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Saltwater can be ruthless. If you want to get a trolling motor to fish in this harsh environment you need to think about possible corrosion and how long it will last.

Saltwater trolling motors use strong marine-grade materials that protect the motor and its electronics from damage.

In this article, we’ve handpicked a few electric trolling motors you should consider.

Let’s get started!

Bow Mount Saltwater Trolling Motors Compared

Minn Kota
Riptide Ulterra
Minn Kota
Riptide Terrova
Minn Kota
Riptide PowerDrive
Minn Kota
Riptide Fortrex
PricingCHECK PRICECHECK PRICECHECK PRICECHECK PRICE
HighlightsAuto Stow/Deploy
i-Pilot GPS
Lift Assist
i-Pilot GPS
i-Pilot GPSLift Assist
i-Pilot GPS
Thrust112 lb80 lb70 lb80 lb
Shaft54", 60", 72"54", 60", 72"48", 54"52", 62"
SteeringElectric SteerElectric SteerElectric SteerHand Steer
Voltage36V24V24V24V
Wireless RemoteYESYESYESYES
SpeedsVariableVariableVariableVariable
Use InSaltwaterSaltwaterSaltwaterSaltwater

Saltwater Bow Mount Motor Reviews

1. Minn Kota Riptide Ulterra

Riptide Ulterra is our #1 pick for the best saltwater bow-mounted 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

Thrust112 lb
Shaft54″, 60″, 72″
SteeringElectric Steer
Voltage36 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 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-around 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

Transom Mount Saltwater Trolling Motors Compared

Minn Kota
Riptide Transom 80
Haswing 65lbMotorGuide
R3 Saltwater 55
Newport Vessels
NV-Series 55lb
ReviewReviewReviewReview
Rating9.89.49.29.0
PricingCHECKCHECKCHECKCHECK
HighlightsTilt/extend tiller
Weedless Wedge Prop
Tilt tillerErgonomic handleTelescopic tiller
Thrust80 lb65 lb55 lb55 lb
Shaft36", 42", 52"35.5"36"30"
Weight30 lb14.6 lb25 lb23 lb
Voltage24V12V12V12V
Amp Draw56A50A50A50A
SpeedsVariableVariableVariable5 FWD, 3 REV
Use InSaltwaterSaltwaterSaltwaterSaltwater

Saltwater Transom Mount Motor Reviews

1. Minn Kota Riptide Transom 80

The Minn Kota’s Riptide 80 is our #1 pick for saltwater transom-mounted trolling motors this year!

We love most of the Riptide range, and this is Minn Kota’s best model designed to be mounted on your boat’s transom.

There is Minn Kota Maxxum, which we think is a great motor too, but it doesn’t come with the same corrosion resistance as this Riptide Transom. Its lower unit housings are coated in aluminum and additionally powder-coated to prevent the impact of saltwater and rust.

The Transom 80 offers excellent performance with its 80 pounds of thrust at 24 volts. However, if you need something even more powerful on your boat, you can opt for a 112 lb version of the same motor (36 volts).

The tiller handle tilts and extends 6 inches, which makes steering and controlling speeds a pleasure.

All these features make it a great trolling motor. It is on the expensive side, but if you have a heavier boat, I believe it’s 100% worth it.

TECH SPECS

Thrust80 lb
Shaft36″, 42″, 52″
SteeringHand Steer
Voltage 24 Volt
Amp Draw56A
SpeedsVariable
Use InSaltwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Tilt/extend tiller
  • Very good weedless prop

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Relatively expensive

2. Haswing 65 lb

There is a lot to like about this Haswing, and that’s why it’s number 2 on this year’s list.

True, it doesn’t quite have the same brand power as Minn Kota or MotorGuide, but it delivers performance and features.

It comes with a brushless motor and variable speeds, which means it is easy on your battery, and the motor is maintenance-free.

We love how light it is! If you need to carry and mount your motor every time you use it, you know what difference the weight can make.

Even though the tiller is not the most comfortable to hold, you can tilt it 180 degrees which I find very useful. It gives you more positions to hand steer your boat, but it is also very convenient if you want to save storage space.

TECH SPECS

Thrust65 lb
Shaft35.5″
SteeringHand Steer
Voltage 12 Volt
Amp Draw50A
SpeedsVariable
Use InSaltwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Tiller tilts 180 degrees
  • Very light

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • No noticeable thrust difference over the 55-pound model

3. MotorGuide R3 Saltwater 55

This MotorGuide trolling motor is the saltwater version of the very popular R3 Digital model.

It takes all the strong points from that model and adds saltwater capability. Yes, that means it’s built with high-grade materials and coatings and comes with a sacrificial anode to protect the motor.

The motor is very easy to control. The digital speed control gives it the expected efficiency and increased run time in comparison to the simple 8-speed models.

All in all a nice piece of equipment from MotorGuide!

TECH SPECS

Thrust55 lb
Shaft36″
SteeringHand Steer
Voltage 12 Volt
Amp Draw50A
SpeedsVariable
Use InSaltwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Ergonomic handle
  • Very quiet

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Expensive

4. Newport Vessels NV-Series 55

NV-Series 55 lb takes the #4 spot in our 2021 ranking!

It’s a very well-designed and tried model that offers the right balance of performance, size, and weight for fishing boat owners.

It comes with a 5-point LED battery indicator and a sacrificial anode. This, alongside other corrosion-resistant components, makes the NV-Series saltwater-capable.

The main difference between this Newport Vessels motor and other models on this list is the lack of a variable-speed motor controller. You do have 5 forward and 3 reverse speeds, but you can’t control the speed smoothly.

More importantly, this motor is not as efficient as the above ones, especially at slower trolling speeds.

On the plus side, it is quite a bit less expensive.

If you’re on a budget, this motor could be a good match.

TECH SPECS

Thrust55 lb
Shaft30″
SteeringHand Steer
Voltage 12 Volt
Amp Draw50A
Speeds5 FWD, 3 REV
Use InSaltwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Telescopic handle
  • Low price

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • No variable speeds make it less efficient than the competition

8 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Saltwater Trolling Motor

There are literally hundreds of different trolling motors models, and thousands if you count various thrust, shaft and feature 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. Why Is Saltwater Capability Important?

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.

For example, Minn Kota and Motorguide 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.

If you use a freshwater trolling motor in saltwater, it will often void your warranty.

2. How Do I Mount It on My Boat?

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

  • Bow mount
  • Transom mount
  • Engine mount

Bow mount trolling motors are very popular 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.

3. What Size Saltwater Trolling Motor Do I Need?

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.

4. What Are The Steering Options?

Electric-steer trolling motors offer more control options, such as using wireless remote and GPS positioning that help you get where you want to be and focus on fishing.

Cable-steer motors have a multi-function foot pedal which is directly linked to the lower unit via a cable. It’s a less sophisticated system than the electric one but more responsive and very popular for bass fishing.

Hand-steer models use a tiller handle for direct control, very much like traditional outboards.

5. What About Batteries and Run Time?

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.

6. Calculating the Right Shaft Length

Selecting the right shaft of your trolling motor is absolutely vital. The shaft must be long enough for the propeller to stay submerged at least 16″ below the water line regardless of water and weather conditions.

You don’t want the propeller to get out of water in choppy waters or/and suck 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.

7. GPS Navigation Gives Near Complete Control

GPS trolling motors, e.g. Minn Kota’s i-Pilot or Motorguide’s Pinpoint GPS, 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.

8. 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.

Saltwater Trolling Motor FAQ

Can you use a regular trolling motor in saltwater?

Technically you can, but it’s not recommended. If you use a freshwater trolling motor in salt water it will corrode much faster, it will also usually void your warranty.

Is it OK to use a saltwater trolling motor in freshwater?

Absolutely. A saltwater trolling motor will be fine in freshwater.

How do I know if my trolling motor is saltwater-capable?

Each trolling motor description should state clearly whether it can be used in saltwater. ely

What materials are these motors built with?

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

What is a sacrificial anode?

It’s a piece of metal fixed to the prop. The anode is made of a material that prevents your motor from rapid rusting.

Sources

Minn Kota Technology

MotorGuide

Haswing