Is it Time for an Electric Outboard?

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The electric outboard to the right of the angler works out incredibly well on small waterways.

We hear more and more about electric boats, but would an electric outboard make sense for you and the way you fish? On boats used in open environments where runs of more than a few miles are common, the answer will likely be a hard no. But in some cases…

electric outboard

The electric outboard to the right of the angler works out incredibly well on small waterways.

The big downside to electric outboards is that as power goes up, range shrinks dramatically. To get one powerful enough to make a boat plane you’ll be looking at minutes of running time, not hours. At pre-planing speeds on small boats, however, you can cover miles at a time and fish all day without running out of juice. So they’re very appropriate for Jon boats and small fishing boats plying contained waterways. I’ve been using one that’s a three-horsepower LiFePO4 equivalent on my small freshwater fishing boat for years, and couldn’t be happier with it. On a 10′ to 14′ boat with a motor like this you can expect:

  • A real-world range of five to 10 miles including all-day use before the battery runs out, and twice that if you go at reduced speeds.
  • Speeds in the four to six mph range.
  • A package weight (motor and battery) of around 45 to 50 pounds.
  • Cost of $2,000 to $3,000.

Wait a sec – everything sounds good right up until we get to pricing. After all, a three-horse gas motor can be found for just a little over a grand. Why pay more, and have less range? Don’t worry, we’re not going to get all tree-hugger on you. Setting carbon footprints aside, these mini-motors are great for three very selfish reasons. First off, they’re quiet. As in, nearly silent. And that simply makes it more pleasurable to be out there on the water. Second, there’s no more repeated tugging to start the motor. Just twist the throttle and go. And finally, you can use the motor for precise positioning without having to worry about spooking any fish.

Is an electric outboard ideal for you? Maybe, and maybe not. But if you have a small fishing boat you use in lakes, ponds, and small rivers, you might like having one. I know I’ll never buy a gas outboard under five hp again.

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