When it comes to choosing the correct electric motor for your boat, there are a few things you should consider. In this buyer's guide, the BCFing experts will run through all you need to know. We will talk about the different sizes, mounting options, what battery to use, plus some handy hints that will help in finding the electric motor that will best fit your needs.
What is an electric motor?
The electric motor, trolling motor or as they are commonly known, ‘leccys', have been one of the largest breakthroughs in boating electronics to ever hit the market. Electric motors have definitely been around a while, with a history dating back as far as the mid 1930s. Over the years they have developed into a sought after fishing and boating tool that many fisho's now wouldn't go without.
Electric motors are used to silently cover water and manoeuvre the boat, while also allowing access into the skinniest of water that would normally only be accessible by kayak, hopefully finding you that new honey hole or fishing location. This is the reason why electrics have become so popular and found a home on so many boats. Whether used for fishing, cruising or kayaking, an electric boat motor will certainly help make your next day on the water a ripper.
Nowadays, it's extremely rare to find a fishing boat without an electric perched atop the bow or secured to the stern. Although electric motors may not directly be responsible for filling your esky any quicker, they definitely play a role in keeping the boat in the correct location which, in turn, will give you a better chance of catching a fresh feed of fish or landing that monster.
What are the benefits of an electric motor?
The electric motor has primarily been designed for use in rivers, estuaries and freshwater impoundments. They are simple to deploy and manoeuvre with either foot pedal, remote-control, or tiller operation. Electric's work best at slower speeds which allows them to make small directional changes against wind or tide while keeping the boat riding smoothly. They are ideal for snag bashing, as the minor adjustments you make will keep the boat within casting distance of the strike zone. They can also be effective for trolling, which is why they show such appeal to anglers who prefer to throw lures.
What size electric motor do you need?
When looking at what size electric you need for your boat, it all comes down to the intended purpose, boat layout, and most importantly overall weight. Electric motors use a power rating that is measured in pounds of thrust. To make it simple, we recommend at least 2lb of thrust for every 100lb (45kg) of fully-loaded boat weight. When calculating overall weight, be sure to include everything from the hull, motor, fuel and of course the maximum capacity of your vessel.
It's also important to include any extras that fishos and boaties wouldn't hit the water without such as fishing rods, fishing reels and of course an icebox, to hold all your fish or cold drinks. Most small to medium-sized vessels from 3.7-4.5 metres will comfortably take a 44 or 55lb electric motor, this will provide enough thrust to push your boat through the water with ease. Larger offshore vessels have also begun to realise the benefits of having a leccy onboard, although they may require something a bit larger like an 80lb or 100lb thrust to deal with the extra weight.
The length of the shaft is another crucial element in choosing the right motor, as all boats come with different freeboard sizes. The rule of thumb is that you want a shaft long enough to comfortably position the foot of the motor and propeller roughly 12” below the surface of the water. If you plan on using the leccy in rough conditions, it's worth going for a longer shaft, to avoid motor cavitation during use and spooking the fish with unnatural noise pollution.
Selecting the correct size electric motor will help to extend the life expectancy of not only the electric, but also the battery in which it is powered. Over or under-powering your vessel will put unnecessary strain on both, which may result in damage to your electrical equipment.
Bow vs stern mount electric
One of the most crucial things to consider when selecting an electric motor is whether you want it to be positioned on the bow (front of the boat) or the stern (rear of the boat). Each comes with its own specific design and list of features
- More efficient: pulling the boat from the front takes less effort than pushing from the back
- Can be controlled using foot pedal or hand-held remote
- Clever and easy stow and deploy mechanism
- Some models come standard with i-Pilot and Spot-Lock features
- With the added purchase of a quick release bracket, your bow mount electric motor can be removed for travel, storage or security reason
- Available in both fresh and saltwater models
- Extremely cost-effective with something to suit any budget
- Available in a range of sizes including the kayak friendly 18 and 24lb models
- Attach to the transom with a simple C clamp design
- Ideal for trolling with a responsive turn throttle handle
What is i-Pilot & Spot-Lock?
A revolutionary new technology designed by Minn Kota; i-Pilot is a GPS powered navigation system that over the last decade has been refined into a product that should be at the top of every fishos Christmas list. It offers a selection of advanced control features and settings to enhance your time on the water. Spot-Lock would be the most valuable feature, allowing the boat's location to be held with the simple push of a button, keeping the boat within a few feet while compensating for any variables such as wind or tide.
What battery do you need?
When powering your electric motor, a deep cycle battery is the only way to go. Perfectly suited for the purpose of running marine electronics such as leccys, sounders and nav lights, a deep cycle battery has been constructed with thicker and heavier plates that can withstand vibrations and the occasional knock you would normally experience in a boat. They have also been designed to draw a steady amount of current over long periods, unlike cranking batteries that exert a large voltage spike but can only maintain it for short bursts.
Standard deep cycle batteries are relatively inexpensive however they should be regularly monitored and require an occasional top-up with distilled water. It is important that they are stored in a well-ventilated location where hydrogen gases produced by the battery can safely escape. Sealed lead-acid batteries such as the popular AGM varieties can be mounted in any orientation, they do not require the same level of maintenance as your standard deep cycle battery and can be stored in any safe location around your vessel.
A 100AH deep cycle battery should provide more than enough power for a full day on the water.
The extensive range of electric motors that are available at your local BCF store will have you on the water in no time, with offerings from popular brands including Minn Kota and Watersnake. From the smallest of leccys perfect for throwing on the back of the kayak and giving your arms a rest as you cruise the waterways, through to the largest and most impressive electric motors, kitted out with all the bells and whistles turning your boat into a stealthy, fish-catching machine, you'll be sure to find something to suit your needs.
Head in-store and have a word to our friendly and knowledgeable team of BCFing experts or check out our full range from the comfort of home with our online store. You can also sign up to become a BCF club member to receive great discounts and exclusive specials.