The Minn Kota Ulterra offers some impressive features that other trolling motors don’t. For example, you can automatically deploy and stow it by pressing a button on a wireless remote. Brilliant!
If you’re looking for the very best trolling motor technology currently available, the Ulterra should be on your shopping list.
Many anglers love it, and for a good reason. In this article, we’ll try to answer the question of who the Ulterra is for, and crucially: is it worth the premium price?
Let’s find out!
Minn Kota, the company itself, probably doesn’t need an introduction to any serious fisherman. They have been making electric trolling motors for over 80 years, often pioneering new technology and features.
The Ulterra is Minn Kota’s most advanced trolling motor, available in two variants: freshwater and saltwater.
Let’s have a look a the technical specs:
Motors and Voltage
|45", 60", 72"
|54", 60", 72"
|Max Amp Draw
As you can see, there are two different thrust options on the Ulterra. It’s either an 80-lb motor running on 24 volts (2-bank) or a 112-lb motor powered by 36 volts. (3-bank)
The 80 lb motor is recommended for boats up to 4000 lb displacement. Anything above that, and you should really be using the motor with 112 pounds of thrust.
The motors come with the Digital Maximizer, or 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.
Now, let’s have a look at some of the Ulterra’s features:
The 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 or i-Pilot Link
i-Pilot is GPS trolling motor system that you control with a wireless remote.
You can steer, control speed, spot-lock onto fishing spots and more, just by pressing a button on the remote.
i-Pilot comes as standard on the Ulterra, but you can upgrade to i-Pilot Link.
i-Pilot Link can do everything i-Pilot does but offers extra features including integration with a Humminbird fish finder. Unlike the standard i-Pilot, i-Pilot Link comes with a touchscreen remote.
You can learn more about i-Pilot Link on the Minn Kota’s website.
The steering on the Ulterra is 100% electric. Rather than relying on a cable, electric steer motors are controlled by electrical signals 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 Ulterra can be steered either with the i-Pilot remote or a foot pedal..
Sonars and Transducers
The Ulterra includes a Universal Sonar 2 as standard, but you can upgrade to MEGA Down and Side Imaging for additional features.
Unfortunately, the Riptide Ulterra (the saltwater variant), doesn’t have any sonar available even as an option.
Universal Sonar 2
As the name suggests, this sonar can be used with various fish finders such as Humminbird, Lowrance, Garmin, and Eagle.
What’s great about it is that the transducer that is fully-integrated with the lower unit.
The wiring runs through the shaft and the connectors are shielded to minimize interference.
These built-in transducers send images directly 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 and Side/Down Imagine is available on the Ulterra as an option.
The shaft is strong and comes with Minn Kota’s lifetime warranty. That means the company will pay for the replacement if it ever gets damaged, no matter how it happens.
Keep in mind that there is no break-away mechanism on the Ulterra that will protect the shaft in case of hard impact.
Auto Stow/Deploy and Power Trim
These are the main reasons anglers love the Ulterra:
The ability to automatically deploy, stow, and adjust the motor’s trim at the push of a button, is fantastic.
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.
Want to deploy or stow your motor? Just press a button.
Apart from the power stow/deploy, you can also adjust the motor’s trim using your i-Pilot. It’s very handy in those situations when it gets too shallow, and you need to lift the motor quickly.
Want to adjust the depth of your motor? Again, just press a button on your remote.
Auto Stow/Deploy Reliability
With the convenience of the auto stow/deploy mechanism comes a small risk of malfunction. When the Ulterra loses power for some reason, it can’t be stowed automatically. You will then have to stow it manually, which is not difficult, but it requires tools and working in an awkward position.
Fortunately, it happens very rarely, especially with the latest Ulterra models.
According to Minn Kota, after the 2017 re-design, the Ulterra warranty claims are similar to other trolling motors.
Nevertheless, this risk makes many anglers worried, especially when they fish in sub-zero temperatures. One way to reduce this stress is to mount your Ulterra on a quick release bracket, for example, the MKA-51.
It would be even better if Minn Kota designed the release system so that you can lift the motor manually if the auto stow refuses to work.
Riptide Means Saltwater-Capable
The Riptide Ulterra is the saltwater version of the same trolling motor.
Just like other motors from the Riptide series, the Riptide Ulterra is made with corrosion-resistant materials to help protect the motor from the negative impact of saltwater.
Another difference is that the Riptide Ulterra doesn’t come with any transducers.
The most popular Ulterra model offers 80 pounds of thrust, which is suitable for boats up to 3,500-4,000 lb and 19 ft long.
The Ulterra 80 has a 24-volt motor, which means you’ll need two 12-volt batteries to power it.
It’s the perfect size for smaller and medium boats. A two-battery setup is also lighter, simpler and easier to charge.
If you have a larger boat and worry 80 pounds of thrust might not be enough, consider the Ulterra 112. It requires three 12v batteries, but its 36-volt motor has significantly more thrust. It also offers a longer shaft option at 72 inches.
This makes it more suitable for heavier boats over 4500 lb, and for fishing in more difficult conditions, for example on windier days.
112 pounds of thrust can also give you peace of mind. It’s easier to control your boat with more thrust, and good to know you have that power in case you need it.
Verdict: Is the Ulterra Worth the Money?
Just like with many things in life, it comes down to personal preference.
It’s a great feeling not to have to go to the front of the boat, especially in rough waters.
If you want to automatically stow, deploy and trim your motor at a push of a button, the Ulterra will make you happy.
How important is it for you?
Minn Kota Ulterra Alternatives
If the automatic stow/deploy is not important for you, you might be better off getting something less expensive, for example, the Minn Kota Terrova.
If you fish for bass or fish primarily in shallow waters and want to use the foot pedal a lot, the Ultrex will probably be a better match for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I mount the Ulterra on my boat?
The Ulterra is mounted to the bow of your boat with the bolts and tools that come together with your motor.
What do I need to install the motor?
You will need at least one 12-volt battery, either lead-acid or lithium. The Ulterra 80 requires two batteries, and the Ulterra 112 – three. We also recommend you install a circuit breaker or fuse.
How long is the foot pedal cord?
It’s 18 feet long.
What is the Ulterra’s warranty?
2-year limited warranty plus lifetime warranty on the shaft.
Does the Ulterra come with quick-release?
Nope. You will need to buy one separately.
Can I use the Ulterra in saltwater?
The Riptide Ulterra (white) is built with anti-corrosive materials designed for saltwater. It is technically possible to use a freshwater (black) Ulterra in saltwater, but it will void your warranty and most likely no