Electric trolling motors are incredibly useful on fishing boats; they can help you hold position in a breeze or current, work along a shoreline, or slowly creep over fish-holding structure. And the newest, most advanced motors have some spectacular features and functions, like full integration with your electronics, autopilots, and GPS-controlled “anchor” modes. But electric trolling motors are also misunderstood, to some degree. There’s one thing about them that no one ever talks about.
They aren’t silent.
In fact, at pre-planing speeds electric trolling motors make every bit as much noise as a four-stroke gasoline engine, running at an identical RPM. (Note: two-strokes are significantly louder). And the reason why is obvious, once you think about it: propeller noise. Whether you’re talking about four-stroke engines, electric trolling motors, or even peddle-powered kayak propellers for that matter, there’s a certain amount of sound generated by propeller blades spinning underwater. You may have heard it yourself, in the form of a high-pitch whine. This whine is even louder when you drop a hydrophone (underwater microphone) over the side of your boat, and listen to it under water. And, in all of these cases, it’s louder then any sound the engine itself makes below the waterline.
As an angler trying to sneak up on fish, this is a simple problem to overcome. Merely by slowing down and thus reducing propeller RPM, the propeller makes less noise. So when you’re creeping along, you really are still in stealth mode. But, a sudden blast of throttle on the trolling motor? Yes, the fish can hear that.
The next time you’re going after spooky fish that react to each and every noise, remember: slow down. Because even though that electric trolling motor seems silent, it’s not.