General Considerations To Select A Trolling Motor
Freshwater Versus Saltwater
If you select a trolling motor that is freshwater, only use it in this type of water. Materials used for freshwater motors is basic due to it not needing protection from salt. Below are the three difference that make saltwater models different.
1. Specialized Material & Parts
Saltwater motors run in harsh areas, needing damage-proof shafts and motor heads. These motors use specialized marine-grade materials like corrosion-proof stainless steel, aluminum, or zinc. Which, is then covered in a protective powder-coating with enhanced seals near electronics. Using exhaustive research and design allow the motors to withstand harmful salinity. In turn ensuring a longer life span for your motor.
2. A Sacrificial Anode
The salinity of brackish estuary waters and oceans is very corrosive to metals. To protect crucial metals inside the motor, saltwater models use a sacrificial anode. Anytime two different metals that touch and are underwater, they create a battery. As current flows a special type of corrosion takes place, called galvanic corrosion. Leaving this area unchecked will destroy both metals.
To counteract this corrosion you add a third metal (sacrificial anode) usually zinc. Salt is a great conductor of electric current, which is why these anodes are vital. A sacrificial anode provides optimal durability for your motor for years to come.
Since saltwater models, use higher marine-grade materials you need to expect higher prices. Although I always recommend it’s better to pay a high cost once that twice.
If you select a trolling motor that is freshwater, only use it in this type of water.
Don’t Skimp On Power & Charging
The biggest disservice I see from some of my fellow boaters is using cheap, improper power. By this I mean buying the wrong batteries and charging with cheap chargers. Many boaters think that a car battery is fine as a power source, but they are wrong. Car batteries are sometimes called cranking batteries, meant for short bursts of power.
For trolling motors, it’s best to power with high-quality deep-cycle marine batteries. This is due to the design of deep-cycle batteries, which allow for a steady, slow release of power over time. As a result, this type won’t damage your new trolling motor.
When you shop for batteries, buy the best you can afford with the highest ampere-hours (Ah). Using a battery that’s a bit over-sized is always better than an under-sized one.
This important battery rating can help you estimate how long a battery will last on you motor. Do this by matching the Ah rating on the battery(s) to your motors amp draw. Most trolling motors list their amp draw as the amount of current the motor uses as it operates at max speed.
Next, you need to match your high-quality battery(s) with a high-quality charger. Choosing an onboard charger means no more neglect for your trolling motor batteries. I always recommend getting a “smart” charger, because it won’t overcharge the batteries. Most brands provide one, two, three and four bank models for 12, 24 and 36 volt systems.
Eliminate Sonar Interference
This has been a thorn in the side of boater who use fish finders for a long time. It’s the interference between the trolling motor and these types of electronics. Interference is an electromagnetic impulse from a running trolling motor to the sonar. Resulting in the creation of weird visual display issues on the sonar screen. Including the following:
- Random pixels or target images on the display.
- The depth sounder function turns off.
- Erratic depth readings or certain losses of depth readings.
- Visual noise waves on the display.
- Screens freezing or blank screen.
To solve this nuisance, first try installing the sonar unit to the cranking battery. Thus bypassing and separating the sonar wiring from the trolling motor wiring. It’s ideal to run each set along each side of the vessel.
A second option is to instead turn the sonar sensitivity down. Most sonar units have ranges of 0-100%, turn it down to 75%. If this doesn’t fix it try a snap-on RF Choke. This is s device common to computer to reduce “RF interference.” To use it, you wrap a power cable around the choke 5 times and place it close to the LCD screen. The device acts as an electromagnetic filter.
Another culprit of interference is poor grounding of the trolling motor. Not completing proper ground can allow electrolysis (leaking electrical current) to happen. This is a major source of interference and poor motor performance. Ground the trolling motor to the negative side of the cranking battery. I prefer to run an 18-gauge wire with a two amp in-line fuse to complete proper grounding.
Select A Trolling Motor With Advanced Features
Most anglers love innovative feature to help make their fishing free of frustrations. These days quality trolling motors feature settings such as anchor lock, autopilot and route record capabilities. If you want Bluetooth connectivity, look for motor with a “heading sensor” which allows you to control it with your phone.
What about matching your sonar to a trolling motor? MotorGuide pairs with Lowrance and Simrad electronics. Minn Kota trolling motors have perfect compatibility with Hummingbird imaging sonar units.
With every added bit of technology, expect the cost of the trolling motor to increase.