Bow or Transom Mount? This is How to Decide on the Right One
This guide will help you choose the best mount and drive for your trolling motor. The option that suits will differ so the Q and A’s will quickly point you in the right direction, either bow or transom mount.
The next question is foot or hand control? There’s a full run-down with the pros and cons of each.
- Bow Mount Trolling Motor or Transom?
- Foot Control or hand control?
- Why buy a Trolling Motor? 5 ways you’ll get the edge
Click on the question to to straight to that section.
Bow Mount or Transom?
These are the questions to ask yourself:
- What type of boat do I have?
The length, weight, and design of your boat is the most significant factor when choosing the style of trolling motor.
For example, you can’t have a bow-mounted trolling motor on a kayak or canoe. How would you drive it?
Big bass boats with those wide casting decks are what you want and perfect for a bow-mount. You may like the idea of a bow-mount, but unfortunately, some boats just aren’t designed to take them — the style of boat you have limits which motor is the right choice for you.
Transom mounts are best for smaller, lighter boats like Jon boats, kayaks, skiffs and canoes.
Bow mounts are best for medium and larger boats like bass boats where you can stand on the wide casting decks and drive the motor comfortably with a foot pedal. Yes, you can have a transom mount for these larger vessels if you prefer it.
Let’s dive deeper:
- How am I most comfortable?
Do you like to sit back in comfort during those long days out at the crack of dawn and returning as the sun goes down? If you don’t want to be on your feet all day, choose a transom mount. It’s easily accessible, right next to you and you have everything at your fingertips. Plus, no messy cables are cluttering up the boat for people to trip over.
The type of fishing you enjoy is as much a part of the selection process as the boat you have and the motor itself.
- How do I like to fish?
If you like to get right up close and pitch those pylons and stumps, then a bow mount is a superb choice.
You’ll be highly maneuverable, rod in hand right on top of where big bass like to hide while your trusty foot pedal does all the driving.
Note: Of course you can still pitch and pile those stumps from the rear of your boat with a transom mount, but you’ll find you have to angle it in or come along sideways bringing the motor a lot closer increasing the risk of spooking the fish. It can be the difference between getting the strike and landing a big one or leaving empty-handed.
- How do I like to drive?
Trolling motors can be driven from a hand-held tiller, a foot pedal or by technology like a co-pilot or autopilot so you have plenty of options. What’s the difference?
Always mounted on your transom, these are ergonomically designed with all-day comfort in mind. Telescopic handles extend out and also tilt up to +/- 30 degrees, so you don’t feel like your wrist belongs to a 130yr old by the end of the day. Plus, it allows you to drive from anywhere at the rear of the boat and also standing if you prefer.
Allowing more rod-in-hand time these are easy to get the hang of with almost instantaneous response once you apply the heel/toe pressure. It’s simple. Just press which way you want to go. Forward, left, right, etc. so your hands are free to do what they do best, fish. A lot of foot pedals will also set speed and direction plus the option of an autopilot in higher-end models.
It drives you around retracing up to 16 previous routes, lock you into a spot with an incredibly accurate GPS anchor spot lock, or you can choose your heading and let autopilot take you there. This awesome technology means you don’t miss any strikes when you find that magic spot and get back there with the touch of a button, rod in hand ready to reel ’em in.
With a press of a button, once you choose your heading, the autopilot will stay on your chosen course even adjusting for current, wind and waves leaving you free to fish.
Taking these personal choices, and your budget into consideration, get rid of the guesswork, look at your boat and you’ll know which one is right for you.
Foot or Hand Control?
- Trolling a shoreline
- Fishing the estuaries
- Why work with a foot control?
- Foot control vs. hand control
- When is a foot control the best choice?
- When is hand control the ideal choice?
Click on the links above to get to the answer.
There are 3 types of controls for trolling motors
- foot control
- hand control
- wireless remote control – available with some trolling motor models
So, which one is right for your boat and fishing style?
What type of fishing do I like and spend the most time doing?
Are you trolling along the shoreline?
Then a hand control will better be suited for that purpose.
Are you puttering around the estuaries?
You’ll need excellent maneuverability around mangroves and obstacles. You’ll want a foot control. The same goes for dams with loads of submerged obstacles like logs and large rocks.
Why work with a foot control?
If you love fishing in those magic areas full of dead trees, stumps and hidden underwater spots where the big bass hide, or getting in and around mangroves chasing huge barra then a foot control frees up your hands so you can repeatedly pitch, flip and pile.
A bow-mounted trolling motor will get you right in there, and the foot control keeps your hands free for what they do best, fishing.
When is foot control the best choice?
Perfect and preferred for bass rigs with casting decks.
Why? You can fish from anywhere on your boat with full control. Easy to use touch-of-the-toe maneuverability gets you into the best spots, and with your hands free it keeps your rod in your hand the whole time you are out there.
When is hand control the best choice?
Small boats like a Jon boat, a kayak or canoe, especially if engine mounted to save on boat space. This is where hand control trolling motors shine. Yes, they’re easy to install on kayaks as well where it would be impossible to use a foot control.
Foot control vs. hand control
Let’s see how the pros and cons stack up
Benefits of foot control
- With heel or toe pressure, they’re easy to use.
- Change the boat direction easily with optimum maneuverability and keep your hands free for casting, pitching, and piling.
- The flexibility of standing allows better visibility of underwater obstructions like weed beds, shallow areas, rocks, and logs. You reduce the likelihood of damage to your boat’s hull.
- Use the foot control anywhere in the boat, depending on where you like to stand.
Disadvantages of a foot control
- More clutter on deck with the pedal and cables running from the motor.
- More parts to malfunction or break, especially if you accidentally get caught, trip and give them a good tug.
- Be aware that some models have a slower response time.
Benefits of hand control
- Instantaneous real-time response.
- A clear deck, no pedals and cable laying around to get tangled up or trip over which may send you into the drink.
- An added benefit of choice. Either a transom mounted, or engine mounted motor which you can drive from a comfortable seat.
Disadvantages of hand control
- Hand control limits what you can do in your boat.
- The motor can only be driven from the back of the boat.
- Your hands can’t be on your rod. You can’t fish and drive, cutting down on your fishing time and also means you definitely can’t fish while trolling.
- It’s hard to maintain course or keep your position when you’re fishing, especially if you like to fish standing.
5 Excellent Reasons to Buy a Trolling Motor
- Accessibility & Maneuverability
- Improved work/life balance (and who wouldn’t want that?)
Either freshwater or saltwater, they do the same job, just in different environments. As every keen angler will tell you, trolling motors add another dimension to their fishing. They increase strike rates, give you a peaceful day out on the water and can get you into all those tight and shallow spots fish love to hide.
It’s a bit of a no brainer when you speak with the old pro’s, but if you’re just taking up the sport and wanting justify your purchase, here’s the top reasons to buy a trolling motor and just what they do for you.
Because trolling motors are electric, they run cooler and quieter than an outboard motor. You have a huge advantage in being able to sneak up on the best hiding spots without spooking those big beautiful fish you’re trying to catch. Most motors will have something like ‘reduced fish-spooking noise’ or ‘anti-fish spooking technology’ in their descriptions, and it means just that.
These motors also stir the water less so you don’t kick up silt and mud chasing the fish away. The other plus is that you can enjoy the clean, fresh, natural air. Being electric they don’t run on gas, so you don’t have to smell the exhaust.
#2 Accessibility & Maneuverability
Trolling motors are designed to get you into the shallower spots. They’re highly maneuverable getting you right up close and personal to pitch those pylons, stumps, and groves of dead trees where you know the fish love to hide.
As simple as a little pressure on the heel-toe foot pedal of the bow-mounted motors will get you so close you can sometimes see the fish and feel like you could reach out and grab them while keeping your rod in your hands. It takes your fishing to a whole new level.
Top models have swept-back blades on the props cutting through underwater weed and vegetation opening up areas you never thought you’d be able to go.
#3 – Safety
Having a trolling motor onboard acts as a good backup motor to get you home if you run out of fuel. It won’t be the fastest trip you’ve ever had, but you’ll save all those blisters from rowing for hours.
Plus, there’s the bonus of saving you the embarrassment of having to call your friends for a tow. Yes, we’ve all done it, but fishermen love their tales and will take great relish in telling the story around the campfire next time you’re all out on a trip away. Unless you want the next story to start with, “remember the time when… (insert your name)” then it’s best to have a spare battery as well just in case.
#4 – Competition
If you have grand designs of winning fishing competitions, either state or local, then a trolling motor will give you an advantage over boats that don’t have them.
You’ll be quietly gliding along getting strikes while the others will have to drift for a while until the fish calm back down and come back out to where they’re fishing or move to another area.
#5 – Improve Your Days on the Water and work/life balance
Fresh, clean air, the sound of birds’ calls carried on the wind, crickets, and frogs chirping and croaking, yes, a trolling motor allows you to enjoy everything mother nature has to offer. It’s the whole reason a lot of us enjoy fishing so much.
Relaxing days outdoors quietly maneuvering around your favorite spots helps clear your mind, destress, and unplug from the work week. Your mood is bound to improve when you have one of those magic days where you’re getting strikes almost every cast because your nice quiet little motor got you into those previously inaccessible areas.
When you look at it like that, it’s cheaper than a shrink or a doctor so isn’t the expense justified? Yeh, we think so too.
Your friend just bought a brand new bow-mount that you’re drooling over. But then, you’ve seen a transom mount that another fishing buddy has that you like too. So how do you decide? They both have their good points (and their great points) which leave you scratching your head because you honestly like them both. Well, you have 3 options:
Option A – You could go out with both friends for a test drive to see which one you ultimately prefer.
Option B – Hang off and wait a month to see if there is anything they don’t like about their motor.
Option C – Stay confused for eternity, don’t buy one and go out fishing with them forever.
Option C obviously won’t work, but choosing the right motor for your boat has important factors you need to consider for your boat, not your friends. Yours.
We’ve all drooled over our fishing buddies’ boats, motors, rods, and gear, but this is one of the biggest and most important purchases you’ll make for your boat. Unless of course, both of your friends have the same boat, it then comes down to personal preference. Chances are this is not the case.
So decide on bow or transom mount, control that suits and get out on that water.