For decades, two companies dominated the electric trolling-motor market—Minn Kota and Motorguide. Now two of the biggest names in marine electronics—Garmin and Lowrance—have simultaneously joined the trolling-motor business, effectively doubling the number of major brand choices. Neither company previously offered trolling motors.
Both debuted innovative bow-mount, foot-pedal-controlled models at the 2019 ICAST fishing–tackle industry trade show in Orlando, Florida, in July, and one of those motors—the Garmin Force—not only won the product award for best new marine accessory, it also won the ICAST Best of Show award.
The Force, designed for fresh water, features a brushless motor to help minimize operating noise and avoid spooking fish. The motor design also helps eliminate sonar interference, according to Garmin.
A high-efficiency brushless motor operates at either 24 or 36 volts DC. When running at 24 volts, the Force delivers 80 pounds of maximum thrust, and 100 pounds of max thrust at 36 volts. The motor comes in two shaft lengths: 50-inch ($3,099.99) and 57-inch versions ($3,199.99).
The Force includes a wireless foot pedal with adjustable resistance, and foot-actuated buttons to control speed, heading and anchor lock. It uses AA batteries or can be hard-wired to use onboard power. When battery-operated, the wireless foot pedal will remain charged through one year of typical -fishing use.
Garmin’s motor can also be controlled from anywhere on the boat via an included wireless remote. The floating remote uses simple point-and-go gesture steering and user-programmable keys that control chart- plotter functions.
The motor housing comes with an integrated transducer optimized for freshwater use with Garmin’s traditional chirp, and ClearVu and SideVu scanning sonars. The built-in transducer is user-serviceable, and the cable protects the built-in transducer cables, as well as additional accessories.
This motor features wireless integration with a Garmin chart plotter. It also has built-in autopilot, along with an integrated heading sensor and GPS. This enables a virtual anchor lock to keep the boat positioned on one spot. Boating anglers can also use the chart plotter to create routes to their favorite waypoints and follow tracks.
Dual gas springs ease manual deployment and stowage, and a built-in leg stabilizes the stowed motor on the bow area in rough water and while trailering the boat.
The Ghost freshwater trolling motor ($2,999) features 25 percent more thrust and 45 percent longer running time than any trolling motor previously on the market—equivalent to an entire extra day of operation, according to Lowrance. It is designed to work in either 24- or 36-volt DC systems with up to 97 and 120 pounds of thrust, respectively. It is currently available in a 47-inch shaft model. Models with 52- ($3,199) and 60-inch ($3,299) shaft lengths will be forthcoming.
As with the Garmin motor, the Ghost brushless motor helps eliminate noisy operation. It also doesn’t emit electromagnetic interference, which can interfere with sonar reception. The brushless electric motor design also ensures greater durability over conventional motors with brushes.
Ghost lets anglers steer, adjust speed, set up route navigation, and anchor with touchscreen control from a Lowrance multifunction display using the SmartSteer interface. The Ghost pairs easily with HDS Live, HDS Carbon, and Elite Ti2 displays via NMEA 2000 connections.
There are two integrated sonar nose-cone options, including HDI (chirp and DownScan Imaging) and optional Active Imaging 3-in-1 (chirp, SideScan and DownScan Imaging) transducers. All motors ship standard with an HDI transducer, but can be upgraded with a different nose cone at any time.
Fly-by-wire steering control gives this trolling motor the feel of cable steering, but without mechanical cables that can wear out over time. Unlike other trolling motors, the head of the Ghost does not rotate with the motor, which quiets the grind often heard when steering conventional motors. A blue arrow atop the head swivels to indicate the motor’s direction.
A uniquely engineered foot-pedal control can be customized to suit any preferences with programmable shortcut buttons and a Flip Switch that can be moved to allow the trolling motor to be engaged from either side of the pedal. The pedal buttons have LED lights and a beep that sounds when a mode is engaged. It also features a battery-level indicator.
A gas-assist strut helps to smooth deployment and retrieval of the motor. The 360-degree breakaway mount is designed to automatically realign itself after an impact, such as banging into a dock. The composite shaft features a lifetime warranty. An integrated stabilizer bar reduces bouncing of the stowed motor in rough water or on the road.
Minn Kota Terrova 87
The new Riptide Terrova bow-mount trolling motor with a towering 87-inch shaft is designed for anglers who want to use a trolling motor from the higher bows of saltwater fishing boats. The longer shaft keeps the propeller fully submerged and effective in choppy conditions.
Boasting 112 pounds of maximum thrust at 36 volts, and 80 pounds at 24 volts, the new model features an i-Pilot link to network with Humminbird fish finders and offer features such as the Spot-Lock virtual anchor. In addition to a wireless remote, the motor is also equipped with Bluetooth compatibility, allowing control from the Minn Kota mobile app. Pricing for the Riptide Terrova 87 was not available at press time.