Boats

5 min read

Unlock Smooth Sailing: Best Trolling Motors for 24ft Pontoons

Ever wondered how to power your pontoon party smoothly across the water? Let's find the perfect trolling motor to keep your aquatic adventure on course without any hiccups!

Tobi Miles
March 23, 2023

Trolling motors are more popular than ever because of how affordable and easy to use they are. Choosing the right size trolling motor makes all the difference in how smooth and easy your ride goes. Understandably, many boaters struggle with what size trolling motor is for a 24’ pontoon boat.

A 60” shaft with 70 pounds of thrust is the right size trolling motor for a 24’ pontoon boat. Avoid a shaft longer than 60” or it may get stuck on debris and weeds which can cause irreparable damage. You only need 40 pounds of thrust for a 17’ pontoon boat and 40-60 pounds of thrust for a 20’ pontoon.

Many boaters prefer outboard motors, but trolling motors are much more user-friendly for beginners. It also helps that trolling motors require less maintenance than a traditional outboard. Follow along as we explore what size trolling motor for a 24’ pontoon boat is right for you.

How Big of a Trolling Motor Do I Need For My Pontoon?

You need a trolling motor that offers 70 pounds of thrust for a 24-foot pontoon boat. Trolling motors are unique in that they aren’t quantified in terms of horsepower like most motors. Instead, they are rated based on how much thrust they offer.

Thrust refers to pushing and pulling power which is important when it comes to moving a large pontoon boat. How much thrust you need for your pontoon boat depends on its length, weight, and what kind of waters you sail through. Let’s take a look at what size trolling motor you need for the most common sizes of pontoon boats.

17’

You typically need a trolling motor with a 60” shaft for a 17’ pontoon boat. Ideally, you should have at least 40 pounds of thrust for a 17’ pontoon boat, but that may even be too little in some cases. The amount of thrust that you need depends on your boat’s weight, so that’s important to consider before you get a trolling motor.

20’

Ideally, you should get a trolling motor with at least 40-60 pounds of thrust for a 20’ pontoon boat. The shaft should also be at least 60”. Otherwise, you won’t have enough power to move through rough and choppy waters with your pontoon boat.

22’

You need at least 60 pounds of thrust if you have a 22’ pontoon boat. Anything less and you will struggle to push your pontoon to the fullest capacity. Look for a 24v trolling motor because the battery will last for at least 4 hours and provide plenty of power.

24’

A pontoon boat that is 24’ or larger needs at least 70 pounds of thrust. This is enough power to give your pontoon the push that it needs to leave and return to shore. Avoid a shaft that is over 60”-70” long or else it could easily get snagged on weeds, rocks, and debris.

What Size Motor Should Be on a 24-Foot Pontoon?

Professionals and seasoned boaters recommend that you use a 150-175 horsepower motor for a 24-foot pontoon. This provides you with the thrust, torque, power, and speed that you need to move such a large pontoon boat. Ideally, your motor should provide at least 80 pounds of thrust if you have a 24-foot pontoon boat.

Any pontoon boat over 20 feet long should have a 115-horsepower motor at least. A 20-foot pontoon weighs at least 1,200 pounds before you load it with cargo and put it in water. Generally, a 24-foot pontoon boat can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds when dry, so it’s important to have a motor with plenty of horsepower.

How Fast Will a 24-Foot Pontoon Go?

A 24-foot pontoon can go as fast as 43 miles per hour depending on the engine. Some 24-foot pontoons will max out at 17 miles per hour, but they can often exceed 25 miles per hour. Factors such as the engine, boat length, cargo weight, and how many passengers are on board all affect the speed.

Choppy waters and strong winds blowing against your boat can also reduce the maximum speed. With that said, a 115-horsepower engine can often overcome many of these obstacles. Any engine over 115 horsepower can help push your boat to 25 miles per hour.

The average 24-foot-long pontoon boat can hold at least 13 passengers, and that shouldn’t necessarily reduce your speed. However, even pushing it to 15 passengers with additional cargo can easily slow down a pontoon of any size no matter how strong your engine is.

Trolling Motor Vs. Outboard

Choosing between a trolling motor and an outboard can be difficult for beginners and seasoned boaters alike. They may seem interchangeable when you first look at them, but they are quite different. However, trolling motors and outboards feature key similarities such as being mounted on the stern of the boat. Let’s take a look at how trolling motors and outboard motors are different so that you can choose between the two.

Steering

Both trolling motors and outboards are known for giving boaters plenty of control. However, the general consensus seems to be that trolling motors make it much easier to steer than using an outboard. Outboards work similarly in that you can manually steer them, but trolling motors are just slightly more reactive.

This comes in handy if you are fishing in tight and winding coves or shallow waters. That’s not to say that outboard engines don’t give you plenty of control, however. Outboard engines are manually controlled as well, but they offer less precision than trolling motors.

Power

Outboard engines are significantly more powerful than trolling motors. Trolling motors rarely exceed 1.5 horsepower whereas outboard engines have almost no limit. The majority of the outboard engines that you will find on the market exceed 115 horsepower.

Some outboard motors even go as high as 600 horsepower which is almost 600 times as powerful as a trolling motor. With that said, most boaters don’t choose trolling motors because they are looking for lots of power. They are more common for fishing in shallow waters or enjoying a slow cruise on a lake.

Trolling motors are also much quieter than outboard engines which is worth the tradeoff. That is why trolling motors have become the gold standard in fishing. You won’t have to worry about alerting fish and scaring them off, and that’s worth the inferior power compared to outboard engines.

Space

Outboard engines and trolling motors alike are both known for taking up as little space as possible. They are essentially the opposite of inboard engines which are centralized within the boat itself. Both outboard engines and trolling motors are located at the back of the boat.

This lets you free up space for cargo, passengers, coolers, and even a grill. With that said, trolling motors win over outboard engines when it comes to space. Trolling motors are self-contained so they take up no space at all on the boat itself.

While outboard engines take up little space, they can sometimes slightly dip into the boat. That isn’t a problem with trolling motors which simply fix to the back of the boat. However, the difference is minimal as both options are essentially self-contained, but trolling motors are just less bulky in most cases.

Maintenance

You will need to maintain an outboard or trolling motor for it to continue to work well. Outboard motors typically require more maintenance than trolling motors. The general rule of thumb is that you need to service your outboard motor every 100 hours or sooner if you notice a problem.

You should service your trolling motor once a year so that it lasts as long as possible. Trolling motor maintenance includes lubricating it and removing weeds and fishing line that gets tangled in it. Generally, you will spend more money on maintenance for an outboard than a trolling motor.

It costs just under $200 to get an oil change for an outboard motor, but that’s not necessary if you have a trolling motor. You get more longevity with an outboard motor, however, so the maintenance may be worthwhile to many boaters.

Accessibility

Both trolling motors and outboards are accessible to beginners and seasoned boaters alike. However, outboards are generally a little bit easier to initially install than trolling motors. Using a trolling motor is somewhat easier though, and that’s why many beginners are drawn to them.

The one downside to trolling motors that limits their accessibility is the battery life. You will need to purchase an additional meter to keep track of your battery life, and that is necessary. Otherwise, you will not know how much battery life your trolling motor has and you risk getting stranded with a dead battery on the water.

Longevity

Longevity varies between trolling and outboard motors based on several factors. Everything from usage and storage to what kind of what you boat through affects the longevity. For example, a trolling or outboard motor will last much longer in freshwater than in saltwater.

Saltwater is just as corrosive to trolling motors as it is to outboards. Heavy usage can greatly reduce the longevity of an outboard or trolling motor. With that said, you can still expect an outboard to last longer than the average trolling motor.

Outboard motors can typically last for 750 hours before you need to consider serious service and repairs. They typically only last for 2,000 hours total, but many outboard motors don’t last that long. Trolling motors only last for 2-3 years on average depending on how well you maintain them.

Cost

One of the key appeals of trolling motors is that they are typically cheaper than outboard motors. You can find some trolling motors for as little as $300, but they can exceed $1,000. Conversely, some outboard motors can cost over $20,000, but they typically stay within the $1,000-$5,000 range.

While trolling motors are relatively inexpensive, you need to consider their longevity when calculating their cost. For example, a trolling motor that costs $1,000 may only last up to 3 years before you need to replace it. An outboard motor of the same cost could last an additional 2 years before it needs to be replaced making it more cost-effective.

However, trolling motors still win over outboards when it comes to maintenance costs. You should spend several hundred dollars per year or more maintaining an outboard motor. That isn’t a concern with trolling motors, so they are worth the money even if you have to replace them sooner.

Are Trolling Motors Worth It?

Trolling motors are worth it for their precision, maneuverability, and low cost. The main appeal of trolling motors for many boaters is that they require very little setup time. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars per year in maintenance on a trolling motor which is a key benefit.

This is essential because boats require so much maintenance per year that cutting any costs is a lifesaver. Trolling motors are particularly worthwhile if you regularly go fishing because of how quiet they are. You won’t have to worry about ruining your favorite fishing spot by scaring away all of the fish before you can catch them.

Trolling motors are just as effective on a kayak as they are on pontoon boats. You unfortunately sacrifice speed with trolling motors, but it’s a fair tradeoff if you don’t use your boat for watersports. Consider a trolling motor if you want to save money on maintenance and you primarily take your pontoon onto lakes and rivers.

How Deep Should a Trolling Motor Be In The Water?

A trolling motor needs to be at least 12” deep in the water. Otherwise, your trolling motor’s performance will suffer and you could sacrifice speed. You also risk creating too much noise which would negate some of the positive

With that said, 12” is even too shallow in many cases, especially if you have a large pontoon boat. The depth of a trolling motor has a lot to do with the distance between your bow and the water. In other words, a 12” depth is too shallow if the distance between the bow and the water line is over 8”.

In many cases, you need a minimum of 20” of depth for your trolling motor, especially with a pontoon boat. Large pontoon boats that measure 24’ or more require a 60” shaft because of the bigger bow height. This will ensure that your trolling motor will be submerged enough so that it doesn’t make too much noise or hinder its performance.

Are Trolling Motors Waterproof?

The important components of trolling motors are waterproof, such as the motor and motor housing. However, the metal parts of a trolling motor are still susceptible to water damage over time. This is especially true if you primarily use your boat in saltwater.

Saltwater is quite corrosive and can easily weaken the hardware on your trolling motor eventually. Luckily, the battery on a trolling motor itself is waterproof so you don’t have to worry about keeping your boat in the water.

How Long Does a Trolling Motor Last On The Water?

The battery on a trolling motor typically lasts for up to 5 hours on the water. However, older trolling motors with weak batteries may only last for 3-4 hours on the water. That is why trolling motors aren’t necessarily ideal if you plan to spend a long day fishing.

The more you use your motor, the faster it will die. Most trolling motors run at 10 amps per hour. A brand new trolling motor battery may last as long as 6 hours if it features 60 amp hours.

Does a Trolling Motor Need To Be Registered?

You may need to register your trolling motor depending on where you live. States vary in their marine registration laws, so it’s important to check if you live somewhere where it’s required. For example, you need to register your trolling motor if you live in Illinois or Missouri.

Most states require that you register any motor on a boat. Some states, such as Delaware don’t have laws that require you to register the title to your boat or its motor. Arizona is one of the other few states that don’t require you to get a title for your boat or motor, but that is rare.

So, What Size Trolling Motor For 24’ Pontoon Boat Is Best?

You need a trolling motor with 70 pounds of thrust if you have a 24’ pontoon boat. Make sure that the shaft is 60” as well or else it will be too shallow. Trolling motors go by pounds of thrust instead of horsepower like a traditional inboard or outboard engine.

You only need roughly 40 pounds of thrust for a 17’ long pontoon boat. With that said, many boaters prefer outboard motors over trolling motors because of the extra power and speed that they offer. However, trolling motors require much less maintenance and they are much easier to use for beginners.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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