best saltwater trolling motors

Salinity Solutions: The 6 Absolute Best Saltwater Trolling Motors

Do you have a saltwater trolling motor for your Jon boat, skiff or runabout? What about your fishing kayak or canoe?

You’re probably thinking you don’t need one. After all, the purpose of a kayak or canoe is to paddle, right? And most small boats have a motor.

So why even consider a trolling motor? It’s more beneficial than you might think. Read on for some solid advice on why you just might want to add a saltwater trolling motor to your water-going vessel.

What Does a Saltwater Trolling Motor Do?

A saltwater trolling motor works just like a freshwater trolling motor, but with the added ability to take on salty, brackish waters.

Stainless steel and other corrosion-resistant properties keep it from becoming a big piece of rust in saltwater conditions. As an added bonus, saltwater trolling motors can do double duty in freshwaters. However, you wouldn’t want to use a freshwater trolling motor in saltwater.

Here are some quick tips on how a saltwater trolling motor can help you out:

  • Prevent damage to your main boat propeller if you’re in a shallow spot
  • Get in or out of a harbor in a sailboat (especially if there’s no wind)
  • Use while fishing to get in and out of tight spaces (you won’t have to start up a loud outboard motor and scare away all the fish)
  • Use in a kayak for faster travel when storms or rough conditions come up
  • Keep a small one in your jet ski for unintended strandings

Essential Features of a Saltwater Trolling Motor

Let’s take a minute to go over some of the main features of saltwater trolling motors.

  • Motor Head — The motor head is the part at the top. Depending upon how high-tech it is, it has controls, LED displays and navigation information on it.
  • Propeller — Just like a traditional boat motor, this part turns and “propels” the boat through the water. For saltwater boating, you’ll want stainless steel and other non-corrosive materials.
  • Shaft — The shaft is the long “pole” that goes into the water, connecting the propeller to the head. The length determines the level of control you’ll have, but you’ll want to keep a happy medium with the shaft length. If it’s too long, it won’t be good for shallow water. If it’s too short, it won’t be good for rough conditions. The size and shape of the boat, as well as the height of the stern or bow, is a good indicator. For example, a deep V hull would need a longer shaft.
  • Battery Power — Battery gauges are usually located in the head of the motor. This feature alerts you to low battery power so that you know when it needs to be charged. Most trolling motors are 12, 24 or 36 volts.
  • Thrust Power — Thrust is the amount of strength that’s needed to move the boat in the water. More thrust equals better maneuverability. However, you also don’t want too much power, which can overwhelm a small boat.
  • Corrosion Resistance — One of the most important things to search for when buying saltwater trolling motors is corrosion-resistant construction. Look for marine-grade alloys, stainless steel, powder-coated paints, anodized metal and zinc dichromate armor plating.
  • Sacrificial Anode — This small metal tab is located on the bottom of the motor. It has more coverage and protective coatings than a freshwater motor.

What to Consider When Buying a Saltwater Trolling Motor

Size of the Boat

Contrary to our boating mindset, bigger isn’t always better.

Like I mentioned above, you’ll want to keep your saltwater trolling motor in line with the size of your boat. Don’t be tempted with super high thrust and 36 volts of power when you only have a 12-foot Jon boat.

Transom or Bow-Mounted

Bow mounts work by pulling the boat, and transom mounts push the boat.

If you do a lot of fishing from the front of your boat, a bow mount is a convenient option. Bow mounts are also a good choice for large boats that are more than 14 feet.

Transom mounts are great for smaller boats. If you have a lot of people on your boat, you might enjoy a transom mount for the extra space at the bow.

Hand or Foot-Controlled

Hand-controlled trolling motors provide a fuller range of control and real-time movement.

Foot-Controlled motors allow hands-free motion, great for when you’re holding a fishing pole in your hand. They’re also pretty simple to operate, but they take up more deck space than the hand-controlled variety. Some trolling motors even come with high-tech autopilot (or remote control) navigation.

Conditions Where You Normally Boat

Wind, waves and currents play a big part.

If you boat in shallow waters, you’ll want to make sure you find a trolling motor with a shorter shaft.

Power

If you stay out for long periods of time, you’ll want a motor with a long battery life.

Maintenance

Unlike freshwaters, where you can usually just “stow and go,” you’ll need to rinse off a saltwater trolling motor after every use. It’s also not a good idea to leave it submerged in saltwater while the boat is docked.

Salinity Solutions: The 6 Absolute Best Saltwater Trolling Motors

Preview
Aquos White Haswing 12V 55LBS 48" Shaft Bow Mount Electric Trolling Motor Lightweight, Variable Speed, with Foot Control for Bass Fishing Boats Freshwater and Saltwater Use, Energy Saving
Minn Kota Terrova a 55 54" Shaft 55 lbs Thrust 12V Trolling Motor with i-Pilot & Bluetooth No Foot Pedal
Minn Kota Riptide 70 SM Saltwater Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with Latch and Door Bracket and Speed Coil (70-lb Thrust 52" Shaft)
MotorGuide X3 Bow Mount Foot-Control 940200090
Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36lb Thrust Transom Mounted Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor w/ LED Battery Indicator (24" Shaft)
U-BCOO 8 Speed Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor Fishing Boat Outboard Motor Kayak (L-12V-60lbs)
Item
Aquos White Haswing Electric Trolling Motor
Minn Kota Terrova Trolling Motor with i-Pilot
Minn Kota Riptide Maxxum Saltwater Trolling Motor
Motorguide X3 Saltwater Trolling Motor
Newport Vessels Kayak 36 lb. / 55 lb. Thrust Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor
U-BCOO 8-Speed Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor
Mount
Bow (or transom with the use of clamps)
Interchangeable
Bow
Bow
Transom
Transom
Control
Foot
Remote Control
Hand
Hand or Foot Models
Hand
Hand
Preview
Aquos White Haswing 12V 55LBS 48" Shaft Bow Mount Electric Trolling Motor Lightweight, Variable Speed, with Foot Control for Bass Fishing Boats Freshwater and Saltwater Use, Energy Saving
Item
Aquos White Haswing Electric Trolling Motor
Mount
Bow (or transom with the use of clamps)
Control
Foot
Check Price
Preview
Minn Kota Terrova a 55 54" Shaft 55 lbs Thrust 12V Trolling Motor with i-Pilot & Bluetooth No Foot Pedal
Item
Minn Kota Terrova Trolling Motor with i-Pilot
Mount
Interchangeable
Control
Remote Control
Check Price
Preview
Minn Kota Riptide 70 SM Saltwater Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with Latch and Door Bracket and Speed Coil (70-lb Thrust 52" Shaft)
Item
Minn Kota Riptide Maxxum Saltwater Trolling Motor
Mount
Bow
Control
Hand
Check Price
Preview
MotorGuide X3 Bow Mount Foot-Control 940200090
Item
Motorguide X3 Saltwater Trolling Motor
Mount
Bow
Control
Hand or Foot Models
Check Price
Preview
Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36lb Thrust Transom Mounted Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor w/ LED Battery Indicator (24" Shaft)
Item
Newport Vessels Kayak 36 lb. / 55 lb. Thrust Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor
Mount
Transom
Control
Hand
Check Price
Preview
U-BCOO 8 Speed Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor Fishing Boat Outboard Motor Kayak (L-12V-60lbs)
Item
U-BCOO 8-Speed Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor
Mount
Transom
Control
Hand
Check Price

Now that we’ve gone over some reasons why you might want a saltwater trolling motor, let’s check out some makes and models.

Aquos White Haswing Electric Trolling Motor

Check price on Amazon

best saltwater trolling motors

The Aquos White Haswing is a great choice because of its lightweight size, 48-inch shaft, corrosion resistance and cruise control. Yes, cruise control! This allows you to maintain a constant, and super quiet, speed while sneaking up on fish.

It’s made of stainless steel and has a sacrificial anode to protect metal parts. It has a wireless remote control and a 14.7-foot cable-wired foot control.

It’s a bow-mount, but you can also use clamps to use it as a transom mount.

  • Mount: Bow (or transom with the use of clamps)
  • Control: Foot

Minn Kota Terrova Trolling Motor with i-Pilot

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best saltwater trolling motors

The Minn Kota Terrova is a top-of-the-line saltwater trolling motor.

GPS controls and and i-Pilot system automatically controls the motor and finds the fish while 55 pounds of thrust gets you where you’re going. And quickly!

The Lift-Assist design allows you to easily raise the motor. No worries with weeds, grasses and seaweed often found in shallow water boating. The Weedless Wedge 2 prop cuts right through it.

A composite shaft won’t rust in saltwater conditions. And I’m a big fan of the large LED screen.

  • Mount: Interchangeable
  • Control: Remote Control

Minn Kota Riptide Maxxum Saltwater Trolling Motor (with Latch)

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best saltwater trolling motors

The Minn Kota Riptide Maxxum has a rust-resistant composite shaft that’s virtually indestructible.

It has a tilting extended tiller and is made of aluminum, marine-grade alloys and anodized metal with a zinc dichromate armor plating. And powder-coat paint gives extra durability.

Minn Kota’s Weedless Wedge 2 prop cuts through grasses and seaweed. The streamlined design is a great addition to any sailboat, Jon boat or even a kayak.

  • Mount: Bow
  • Control: Hand

Motorguide X3 Saltwater Trolling Motor

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best saltwater trolling motors

The Motorguide X3 Bow-Mount Trolling Motor has added features like composite stainless-steel bushings and a precision locking pin to make it extra quiet on the water.

Variable Ratio Steering gives you an accurate position even in wind and waves.

It’s a bit on the pricier side, but if you’re looking for more bells and whistles, it’s an excellent choice.

The Motorguide X3 is available in both a hand and foot-control models.

  • Mount: Bow
  • Control: Hand or Foot Models

Newport Vessels Kayak 36 lb. / 55 lb. Thrust Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor

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best saltwater trolling motors

Looking for a sturdy and reliable saltwater trolling motor for your kayak? The Newport Vessels Kayak Trolling Motor has an aluminum motor head with corrosion-resistant magnesium, zinc and stainless-steel hardware.

The 24-inch shaft is adjustable, and it’s a good size for the shallower depths used in kayaking or canoeing.

It has a 12-volt marine battery, 8 speeds and two blades for reduced drag and great balance.

You could also use it in your freshwater adventures.

  • Mount: Transom
  • Control: Hand

U-BCOO 8-Speed Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor

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best saltwater trolling motors

The U-BCOO 8-Speed Saltwater Trolling Motor is made of a corrosion-resistant composite for durability in the ocean, gulf or bay.

With five forward speeds (and three reverse) and 90 pounds of thrust, you’ll be able to catch all the fish.

It has a 36-inch shaft, two blades, a battery power indicator and an adjustable handle with a smooth grip.

It’s a nice basic trolling motor to use on a Jon boat or a sailboat. And the mid-range price point is a definite selling point.

  • Mount: Transom
  • Control: Hand

Crank Up Your Saltwater Trolling Motor Today!

Ready to run out and buy a saltwater trolling motor?

Hopefully this has given you some solid advice on the best type for your boat.


Sandy Allen is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, islands and yacht charters to theme parks and family fun. She enjoys boating, snorkeling and jet-skiing along the waterways of Virginia, Florida and North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Follow her adventures at Somewhere in the Sand.