The Benefits of Brushless Saltwater Trolling Motors

Brushless saltwater trolling motors turn up the efficiency and turn down the noise.
Garmin Kraken trolling motor
Brushless technology makes trolling motors like the Garmin Kraken more effective for saltwater fishing. Courtesy Garmin

Advancements in bow-mount electric trolling motors have revolutionized the way we fish in salt water. Thanks to wireless controls, GPS guidance, virtual anchoring, and shafts that reach the water from the towering bows of offshore boats, trolling motors are ubiquitous aboard today’s saltwater fishing machines.

Now another advancement promises to make these motors even more effective for saltwater anglers. Brushless electric motor technology is granting these propulsion units more efficiency and durability while improving their stealth factor. 

Three brands—Garmin, Minn Kota and Power-Pole—have recently introduced saltwater trolling motors featuring brushless technology. 

Brushless Tech

The difference between brushless and conventional motors lies inside. In a conventional motor, mechanical brushes and commutator plates apply electrical energy to spin the armature. Unfortunately, friction and electrical arcing between brushes and plates produce substantial noise. Also, the mechanical nature of this system creates ­efficiency issues.

With brushless motors, the job of commutation is ­carried out by an electronic circuit. This eliminates the mechanical aspect and results in much quieter operation, more efficiency for longer run time, and greater durability. Brushless technology has already been employed for a few years in the Garmin Force and the Lowrance Ghost trolling motors, but neither of these bow mounts are designed for marine applications. In fact, there were no brushless trolling motors for salt water until a few months ago.

First Move

All that changed when Power-Pole, best known for its shallow-­water anchoring poles, introduced its Move series that includes the PV pivot-mount line and the ZR scissor-mount series. Both are designed and built for saltwater and freshwater uses. The Move brushless electric propulsion motors are custom-­engineered to deliver power at significantly lower rpm than brushed motors. The result is 30 percent more thrust and 30 percent greater efficiency, according to Power-Pole.

The company contends that Move trolling motors are virtually silent, and some guides believe that these motors are even more stealthy than push-poling, according to Power-Pole. The company has also muted the steering motor, known as the Stealth Steering Drive, and engineered the reinforced polymer propeller to minimize cavitation noise. 

The lightweight yet super-­strong titanium shaft on Move trolling motors carries a lifetime guarantee. What’s more, these motors offer advanced electronic technology, including built-in GPS navigation and features such as Anchor mode, which automatically maintains boat position, and Active Vector Heading navigation, akin to an autopilot.

Wireless Control

Move trolling motors incorporate a variety of user friendly wireless controls for the steering motor and propulsion motor, and they feature activation. Controls include the ReelFeel foot pedal with a low-latency wireless haptic motor that provides the sensation of cable steering and the ability to put the foot pedal anywhere you like. There are also wireless foot buttons available to activate the Anchor mode and Active Vector Heading. 

In addition, there’s a wireless hybrid remote that will control the Move trolling motor and has the ability to deploy and retract one or both of a boat’s Power-Pole shallow water anchors. It has a long-lasting rechargeable battery, and a dash-mountable charging cradle to keep it safe yet accessible and charged.

Boating anglers can also network the Move with a compatible Lowrance or Simrad multifunction display to control the trolling motor from these touchscreen units. In addition, the underside of the Move motor’s housing on the ZR series also has an option for a built-in plug-and-play HDI sonar transducer to display on a Lowrance MFD.

Power-Pole’s ProNav app can make any mobile device a controller for Move trolling motors by unlocking navigational functions, like creating a route, navigating to a point and more. Each new Move comes with one free year of ProNav app support.

Move trolling motors offer the flexibility to work with 24- and 36-volt battery configurations. They produce a max thrust of 78 pounds with 24 volts and 100 pounds with 36 volts. The PV series is available in 45-, 52-, 60- and 72-inch shaft lengths, while the ZR motors come in 45-, 52- and 60-inch versions. Both series are available in black or white and start at $4,999.99.

Garmin and Power-Pole brushless trolling motors
The Garmin Force Kraken (left) and Power-Pole Move brushless trolling motors work with 24 or 36 volts. Courtesy Garmin and Power-Pole

Release the Kraken

Garmin also hit the market with a brushless saltwater trolling motor, known as the Force Kraken, in July of this year. Equipped with a manually deployed pivot mount, it operates at either 24 volts (80 pounds of thrust) or 36 volts (100 pounds of thrust). All components are designed and built rugged and corrosion-resistant for use in salt water. This includes a ­sturdy composite shaft, high-quality stainless-steel hardware, and anodized and powder-coated aluminum. The motor features sacrificial anodes (which are easy to replace) in the nose cone and under the prop to fight corrosion.

Garmin’s test data shows that the Kraken is about 20 to 30 percent more efficient than competitive 36-volt brushed motors. Efficiency jumps to 37 percent with a 24-volt system versus comparable brushed motors. Garmin says the motor is ultra-quiet and will not scare fish. It is also nearly undetectable to sonar, so it won’t fuzz up fish-finder screens with static, according to Garmin.

The new motor has several improvements over the existing Force, including the ability to spin the prop backward, which reduces the need to rotate the head and increases response time. Additionally, the Kraken uses today’s most precise boat-positioning technology, using multiband GPS signal reception to help guide and position the boat. 

Improved Anchor Lock

Garmin improved the anchor-­lock function at both the high and low ends over the original Force. At the low end (calm conditions), the Force Kraken can now decelerate the motor when it’s within a meter of the desired location, using the reverse prop spin to slow the boat. At the high end (rough conditions), the Kraken applies more aggressive motor speed for improved performance on larger boats and in challenging seas.

The propeller on the Kraken is designed with a thinner leading edge to reduce resistance and maximize thrust, while the trailing edge is engineered to decrease water aeration that can cause cavitation and interfere with thrust. All this adds up to a prop well-suited for windy and rough-water conditions.

A standard floating wireless remote lets you control the Kraken from anywhere in the boat with Garmin’s simple point-and-go technology. A foot pedal (wireless or hardwired) can also be added. 

Other control options include the ability to connect the motor wirelessly to a compatible Garmin chart plotter to create a route for the Kraken to follow. You can use a Garmin quatix smartwatch to wirelessly control steering, anchor lock and more right from your wrist. 

Read Next: Trolling Motor Vs. Poling for Shallow-Water Fishing

LiveScope Integration

Garmin has eliminated clutter when using its LiveScope live-sonar transducers with the Kraken by running the transducer cable through the trolling-motor shaft. The LiveScope transducer and mounting bracket are required to do this. It works with all three LiveScope transducers—LVS32, LVS34 and LVS62—and can be operated in all three modes (forward, down and perspective). 

The Kraken is available in 63-, 75- and 90-inch shaft lengths in the white paint scheme, but only 63- and 75-inch shafts in the black version. Retail pricing starts at $3,699, with ­availability expected in this year’s third quarter. 

Minn Kota trolling motor
Minn Kota’s Quest brushless technology will be available in current saltwater bow-mount trolling-motor names such as the Riptide Terrova and Riptide Powerdrive, as well as the new Riptide Instinct. Courtesy Minn Kota

Minn Kota Quest Brushless Technology

At press time, Minn Kota announced the introduction of new brushless electric trolling motors for salt water and  fresh water. Minn Kota’s Quest brushless technology will be available in current saltwater bow-mount trolling-motor names such as the Riptide Terrova and Riptide Powerdrive, as well as the new Riptide Instinct. 

Each Quest series motor will offer dual voltage, including 24 volts (90 pounds of thrust) and 36 volts (115 pounds of thrust). Shaft-length choices will include 87 inches and (for the Riptide Terrova and Riptide Instinct Quest motors) a new 100-inch shaft length. All of the Quest series motors will feature beefed-up bracketry, mounts, pivot points and electronics. A new Power Prop design optimizes torque and efficiency across the entire speed range.

In addition to offering greater efficiency versus brushed motors, the new Minn Kota will incorporate real-time battery monitoring with a “time until empty” indicator and prompt anglers to switch to Eco mode when the battery reserves drop to 20 percent to extend fishing time even further.

Minn Kota’s built-in i-Pilot and i-Pilot Link GPS technology will enable popular functionality such as Spot-Lock, as well as a new Drift mode that works like a virtual drift sock to slow the boat’s drift and keep presentations in the strike zone longer. Control options will include an advanced new GPS wireless remote to drive the motor from anywhere in the boat. In addition, all of the new bow-mount motors will be One-Boat Network-compatible to easily network with and control via a Humminbird multifunction display. 

Quest series pricing will range from $1,599.99 for a Riptide Powerdrive to $6,099.99 for a 100-inch Riptide Instinct motor. Look for immediate availability of the first motors, with additional motors available this fall.