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Get the Most Out of Your Electric Trolling Motor With Preventive Maintenance

FSF Staff December 8, 2015

Across the state’s varied inshore habitats, trolling motors are critical to successful outings chasing everything from tarpon to redfish. Purists claim a push pole is the only way to explore inshore fisheries, but for their simplicity and ability to move skiffs and bay boats across the shallows with ease and stealth, trolling motors are extremely popular and sometimes completely essential to scoring inshore. While these relatively simple tools make your on-the-water efforts more efficient, trolling motors contain an assortment of moving parts and aren’t everlasting.

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Photo: doughertyphotos.com

Available for both fresh and saltwater environments, modern trolling motors are incredibly capable and outfitted with amazing technology including wireless GPS systems that can maintain position or retrace a course, and HD trolling motor transducers that scan in front of the boat with a sweep of the trolling motor head. Of all the advancements available to inshore anglers, electric trolling motors offer the greatest benefit by providing precise and single-handed boat control in tight quarters.

...fail to care for your trolling motor and you could be in for a rude awakening when you reach your favorite flat or shoreline.

Although the newest trolling motors are incredibly durable, it’s a fact that most abuse their trolling motors without giving them a second thought. Regardless if your trolling motor is operated manually, by foot pedal or by remote control, there are a few precautions you need to take to ensure it lasts the life of your vessel. Truth is, with only a little preventative maintenance your trolling motor will perform for years to come. However, fail to care for your trolling motor and you could be in for a rude awakening when you reach your favorite flat or shoreline.

Getting the most out of your trolling motor starts with your batteries. It’s imperative you utilize only the highest quality deep cycle marine batteries that are designed to drain slowly and recharge often. Whether you choose to rig your battery bank in parallel or a series, it’s critical you use the appropriate charger and charging cycle. Low amperage over longer durations is ideal compared to charging at higher amperages, which generates unwanted heat and reduces the lifespan of your battery. While looking over your boat, be sure to periodically check battery connections and inspect for loose or corroded wiring. Cleaning with a wire brush and applying a corrosion protectant is great practice.

From here you’ll want to focus your attention on the prop. Since most anglers operate trolling motors in tight quarters, you’ve likely bumped your prop against some sort of structure and through some heavy debris. With the appropriate sized prop wrench, remove the prop and inspect the shaft for any vegetation or fishing line that could be wearing away at the seal and eventually lead to the necessary replacement of the entire lower unit. While the prop is off, inspect the blades for any nicks and lightly file to eliminate vibration. Although the newest trolling motors are specially treated to resist corrosion, most feature sacrificial anodes that also need to be periodically inspected for wear.

When it comes to caring for your trolling motor it’s best to rinse with freshwater after each use, but avoid spraying with excessive pressure or you will drive dirt and grime deeper into the motor’s crevices. From here you should spray any and all pivot points with a corrosion protectant/lubricant. If your trolling motor is powered with a removable plug, it’s a great idea to clean the socket after every use.

While not a mechanical failure, you’ll start to see some wear on the lanyard used to raise and lower your trolling motor. As you put your trolling motor through the rigors of the shallows, the hinges and pins that lock and unlock the trolling motor assembly become tight, so routine lubrication will make it much easier for anglers to operate the lanyard. If you find yourself in a constant battle trying to deploy and stow your trolling motor, you need to give these pivot points some love.

Besides routine lubrication and inspection of moving parts you should also clean the exterior of your trolling motor with soap and water after every use. Once you have dried the exterior you can more thoroughly inspect for wear and damage. Although trolling motors are often neglected, they are built around encapsulated electronics, stainless steel hardware and don’t require a whole lot of attention to keep in prime condition. Remember that success in any venue is a direct result of preparedness.

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