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If your boat is heavy or you fish in areas with substantial currents, waves, and wind, you need a trolling motor that has enough power and thrust to handle that.

In this article, we’ve narrowed down and handpicked some of the most powerful trolling motors available today.

All of them are equipped with GPS features, such as anchor mode so that you can approach a fishing spot and hold your position for as long as your batteries last.

Let’s get started!

Our Thrust Ranking Explained

Although our list is sorted from the highest to the lowest thrust, it’s important to understand that trolling motor makers use different methodologies when testing their products.

When comparing different models, you should take the thrust numbers as rough guidance rather than absolute truth.

A model with a lower thrust rating on paper could turn out more powerful on the water.

All the motors below are bow-mounted and powered by 36 Volts:

Most Powerful Trolling Motors Compared

MotorPriceMax ThrustShaft LengthSteerGPS
Lowrance Ghost$$$$120 lb47", 52", 60"Electric
Rhodan Marine
HD GPS Anchor
$$$$120 lb48", 54", 60",
72", 64", 96"
Electric
Minn Kota
Ulterra
$$$$112 lb45", 60", 72"Electric
Minn Kota
Ultrex
$$$$112 lb45", 52", 60"Cable/Electric
Minn Kota
Terrova
$$$112 lb45", 54", 60", 72"Electric
MotorGuide
Xi5
$$$109 lb48", 54", 60", 72"Electric
MotorGuide
Tour Pro
$$$$109 lb45"Cable/Electric
Garmin Force$$$$100 lb50", 57"Electric

Trolling Motor Reviews

Lowrance Ghost

Lowrance is a major U.S. designer and manufacturer of sonar, GPS, marine, and aviation electronics, but only relatively recently they entered the trolling motor market.

The Ghost quickly became a hit with anglers, who like it for its high-quality sonars, nearly silent operation, and precise anchor mode.

A brushless motor powering the Ghost is great for many reasons. It’s more efficient, quieter than and causes less interference with your fish finder. Also, you don’t need to worry about replacing worn brushes in the future.

In a standard version, you’ll get Lowrance CHIRP sonar and DownScan Imaging, but you have to pay extra for SideScan Imaging.

TECH SPECS

Thrust97lb (24v), 120lb (36v)
Shaft47″, 52″, 60″
SteeringElectric
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Will work on either 24V or 36V
  • Brushless motor
  • Breakaway Mount

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • The longest shaft available (60″) not long enough for some boats

Rhodan Marine HD

Rhodan trolling motors are not as well-known as Minn Kota or MotorGuide, but we believe they should be. They are powerful, their GPS anchor is accurate and reliable, and they offer some features not seen on other brands.

Their top-of-the-range motor delivers some serious thrust at 120 pounds and is available in as many as six different shaft lengths.

The longest shaft is 96,” and it’s great for any boat with a high bow, or if your bow tends to move up a lot, especially when loaded with people and gear.

Although GPS navigation is great, we wish Rhodan motors had built-in transducers.

TECH SPECS

Thrust120 lb
Shaft48″, 54″, 60″,
72″, 64″, 96″
SteeringElectric Steer
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Big selection of shafts, including ultralong 96″
  • Quick-release mount as standard

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • No built-in transducers

Minn Kota Ulterra

The most advanced motor from Minn Kota is best known for it’s auto deploy/stow/trim.

With the Ulterra, there is no need to get up to stow or deploy your trolling motor. You will appreciate this, especially if you fish on larger lakes or if you like solo fishing.

It 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.

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb, 112 lb
Shaft45″, 60″, 72″
SteeringElectric Steer
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

Minn Kota Ultrex

The Ultrex 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.

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb, 112 lb
Shaft45″, 52″
SteeringCable/Electric
Voltage36 Volt
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater

WHAT WE LIKE

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

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Expensive

Minn Kota Terrova

The Terrova takes the #2 spot on our list. 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 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.

TECH SPECS

Thrust55 lb, 80 lb, 112lb
Shaft45″, 60″, 72″
SteeringElectric Steer
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Lift-Assist
  • Low profile foot pedal

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Reports of a fragile part prone to breaking when you hit something in shallow water

MotorGuide Xi5

Next on our list is the hugely popular MotorGuide Xi5.

It’s a great motor, newly designed composite shaft and robustly built.

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 the right motor for you.

TECH SPECS

Thrust Options55 lb, 80 lb, 109 lb
Shaft48″, 54″, 60″, 72″
SteeringElectric Steer
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

MotorGuide Tour Pro

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

It gives you the responsiveness and precision of the cable, but a the same time it can be steered with a wireless remote or by the PinPoint GPS system.

The Tour Pro comes with a Zero-G lift assist, which MotorGuide claims to be 40% easier to use than the systems used by the competition.

Unlike the Minn Kota Ultrex or Ulterra, the Tour Pro has a 360º breakaway mount, which prevents damage to the motor and shaft in case you hit an underwater object.

Thrust (Voltage):82lb (24v), 109lb (36v)
Shaft Length:45″
Control:Cable / Electric

Garmin Force

Most of you will be familiar with the company name, as Garmin has been one of the leaders in GPS equipment and marine electronics.

In many ways, Garmin Force is similar to Lowrance Ghost: it also uses a brushless motor, which helps it to reduce noise, including electromagnetic noise that can interfere with your fish finder readings.

I like the fact you can run the Force on either a two (24v) or a three battery bank (36v) for more available thrust.

Speaking of thrust, although Garmin rates its trolling motor at 100 pounds maximum, the standard used is more conservative than the competition.

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

Here’s a link to one of the tests confirming that: YouTube.

TECH SPECS

Thrust100 lb
Shaft50″, 57″
SteeringElectric Steer
Wireless RemoteYES
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Brushless motor
  • Runs on 24V and 36V
  • Fish finder connects wirelessly

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

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. 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 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 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

Lowrance

Rhodan Marine

Minn Kota

MotorGuide

Garmin