YOU CAN SEE A SCHOOL of reds tailing just beyond casting range, but they’re on the move. You crank the electric trolling motor up to full-tilt, but even then, you can’t keep pace.
You watch as those revved-up reds just keep going and going, creeping ever farther beyond your grasp—the horror! If you want to avoid this tragic situation—and we know you do—you’ll need to make sure you have a trolling motor potent enough to muscle your boat around even in a breeze.
As a general rule of thumb, most experts recommend you have at least one pound of thrust per 40 pounds of boat. Unless you’re fishing from a micro-skiff, that means you need to forget about 12v models. Even 24v electrics top out at around 70-pounds of thrust, and simply don’t have the juice you need for larger boats. Motors with 36v can get more than 100-pounds of thrust, which puts you in the one- to two-horsepower range.
Remember, however, that there’s no direct equivalency between pounds of thrust and horsepower thanks to things such as propeller pitch and slip. However, if you multiply amp draw times voltage and divide the result by 746, you have a pretty good approximation.
On top of that, electric trolling motors are usually propped for top acceleration and the ability to hold a boat in a breeze, not to maximize top-end. In fact, most electric trolling motors are designed to take their payload up into the five-mph range and no faster.
Getting a more potent motor doesn’t necessarily result in more speed, if a smaller motor already had enough oomph to take the boat up into that range. This being the case, owners of larger, heavier boats which top out in the three to four mph range are those most likely to benefit the most by upgrading to a larger, more potent motor.
You do have the option of experimenting with an aftermarket prop; there are several to choose from which may get you a bit more speed. But don’t expect dramatic differences. Picking up a half-mph is a big win.
You also run the risk of slower acceleration and potentially a loss of holding power in a breeze, especially if the engine wasn’t already providing more than enough power for your boat.
The bottom line? All boats are different, and they all act a bit differently in different conditions, so the only way to be sure you’re maximizing speed is to experiment a bit with different props and different motors.
—story by LENNY RUDOW