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Electric trolling motors can help you to catch fish, but they are also increasingly used for other purposes, such as getting to your sailboat on your inflatable dinghy.

The biggest advantage of transom-mounted motors is that they are easier to install, learn how to use, and are usually far less expensive than bow mount models.

If you’re looking for a perfect motor for your boat, we’ve narrowed down and handpicked a few trolling motors that we think you should consider.

Transom Mount Freshwater Motors Compared

Minn Kota
Traxxis 80
Haswing 65Minn Kota
Endura Max 55
MotorGuide
R3
PricingCHECK PRICECHECK PRICECHECK PRICECHECK PRICE
HighlightsOne-hand stow
Tilt/extend tiller
Easy depth adjuster
Tilting tiller
Very light
Telescopic tiller
Power Prop
Telescopic tiller
Thrust80 lb65 lb55 lb45 lb
Shaft36", 42"35.5"36"36"
Weight30 lb14.6 lb26.5 lb25 lb
Voltage24V12V12V12V
Amp Draw56A50A50A45A
SpeedsVariableVariableVariable5 FWD / 3 REV
Use InFreshwaterFreshwater/
Saltwater
FreshwaterFreshwater

Why Choose a Transom Mounted Motor For Your Boat?

Transom mount trolling motors are very portable and easy to install, which makes them very popular on smaller aluminum and inflatable boats, kayaks, and canoes.

You attach the trolling motor to the boat’s transom using dual clamps, next to your outboard motor or instead of one, and that’s it! You’re good to go.

They are also relatively inexpensive, so if you want a simple and quiet means of propulsion for your boat, a transom trolling motor will be a great choice.

Freshwater Motor Reviews

1. Minn Kota Traxxis 80

Minn Kota Traxxis is our #1 choice for the best freshwater transom mount trolling motors this year.

With its 80 pounds of thrust, this motor is suitable for boats up to 4000 lb.

It’s the only 24 volt motor on this list, which means you will need two 12 volt batteries instead of one to power it. Thanks to 24 volts, this motor is more efficient, which lets you stay on water longer.

Apart from the performance, it’s effortless to stow. 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.

All these features make it a clear winner in our freshwater transom mount category!

TECH SPECS

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

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Very easy stowing
  • Tilt/extend tiller
  • Quick depth adjuster

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Pricey

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.

Oh, did I mention you can use it in salt water? Yes, this is our freshwater ranking, but it’s nice to have saltwater capability nevertheless. It means an additional level of corrosion protection that will help prolong your motor’s life.

TECH SPECS

Thrust65 lb
Shaft35.5″
SteeringHand Steer
Voltage12 Volt
Amp Draw50A
SpeedsVariable
Use InFreshwater & Saltwater

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Tiller tilts 180 degrees
  • Very light
  • Saltwater capable

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Not much real difference between this and the 55 lb model

3. Minn Kota Endura Max 55

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

It’s well built, reliable, and affordable, and that’s why I don’t hesitate to recommend it for smaller boats navigating lakes and rivers.

“Max” in the motor’s name refers to the Digital Maximizer, Minn Kota’s brand name for the variable-speed motor controller. It basically means you can control the speed smoothly in both directions.

This is very convenient, but more importantly, it makes your motor run more efficiently, which translates to longer battery life.

My only problem with this model is the power cables’ length, but if your battery is very close to the transom, it shouldn’t really matter.

In one word: recommended!

TECH SPECS

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

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Telescoping tiller
  • Power Prop

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Short power cables

4. MotorGuide R3 Digital 55

Next on our list is MotorGuide’s R3 Digital.

Just like other motors in this category, it has variable speeds and comparable thrust levels. Its three-blade propeller helps with quick acceleration.

There are other things to like, such as the modern look and ergonomic tiller handle, which can be extended.

The motor feels very solid and well built with powder-coated aluminum and steel.

If you prefer MotorGuide to Minn Kota and others, you won’t be disappointed with this model.

TECH SPECS

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

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Telescopic tiller

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • Some users report problems with an On/Off switch

Transom Mount Saltwater 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 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

We already featured the Haswing among our top picks for freshwater trolling motors because being suitable for saltwater, it makes it automatically freshwater-capable.

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 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 the 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 #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, which alongside other corrosion-resistant components, makes it saltwater compatible.

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 lower trolling speeds.

On the plus side, this motor is quite a bit less expensive. If you’re on a budget, this motor could be for you!

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

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 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. For 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.

2. 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.

3. Controlling The Speed

With transom-mounted trolling motors, you have the choice of two different types of speed control, from very simple to more sophisticated:

  • Simple High/Low speed switch on the head unit
  • 5 Forward / 3 Reverse speeds you can select by twisting the handle/tiller in either direction
  • Variable speeds, also selectable by twisting the tiller

A variable-speed motor has a smooth power delivery in forward and reverse.

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

4. Measure Your Transom 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. You take the distance from the top of your transom down to the waterline and add 15-20 inches.

If you’re stuck deciding between a shorter and longer shaft version, it’s usually safer to go a little longer.

Keep in mind a longer shaft will stick out more when you trim your motor for shallow water. For this reason, we prefer trolling motors with a tiller that you can tilt downwards and control comfortably regardless of the motor’s depth.

5. Saltwater Capability For Offshore Fishing

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.

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

Your saltwater-capable motor will come with a sacrificial anode fixed to the prop. This will ensure your motor will last much longer.

It is important to note that if you use a freshwater trolling motor in saltwater, it will often void your warranty.

Transom Trolling Motor FAQ

How do you mount a trolling motor on transom?

Transom mount trolling motors usually have 2 clamps that are used to hold the motor in place. You open the clamps, place the motor carefully over the transom, and tighten the clamps. You can then connect the battery and adjust the depth of the motor.

How do you adjust the depth of the motor?

Most transom mount motors have a clip, ring, or a different way to set the depth. You need to make sure that it is at least 10 inches deep, to prevent propeller cavitation and noise.

How do you safely connect the battery?

Connect the battery. Before you do it, make sure the motor speed is set to 0 to avoid accidental thrust from the motor. Always connect the positive terminal (+) first and the negative second.

When disconnecting, it should be the other way round, i.e., disconnect the negative (-) first and the positive (+) last.

Sources

Minn Kota Technology

MotorGuide

Haswing