You already know what an electric trolling motor is, but have you heard of remote control trolling motors?
These innovative motors make a fisherman’s job much-much easier by allowing for remote control of the boat.
And there is more!
The best RC systems in 2021 actually automate steering and thrust control using GPS coordinates, so a fisherman can fish without having to control the boat.
Let’s dive into how they work and which ones are good.
Types of RC trolling motors
You can differentiate these motors based on a number of factors:
Bow or stern-mounted?
You can get bow or stern mount trolling motors, depending on what type of boat you want to install it on.
Stern-mounted: If you have an inflatable boat, you’ll probably want a stern mount one.
You can mount it on your transom, and it will drive your boat from behind as a regular motor would.
The main difference is, of course, that you get to use a handheld remote control to navigate your boat.
Bow-mounted: If you have a hard shell boat that already has a primary outboard, you would want to get a bow-mounted RC trolling motor.
You install it near the front of your boat and activate it only when you want to use the trolling motor instead of the main engine.
The motor retracts out of the water when not in use, so it does not cause any drag.
Not all RC trolling motors are “smart”. There are 3 differing types at present:
- Copilot – Turn the motor on/off, steer the boat, adjust your speed.
- Autopilot – Integrates a compass to keep your boat on course at a specific speed.
- i-Pilot and other smart RC motors: Integrates a real-time GPS system to enable advanced navigational features.
The GPS enabled i-Pilot system is the “smartest” motor. It is made by Minn Kota, and offers several useful features.
- Spot-lock: Holds your boat in place, even in strong currents. Useful when you find a fishing spot you want to stay in.
- iTracks: Specify a twisty-curvy path of up to 2 miles for the boat to go on. The motor can retrace the path as well. This is great for trolling banks.
- Go to: Choose a point on the map, and your boat will go right there without you having to steer.
Your back won’t be sore at the end of the day from reaching for the tiller all the time, and you’ll catch more fish.
All of it is controlled from an RC unit or your mobile phone, so you’ll want to keep your phone dry.
Other manufacturers have released RC trolling motors with similar smart abilities, we’ll go through them below.
Best remote control trolling motors in 2021
Here are the best and most trustworthy remote controlled electric trolling motors you can buy.
Minn Kota Terrova
The smaller brother of the Minn Kota Ultrex. Full Pilot, advanced GPS, strong motor choices. What more do you need?
|55 lbs @ 12V|
80 lbs @ 24V
Similar to a Minn Kota Ultrex, but at a lower price. It's not as capable, but comes in at 2nd place.
|55 lbs @ 12V|
70 lbs @ 24V
Minn Kota Ultrex
This is a best in class bow-mounted remote control trolling motor, with premium features that command a premium price.
|80 lbs @ 24V|
112 lbs @ 36V
|3.||Minn Kota PowerDrive|
Standard foot pedal plus, optional iPilot, wide choice of thrust & shaft length makes for a motor that you can customize and upgrade.
|45 lbs @ 12V|
55 lbs @ 12V
70 lbs @ 24V
|5.||Aquos Haswing Cayman|
For fisherman on a budget.
|55 lbs @ 12V|
80 lbs @ 24V
I will review each motor and give you my opinion on them below.
Minn Kota Terrova Trolling Motor Review
Minn Kota Terrova is a cheaper and smaller alternative to the Ultrex. It is slightly more expensive than the PowerDrive + iPilot addon, but in exchange, you can get a stronger motor, and a system that is ready to go.
It features the company’s signature iPilot system already mounted on the trolling motor, meaning you get advanced GPS navigational features out of the box.
The terrova is a complete package actually, meaning you’ll be ready to fish as soon as possible: it includes a foot pedal, heading sensor, mounting hardware, and the iPilot system.
Best of all, it is very easy to deploy thanks to a system of fall-away ramps, and just as easy to stow with a strong spring loaded lifting system. You can literally lift it out of the water with 2 fingers.
The motor comes in 2 variants:
- 48″ shaft with 55lbs trolling motor (12V)
- 60″ shaft with 80 lbs trolling motor (24V)
Based on value and features, the Minn Kota Terrova is probably the best remote control trolling motor you can get in 2021.
Check out its present price on Amazon.
MotorGuide Xi3 Wireless Trolling Motor Review
The MotorGuide Xi3 is a wireless freshwater trolling motor. It comes with a wireless handheld remote control unit, GPS capabilities, so it’s an all-in-one package. You can optionally get a battery-operated wireless foot pedal if you like using it more.
This trolling motor has LED lights that let you check the status of the four primary functions of the motor. These are power, propeller, GPS, and battery.
A very cool option with the Xi3 is that you can get it shipped with a built-in 83/200 kHz sonar transducer and connect it with your fish finder of choice! This saves the hassle of having to mount the transducer separately.
The Xi3 comes with wireless RC capability and GPS features. It isn’t quite as advanced as Minn Kota’s iPilot though, but will probably be enough for most fisherman.
Using its GPS capabilities, the Xi3 can:
- lock the boat in place using the GPS “anchor”
- record routes and use them again later
- set a heading and speed
The wireless foot pedal you can optionally buy requires batteries, so you have to keep an eye on them if you want to use it at all. But in all honestly, the pedal is not very good, they need to work on it. It is too sensitive and just difficult to use.
The motor is very efficient since it has digital speed control. This makes low–speed cruising very efficient, extending run time.
The motor comes in several variants:
- 48″, 54″, 60″ shaft length
- 55 & 70 lbs thrust
This motor is similar to the Minn Kota Ultrex, but at bit cheaper.
Minn Kota Ultrex Trolling Motor review
Minn Kota Ultrex is a game changer for fisherman. It comes with a feature-rich foot pedal, as well as a wireless remote controll.
You can be totally hands free with the foot pedal, which has a dedicated switch for Spot-Lock in case you find a good fishing spot. The motor uses Minn Kota’s iPilot system, which I talked about above. This combo makes fishing as care-free as possible. No wind or current will deviate your boat ever again.
The motor itself is comes in 2 versions:
- 45″ shaft with 80 lbs of thrust, requiring 24V power
- 60″ shaft with 112 lbs thrust, requiring 36V power
The Ultrex is the most expensive, but undeniably the top RC electric motor on the market. Remember also that the 24V – 36V system means you need more batteries to power it.
Here is the motor on Amazon, it was on sale last time I checked (June).
Minn Kota PowerDrive Trolling Motor Review
The Minn Kota PowerDrive is a bow mount trolling motor. The basic model comes with a foot pedal for hands-free control, but you can also get it with the I-pilot system to automatically control your boat with great precision.
This is also a bow-mounted motor. It has a deploy lever, so it needs to be deployed by hand.
The motor comes in several shaft lengths and strength:
- 48″ to 60″ shaft length
- 45-70 lbs thrust
The Powerdrive costs between $600 – $800 depending on what strength & shaft length you get.
Remember that the base model does not include iPilot. If you want it, you need to buy it separately through Minn Kota and physically install it onto the base PowerDrive motor as shown in this video. It costs around $450 extra, so approximately $1200 – $1300 altogether for the PowerDrive trolling motor and iPilot. Not bad!
Click here to check the exact price of the Powerdrive on Amazon.
Aquos Haswing Cayman Trolling Motor
The Aquos Haswing Cayman is bow mount motor on a budget. It only comes as a 55 lbs thrust (12V), 48″ shaft model, so make sure it is big enough for your boat.
This motor can be used in salt water as well as fresh water. It uses a sacrificial anode to protect the critical parts.
It comes equipped with foot control, quick release plate/bracket and wireless remote control. The foot control is way too large for my taste, but it works well. It also has LED lights to show battery power.
The base model does not come with GPS, but you can get a GPS enabled one for $200 extra. The only difference is the addition of GPS feautures, including:
- Anchor position using the GPS
- Record your route, save and share it
- Auto-navigation along shorelines
The deployment system is OK. To deploy the motor, you step on a pedal and it drops down into the water. Recovery is slightly awkward. It has a great mounting system though, perhaps better than that of Minn Kota. It is very easy to unlatch the motor from the boat mount.
The Aquos Haswing is a budget RC trolling motor from an Asian company. At close to 2/3 price of Minn Kota’s similar models, it offers good value.
Should you get a remote-controlled electric motor?
Since remotely operated trolling motors are much more expensive than normal tiller or foot-pedal ones, casual boaters can probably make do without them. Even though the resulting life-size RC boat would be great fun for the kids.
But if you are a fisherman at heart, you should absolutely get one.
It simply makes your job out on the water so much easier. You have more time to fish, not battle the elements.
Converting a bow mount trolling motor to stern mount
You might have noticed that all of the remote control trolling motors on the list are bow mount.
Because they don’t make stern mount remote control motors. Haswing did, but I can’t find it anymore.
No worries though, you can convert a tillered bow mount motor to a stern mount in about 20 minutes.
You need to get a transom bracket assembly first, which will replace the bow mount bracket on the shaft.
The tricky part is taking the head off of the motor, but it’s not difficult. Just make sure you can put it back together. Here are videos on YouTube that show you how.