It’s fairly obvious electric trolling motors need a battery to power them, but what are other things you need to make the most of your investment?
Some of them you simply must have. For example, you will need a charger to maintain your battery properly. You should also have a circuit breaker or a fuse to run your motor safely.
Other accessories are purely optional but make your life easier and time on the water more enjoyable.
Let’s take a look:
Depending on the voltage of your motor, you will need at least one deep-cycle marine battery for your trolling motor. One battery for a 12V trolling motor, two batteries for 24V, etc.
When buying batteries, you have a choice of traditional lead-acid batteries (AGM, Gel) and lithium batteries, which cost more up-front but are lighter, offer better performance, and last longer. If you are new to using trolling motors, we recommend you get and test a lead-acid battery first.
This way you will learn about your requirements and perhaps next time choose to invest in a lithium battery of the right capacity.
A good battery charger will make sure it’s topped up and properly maintained. Besides, deep-cycle batteries are not cheap, and you will want to look after them so that they last more than one season.
Onboard chargers are installed and wired permanently to the batteries. This makes them very convenient to operate as all you need to do connect them to AC power.
Portable chargers need to be connected and removed from the batteries every time you need to charge them.
Smart chargers, also called automatic or intelligent, constantly monitor your battery’s current state and use a multi-stage charging process to deliver the right voltage and current at the right time.
This means you can connect your smart charger to the battery and pretty much forget about it. Your battery will be fully charged and properly maintained.
Even if left connected for a very long time, there is no risk of overcharging your battery.
Manual chargers are less sophisticated and usually less expensive than smart/automatic chargers.
Manual chargers don’t monitor the battery and will keep charging it until the charger is disconnected or unplugged.
This means you can’t just connect them and forget. You will need to monitor the state of the battery so it’s not overcharged. Overcharging leads to shortened battery life, damage, and potentially dangerous situations.
Unless you have a dedicated battery compartment on your boat, a battery box is a perfect way to give your battery protection from water, dust, and other elements.
Not only that, most of the boxes or power stations come with a trolling motor circuit breaker, LED battery meter, 12V socket for accessories, and even a USB charger so that you can charge your smartphone and other electronics.
Most battery boxes come with a convenient handle, which makes carrying your battery a little bit easier.
Mounts and Brackets
If you want to use your motor with confidence, you will need to make sure it is securely attached to your boat.
If your boat has a wide transom, and all you need is a transom mount motor, you probably won’t need any extra parts to use your motor. You use your motor’s clamps to secure it in place every time you need it.
If you have a kayak or canoe, you might still want to use a transom trolling motor. However, if your kayak doesn’t have a transom, you will have to use a special bracket that will act as a transom and a place to mount your motor securely.
Most center consoles or bass boats have trolling motors installed on the bow, which usually involves drilling a few holes and bolting your motor’s mounting plate to the boat.
You can also use a quick-release bracket that will allow you to easily remove your trolling motor from the boat without unbolting it.
When wiring your new trolling motor, don’t forget to install a correctly sized circuit breaker.
Trolling motor circuit breakers prevent the motor from excessive current and overload by tripping or breaking the circuit. This could happen when your prop gets stuck in weeds or other underwater objects.
If the prop can’t rotate freely, the electric motor will try to draw more current from the battery and increase the power. If it still can’t move, the high current will cause the motor to overheat.
Without a circuit breaker, this will most likely damage your motor.
Plugs and Receptacles
If you need to remove your motor for storage or maintenance from time to time, you should look into installing plugs and receptacles.
Trolling motor plugs are excellent because they let you quickly and safely disconnect the wiring of your motor without using any tools.
They work pretty much the same as plugs and sockets at your home. When you unplug the wire, you break the electrical connection and you can dismount your trolling motor safely.
A fish finder allows you to locate fish and track their movements underwater. They work by sending sound pulses and detecting their reflections.
Most fish finders come with an LCD to show you information about schools of fish or any underwater debris. Many models are equipped with GPS and can be integrated with your trolling motor steering system.
They are great help for beginners and professional fishermen alike.
A transducer is a sensor that makes it possible for your fish finder or depth sounder to operate.
Some more expensive trolling motor models come with transducers built-in to your motor’s housing. If yours doesn’t – don’t worry. You can always buy a transducer separately and attach it to your motor using dedicated hardware.
One thing to note is that different brands and models of fish finders require different transducers. So before purchasing anything, make sure you’re getting the right one!
Life Jackets and PFDs
Out of all trolling motor accessories, this is probably the most important.
In the United States, there must be a life jacket available for every person aboard a recreational vessel. And there are additional state requirements you should follow.
There are many types of life jackets, starting from inexpensive ones filled with buoyant foam to lightweight ones that inflate automatically when submerged.
If your primary purpose is fishing you will be most likely interested in PFDs that have multiple pockets and storage options.
It’s great to have everything you need within a hand’s reach.
If you haven’t bought your motor yet, remember to budget for all the accessories you know you will need.
You don’t want to spend your savings on an expensive model and later find out you have no money left for the batteries, chargers, etc.
Plan ahead and you’ll be fine!