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
80
Shaft Length (Inches)
48
Motor Voltage
24 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
56 A
Shaft Material
Composite
Propeller Type
3 Blade Machete III Glass-Filled Prop
Steering Control Type(s)
Wireless Handheld Remote
Weight (Pounds)
51.5
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
63 x 18 x 11
Battery Cable Lengths
60 Inches
Pivot & Fold
GPS Included
Warranty (Years)
2
Preview
Minn Kota 1363762 Riptide Terrova Saltwater Electric-Steer Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with Digital Maximizer & Copilot, 80 lbs Thrust, 54" Shaft
Product Name
Minn Kota Riptide Terrova 80lbs/54″
Verdict
Best Manual Deployed Motor For Flats Boats (sub-19 ft)
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
80
Shaft Length (Inches)
54
Motor Voltage
24 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
56 A
Shaft Material
Composite
Propeller Type
Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
Steering Control Type(s)
CoPilot Remote
Weight (Pounds)
55
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
65.7 x 17.5 x 6
Battery Cable Lengths
60 Inches
Pivot & Fold
GPS Included
Warranty (Years)
2
Budget Friendly
Preview
AQUOS HASWING White 12V55LBS 54inch Bow Mount Trolling Motor with Remote Control, Wired Foot Control, Quick Release Bracket for Inflatable Boat Bass Boat Aluminum Boat Fishing Freshwater/Saltwater
Product Name
Haswing Cayman B
Verdict
Basic Affordable Motor For Jon Boats Under 17 Feet
Peak Thrust (Pounds)
55
Shaft Length (Inches)
48
Motor Voltage
24 V
Maximum Amperage Draw
55 A
Shaft Material
Stainless Steel
Propeller Type
3 Blade Prop / 9 Inch Diameter
Steering Control Type(s)
Wireless Handheld Remote & Wired Foot Control
Weight (Pounds)
34
Dimensions L x W x H (Inches)
57.9 x 16 x 12.2
Battery Cable Lengths
59
Pivot & Fold
GPS Included
Warranty (Years)
2 Years (Motor) 3 Months (Remote)

The Best Bow Mount For Fish & Ski Boats (17-21ft)

purple and gold colored label showing trophy and editor's choice text
MotorGuide Xi5 80 Pounds/48 Inch
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 80
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 48
  • Motor Voltage: 24V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 56 Amps
  • Propeller Type: 3 Blade Machete III Glass-Filled Prop
  • Steering Control Type(s): Wireless Handheld Remote
  • GPS: Pinpoint GPS Featuring Anchoring, Jog, Heading Lock and Cruise Control
  • Special Features: Built-In 83/200 kHz 2d Sonar Compatible For Lowrance, Simrad and Mercury Vessel ViewWeight: 50 lbs
  • Package Includes: Trolling Motor, Wireless Remote, Power leads, Mounting Hardware, Owners Manual
  • Warranty: 2 Years
Pro's & Con's

MotorGuide Xi5 80 lbs/48″ Review:

My pick for the best bow mount saltwater trolling motors for the end of the 2021 season is the MotorGuide Xi5 48/80 SW. This is the shortest shaft model at 48 inches but comes with a mid-range peak thrust of 80 pounds. Which is a perfect size for most “fish & ski” boats from 17 to 21 feet (6.4 m) in length. An 80 pound thrust trolling motor is capable of controlling boats weighing up to 4,000 pounds (1.81 ton).

For this review I tested this motor on my father in-laws’ Lowe 22 Bay. The motor runs off a pair of Odyssey 34M trolling motor batteries. This specific model is 24 Volts and needs a 60 amp circuit breaker. It has a durable composite shaft and 3 blade propeller that thrashes through the weeds.

While the Xi5 (48) has 8 different mounting positions, for this boat he added a quick release mount. It’s much more convenient to remove the trolling motor for hauling your boat to and from home.

Like it’s big brother, this model has Pinpoint GPS and a handheld remote. MotorGuides’ GPS is a perfect match with Lowrance and Simrad electronics. Plus for saltwater models you can buy an optional wireless foot pedal controller. The tested model was with a remote only.

The PinPoint GPS delivers anchor mode, route recording and autopilot/cruise control. Having precision wireless control while bay fishing is crucial for a successful day.

Out On The Water

Deploying the motor is a breeze by depressing the foot pedal and hand pivoting it into the water. For depth control it uses a simple collar on the shaft you can preset. Next you wait for the LED display lights on the to illuminate showing the motor is ready for use.

My first impression of using the hand-held remote is the speed of operation. Remote buttons emits chimes, but each are a bit different, to help the user remember each mode. The trolling motor responds ultra-fast to input from the control. In fact the motor will turn 360 degrees in about 4 seconds. It’s also whisper quiet and smooth, due to the friction reducing ball bearings. This is vital for those of us who need quiet for finesse fishing techniques.

After 3 hours out on the water the battery level light showed no change! This is due to the digital, variable speed control. Which increases the running time and delivers spectacular low-speed trolling capability. I love this for presenting lures or flies.

Next, let’s discuss the anchor mode; it keeps the boat in absolute place against wind and tides. I had no significant movement while using this mode.

Standard Pinpoint GPS Features

Below are the many helpful features of the Pinpoint GPS System:

  • Anchor Mode. Relying on satellites, two digital compasses, and a special algorithm for pinpoint anchoring. Keeps the boat in place against winds, currents and tides. Accurate within 5 feet (1.52 m) of your fixed coordinate.
  • Jog Mode. Use this in conjunction with anchor mode. Press any direction on the controller to tell the motor to jog/move boat in 5 feet increments in any direction.
  • Cruise Control. Maintains a preset trolling motor speed in either the “heading lock” or “route record” modes. Ensuring to compensate for any winds, tides or currents that can alter your speed.
  • Heading Lock. Allows a user to select a desired compass heading. The GPS sets course and moves the boat in a straight line to the way point. Again compensating for wind, tide or currents that can push a boat off course.
  • Route Record. Enables you to record and playback up to 8 routes ranging up to 4 miles (6.44 km) each. Allows for stop-and-go like engaging anchor mode during recording.

Own Lowrance Or Simrad Electronics?

If you do, the MotorGuide has the best compatibility with these popular electronics. An added bonus for this model is the addition of a built-in sonar transducer. The Xi5 SW uses Universal Sonar 2 (US2) which is a dual beam sonar technology (83 and 200 kHz). As a result, you get super accurate views of activity beneath the surface.

Any Problems With This Trolling Motor?

Like the bigger version of this motor, this models does lose GPS signals under trees. Some anglers hate that the remote doesn’t have visual screen, I don’t mind it though. I find the battery indicator lights that change color (green – yellow- red) hard to read in direct sunlight. I would prefer them you use separate lights for each but this is a personal gripe.

Verdict:

If you own a small to medium-sized fish and ski boat and want a powerful silent trolling motor buy this one. You get accurate wireless control inside a corrosion resistant housing. It has ultra-fast steering and will run at 50% for over 4 hours. Plus it’s easy to deploy and stow, what more can you ask for?

Basic & Reliable Motor For Bass Boats Up To 19 Feet

Minn Kota Riptide Terrova 80 pounds/54 Inch
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 80
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 54
  • Motor Voltage: 24V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 56 Amps
  • Propeller Type: Weedless Wedge™ 2 Blade Prop
  • Steering Control Type(s): CoPilot Handheld Remote
  • GPS: Not Included (Seperate Upgrade)
  • Special Features: Lift-Assist Mechanism, Weedless Wedge 2 Prop, Digital Maximizer, Advanced Corrosion Protection, Breakaway Mount For Added Protection, Push To Test Battery Meter
  • Weight: 50 lbs
  • Package Includes: Trolling Motor, Lanyard, CoPilot Handheld Remote, & Mounting Hardware
  • Warranty: 2 Years
Pro's & Con's

Minn Kota Riptide Terrova 80 lbs/54″ Review:

If you love the Minn Kota brand but don’t want or need auto stow/deploy this is the bow mount trolling motor for you. Particularly for owners of bass boats less than 19 feet (5.79 m) in length and under 3500 pounds (1.59 ton). This is the Minn Kota Riptide Terrova electric steering saltwater trolling motor.
 
For this review, I am using the 54″ model with 80 pounds of thrust. Another point to think about is if you plan for any offshore boating. If you do, you may want to look at the Terrova 112 pound thrust model with a 72-inch shaft. As of today though, the bigger Terrova is all sold out.
 

Initial Impressions

 
Powered via 24 volt battery system, it has more than enough “juice” for all day fishing. As well the revered 2 blade Weedless Wedge propeller make mince meat of underwater weeds. While it lacks the Ulterras’ auto stow and deploy it does the “Lift/Assist” mechanism. This is a pedal system that holds the weight of the motor for single hand lift or lowering. Another feature that’s not included, is a foot pedal for steering control. If this is a problem, buy the extra Minn Kota’s Bluetooth foot pedal.
 
Powering the motor is simple via a press of a button on the unit. I appreciate the bonus, “push-to-test” battery meter button. It’s always nice to get an instant “stage of charge” reading.
 
To help provide the most run time possible Minn Kota provides the “Digital Maximizer™.” Which is a variable speed motor to deliver an exact amount of power to conserve the batteries. Moreover, I was able to use it at 20% power for over 6 hours of use.
 
Installation wise the motor mounts either right on the boat and takes up 13.94 inches length by 8.52 inches in width. Although for ease of long term storage, it’s better to buy a separate quick-release mount.
 
I appreciate the attention to corrosion resistance. Due to the motor unit sing grit-blasted aluminum with a powder coated finish. The shaft is composite so its durable, but even if you do damage it, Minn Kota provides a lifetime guarantee. In total, it looks as well as feels powerful and modern.
 

Steering System

 
Pay special attention, this specific model comes with the original CoPilot remote. Which has all the basic controls for precision steering and speed control of your boat. If you use Humminbird electronics I recommend upgrading to the i-Pilot® Link™. The Link system is what enables you to match your fish finder to the trolling motor.
 

Downsides To The Riptide Terrova 80 Trolling Motor?

 
A new issue with the Terrova is the with Lift Assist system for some boaters. This applies to situations in conditions of 10 plus knots, facing into the wind and swell. In this instance the motor and shaft may not have the weight to keep the shaft locked in place. This results in the motor shaft bobbing up and down which cuts off the spot-lock feature. As of writing this article, a solution from Minn Kota isn’t available.
 
The other issue I noticed its during actual calibration of the CoPilot remote. Ensure that if you try this on the water to do so in a sheltered area with no wind. If you don’t, expect issues.
 

Verdict:

 
Anglers who own a medium-sized, around 19 foot bass boats will love this easy to use trolling motor. Its less expensive than the Ulterra model and less reliant on technology. As result, you get a durable trolling motor that is less likely to go haywire out on the water.

Affordable Pick For Jon Boats Under 17 Feet

green and white colored budget friendly label
Haswing Cayman B
  • Peak Thrust (Pounds): 55
  • Shaft Length (Inches): 48
  • Motor Voltage: 12V
  • Maximum Amperage Draw: 55 Amps
  • Propeller Type: 3 Blade Prop / 9 Inch Diameter
  • Steering Control Type(s): Wireless Handheld Remote & Wired Foot Control
  • Special Features: Quick Release Bracket, LED Battery Meter, Stow/Deploy Pedal, Lifting HandleWeight: 34 lbs
  • Package Includes: Trolling Motor, Wireless Remote, Wired Foot Control, Quick Release Mount, Mounting Hardware
  • Warranty: 2 Years (Motor) 3 Months (Remote)
Pro's & Con's

Haswing White Cayman B Trolling Motor Review:

Most small craft/Jon boat owners I know love a good bargain but adding a trolling motor is expensive. One solution in 2021, is to pick cheap bow mount saltwater trolling motors from Haswing. This particular model is an electric steer 48 inch shaft, 55 pounds of thrust, 12 volt model. I will admit, this trolling motor is a leap of faith as it’s from a pretty unknown brand.

If you want to take a gamble on a sub $700 trolling motor, the Haswing Cayman is a good choice. For this review I installed it onto a friend of mines 16’ Alumacraft with a custom bracket to make install easy. We did install the quick-release bracket on top of the custom bracket and then the motor.

This is a super value pick especially since you can control it with either a hand-held remote or foot pedal. Which is great for anglers who like to drift and drag some baits in calm waters. Speaking of calm waters, this motor isn’t great for rough open waters.

Build and Features

Don’t expect all the features you get with a Minn Kota or MotorGuide, to be blunt this motor is for basic trolling use only. It doesn’t have GPS, anchor or jog mode. The remote controls direction and the speed of a variable motor. For battery monitoring it does have simple LED indicator lights.

Material for the Haswing Cayman are as follows:

  • 48 inch cast aluminum alloy shaft with a hand operated depth collar. Not as great as high-end motors but fine for small Jon boats.
  • Fiberglass or plastic with rust- resistant coating to encapsulate the motor housing.
  • Plastic stow/deploy foot pedal to pivot the motor in and out of the water.
  • Black ergonomic lifting handle to help you lift motor off of quick-release mounting bracket.
  • A sacrificial anode in the lower motor for interior metal component protection.
  • Shock-resistant plastic 3 blade propeller.
  • Nylon quick-release mounting bracket with stainless steel nuts and bolts.
  • Plastic Remote control and foot control pedal with 14.7 feet (4.48 m) of power cable.

First Use Of the Cayman B:

Deploying the motor is simple and powering up is quiet. I first tried using the hand-held remote, each speed is responsive. In total there are ten speed setting that ramp up in a smooth motion but the remote beeps each time. I wish I could turn it off, but for the price I might get used to it.

Next I tried the foot control, holy smokes this thing has a huge foot print. If your boat has limited deck space, this is a hindrance. In use, the foot control isn’t as quick to respond and feels cheap. I would worry it would cease to work if I left it uncovered on the boat.

Disadvantages of the Haswing Cayman B?

The first problem is if you expect this to be a competitor to MotorGuide or Minn Kota, it’s not. This is a basic remote control motor of simple trolling. It doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles you expect in the GPS trolling motors. The motor isn’t precise enough for bass fishing around docks or bank fishing.

In second is the internal electronics will disconnect from the remote. This means you have to buy the version of the motor with the foot pedal to have a connected control.

Third is material use, while Haswing claims durability, boaters complain of bent shafts and discoloration of the unit. I didn’t experience this but it does bring into question the long term life expectancy of these motor.

The fourth issue is the lack of customer service, this is the big problem with buying from unknown brands. If things go wrong or you need to replace a specific part, your risk out weighs your reward. Something to think about.

Verdict:

Buy the Haswing Cayman B if you have a small Jon boat and don’t want or care about GPS. For simple trolling in calm waters at a decent price this is a capable and quiet trolling motor. Bear in mind though, buying from an unknown brand is risky.

Finishing Up: Bow Mount Saltwater Trolling Motors

All things considered, you can now make an informed choice for the which bow mount saltwater trolling motors are best for you. Ensure you consider what size motor the boat manufacturer recommends. Next, focus on thrust, shaft length, battery power and high-quality materials. Bear in mind, manufacturers base their thrust and shaft length charts on ideal conditions. If you are using it offshore in high winds, currents and tides its best to buy the largest motor your wallet can afford.

Whichever model you choose, thanks for letting Outdoors Informed help with your research. We enjoy doing it, so you can spend more time trolling on the water.

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Last update on 2021-09-26

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