Trolling motors are not designed to be fast. Their job is to help precisely maneuver a boat, or keep it on the spot. However:
A well-matched trolling motor should be able to move a boat at a speed of around 3 mph.
Please consult our speed chart to get an idea of what top speed you can achieve for different trolling motor and boat combinations.
If you think your motor is not as fast as it should be, there are a few things you can do to speed it up.
Let’s start with the easy ones:
Check the Wiring and Connections
Make sure you use the proper size wire for your motor’s amp draw.
Check your wiring, battery terminals, plugs, and receptacles. Ensure all the connections are properly crimped, clean, and corrosion-free.
The corrosion can make them much less conductive. The current won’t flow freely, and you won’t get full power out of your motor.
They can also make your wires get hotter than necessary, which results in battery drain.
Charge the Battery
To make the most of your battery, keep it properly maintained.
For lead-acid AGM batteries, it means charging them after each use with the correct voltage.
If it’s a flooded lead-acid battery, ensure the cells have enough water. You can also buy a battery hydrometer to check the specific gravity of each cell.
You can only expect 2-3 years of good performance from a traditional marine battery. If you have an old battery and want more speed, you’ll need to replace it.
Inspect the Propeller
Check your prop to see if there is anything tangled around it. This could be a fishing line or weeds slowing your motor down.
Steps to follow:
- Remove the prop.
- Get rid of any debris you find.
- Inspect for damage to the shaft and the propeller itself.
- Test if it can spin freely and smoothly, without any grinding or other noises.
Some recommend changing a factory propeller to a “high-performance” prop for more speed.
You’re free to experiment, but don’t expect significant improvements.
Check the Lower Unit
It is possible that your brushes don’t make good contact and need replacing, especially on an older motor.
The only way to inspect the brushes is to open the lower unit to investigate. If you’re not comfortable doing it alone, it’s best to find a trolling motor repair service.
Replacing the brushes is a straightforward process. For most popular models, e.g. Minn Kota, you can order a brush kit online.
Opening the lower unit is also a good opportunity to clean all the connections and inspect gaskets.
Adjust Shaft Height and Trim
If your shaft is too deep in water, it will create substantial drag and slow you down. On the other hand, if it’s not deep enough, your prop will create more splash instead of thrust.
Find the optimal height of your lower unit to maximize the speed.
The same goes for the trim of your motor. It should be roughly horizontal or parallel to the water surface.
Make Your Boat Lighter
The heavier the boat, the more thrust is required. A lighter boat has a hull higher in the water, less wetted area, and less drag.
If you reduce the weight of your fully-loaded boat, it will go faster with the same amount of thrust.
Many boats accumulate unnecessary items over time. Check every storage compartment and remove anything other than essential.
Pay special attention to the bow of your boat. A heavy bow can make your boat surprisingly slow.
Consider Upgrading to Lithium
Lithium batteries are a great way to speed up your trolling motor. They have several advantages, two of them directly affecting how fast you can go:
Flat voltage curve
Traditional lead-acid batteries suffer from constant voltage drop as you use them. This means gradually less thrust will be available. Lithium batteries will only have around a 3% voltage drop as they are discharged. A higher voltage means the motor will draw fewer amps to provide the needed power.
They are lighter
Lithium batteries have a larger energy density than lead-acid batteries. They can deliver comparable runtime in a smaller, lighter package. That means slightly more speed, especially on a small boat.
Consider a Larger Battery Bank
If you want to stick to AGM batteries, ensure they are correctly sized.
A battery with low capacity will cause a significant drop in voltage and power.
In other words, get the largest battery that is practical for your boat. It will deliver higher thrust and longer run time.
Get a More Powerful Trolling Motor
If you are not reaching 4-5 mph with your current setup, your boat is most likely underpowered.
Getting a more powerful trolling motor will help you go faster.
Don’t bother increasing your thrust by only a small amount, for example, from 45 to 55 lb. If you want to see a noticeable difference, choose a motor with at least 20 pounds more thrust. That often means going from 12 to 24 volts or from 24 to 36 volts.
Electric Outboards for Even More Speed
Most trolling motors are not designed for speed, but fine boat control. To get from A to B fast, petrol or diesel engines are usually used instead.
If speed is your priority consider an electric outboard, such as Torqeedo or Newport Vessels NK180 (check price).
Trolling Motor Speed FAQ
Why is my trolling motor running slow?
There are many reasons why this could be happening, including electrical and mechanical. Learn about the most common causes in our power loss troubleshooting guide.
Will a higher thrust trolling motor go faster?
Not necessarily. Most trolling motors are designed to go at the maximum speed of roughly 5 mph. If you’re reaching 5 mph currently, a higher thrust motor won’t give you more top speed. If your boat can only move well below 5 mph, a more powerful motor will certainly help.