Trolling Motor Thrust Guide
Arguably the most important shopping consideration is how much thrust you'll need. Thrust, measured in pounds (lbs) is the standard measure of how powerful a motor is. The larger and heavier your boat, the more thrust you'll need to achieve satisfactory results on the water. If there's one thing you want to avoid, it's purchasing a trolling motor with too little thrust. Nothing kills a day on the water quite like an underpowered trolling motor that is sluggish or ineffective at positioning your boat for casting.
Boat weight is the most important consideration to take into account when choosing a trolling motor. A good rule of thumb is that you want a minimum of 2 lbs of thrust for every 100lbs. For example, if you have a 3000lb boat, fully loaded, then the calculation is (3000/100) * 2 = 60lbs of thrust. When calculating boat weight, make sure you calculate the heaviest potential weight which includes a boat fully loaded with gear, fuel and the maximum number of passengers.
Not sure how much your boat weighs? The easiest way to find out is to lookup your boat in the NADA boat directory, which lists boat weights for thousands of boats and is organized by manufacturer, model and length.
Fishing Conditions and Style
Fishing conditions and style should also play into your decision. If you usually fish on smooth lakes with no current, you should be able to stick to the listed minimum thrust without problems. However, if you spend most of your time in very fast moving water, significant currents or waves, you'll definitely want to move up a level or two in thrust to ensure ample power in all conditions.
If you want the ability to fish for multiple days without recharging, you'll also want to consider stepping up to more powerful motor. Moving from a 40lbs 12-volt motor (requiring one battery) to a 70lbs 24-volt motor (requiring two batteries) will provide you with significantly more run time. You may not need the high-end power available with the 70lbs motor, but the additional power and extra voltage will provide dramatically more run time. For more details on understanding and calculating run time, please see our run time guide.
General Thrust Recommendations
The following table is a good all-around thrust selection table, and a great place to start from. Please remember that the length / weight associations listed below are simply rough estimates. Your boat's actual weight will likely differ, possibly significantly, so it's best to make your a best-effort to calculate your boat's actual weight. For thrust recommendations for specific boats, please see our charts further down the page.
Boat Specific Thrust Charts
To help you select the best motor possible, we've assembled thrust recommendation charts for individual boat types. The thrusts portions highlighted in yellow represent the most popular thrust range for each specific boat given its common use, weight and application. Please note that while boat weights and lengths have been adjusted to better correspond to individual boat types, these are estimates only.
Bass Boat Recommendations
Fisherman with specially outfitted bass boats tend to choose large 70 to 100 lbs thrust motors. These larger motors can easily move heavier bass boats, and their 24 and 36 volt battery systems offer extended runtimes for all-day and tournament fishing.
Bay Boat Recommendations
Fisherman with specially outfitted bay boats tend to choose medium 70 to 80 lbs thrust motors and frequently with i-Pilot/GPS control. These motors are great in moderate breezes and moving currents.
V-Hull boats come in all different sizes and configurations, but the 40 lbs to 80 lbs trolling motors tend to be the most popular. Given the prominent transom, smaller v-hull boats will commonly use transom mount hand controlled motors. For details on specific motors, you can browse our top v-hull trolling motor recommendations.
Flats Boat Recommendations
Motors in the 45 to 70 lbs thrust range are popular with flats boats owners. As flats boats tend to be lighter, they don't require a tremendous amount of power. Additionally, flats are usually relatively calm and don't require a beefy motor to fight strong waves and currents. For details on specific motors, you can browse our top flat boats trolling motor recommendations.
Offshore Center Console Recommendations
Offshore operators who use their trolling motors in open waters usually pick strong 70 to 100 lbs motors. These motors have the power to manuever larger boats in wind and currents, allowing fishermen to stay positioned over reefs, rocks or weedlines. These motors also have longer shafts to prevent the prop from coming out of the water in choppy conditions. For details on specific motors, you can browse our top offshore center console trolling motor recommendations.
Pontoon and Runabout Recommendations
Multi-use pontoon and runabout boat owners tend to select 40 to 70 lbs of thrust, depending on the boat's weight. For details on specific motors, you can browse our top pontoon and runabout trolling motor recommendations.
Jon Boat Recommendations
Because they're so light, Joboats don't need excessive amounts of power. You'll find 30 lbs to 50 lbs motor most common on these lightweight vessels. If using a bow mount motor for the additional control and feature set, a smaller 45 lbs or 50 lbs motor should be plenty of thrust. For details on specific motors, you can browse our top jon boat trolling motor recommendations.