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Bow-mounted trolling motors have become pretty much essential equipment on many boats. They can move a large boat almost silently, and GPS anchor (spot lock) so that you can concentrate on fishing.

There are literally tens of different models available, from established manufacturers such as Minn Kota and MotorGuide, but also from relative newcomers: Lowrance, Garmin and Haswing.

In this article, we go through all bow-mount motors currently available, as well as tips on how to buy and install one on your boat.

Let’s get started.

Best Bow Mount Trolling Motors Compared

Best Overall

Garmin Force

  • A powerful combination with a Garmin fish finder
  • Brushless motor runs on 24 and 36 volts
Best for Freshwater

Minn Kota Ultrex

  • Hybrid cable & electric steer
  • Built-in MEGA Imaging
Best for Saltwater

Minn Kota Riptide Ulterra

  • Auto stow, deploy, and power trim
  • Saltwater-capable
Best Transducers

Lowrance Ghost

  • Seamless integration with Lowrance fish finders
  • Top quality transducers
Best Hybrid-Steer

MotorGuide Tour Pro

  • Hybrid cable/electric steer
  • Pinpoint GPS
Best i-Pilot GPS

Minn Kota Terrova

  • i-Pilot remote with Spot-Lock
  • Humminbird fish finder integration
Best Pinpoint GPS

MotorGuide Xi5 Wireless

  • Full compatibility with Lowrance fish finders
  • Very quiet
Best Value

Minn Kota PowerDrive

  • The least expensive Minn Kota with i-Pilot GPS
  • Up to 70 pounds of thrust at 24v
Best Cable-Steer

Minn Kota Fortrex

  • Responsive and reliable cable-steer
  • Strong and rugged with a breakaway mount protecting it
Best Budget GPS

Haswing Cayman GPS

  • The most budget-friendly GPS anchor
  • Wireless remote control and smartphone app
Best Hand-Steer

Minn Kota Edge

  • Hand-steer/tiller for those who prefer it
  • Budget-friendly
Best Budget Remote

Haswing White

  • Wireless remote control (no GPS)
  • Foot pedal and quick-release bracket

Bow Mount Trolling Motor Reviews




Garmin Force

BEST OVERALL BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 120 lb (36v)   Shaft length: 50″, 57″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater & Saltwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • A powerful combination with a Garmin GPS fish finder
  • Brushless motor runs on 24 and 36 volts
  • Fish finder connects wirelessly

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Electric-steer only
  • Few shaft choices

The Garmin Force is our top pick for the best bow-mounted trolling motor in 2022.

It has a futuristic design and is praised for its quick and accurate GPS anchor mode.

It uses a brushless motor, which helps it to reduce noise, including electromagnetic noise that can interfere with your fish finder readings.

You can run the Force on either a two (24v) or a three-battery bank (36v) for more available thrust.

Although Garmin rates its trolling motor at 100 peak thrust, its thrust ratings are very conservative.

In real life, the Force is just as powerful or even exceeds the performance of some of the models on this list.

The Garmin Force is designed for saltwater and freshwater use. The motor itself is made of stainless steel and aluminum.

The only downside: it is expensive.




Minn Kota Ultrex

BEST BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR FOR FRESHWATER

SPECIFICATIONS

Thrust: 80 lb (24v), 112 lb (36v)   Shaft length: 45″, 52″   Steering: Cable/Electric   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • Hybrid cable & electric steer
  • i-Pilot GPS
  • MEGA Imaging transducers

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Few shaft choices
  • Can’t be used in saltwater

Although at #2 on our list, the Minn Kota Ultrex is a great bow mount trolling motor.

The Ultrex also has a superb hybrid steering system, combining cable and electric steering.

You get the responsiveness and precision of cable control plus the electric power steering with a remote—the best of both worlds.

Ultrex comes with i-Pilot GPS or i-Pilot Link, which lets your motor “talk” to your Humminbird fishfinder.

It also has a sonar/transducer as standard, either Universal Sonar 2 or Mega Down Imaging.




Minn Kota Riptide Ulterra

BEST BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR FOR SALTWATER

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 80 lb (24v), 112 lb (36v)   Shaft length: 45″, 60″, 72″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater & Saltwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • Auto stow, deploy, and power trim
  • Saltwater protection
  • i-Pilot remote with Spot-Lock
  • Humminbird fish finder integration

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Manual stow can be problematic when the motor loses power
  • Electric-steer only

The Minn Kota Ulterra is best known for its auto deploy, stow, and power trim. The auto stow/deploy on the Ulterra is very convenient for saltwater anglers, especially when solo fishing.

It can be steered with a foot pedal or the i-Pilot remote control. Minn Kota’s Spot-Lock (GPS anchor mode) makes staying on your fishing spot easy in most conditions.

The main downside of the Ulterra is that when the motor loses power for some reason, it can’t be stowed automatically. You then need to go through a manual stow procedure. Fortunately, the risk is very minimal.




Lowrance Ghost

BEST SALTWATER TROLLING MOTOR FOR ESTUARY USE

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 97 lb (24v), 120 lb (36v)   Shaft length: 47″, 52″, 60″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater & Saltwater (estuary-only)

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • Brushless motor works on either 24V or 36V
  • Easy integration with Lowrance fish finders
  • High-quality transducers
  • Precise GPS anchoring

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Electric-steer only
  • The longest shaft available (60″) is not long enough for some boats

Lowrance is a U.S. manufacturer of GPS, sonars, and fishing electronics. Their first trolling motor was released in 2020, but it quickly became a hit.

The Ghost combines a powerful brushless motor with Lowrance high-quality sonars and reliable GPS anchoring.

Brushless motors are great for many reasons. They are more efficient, quieter, and cause less interference with your fish finder. Also, you don’t need to worry about replacing worn brushes in the future.

The Ghost works with 24v and 36v battery banks for larger boats. Traditional lead-acid as well as lithium batteries can be used.

Originally the Ghost was released for use only in freshwater. Any type of saltwater would void your 3-year warranty. However, in 2020, Lowrance announced a prop shaft anode that allows use in brackish water without voiding the Ghost trolling motor warranty.

Brackish water, according to Lowrance, means “estuary use”. You still can’t fish in the ocean, it will void your warranty.




MotorGuide Tour Pro

BEST HYBRID-STEER BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR

SPECIFICATIONS

Thrust: 82 lb (24v), 109lb (36v)   Shaft length: 45″   Steering: Cable/Electric   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • Hybrid cable/electric steering combines the advantages of both
  • Well-tested PinPoint GPS
  • Breakaway mount

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Few shaft options

What sets the Tour Pro apart is the hybrid cable/electric steer, similar to the one seen on the Ultrex.

The Tour Pro combines the precision of cable-steer with wireless control supported by the PinPoint GPS.

It also has a 360º breakaway mount, which prevents damage to the motor and shaft in case you hit an underwater object.




Minn Kota Terrova

BEST BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR WITH I-PILOT GPS

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 55 lb (12v), 80 lb (24v), 112 lb (36v)   Shaft length: 54″, 60″, 72″, 87″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • i-Pilot remote with Spot-Lock
  • Humminbird fish finder integration
  • Many shaft lengths and thrust options

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Expensive

The Riptide Terrova is made of high-quality alloys that protect it from the corrosive effects of sea water.

Electric steering and a wireless i-Pilot remote are included as standard features.

i-Pilot GPS is probably the most popular GPS system in fishing. It keeps you on the fish, you can record paths, control speed and steering, cruise control, and more. Its large LCD screen is easy to read and intuitive to use.

The Spot-Lock found on the latest Terrova is much more reliable than the previous models, with far fewer complaints from those who own it.

The 24V Terrova with 80 pounds of thrust is powerful enough for most boats. If your boat is heavy, there is a 36-Volt version that offers 112 pounds of thrust and can handle boats up to 5,500 pounds.




MotorGuide Xi5 Wireless

BEST BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR WITH PINPOINT GPS

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 55 lb (12v), 80 lb (24v), 109 lb (36v)   Shaft length: 48″, 54″, 60″, 72″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • Pinpoint GPS
  • Less expensive than similar models from Minn Kota
  • Low-profile mount

REASONS TO AVOID

  • The foot pedal could be more user-friendly

The Xi5 is one of MotorGuide’s most popular models.

You can steer the Xi5 via the wireless foot pedal or remote. The Pinpoint GPS provides advanced features such as Anchoring, Jog, Heading Lock, and Cruise Control.

If you prefer MotorGuide rather than Minn Kota, this might be the right motor for you.




Minn Kota PowerDrive

BEST VALUE BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 55 lb (12v), 70 lb (24v)   Shaft length: 48″, 54″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • The least expensive bow mount Minn Kota with i-Pilot GPS
  • Suitable for smaller boats that don’t need fish finder integration

REASONS TO AVOID

  • The longest shaft available is 54 inches
  • No built-in transducers

The Minn Kota Riptide PowerDrive is a great mid-range saltwater trolling motor.

It comes either with a wireless control remote or the more advanced i-Pilot GPS.

If you choose the i-Pilot version, you will have all the smart features such as Autopilot and Spot-Lock (GPS anchoring). The Digital Maximizer gives you smooth speed control which helps the motor run efficiently.

The main downside is a limited choice of shafts and relatively low thrust – maximum 70 pounds. This makes it most suitable for smaller boats.

The PowerDrive has a composite shaft with a lifetime warranty from Minn Kota.




Minn Kota Fortrex

BEST CABLE-STEER BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 80 lb (24v), 112 lb (36v)   Shaft length: 45″, 52″   Steering: Cable-steer   Wireless Remote: NO   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • Responsive & reliable cable-steer
  • Strong and rugged
  • Impact protection mount

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No GPS and Spot-Lock

The Minn Kota Fortrex is rugged, simple and reliable with its cable-steer foot pedal.

The Fortrex is for all who don’t need electronic features and a GPS anchor. It is just as powerful, but also less expensive than other motors listed here.

The impact protection mount resets when you hit something to prevent damage to your motor.

Another interesting feature is the counter-tension stabilizer to hold the shaft still.




Haswing Cayman GPS

BEST BUDGET BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR WITH GPS

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 55 lb (12v)   Shaft length: 48″, 54″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Saltwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • The least expensive GPS anchor
  • Wireless remote control
  • Smartphone app

REASONS TO AVOID

  • 55 pounds of thrust makes it suitable for small boats only

The Haswing Cayman GPS is a budget-friendly trolling motor that comes with Spot-Lock.

It gives you wireless control of the trolling motor’s thrust, steering control, cruise control, saving and recording routes etc. All at a very reasonable price if compared to more established brands such as Minn Kota.

The Helmsman App needs more refinement, but it’s great to control your trolling motor through smartphone or tablet. It can be used with Android and iOS devices.

The Cayman GPS can be used in both freshwater and saltwater. It has a variable speed controller to help preserve battery power.

However, it’s a good option for those who need a simple trolling motor with a GPS anchor that won’t break the bank.




Minn Kota Edge

BEST HAND-STEER BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 45 lb, 55 lb (12v), 70 lb (24v)   Shaft length: 36″, 45″, 52″   Steering: Hand-steer or Cable-steer  Wireless Remote: NO   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • Hand-steer or cable-steer version
  • Budget-friendly
  • Variable speeds

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No Spot-Lock or wireless control

The Minn Kota Edge has a very compact mount and is a simple motor overall.

It is suitable mostly for smaller boats, and anglers who don’t need fancy features.

Although we talk about the hand-steer version of Minn Kota Edge, there is also a cable-only version for those who prefer it.




Haswing White

BEST VALUE BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR WITH REMOTE

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 55 lb (12v)   Shaft length: 54″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater & Saltwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

REASONS TO BUY

  • Wireless remote control
  • A simple foot pedal adds control options
  • Quick-release bracket included

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No GPS Anchor
  • Only 55 pounds of thrust limits its use to smaller boats

All Haswing White models have a 12-volt DC motor delivering 55 pounds of thrust.

This Haswing comes with a wireless handheld remote and wired foot control.

The remote control is fantastic, as you can do it from anywhere. It can be very useful when you launch or retrieve the boat on your own.

Since it’s just 55 lb, it’s suitable for boats up to 2700 pounds, roughly 18 feet in length.

Why Choose a Bow Mount Trolling Motor?

Sometimes there is no other practical choice, you have no additional available space on your boat, and the bow is where you mount it. For example, if your boat is narrow and there is not enough room next to your outboard for safe and convenient use.

Bow mount trolling motors are especially useful if you fish on the fore deck of your boat.

Bow-mounted motors make precise steering easier than transom motors. That is especially true in windy conditions when the bow of your boat tends to get blown away.

They also often come with more sophisticated features and controls, such as GPS or wireless steering.

The drawback is that they are a bit more difficult to install than transom motors, as they require a horizontal surface at the front of your boat to be fixed.

They also tend to be relatively expensive.

Advantages of Bow Mount Trolling Motors

Plenty of Thrust Even For Heavy Boats

Another advantage of a bow mount trolling motor is that it provides better control. With a bow mount trolling motor, you can easily control the speed and direction of your boat. This can be very helpful when you’re trying to fish in tight spots or when you’re trying to avoid obstacles.

Bow mount motors offer many thrust options that cover most types of boats used for trolling fishing.

The lowest thrust is offered by 55-lb motors powered by a single 12V battery. More popular are 80-lb models running on 24 volts, but if you have a heavy boat or fish in adverse current and weather conditions, there are plenty 100+ lb trolling motors powered by 36 volts.

Most bow-mount motors come with a variable-speed motor controller, which delivers power smoothly forward and in reverse. No energy is wasted, and you get more run time off your battery.

Steering Options for All Fishing Styles

Electric trolling motors have come a long way since they were invented over 80 years ago. The innovation is still taking place and it’s especially visible in bow-mount models, which today can be controlled in several different ways:

Electricsteer models offer more control options, such as using wireless remote and GPS positioning that help you get where you want to be and focus on fishing.

Cable-steer trolling motors a multi-function foot pedal and the motor are directly linked via a cable. It’s a less sophisticated system than the above but more responsive and very popular with bass fishermen.

Hand-steer motors use a tiller handle for direct control, very much like traditional outboards. Hand-controlled motors are simple to use and are much more affordable.

GPS Navigation and Anchoring

GPS trolling motors let you steer, control speed, lock onto fishing spots, and more just by pressing a button on the remote.

Autopilot allows your trolling motor to steer on its own in the set direction. It uses a compass to keep a steady heading and can be used in many ways, for example, trolling along a shoreline, a ledge, or a shelf.

GPS anchoring is probably the most popular feature on premium trolling motors, and it’s fantastic in areas with substantial currents, waves, and winds.

It holds the boat at a set position by automatically thrusting whenever the boat starts to drift.

Lift-Assist and Auto Stow/Deploy Make Life Easier

Trolling motor manufacturers try hard to make stowing and deploying their motors as easy as possible.

Some of them use traditional stainless steel springs, others employ nitrogen gas springs to make the lifting process almost effortless.

However, it’s still a manual process, and you can’t do it from anywhere in your boat.

That is why Minn Kota came up with an idea to make stowing and deploying fully automatic on their Ulterra and Ulterra Riptide models.

On the Ulterra, there is no need to get up to deploy your trolling motor. You will appreciate this, especially if you fish on larger lakes in windy and rough conditions or if you like to fish on your own.

Fish Finder Compatibility

If you have a fish finder of a specific brand and you want it to be able to “talk to” your trolling motor, you will need to make sure they are both compatible.

For example, a Humminbird fish finder will work with Minn Kota’s models, whereas a Lowrance fishfinder works well with MotorGuide trolling motors.

Premium bow mount trolling motors have built-in transducers that send images to your fish finder. They are fully integrated with the lower motor section, which means there are no additional cables or connectors involved.

If you want a built-in transducer, make sure it is of the type you want, for example, Universal Sonar or MEGA Down or Side Imaging.

Things You Should Know Before Buying a Trolling Motor

There are literally hundreds of different trolling motors models, and thousands if you count various thrust, shaft and feature configurations.

They can be quite expensive too, so before you buy one, make sure you educate yourself to avoid a potentially costly mistake.

Below, we’ll discuss the most important questions you should ask yourself and important things to know before deciding which motor to buy.

1. How to Install a Bow Mount Trolling motor?

Bow mount trolling motors are relatively easy to install on boats with flat bows. All you need to do is to bolt the motor’s mounting pad to the bow.

If your boat has an angled bow or other features that prevent straightforward horizontal mounting, you will need to fabricate a plate to which the trolling motor can be attached.

You can find our step-by-step mounting instructions here.

2. How Much Thrust Is Enough for My Boat?

Thrust is the force that moves the boat through the water. It is measured in pounds (lbs) and gives you a rough idea of the motor’s performance.

A generally agreed rule is that for every 100 lbs you will need at least 2 lbs of thrust. For example, if your boat weighs 4000 lbs, fully loaded, then you want 4000/100 * 2 lbs = 80 lbs of thrust for your trolling motor.

My advice is to get the most powerful motor you can. If you fish offshore on a large boat, you will be much better off with a 100+ lb trolling motor that runs at 36V.

You will also want more thrust if you fish in areas with fast currents and significant waves. The last thing you want is for your boat to be underpowered.

Learn more in our thrust guide.

3. Calculate Your Battery Runtime

This is one of the most frequently asked questions and depends directly on two things: the capacity of your battery and the current draw of your trolling motor.

Battery capacity is measured in Ampere hours or Ah and current draw in amperes (amps). If your battery has 100Ah capacity and your motor draws 20 amps of current, then you can calculate its run time by dividing 100/20 = 5 hours.

However, this is only a theoretical number because depending on the type of battery you use, you will never want to deplete it to 0% of capacity. For example, if you have a standard lead-acid battery, you should really only use 50-70% of its Ah capacity if you want to keep it in good shape.

The current draw of your motor depends on the speed you set it to and how heavy your boat is. If you use your trolling motor at lower speeds, you will have a significantly lower current draw and much longer run time.

Weather and water conditions will also affect how long your motor will run. It is harder to push a boat against the current, choppy waters, or into the wind, which means higher current draw and shorter run time.

4. Measure Your Boat for Shaft Length

The right shaft of your trolling motor is absolutely vital to make sure your propeller stays submerged regardless of water and weather conditions.

You don’t want the propeller to get out of water in choppy waters or/and suck in air from above the waterline when it is not deep enough. It will cause noise, and loss of power and can shorten the life of your motor.

You will need to take measurements and calculate the right shaft length for your boat. The rule of thumb is to measure the distance from your chosen mounting location down to the water. You then should add another 20 inches (50cm).

This is especially important for bow-mounted trolling motors, as there are many different bow shapes and heights. It’s best to measure the boat fully loaded with people and gear or at least account for it.

Extra weight at the stern can lift the bow and the motor with it.

If you’re stuck deciding between a shorter and longer shaft version, it’s usually safer to go a little longer.

Sources

Minn Kota Technology

MotorGuide

Haswing