Best Trolling Motors for Pontoon Boats

Pontoon boats significantly differ in size, weight, hydrodynamic form, surface, and other features and it is impossible to define 'the best' electric trolling motor to fit them all.

But, if You are looking for a new electric trolling motor or even motors for your pontoon boat, here we explain a few very important things to consider before buying a new motor(s) and suitable batteries.

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Quick Intro to Pontoon Boats

Pontoon boats range from ultralight inflatable pontoon boats and homemade pontoons consisting of most often a pair of plastic tubes connected with a central platform that are suitable for calm waters to large, rigid pontoon boats, suitable even for open water and some bad weather.

When considering the means of propulsion for such boats, there are many things to consider, including boat size and weight, load capacity, required speed and endurance, type and position of motor mount, motor control, battery types, and similar.

Motor Thrust vs Pontoon Boat Weight

The general rule of thumb regarding electric motors thrust and boat weight is 1 (one) pound of thrust for every 50 (fifty) pounds of loaded boat weight. And this is the minimum recommended thrust for boats used in calm waters, with no currents or wind.

Due to the ultralight weight of inflatable pontoons, and relatively large surface, they may be very sensitive to wind, requiring much stronger motors than the general rule of thumb would suggest.

The following comparison chart lists some of the most popular electric trolling motors that are commonly used on pontoon boats:

Electric Trolling Motor model Maximum Thrust Voltage Maximum
Current
Max Power Recommended
Circuit Breaker
Newport Vessels 36lb Thrust NV-Series 36 pounds 12V 30A 360 W 40 A
Outsunny 36lb 12V Transom Trolling Motor 36 pounds 12V  ~30A 354 W 40 A
Intex 40lb Transom Trolling Motor 40 pounds 12V 35A 420 W 40 A
Minn Kota Riptide SC 45lb Transom Trolling Motor 45 pounds 12V 42A 504 W 50 A
Newport Vessels 46lb Thrust NV-Series 46 pounds 12V 40A 480 W 50 A
Outsunny 50lb 12V Transom Trolling Motor 50 pounds 12V 47A 564 W 50 A
Minn Kota Riptide 55 SP Bow-Mount Trolling Motor 55 pounds 12V 50A 600 W 60 A
Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust NV-Series 55 pounds 12V 52A 624 W 50 A*
Saturn 55 Lbs Electric Tolling Motor 55 pounds 12V 50A 600 W 60 A
Newport Vessels 62lb Thrust NV-Series 62 pounds 12V 58A 696 W 60 A*
Minn Kota Riptide 80 ST Bow-Mount Trolling Motor 80 pounds 24V 56A 1344 W 60 A
MotorGuide Xi5 Wireless GPS Trolling Motor 80 pounds 24V 56A 1344 W 60 A
Newport Vessels 86lb Thrust NV-Series 86 pounds 24V 48A 1152 W 50 A*
Minn Kota EM 101 Engine Mounted Trolling Motor 101 pounds 36V 50A 1800 W 60 A
Minn Kota Riptide 112 ST Trolling Motor 112 pounds 36V 52A 1872 W 60 A
Minn Kota Riptide EM 160 Engine Mounted Trolling Motor 160 pounds 24V 116A 2784 W 2x60 A*

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Before buying a new trolling motor, verify a few things first.

Pontoon Boat Load Capacity

Every boat comes with the maximum load capacity, regardless of its use.

Maximum load capacity is the load weight that the boat may safely support and it includes people, trolling motor, trolling motor battery, and the rest of the gear that is carried on the boat.

Entry-level pontoons support 200 or so pounds, but larger units support 600+ pounds and are suitable for 2+ people with various equipment.

Bow vs Stern Mounts

Most pontoons come with the stern trolling motor mounts and thanks to the pontoon boat construction, allow the user to have the motor near the boat seat, ensuring easy and comfortable control of the motor's thrust and direction.

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Stern mounts are suitable for most situations, but bow mounts may be very useful when, for example, trolling.

Note: Trolling is a fishing technique with one or more lines (with baits and/or lures) that are pulled through the water. This may be done by pulling the line behind a slow-moving boat, or by slowly rewinding the line via fishing reel or manually when fishing from the land or from the boat.

Having both fishing lines and trolling motor over the boat's stern can cause issues when trying to land a fish. That is why many fishermen prefer bow mount when trolling - the motor is away from the lines, decreasing the danger of getting the lines entangled around the motor's prop or shaft.

pontoon trolling motor 1

Hand, Foot, or Remote Control

Hand motor control is the most common one - the handle is used to steer the boat manually and to adjust the motor's thrust as required. Hand control is very easy to achieve on small pontoon boats when the user is not preoccupied with other tasks.

But, in certain situations, the user either requires both hands for the task ahead, or the motor is not close enough to control it by hand.

Foot motor control uses a wired or wireless motor controller that is semi-fixed and operated as its name suggests, by foot. Such motor control may be awkward at the beginning, but it frees both hands for other tasks - for example, reeling in the game fish or anything similar.

Since the foot controller is used to control a trolling motor that may be some distance apart from the user, it is commonly used to control bow mounted trolling motors.

minn kota remote

Wireless remote controllers are operated by hand and allow the user to easily control a trolling motor a few feet/yards away, regardless if it is stern or bow-mounted.

Both foot controller and remote controllers in general, increase the price of the electric trolling motors, but they also can come in very handy in many situations.

Pontoon Trolling Motor Battery

When going for the 'best' battery, there are few things to consider, including:

windynation bat nsap12 100 m- battery capacity depends on the required operating time and average and maximum required current by the trolling motor. It is not the same to power 50 Amps motor for 15 minutes at half throttle or one hour at full throttle. When being discharged quickly, lead-acid (wet, AGM, Gel-Cell) batteries experience a capacity drop - for example, on average 1h capacity of the lead-acid batteries is just 55-65% of their nominal (20h) capacity (model dependent). On the other hand, lithium batteries don't suffer from such capacity drop.

As a rule of thumb, a 12V 100Ah deep cycle battery is a good starting point for most users.

- battery weight depends on the battery capacity, voltage, and chemistry. Lithium deep cycle batteries are 2-3x lighter than lead-acid batteries, they cost several times more, but they also can withstand 10-20x more charging/discharging cycles. Also, they can be quickly recharged, allowing a single battery to be charged/discharged several times per day without issues.

- battery price depends on the chemistry and the battery size. While lithium batteries initially cost more, they are a very cost-effective solution for applications where they cycle often. If You need a battery for occasional use (for example, few times per week) and you don't have weight issues with your pontoon, a good AGM or Gel-Cell battery can save You some money.

The following chart lists some of the most popular ~100 Ah AGM, Gel-Cell, and Lithium deep cycle batteries, with their features and specifications (list is given in alphabetic order):

Model Battery Type Goup Size Cell Type Ah CCA MCA RC Weight (lbs/kg)
AIMS 12V 100Ah AGM Deep Cycle 31 AGM 100 - - 180+ 70.5 lbs; 31.9 kg
AIMS 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 Deep Cycle 31 LiFePO4 100 - - ~240 30.2 lbs; 13.7 kg
Battle Born 100Ah 12V LiFePO4 Battery Deep Cycle 31 LiFePO4 100 - - ~240 29 lbs; 13.2 kg
Bioenno Power BLF-12100WS Deep Cycle 31 LiFePO4 100 - - ~240 28.1 lbs; 12.8 kg
Exide XMC-31 Deep Cycle 31 AGM 100 925 1110 200 68 lbs; 31 kg
ExpertPower EP12100 Deep Cycle 31 LiFePO4 100 - - ~240 29.7 lbs; 13.5 kg
ExpertPower EXP100 Deep Cycle 31 AGM 100 - - - 63.94 lbs; 30 kg
GreenLiFE GL100 Deep Cycle 31 LiFePO4 100 - - 240 28 lbs; 12.7 kg
Lifeline GPL-31T Deep Cycle 31 AGM 105 600 750 195 69 lbs;  31.5 kg
Lifeline GPL-31XT Deep Cyle 31 AGM 125 650 800 230 74 lbs; 33.5 kg
Miady LFP100AH Deep Cycle 31 LiFePO4  100 - - ~240 28.9 lbs; 13.1 kg
Mighty Max ML100-12 AGM Deep Cycle 27 AGM 100 - - - 63.9 lbs; 29 kg
Mighty Max ML100-12Li Deep Cycle 30H LiFePO4 100 - - ~240 29.5 lbs; 13.4 kg
Mighty Max ML110-12 AGM Deep Cycle 30H AGM 110 - - - 63.9 lbs; 29 kg
NorthStar ELT-AGM31 Dual Purpose 31 AGM 100 925 1050 190 65.7 lbs; 29.8 kg
NorthStar NSB-AGM31M Dual Purpose 31 AGM 103 1150 1370 220 75 lbs; 34 kg
Odyssey 31M-PC2150 Dual Purpose 31 AGM 100 1150 1370 205 77.8 lbs; 35.3 kg 
Powermall LFP12100 Deep Cycle 27 AGM 100 - - - 58 lbs; 26.3 kg
POWERSTAR Group 27 12V 100Ah Deep Cycle 27 AGM 104 - - 180+ 66.1 lbs; 30.0 kg
Renogy RBT100LFP12S-G1 Deep Cycle 27 LiFePO4  100 - - ~240 26 lbs; 11.8 kg
Renogy RNG-BATT-AGM12-100 Deep Cycle 31 AGM 104 - - 180+ 66.1 lbs; 30 kg
Renogy RNG-BATT-GEL12-100 Deep Cycle 31 Gel 100 - - ~180 63.9 lbs; 29 kg
RUIXU RX-LFP-4S-100B Deep Cycle - LiFePO4 100 - - ~240 33.1 lbs; 15 kg
Trojan SCS150 Deep Cycle 24 Flooded Cell 100 530 650 150 50 lbs; 22.6 kg
Trojan T31 Deep Cycle 31 AGM 100 600 720 177 69 lbs; 31.5 kg
UPG UB121000 Deep Cycle 27 AGM 100 - - - 64 lbs; 29 kg
UPG UB121100 Deep Cycle 31 AGM 110 - - - 65.7 lbs; 29.8 kg
VMAXTANKS SLR125 Deep Cycle 31 AGM 125 - - 260 75 lbs; 34 kg
VMAXTANKS MR127-100 Deep Cycle 27 AGM 100 - 800 200 68 lbs; 30.8 kg
VMAXTANKS MR137-120 Deep Cycle 31 AGM 120 - 900 230 75 lbs; 34 kg
VMAXTANKS XTR27-110 Deep Cycle 27 AGM 110 660 880 220 68 lbs; 30.8 kg
Weize LFP12100 AGM Deep Cycle 31 AGM 100 - - - 60 lbs; 27.2 kg
Weize LFP12100 Gel Deep Cycle 31 Gel 100 - - - 67 lbs; 30.4 kg
WindyNation BAT-NSAP12-100 Deep Cycle 31 AGM 106 - - ~180 67 lbs; 30.4 kg
XS Power XP3000 Deep Cycle 31 AGM 120 - - 240 73 lbs; 33.1 kg

Note: Amazon affiliate links in the chart open in the new windows, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.

Note: Amazon affiliate links open in the new window, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.

Of course, if You need larger batteries, You can either go for larger batteries (BCI Groups 4D and 8D, for example), you can connect few smaller batteries in parallel (if allowed by the chemistry/battery model) to achieve a larger capacity or you can connect few smaller batteries in parallel (if allowed by the chemistry/battery model) to achieve higher voltage of the battery pack.

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Trolling Motor Shaft Length

Electric trolling motors usually come with systems allowing the user to set the optimal prop depth.

But, the shaft length determines the height of the motor's control head and handle above the water surface, which in turn depends on the motor mount height.

Electric trolling motors usually come with 24, 28, 30, 32, 36, 40, or 42 inches long shafts, although there are other shaft lengths present on the market, too.


Long Story Short: If You are looking for a new trolling motor for your pontoon boat, there are few things to consider including boat size and weight, load capacity, desired runtime, budget, and similar.

General-purpose 55 lbs thrust electric trolling motor may be an overkill for small pontoons and too weak for larger units, but it is a good starting point.

Also, a good 12V 100Ah AGM/Gel-Cell battery is able to provide one hour of constant operation at full throttle for most 55 lbs motors with some energy left as a safety margin.

For smaller pontoon boats with limited payloads, one should consider 50-100 Ah lithium batteries in order to save weight.

As one can see, there are simply too many factors involved - thus, when choosing 'the best pontoon trolling motor', choose according to your own needs and requirements.

Electric Trolling Motor model Maximum Thrust Voltage Maximum
Current
Max Power Recommended
Circuit Breaker
Newport Vessels 36lb Thrust NV-Series 36 pounds 12V 30A 360 W 40 A
Outsunny 36lb 12V Transom Trolling Motor 36 pounds 12V  ~30A 354 W 40 A
Intex 40lb Transom Trolling Motor 40 pounds 12V 35A 420 W 40 A
Minn Kota Riptide SC 45lb Transom Trolling Motor 45 pounds 12V 42A 504 W 50 A
Newport Vessels 46lb Thrust NV-Series 46 pounds 12V 40A 480 W 50 A
Outsunny 50lb 12V Transom Trolling Motor 50 pounds 12V 47A 564 W 50 A
Minn Kota Riptide 55 SP Bow-Mount Trolling Motor 55 pounds 12V 50A 600 W 60 A
Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust NV-Series 55 pounds 12V 52A 624 W 50 A*
Saturn 55 Lbs Electric Tolling Motor 55 pounds 12V 50A 600 W 60 A
Newport Vessels 62lb Thrust NV-Series 62 pounds 12V 58A 696 W 60 A*
Minn Kota Riptide 80 ST Bow-Mount Trolling Motor 80 pounds 24V 56A 1344 W 60 A
MotorGuide Xi5 Wireless GPS Trolling Motor 80 pounds 24V 56A 1344 W 60 A
Newport Vessels 86lb Thrust NV-Series 86 pounds 24V 48A 1152 W 50 A*
Minn Kota EM 101 Engine Mounted Trolling Motor 101 pounds 36V 50A 1800 W 60 A
Minn Kota Riptide 112 ST Trolling Motor 112 pounds 36V 52A 1872 W 60 A
Minn Kota Riptide EM 160 Engine Mounted Trolling Motor 160 pounds 24V 116A 2784 W 2x60 A*

Note: Amazon affiliate links open in the new window, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.