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Ok, so you want a Minn Kota trolling motor. But which model is the right one for your boat and your budget?

Ulterra, Terrova, or maybe Ultrex? What’s the difference?

In this article, I’m going to talk you through Minn Kota trolling motors, technology, and features.

Thrust and Voltage

Minn Kota trolling motors have thrust ranging from 30 lbs all the way to 112 lbs.

Boat weight is key when determining how much thrust you need. The general rule of thumb: you need at least 2 lbs. of thrust for every 100 lbs. of fully-loaded boat weight (people and gear included). If things like wind or current are major factors where you fish, you’ll want a little extra thrust.

In the chart below you can see a rough guide on how much thrust is required for different boat sizes.

Boat WeightBoat LengthRecommended
Thrust
Batteries Needed
under 1500 lbunder 15 ftover 30 lb1 Battery (12V)
1500 lb15 ft40 lb1 Battery (12V)
2000 lb16 ft50 lb1 Battery (12V)
2500 lb17 ft60 lb1 Battery (12V)
3000 lb18 ft70 lb2 Batteries (24V)
3500 lb19 ft80 lb2 Batteries (24V)
4000 lb20 ft90 lb2 Batteries (24V)
4500 lb21 ft100 lb3 Batteries (36V)
over 4500 lbover 21 ftover 100 lb3 Batteries (36V)

As you can see, depending on the amount of thrust, a trolling motor requires a different number of batteries. For 60 lbs of thrust or less, you’ll need a single 12V battery. 70 to 100 lbs of thrust will require 2 batteries (24 Volts), and above 100 lbs of thrust, you’ll need another battery for 36 Volts in total.

Controlling Your Minn Kota Motor

Minn Kota offers models with all kinds of steering found on trolling motors: cable, electric and hand or tiller.

Cable Steer

The main characteristic of cable steer trolling motors is that there is a direct link between the foot pedal and turning the motor. This makes them very responsive and popular with bass fishermen, who need to quickly maneuver around shallow cover.

The drawback of cable steer is that you always have to keep your foot on the pedal to keep going in your chosen direction.

Minn Kota’s cable steer motors include Ultrex (hybrid cable/electric), Fortrex, Maxxum and Edge.

Electric Steer

Rather than relying on a cable, electric steer motors are controlled by an electrical signal sent whenever you push on a pedal or press a button on your remote.

That means there is a slight delay between your input and your motor’s turning. The benefit to it the electric steer is that you can control the motor with a remote from anywhere on a boat. It can also control itself using GPS features, for example, to stay on the same spot (GPS anchoring).

Minn Kota Ulterra, Terrova and PowerDrive are all examples of electric steer motors.

Hand Steer

Hand or tiller is the most traditional and simplest way of controlling your motor. They are usually found on transom mount trolling motors, but Minn Kota does offer bow mount motors with hand control.

Available Shaft Lengths

Choosing the proper shaft length is important—if it’s too short, the prop won’t be sufficiently submerged. It can lead to prop ventilation, which means you will lose thrust and create noise that can spook fish.

The center of the motor section should be at least 12 inches below the waterline. You can learn more about choosing the correct shaft length here.

Minn Kota’s shafts come in various lengths ranging from 30″ to 87″.

Minn Kota Technology and Features

Over the years, Minn Kota trolling motors have seen several innovations to make controlling your boat and fishing easier.

Here is the quick overview of the most popular features:

Digital Maximizer

It’s Minn Kota’s name for a variable speed motor with smooth power delivery in forward and reverse.

Motors with Digital Maximizer draw less power than those without them, especially at lower speeds. No energy is wasted, and you get more run time off your battery.

Autopilot

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 shelf.

Minn Kota’s autopilot makes automatic corrections for wind, waves, and current.

i-Pilot

i-Pilot is GPS trolling motor system that you control with a wireless remote. You can steer, control speed, lock onto fishing spots and more, just by pressing a button on the remote.

i-Pilot comes as standard on Minn Kota’s premium models and is available as an option on others.

i-Pilot can be confused with i-Pilot Link, which can do everything i-Pilot does but offers extra features, including integration with a Humminbird fish finder. We’ll discuss those further down, so read on.

Spot-Lock

Spot-Lock is the most popular feature on i-Pilot. It lets you GPS anchor your boat at a click on a button.

Spot-Lock Jog

This feature uses a heading sensor to move your spot five feet in any direction. Very handy.

Spot-Lock is available on Ultrex, Ulterra, Terrova and PowerDrive trolling motors.

Mobile App

Newer i-Pilot trolling motors have Bluetooth connectivity, which means you can control or anchor your motor using your smartphone or tablet.

Through the app you can also update your trolling motor to the latest firmware so that you can get the most of it.

iTracks

This feature lets you create your best trolling paths in your i-Pilot system. Your motor can then retrace those paths and take you back to your most productive spots. Each track can be 2 miles long at maximum, and you can store 16 of them.

Go To

This feature allows you to go back to any Spot-Lock or iTrack you created in the system. You pick one, press the “Go To” button, and your motor will take you there.

With i-Pilot Link you get all the features of the standard i-Pilot and the ability to integrate it with a Humminbird fish finder.

Unlike the standard i-Pilot, i-Pilot Link comes with a customizable touchscreen remote.

Here is what it can do:

Humminbird Virtual Remote

It lets you control your trolling motor’s steering and speed directly from your fish finder screen. You can Spot-Lock, go to Humminbird waypoints and even automatically follow depth contours.

Circle Mode

As the name suggests, this feature allows you to move in a circle once you pick the spot and the distance from it. (the radius of your circle)

Follow

You can use a LakeMaster or AutoChart Live map to automatically follow a depth contour, vegetation, etc. You can also set an offset to tell your motor how far from the contour you want to be.

Backtrack

i-Pilot Link can automatically retrace the current i-Track up to 2 miles.

Routes

You can combine past Spot-Locks and waypoints to make a custom route.

MEGA Imaging

These are built-in transducers that send images to your Humminbird fish finder. They are fully integrated with the lower motor section, which means there are no additional cables or connectors involved.

MEGA Down Imaging is available on Ultrex, Ulterra, Terrova, and Fortrex, whereas MEGA Side Imaging is available on Ultrex and Ulterra.

Universal Sonar 2

As the name suggests, you can use this sonar with various fish finders such as Humminbird, Lowrance, Garmin, and Eagle.

Just like MEGA, Universal Sonar 2 comes with a transducer that is fully integrated with the lower unit. The wiring runs through the shaft, and the connectors are shielded to minimize interference.

Lift-Assist

Minn Kota tries hard to make stowing and deploying their motors as easy as possible. There are two kinds of lift-assist systems currently available.

Terrova uses a spring-loaded mechanism, and a different design is used on cable-steer motors, such as Ultrex and Fortrex. They use a stainless steel gas spring which makes lifting your motor much easier and deploying quickly and safely.

Auto Stow and Deploy

With Ulterra, Minn Kota went one step further, and instead of a lift-assist mechanism, it offers a 100% automatic stow, deploy and trim system for your motor.

All you need to do is to press a button on your remote or the foot pedal. Simply brilliant.

Freshwater Trolling Motors – Bow Mount

As the name suggests, these motors mount to the bow of the boat with bolts and brackets. The big advantage of this location is that the motor pulls the boat rather than pushes it, making steering very easy and precise.

Bow mount trolling motors come with the most advanced features in the whole Minn Kota range.

Let’s start with the premium models:

Ultrex

For many years Ultrex has been the reference model not just for other Minn Kota trolling motors but the whole industry in general. If you wanted the best of the best, you’d buy Ultrex. Even though the competition today is stronger now, Ultrex remains one of the very best trolling motors currently available.

What’s unique about Ultrex is that it combines foot-pedal cable steering with GPS-assisted i-Pilot electric steering.

The direct cable link makes Ultrex very responsive, which is great whenever you need quick and precise maneuvering. The downside of many cable-steer motors is that the motor head can get out of control once you take your foot off the pedal. Not with Ultrex. It has a steering lock, which keeps the motor headed in the same direction as you left it.

Besides i-Pilot’s GPS features, Ultrex comes with a gas-charged spring to make stowing and deploying very easy and safe.

An excellent freshwater motor.

Thrust (Voltage):80 lb (24V), 112 lb (36V)
Shaft Length:45″, 52″, 60″
Control:Cable / i-Pilot

Ulterra

The Ulterra can be steered 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. You can also order it with MEGA Down Imaging, which you can connect to a Humminbird fish finder.

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

Thrust (Voltage):80 lb (24V), 112 lb (36V)
Shaft Length:45″, 60″, 72″
Control:Foot / i-Pilot

Terrova

The Terrova is Minn Kota’s best-selling freshwater motor, a well-proven design, and it’s built with high-quality materials you can expect.

Although it doesn’t let you auto stow/deploy like the 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 makes it possible to be used on your boat without any extra modifications.

Thrust (Voltage):55 lb (12V), 80 lb (24V), 112 lb (36V)
Shaft Length:45″, 54″, 60″, 72″
Control:Foot / i-Pilot

PowerDrive

It’s another popular model offering a very good value for money.

You control it with an electric foot pedal, but it’s also available with an i-Pilot wireless remote. It’s important to note that the foot pedal is not included if you choose an i-Pilot model.

It comes with a unique lever that helps to deploy your motor quickly and safely.

Thrust (Voltage):45 lb (12V), 55 lb (12V), 70 lb (24V)
Shaft Length:48″, 54″, 60″
Control:Foot / CoPilot / i-Pilot

Fortrex

Lacking smart control features, this motor is also less expensive.

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

It comes with a lift-assist feature and counter-tension stabilizer, which keeps the shaft solidly attached and quiet.

Thrust (Voltage):80 lb (24V), 112 lb (36V)
Shaft Length:45″, 52″
Control:Cable / Hand

Maxxum

Maxxum is a great choice for those who don’t need AutoPilot or GPS features.

It has a breakaway mount that protects your motor on impact.

Maxxum comes with both fixed and variable speed motors, so make sure you pick the right option before ordering.

Thrust (Voltage):55 lb (12V), 70 lb (24V), 80 lb (24V)
Shaft Length:42″, 52″
Control:Cable / Hand

Edge

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

It is suitable mostly for smaller boats, that don’t need fancy features.

Thrust (Voltage):45 lb, 55 lb (12V), 70 lb (24V)
Shaft Length:36″, 45″, 52″
Control:Cable / Hand

Freshwater Trolling Motors – Transom Mount

Transom mount motors are very easy to install, usually less expensive, and that’s what makes them very popular on smaller boats.

You simply attach the motor to the boat’s transom using dual clamps and control it with your hand/tiller.

Endura

Minn Kota Endura is one of the better-known names in the industry.

It’s well built, reliable and affordable, especially recommended for smaller boats navigating lakes and rivers.

Thrust (Voltage):30 lb, 40 lb, 45 lb, 50 lb, 55 lb (12V)
Shaft Length:30″, 36″, 42″
Control:Hand

Endura Max

“Max” in the motor’s name refers to the Digital Maximizer, which is Minn Kota’s brand name for the variable-speed motor controller.

It means you can control the speed smoothly in both directions without wasting energy. This directly translates to a longer run time in comparison to the fixed-speed Endura.

Thrust (Voltage):40 lb, 45 lb, 50 lb, 55 lb (12V)
Shaft Length:36″, 42″
Control:Hand

Traxxis

Traxxis comes with a Digital Maximizer as standard. Variable speeds are convenient, but more importantly, it makes your motor run more efficiently, which translates to longer battery life.

Stowing is effortless. You pull it up and forward—no need to press any buttons or levers so that you can do it with one hand.

The tiller handle has a very ergonomic design, it tilts and extends 6 inches, very comfortable to hold and use.

My favorite transom mount motor.

Thrust (Voltage):45 lb, 55 lb (12V), 70 lb, 80 lb (24V)
Shaft Length:36″, 42″
Control:Hand

Freshwater Trolling Motors – Engine Mount

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.

The main advantage of this position is that it requires less space. Smaller boats may not have enough room to fix a trolling motor on the bow or transom.

EM – Engine Mount

Minn Kota offers three different thrust levels for their Engine Mount series, and each of them requires a different voltage and battery bank:

  1. Engine Mount 55 lb (12V) – for boats up to 18 feet
  2. Engine Mount 80 lb (24V) – for boats up to 20 feet
  3. Engine Mount 101 lb (36V) – for boats up to 22 feet

All of the motors are equipped with Digital Maximizer and come with a corded remote to control the speed.

All of the models are supported by a composite mount, which keeps your motor firmly attached to the outboard’s cavitation plate.

Overall it’s a good product, and we recommend it if you can’t or don’t want to install a bow or transom mount.

Saltwater Trolling Motors – Bow Mount

These trolling motors are specifically designed for saltwater and brackish environment. They make use of strong marine-grade materials that protect your motor and its electronics from the damaging effects of salt water.

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

Each model comes with a sacrificial anode fixed to the prop. This will ensure your motor will last much longer. The anode is made of material that prevents your motor from rapid rusting.

Riptide Ulterra

Riptide Ulterra can be stowed, deployed, trimmed and controlled with a wireless remote.

You can order it either with i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link.

Thrust (Voltage):80 lb (24V), 112 lb (36V)
Shaft Length:54″, 60″, 72″
Control:Foot / i-Pilot

Riptide Terrova

Riptide Terrova is Minn Kota’s best-selling saltwater motor.

It comes with a very convenient Lift-Assist and advanced i-Pilot features such as AutoPilot or Spot-Lock.

You can order a foot pedal as an option.

Thrust (Voltage):55 lb (12V), 80 lb (24V), 112 lb (36V)
Shaft Length:54″, 60″, 72″, 87″
Control:CoPilot / i-Pilot

Riptide PowerDrive

Riptide PowerDrive is a powerful and easy-to-use motor.

Its basic model doesn’t have i-Pilot, which means it has a relatively low price. i-Pilot is, however, available as an option.

It comes with a Deploy-Assist lever. Recommended especially for small and medium-sized boats.

Thrust (Voltage):55 lb (12V), 70 lb (24V)
Shaft Length:48″, 54″
Control:CoPilot / i-Pilot

Riptide Fortrex

Riptide Fortrex doesn’t have fancy navigation features, but it is powerful, reliable and silent.

It has a spring-mounted shaft, which breaks away on impact and is very easy to lift and stow thanks to a gas-charged Lift-Assist.

It’s a popular hand-steer model with attractive price.

Thrust (Voltage):80 lb (24V), 112 lb (36V)
Shaft Length:52″, 62″
Control:Hand

Riptide Maxxum

The central feature of Riptide Maxxum is the ergonomic tiller, which tilts up to 45 degrees and extends by 6 inches.

The basic model has five forward speed settings and three for reverse, but you can order one with Digital Maximizer to give you variable speeds.

The motor coms with a latch and door bracket that makes stowing and removal much easier.

Thrust (Voltage):55 lb (12V), 70 lb, 80 lb (24V)
Shaft Length:42″, 52″, 62″
Control:Hand

Riptide Edge

One of the least expensive saltwater-capable motors from Minn Kota.

Just like Riptide Maxxum, it is hand-controlled and the tiller can be tilted and extended.

It comes with a Digital Maximizer as standard.

Thrust (Voltage):55 lb (12V)
Shaft Length:52″
Control:Hand

Saltwater Trolling Motors – Transom Mount

Riptide Transom

If you need a transom mount saltwater motor from Minn Kota – this is your choice.

It has a 10-position lever lock bracket with quick release and telescopic tiller that extends up to 6 inches.

It has the Digital Maximizer for variable speeds and longer run times.

Thrust (Voltage):45 lb, 55 lb (12V), 80 lb (24V), 112 lb (36V)
Shaft Length:36″, 42″, 52″
Control:Hand

Saltwater Trolling Motors – Engine Mount

Riptide EM – Engine Mount

There are two major differences between the freshwater Engine Mount (EM) and the saltwater Riptide Engine Mount (Riptide EM) models.

Here they are:

  1. Riptide EM 55 lb (12V) – for boats up to 18 feet
  2. Riptide EM 80 lb (24V) – for boats up to 20 feet
  3. Riptide EM 160 lb (24V) – for boats up to 24 feet

As you can see, the most powerful model in the Riptide EM series offers a whopping 160 pounds of thrust at 24 Volts. The 160 lb model is not just one but two electric motors mounted together side-by-side.

Such a setup can push heavy boats with ease, although you need to make sure your battery bank (24V) has an adequate capacity.

The second difference is advanced corrosion protection. Designed and built for saltwater use, Riptide EM models are much more resistant to its negative impact.

Conclusion

I hope you learn a lot about different Minn Kota trolling motors from this post.

You should now have a much clearer picture of your boat needs and what features you like to make the most of your investment.

Happy trolling!