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A trolling motor can turn your center console into a serious fishing machine. It lets you approach a fishing spot quietly and stay on it without spooking the fish.

Many center consoles are heavier boats used in offshore fishing, which means they need to have enough power to handle currents and waves.

If you’re looking for a perfect motor for your boat, we’ve narrowed down and handpicked a few trolling motors that we think you should consider.

Let’s get started!

Center Console Saltwater Motors Compared

Minn Kota
Riptide Ulterra
Minn Kota
Riptide Terrova
Minn Kota
Riptide PowerDrive
Minn Kota
Riptide Fortrex
ReviewReviewReviewReview
Rating9.89.69.38.9
HighlightsAuto Stow/Deploy
i-Pilot GPS
Lift Assist
i-Pilot GPS
i-Pilot GPSLift Assist
i-Pilot GPS
Thrust80 lb80 lb70 lb80 lb
Shaft54", 60", 72"54", 60", 72"48", 54"52", 62"
SteeringElectric SteerElectric SteerElectric SteerHand Steer
Voltage24V24V24V24V
Wireless RemoteYESYESYESYES
SpeedsVariableVariableVariableVariable
Use InSaltwaterSaltwaterSaltwaterSaltwater

Why You Need a Trolling Motor on Your Boat

Trolling motors are a fantastic way to control your center console.

They will hold your boat on a fishing spot against significant ocean currents and wind so that you can focus on fishing.

They are powerful enough to handle heavy saltwater boats and are designed to be resistant to corrosion so that they can last many years.

Let’s have a look at some of the best models on the market today:

Saltwater Trolling Motor Reviews

1. Minn Kota Riptide Ulterra

The Riptide Ulterra is our #1 pick for the best saltwater trolling motors in 2021.

This model is derived from the freshwater and very popular Minn Kota Ulterra, but it belongs to the Riptide motors’ family, all designed to be saltwater-resistant.

What makes The Ulterra stand out is the ability to automatically stow/deploy and trim your motor with the push of a button.

Power stow and deploy it’s not just a matter of convenience for people, who are perhaps tired of having to manually and repeatedly lift and deploy the motor on a single trip.

It can be dangerous if you leave the helm to go to the bow to lift the trolling motor, especially in windy or choppy conditions.

With the Ulterra, you don’t have to. You will appreciate this, especially if you fish on larger lakes or if you like solo fishing.

With the convenience of the auto stow/deploy mechanism comes a small risk of malfunction. It would be great if Minn Kota designed the release system so that you can lift the motor manually if the auto stow refuses to work.

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb
Shaft54″, 60″, 72″
SteeringElectric Steer
Voltage24 Volt
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InSaltwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Auto stow and deploy
  • Power Trim
  • i-Pilot GPS with Spot-Lock

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Manual stow could be easier to perform
  • Price

2. Minn Kota Riptide Terrova

At #2 on our 2021 list comes Minn Kota Riptide Terrova.

It’s made using premium-grade alloys, which protect it against the corrosive impact of salt water.

Electric steering and wireless remote come as standard. GPS anchoring (Spot-Lock) found on the latest Minn Kota models is more precise than ever before.

Riptide Terrova is powerful enough for most center console boats. If your boat is relatively heavy, there is a 36-Volt version of Riptide Terrova that offers 112 pounds of thrust and can handle boats up to 5,500 pounds.

Great all-round saltwater trolling motor, for all those who don’t need the Ulterra’s ability to auto stow/deploy and trim. Recommended!

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb
Shaft54″, 60″, 72″
SteeringElectric Steer
Voltage24 Volt
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InSaltwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Spring-loaded mechanism for easy lifting
  • Excellent GPS anchoring
  • i-Pilot

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Still expensive

3. Minn Kota Riptide PowerDrive

Next on our list is Minn Kota Riptide PowerDrive.

It comes with all smart control features such as Autopilot and Spot-Lock (GPS anchoring).

Digital Maximizer helps to extend your run time on a single battery charge.

Overall it’s a powerful and easy-to-use motor at a very reasonable price.

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb
Shaft48″, 54″
SteeringElectric Steer
Voltage24 Volt
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InSaltwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Digital Maximizer

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • No Lift-Assist

4. Minn Kota Riptide Fortrex

Riptide Fortrex is the only hand-controlled trolling motor on our list.

Lacking smart control features, this motor is also quite a bit cheaper.

What we especially like in this model is that it’s simple to use and robust. We love the impact protection mount, which resets when you hit something. This helps prevent damage to your motor or shaft.

Thumbs up!

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb
Shaft52″, 62″
SteeringHand Steer
Voltage24 Volt
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InSaltwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Bowguard impact protection
  • Cheaper

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • No GPS features, such as Spot-Lock

Center Console Freshwater Motors Compared

Minn Kota
Ultrex 80lb
Minn Kota
Ulterra 80lb
Minn Kota
Terrova 80lb
MotorGuide
Xi5 80lb
ReviewReviewReviewReview
Rating9.79.59.28.7
Highlightsi-Pilot Link
Universal Sonar 2
Lift Assist
Foot Pedal
Auto Stow/Deploy
Universal Sonar 2
i-Pilot GPS
Foot Pedal
Lift Assist
Universal Sonar 2
i-Pilot GPS
Foot Pedal
Pinpoint GPS
Wireless Foot Pedal
Thrust80 lb80 lb80 lb80 lb
Shaft45", 52"45", 60"45", 60", 72"45"
SteeringCable & ElectricElectric SteerElectric SteerElectric Steer
Voltage24V24V24V24V
Wireless RemoteYESYESYESYES
SpeedsVariableVariableVariableVariable
Use InFreshwaterFreshwaterFreshwaterFreshwater

Freshwater Trolling Motor Reviews

1. Minn Kota Ultrex 80 lb

As you can see, Minn Kota Ultrex is now ranked our top freshwater trolling motor for center console boats in 2021!

How did it manage to get to the #1 spot? This is partly due to the number of features on offer and how many people loved the Ultrex last year.

What sets Ultrex apart from other motors is its hybrid steering system. You get the responsiveness and “touch and feel” the cable control offers, plus the electric power steering with a remote.

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.

Combine all these features and you have our top pick for 2021!

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb
Shaft45″, 52″
SteeringCable/Electric
Voltage24 Volt
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Hybrid cable & electric steer
  • i-Pilot Link
  • Lift-Assist

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Expensive

2. Minn Kota Ulterra 80 lb

Ulterra 80 takes the #2 spot on our 2021 list!

You can steer it with a foot pedal or the i-Pilot remote. Advanced GPS capabilities such as Spot-Lock (anchoring) make staying on your fishing spot extremely easy.

It comes with integrated Universal Sonar 2 as standard, which means you don’t need to install any other transducers, run extra wires, etc.

We especially love the ability to automatically deploy, stow and adjust the motor’s trim at the push of a button.

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb
Shaft45″, 60″
SteeringElectric Steer
Voltage24 Volt
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Auto stow and deploy
  • Power trim
  • Control via i-Pilot remote and foot pedal

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • i-Pilot Link sold separately

3. Minn Kota Terrova 80 lb

Next on our list is the hugely popular Minn Kota Terrova.

It’s a well-proven design, and just like other Minn Kota trolling motors, it’s built with high-quality materials.

Although it doesn’t let you auto stow/deploy like the above Ulterra, it does have a spring-loaded mechanism for easy lifting.

It also comes with i-Pilot GPS remote, and we really like the low-profile foot pedal. It can be conveniently used on your boat without any extra modifications.

On top of that: Universal Sonar 2 and two-year manufacturer’s guarantee!

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb
Shaft45″, 60″, 72″
SteeringElectric Steer
Voltage24 Volt
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Lift-Assist
  • Low profile foot pedal

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Some models arrived damaged, although this was quickly resolved by Minn Kota

4. MotorGuide Xi5 80 lb

Last on our list is this popular MotorGuide Xi5.

But it’s still a great motor, robustly built with a newly designed composite shaft.

You can steer it remotely through the wireless foot pedal, and this specific model comes with Pinpoint GPS, which gives you more advanced features such as Anchoring, Jog, Heading Lock, and Cruise Control.

If you prefer MotorGuide rather than Minn Kota, this might be a model for you!

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb
Shaft45″
SteeringElectric Steer
Voltage24 Volt
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater

WHAT WE LIKE

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

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Wireless foot pedal not very ergonomic

6 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 features 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. Where Do I Mount It on My Center Console?

You have three different locations and the corresponding trolling motor types:

  • Bow mount
  • Transom mount
  • Engine mount

Bow mount trolling motors are the most popular on center consoles because pulling rather than pushing makes the boats easier to maneuver.

They often come with more advanced steering features, like GPS anchoring.

If you’re looking for a cheaper option or don’t want to put anything on your bow, transom mount trolling motors can be the right choice. Many anglers like them for simplicity, as they steer in a similar way to outboards.

Engine mount trolling motors are fixed to the cavitation plate of outboard motors. You don’t have to stow or deploy them. They are remotely controlled and steer together with the outboard.

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.

Center console boats tend to be large and heavy and require substantial thrust to move through the water.

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. For a large center console, 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. 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 sucking in air from above the waterline when it is not deep enough. It will cause noise, 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 if you pick the bow-mount model, as center consoles have different bow shapes and heights.

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

4. GPS Navigation Gives Near Complete Control

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

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.

It’s an amazing feature, and if you fish offshore on your center console, it should be high on your list of priorities.

5. 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 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.

6. Saltwater Capability For Offshore Fishing

Each trolling motor description should state clearly whether you can use it in saltwater. Saltwater is much more corrosive than fresh water and requires different materials.

Minn Kota and Motorguide saltwater motors are built with premium-grade alloys, coated with zinc, and painted with corrosion-resistant polyester paint.

Your saltwater-capable motor will come with a sacrificial anode fixed to the prop. This will ensure your motor will last much longer.

It is important to note that if you use a freshwater trolling motor in saltwater, it will often void your warranty.

Center Console Trolling Motor FAQ

What motor voltage is best for center consoles?

While 12V trolling motors are usually less expensive, they offer less thrust than 24V and 36V models. Higher voltage systems tend to be more powerful and more efficient due to the lower current flowing through the cables and less heat generated at the same power output.

For light center consoles, we recommend 24-volt trolling motors, while heavy ones will be better served by 36-volt motors with 100 pounds of thrust and more.

Do I have to cut my stainless bow rail to install a bow mount trolling motor?

While many anglers decide to change the shape of their bow rail to make space for the trolling motor, others mount it on the outside of the rail. You can do it by installing an aluminum plate that sticks out to either side of your center console.

You then fix your motor’s base to the aluminum plate. The only problem with this solution is that it can make your trolling motor exposed to damage, for example when docking.

My boat’s bow is really high, do I have to use a transom or engine trolling motor?

If you prefer a bow-mount trolling motor, check all your options first. Minn Kota and MotorGuide have models with shaft lengths up to 72″, and Rhodan Marine offers trolling motors with an ultra-long 84-inch shaft.