If you’re new to fishing at the cottage, perfecting your cast is half the fun. But when you’re ready to up your game out on the lake, a trolling motor is the perfect next step. With a lightweight, battery-powered trolling motor, you’ll be able to move through the water at a slow, steady pace, taking full advantage of your lures without firing up your noisy engine and frightening away the fish.
Even better, once you find a hot spot, you’ll be able to hold your position without the hassle of an anchor, even on a windy day or in choppy water. And by investing in a trolling motor that fits into a full battery-powered-tool platform, like the Greenworks 40v Trolling Motor, you’ll have the option to use its battery in plenty of other cottage-maintenance tools, from blowers and chainsaws to snow throwers and powered wheelbarrows.
Once you’re ready to upgrade your fishing experience, here’s how to get the most out of your trolling motor so that you never have to head back to the dock early.
Choosing the right size for your boat
The power of a trolling motor is expressed in terms of thrust, which is measured in pounds. To know how much thrust your boat requires, you’ll need to do a bit of addition. First, try to figure out the dry weight of your boat. If your boat is fairly new, it may be listed on the manufacturer’s website. Next, figure out how much weight you typically carry, from the motor and fuel on board to the water in your live wells. And don’t forget to include your passengers and gear. Once you have a rough estimate, you can apply a general rule: for every 50 pounds of weight, you need one pound of thrust in a trolling motor. For most small and medium boats—especially aluminum fishing boats—a lightweight trolling motor with at least 30 pounds of thrust should be a good fit.
Setting the right depth for your lake
If you’re fishing with a trolling motor, your focus should be on stealth—the last thing you want is to frighten the fish. But if your motor’s shaft is set to an improper length, you could be doing just that. Without enough depth, your propeller won’t be fully submerged, leading to excess noise. On the flip side, if your shaft is too long, your trolling motor could create extra turbulence deeper in the water. The sweet, stealthy spot you want for your setup is to have at least six inches of water above your propeller blades at all times. Most cottage lakes aren’t particularly wavy, so you shouldn’t have to account for too much bobbing up and down. That’s especially true if you’re using a transom-mounted motor, as the back of your boat will be more stable. But if you’re fishing at the cottage, you’ll likely be dealing with weeds beneath the surface. Avoid tangles by not setting your prop too deep—and by choosing a trolling motor with a weedless propeller.
Conserving your battery
No angler wants to cut a day of fishing short because of a dead battery. And while a trolling motor powered by a lithium-ion battery will be brimming with reliable power, a little extra maintenance will ensure it doesn’t let you down before you’ve reeled in your final catch. First, most manufacturers recommend keeping your battery topped up. That means charging it right away once you’re back on shore. And while a quality battery charger will always have an auto cut-off function, it’s still a good idea to remove the battery from the charger—and even unplug the charger from the wall—so that it can reset each time it’s used.
When you’re not using the battery, you should also store it indoors, away from direct sunlight. Always store it with a full charge, and if you’re not using it for your trolling motor (or any other compatible tools) for long stretches, be sure to check the charge every couple of months. If you’re using a Greenworks 40v lithium-ion battery, you can easily do this by pressing the “battery life indicator” button on the end of its case. You should also make sure your battery isn’t too warm or cold before use. An overly cold battery may not function properly, so try to return it to room temperature before you head out.
Maintaining your motor to make it last
If you’re putting your trolling motor to good use, you can expect it to take plenty of abuse, from encountering stumps and rocks beneath the surface to colliding with the dock after a day on the water. But with a little TLC, you can ensure your motor operates reliably, season after season. First, inspect the prop after every use, and remove any weeds or bits of fishing line that have become wrapped around it. You should also clean out any build-up that’s accumulated. That step is crucial when it comes time to store your motor during the off-season. End-of-season is also a good time to coat all metal parts with a water-based silicone spray applied to a soft cloth. That way, they’ll be sure to function smoothly when boating season returns.