Best Trolling Motors For Pontoon Boats

Best Trolling Motors For Pontoon Boats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

February 1, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • You should determine the size of the motor and thrust you need before purchasing
  • Most pontoon owners use bow-mounted trolling motors.
  • Determine the shaft length you will need to navigate water near your home.

You’ve bought a pontoon boat that will be great for fishing, but you need a trolling motor. What are the best trolling motors for pontoon boats?

The best trolling motors for pontoon boats are listed below, with details about why we love them.

  • Minn Kota Edge Freshwater Cable-Steer Bow-Mount
  • MotorGuide Xi3 Freshwater
  • Garmin G-Force
  • Haswing Cayman
  • Minn Kota Terrova

With the popularity of pontoons growing on American waterways, more and more families are taking their pontoon boats to their favorite fishing holes. Many owners have found that while the outboard motor will get them to the right spot, they need a trolling motor to help move the boat into the shallows, where the fish love to hide. But what are the best trolling motors for pontoons? The last thing you want is to purchase a typical trolling motor just to find that it isn’t enough to move your pontoon anywhere. This article will discuss the best trolling motors and why you should consider purchasing them.


Table of contents

What are the Best Trolling Motors?

Several manufacturers make trolling motors for pontoon boats. Here are some units you can purchase for the best trolling motor.

Minn Kota Edge Freshwater Cable-Steer Bow-Mount

Minn Kota Edge Freshwater Cable-Steer Bow-Mount
Minn Kota Edge Freshwater Cable-Steer Bow-Mount

Minn Kota trolling motors have been around for a while, and this fresh-water bow mount trolling motor is one of the more capable of the bunch. It is made with virtually indestructible composite materials, has strong prop rotation, and very quiet operation.

Made from anti-corrosion materials, the Minn Kota will stand up to even the roughest tests. At a 52 “ shaft, 70 lbs of thrust, and 24 v - this power prop has more than enough power to move even larger pontoon boats in and out of the thickest reed beds. (There is also a 45 “ model available).

One of the best features of this trolling motor is the latch and door bracket, which can make stowing it away relatively easy. At only 78 lbs, the troller clamps to the gate or rail, and a cable powers the unit, with a specially designed foot pedal for motor control. You can adjust speed power by tapping a heel or toe. There is variable speed control (five speeds).

The Edge has a two-year warranty and has no tech options, so you will need to buy a fish finder if you want one. This unit is a simple trolling motor that does what you want and lasts forever.


  • Rugged composite materials
  • Five different speeds
  • Strong prop motion
  • Easy mount with locking latch and door bracket


  • No as many add-ons as other trolling motors.


For more information, check out the manufacturer’s website.

To see TODAY’S PRICE, see the Amazon website.

MotorGuide Xi3 Freshwater

MotorGuide Xi3 Freshwater
MotorGuide Xi3 Freshwater

This is a moderately priced trolling motor with GPS and wireless controls. This freshwater motor mounts very easily with a quick-release locking lever. The mounting The prop is 40 % quieter than other competitors, and the corrosion-sealed housing prevents water from ruining the components. The composite shaft extends down 54 inches (although 48 and 60 inches are also available). The three-blade Machete prop is powerful enough to pull even the most moderately sized pontoons.

The Xi3 is a bow-mounted unit with high-tech capability which means that the trolling motor can be operated anywhere on the boat.  In addition, a digital display provides helpful information, including PinPoint GPS, a battery meter, speed, and other functions. The Xi3 comes in various lengths, but this one cost between 1,000 - 1,300 dollars.


  • Wireless remote control
  • Wide, clear digital display
  • Can adjust propulsions speed
  • Strong Machette prop
  • Easy mount with foot-step locking bracket


  • Bow mounted only.


For more information, check out the manufacturer’s website.

To see TODAY’S PRICE, see the Amazon website.

Garmin Force® Trolling Motor

Garmin Force® Trolling Motor
Garmin Force® Trolling Motor

This freshwater trolling motor is the most expensive at $3500, which is the bad news. The good news is that this little power plant does it all. This luxury trolling motor won the ICast Award in 2019 for the best product and the DAME award for marine design the same year. As far as bow mount trolling motors go, this beauty is the king of them all, bound to please pontoon boat owners everywhere.

Controlled by a wireless remote and/or separate foot pedal controls, the motor is powerful enough to move a pontoon boat much larger than you might expect. The Force comes with a 50” shaft, 24v or 36 v, and delivers 80 - 100 lbs of trolling motor thrust. The battery life is much longer than other trolling brands, capable of moving the boat for an entire afternoon if needed.

The Garmin remote is water-resistant (and it floats), programmable, and capable of handling a variety of commands. (This system is so advanced that all you have to do is point the remote in the direction you want to go. Then sit back while the boat obeys your commands). You can integrate the Force with Garmin MFD (multifunction devices), including active sonar, Chartplotter, or other Nav systems.

The battery life is much longer than other trolling brands. The setup and removal are easy activities with dual gas springs and can be stowed efficiently for times you don’t need it. The motor is durable and efficient, quiet as any on the market. Once installed, you will be amazed at everything this system can do.


  • Gesture controls
  • Integrated with MFDs
  • Long battery life
  • Easy mount with foot-controlled gas springs
  • Three-year warranty - lifetime on shaft


  • Probably more than most boat owners need.
  • Expensive, but most owners love it.


For more information, check out the manufacturer’s website.

To see TODAY’S PRICE, see the Amazon website.

Haswing Cayman

Haswing Cayman
Haswing Cayman

The bow-mounted trolling motor ranks on our top list because of how quiet it is. The unit is wireless and works with a remote, foot pedals, smartphone, or iPad. GPS navigation is built in, which allows you to tag certain fishing spots or program routes. The possibilities are endless.

The freshwater bow mount is quite capable and easy to mount. Various options are available, but we like the 12v - 54-inch shaft that produces 55 lbs of trolling motor thrust. (Most fishing pontoons under 22 ‘ should find the thrust pounds adequate for motoring around the coves near your favorite fishing hole).

One of the best features is the break-away safety cord that disconnects and shuts the trolling motor off in an emergency. The unit has an LED battery meter of power levels and route life.


  • Quiet electric motor
  • Integrated with MFDs, remote, and watch
  • Break away safety override cord
  • Easy mount with foot pedal controls
  • Adaptable for saltwater applications


  • Made in China
  • 2-year warranty is good, but not long enough.


For more information, check out the manufacturer’s website.

To see TODAY’S PRICE, see the Amazon website.

Minn Kota Terrova 112

Minn Kota Terrova 112
Minn Kota Terrova 112

One of the best trolling motors on the market for freshwater applications is this trolling motor from Minn Kota. This unit is an effective motor with a long battery life. Its flared propeller design will eliminate weed-whacking by not being bogged down in tall reed pools. The Terrova has GPS i-Pilot that can record paths, track routes, and store information.

The unit is controlled through a wireless remote or footpad with steering buttons on the right and left. The motor offers 80 lbs of thrust, which is more than most boaters need. The 60-inch shaft is deep enough to handle almost any shallows (other options are available). The Terrova’s anchor lock system will keep the boat centered as you fish, so you can spend more time baiting your kid’s hooks. (Any Dad knows spending time with the kids is much more critical than trolling). Setup and storage are easy, and you can hook it up in less than a minute. User reviews for the Terrova have been very positive, and this Minnesota company is one of the most trusted names in trolling motor brands.


  • Longest battery life
  • Integrated with i-Pilot GP
  • Easy mount with remote controls
  • Weedless prop keeps it from getting tangled
  • Made in Minnesota


  • 2-year warranty is standard, but we wish it were longer.


For more information, check out the manufacturer’s website.

To see TODAY’S PRICE, see the Amazon website.

What is a Trolling Motor?

A trolling motor is a smaller portable electric motor fastened to the edge of a pontoon boat. This motor consists of three primary components; a small propeller connected to a shaft, which is then hooked to an electric motor. Trolling motors allow boat owners to navigate to areas of water where an outboard motor might not be viable. Since trolling motors have smaller propellers, they make less noise than an outboard motor, which makes them ideal for getting closer to areas where fish tend to congregate.

Trolling motors can also help keep a boat stationary in a current spot without deploying an anchor. Many owners use them with GPS fish finders to help make the fishing experience more enjoyable.

Are there Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Trolling Motor?

Before you plop down your hard-earned money on a trolling motor, you must figure out a few things.

Mount Position

One of the first things to determine is the location of where you plan to mount the motor. Pontoon owners have various options; aft on the transom, bow, or an engine mount.

A bow mount is the most common type of trolling motor in use today. A trolling motor fastened in this location makes it easier for front fishing partners to control the slight, subtle movements needed when fishing for freshwater game fish like bass, catfish, and bluegill. Some pontoon manufacturers include these types of motors in their fishing packages as available accessories.

Some pontoon owners prefer a transom-mounted trolling motor because it is easier to install and less expensive. Transom mounts do not allow the same steering capability as a front-mounted unit.

An engine-mounted trolling motor is convenient because it attaches to your outboard motor and connects directly to the battery. Still, it tends to be more expensive than other trolling motors.

Trolling Motor Shaft Size and Thrust Power

The size of an electric trolling motor and the length of the shaft that extends into the water depends on how large your pontoon is.


Normally, engines are rated by the number of horse power they produce, but trolling motors are different. These smaller motors are categorized by thrust. A good general rule of thumb is for every 100 lbs your boat weighs  - you need around 2 pounds of thrust on the trolling motor. Refer to the chart below for guidance about what size trolling matter might work best for your situation.

Boat Length Less than 14 ‘ 15 - 17 ‘ 19 - 23’ Greater 24 ‘
Boat Weight 1,500 lbs 2000 - 2500 lbs 3000 - 35000 lbs > 4000 lbs
Thrust Needed 30 50 70 90
Volts Needed 12 v 24 v 24 v 36 v

In addition, because they are electric, the output that they produce is measured in volts. A smaller voltage trolling motor will have less power and thrust that a larger one.  Most pontoon owners choose a trolling motor with between 40 - 70 lbs of thrust.

Shaft Length

A trolling motor will not do any good if it cannot reach the water.  The best way to know how long the shaft needs to be is to measure from the mounting plate to the water and add two more feet (24 inches). Refer to the shaft length chart below.

Distance from Mount Plate to Water Length of Shaft
16” - 22” 40 “ - 48 “
23” - 28 “ 49” - 52 “
29 “ - 44” 53” - 72 “
Over 45” 85” or more

Added Tech

Depending on your budget, there are several enhancements that you can have with a trolling motor. Many manufacturers include GPS fish finders, speed and directional prompts, and even trolling motors controlled by a remote control or iPad instead of a foot pedal. While some of these additions are expensive, you should decide which options are essential before you head to a dealer to purchase an electric trolling motor.

Best Trolling Motors For Pontoon Boats
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

Read more articles

by this author

Home /

Best Trolling Motors For Pontoon Boats

Best Trolling Motors For Pontoon Boats
7 Best Places To Liveaboard A Sailboat >>Can You Live On A Sailboat Year Round? >>

Most Recent

Important Legal Info

Similar Posts

Popular Posts

Get The Best Sailing Content

Welcome aboard! Check your email...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

(866) 342-SAIL

© 2024 Life of Sailing
Address: 11816 Inwood Rd #3024 Dallas, TX 75244
DisclaimerPrivacy Policy