What is the Best Trolling Motor for a Bass Boat?

This is a tough question. I will assume that you are an avid bass angler. With that in mind, it definitely narrows down the field. Knowing how drastically the bass boat trolling motor market has changed in recent years, I am going to talk about the four flagship motors on the market today.

Normally, I wouldn’t talk about just the top models because they are the priciest, but these motors have changed the way bass anglers fish in such a drastic way, I would never own a decked out bass boat without one. Now that’s saying something.

There are four top-end trolling motors on the market today that are targeted towards the bass angler. They are the Minn Kota Ultrex, the Motorguide Tour Pro, the Lowrance Ghost and the Garmin Force. All four of them boast GPS anchor lock with traditional “cable steer” feel.

In this article, I will go over each motor in detail and break down my opinions on the matter.

What is GPS Anchor Lock?

We all know what GPS is. GPS anchor lock means that the head of the trolling motor will maintain your current position and account for factors such as wind, current, and boat wakes that may push you off of your spot. In fact, Minn Kota’s version is called Spot-Lock.

This is absolutely a game changer. A bass angler can now focus 100% on the target they are fishing and not worry about the boat drifting off location whenever their foot is removed from the pedal. This feature will literally save you hundreds of hours of wasted motoring back into position. This means more casts and guess what? More fish. Seriously. 

Minn KotaUltrex24v/36v – 45”, 52”, 60” shaft$2,899 – $3,099
MotorguideTour Pro24v/36v – 45” Shaft$2,299 – $2,599
GarminForce24v/36v – 50”, 57” Shaft$3,099 – $3,199
LowranceGhost24v/36v – 47” Shaft$2,999

At the time of this writing, some of the new players in this trolling motor game were still developing additional models with various shaft lengths. Be sure to check the manufacturers pages for recent updates.


In 2016 Ott Defoe changed the way the public looks at trolling motors forever. He won a Bassmaster Elite series event at LaCrosse, Wisconsin in a large part due to the Minn Kota Ultrex.

He was fishing a well-known spot below the spillway of Lake Onalaska. As the water dumped from pool 7 to pool 8 his Ultrex held him where he needed to be so he could focus on fishing. He did. He won.

Nothing has been the same since.

In the 2018 season of the Bassmaster Elites, over 90 of the 110 pros ran the Ultrex. Other manufacturers took notice and introduced competing models at the 2019 I-Cast show.

Why Spend the Money?

As bass anglers, 99% of your day is spent on that trolling motor. That piece of equipment hanging off the bow, along with your boat batteries, in my opinion are the single most important items on your rig. When any of those go down the day is over. Period. 

So, let’s get into it.

Minn Kota Ultrex

We’ll start here since this is the motor that started the sweeping changes in the industry.

Pedal Drive System

The Ultrex is a hybrid. It incorporates both a cable and electronic steering. The cable run through the pedal and into the head of the trolling motor. Here, it is incorporated with pressure sensors. These sensors tell the electronic drive system which way to go. Bass anglers want a “cable drive” feel along with the responsiveness. This motor does that. Many pros liken it to going from non-hydraulic steering, to hydraulic steering. 


This is where GPS anchoring started. According to Minn Kota, the Ultrex has the ability to hold your boat to a 3’ range. That is pretty tight considering how quickly a decent wind can blow you off your spot when you take your foot off the pedal. 

Other GPS Features

The Ultrex offers an array of GPS features like AutoPilot and tracking. On the autopilot mode the motor will take off in the heading that  the directional arrow is pointing. During this mode it will still adjust to outside factors that may throw you off course. Pretty nice feature.

The motor will also track according to map integrations, contour, depth, etc. If you fish the same shoreline often, you can even program the path you want the motor to take and it will follow that track.

Electronic Graph Integration

The Minn Kota Ultrex integrates with Humminbird graphs really well. You can buy models that have the transducer already built in. In fact, Minn Kota now also offers a built-in Side Imaging transducer along with the traditional Down Imaging. 

You can use the I-Pilot link to communicate between all of your graphs, the trolling motor, and your smartphone. 

Motorguide Tour Pro

I’ll continue on with the Motorguide Tour Pro since this is the brand that has competed with Minn Kota for years. When they lost a sizable number of anglers to their rival, it did not go unnoticed. The result is the all new Tour Pro.

Pedal Drive System

The Motorguide Tour Pro is the only one of the four motors here that still maintains a true cable drive system. This steering system has been the mainstay of bass fishing trolling motors for years. Motorguide decided to stick with what has been something die-hard bass anglers demand. 

It is also worth noting, that the Tour Pro has once again gone with the all metal pedal that Motorguide was known for. This is a real plus in the eyes of many anglers that spend thousands of hours on that pedal in all sorts of conditions.


The Tour Pro boasts a push button anchoring system on the pedal as well. It too adjusts for outside factors that may throw you off course or push you away from your desired target area. According to Motorguide, anglers should expect to stay within a 3 foot radius of their initial anchor point.

Other GPS Features

The Tour Pro also boasts expected features like heading lock, cruise control, go-to waypoint navigation, etc. There is also an LED directional arrow on the head of the motor so you know which direction you are navigating.

Electronic Graph Integration

I find this feature on the Tour Pro most interesting. This is the only version of the four models on the market that allows you to incorporate the electronic graphs of your choice. The universal transducer can, via different cable adapters, be linked to any of the major graphs on the market. The gives an angler real choice when it comes to how they want to set up their boat.

Garmin Force

The Force is Garmin’s first real dive into the competitive trolling motor market. It is worth noting that the Force is a true brushless motor. What does this mean? Extreme whisper quiet functionality that also is more efficient and provides more power and battery life than a traditional motor. 

It operates on a 24v or 36v system. This means that if one of your batteries fails on a 36v setup, you can switch the motor over to the 24v settings and continue your day without needing to go back to the ramp. That is a very nice feature.

Pedal Drive System

The Garmin Force has the only pedal system that is totally wireless. The pedal itself operates on AA batteries. The sensors in the pedal communicate with the steering head of the motor and tell the shaft which direction to go as well as how quickly the head should rotate.

To me, the most interesting feature on the Ghost pedal is the adjustable resistance. Bass anglers have come to love their cable drive systems. When the Force first came out for testing, the Pros wanted more resistance in the pedal. Garmin answered the call and provides users with the ability to increase or decrease the tension in the pedal to match what anglers are accustomed to. 


The Force anchoring system works as well as anything on the market, according the Garmin, I’m sure that engineers are still refining and tweaking the system and it should only improve with time.

Other GPS Features

Like other motors in this category, the Garmin Force can communicate with its own graphs and utilize functionality like chartplotter, track follow, go-to waypoint, etc. 

Electronic Graph Integration

The Force comes with the option to integrate Garmin transducers and can link all the functionality of the down and side view sonars. These transducers will work the Panoptix™ and LiveScope™ graphs. 

Lowrance Ghost

The Ghost is Lowrance’s version of a GPS anchoring trolling motor that they hope will compete in this now crowded marketplace. Their motor is completely electronic. The sensors in the pedal communicate with those in the head of the shaft and provide the responsiveness and speed that anglers are familiar with when using cable drive systems. 

It is also a brushless motor system that boasts extreme quiet operation. Like all brushless motors, this feature enhances efficiency and power. It also boasts the 24v/36v system alignment, like the Garmin Force. 

Pedal Drive System

The motor’s head remains stationary while the pedal communicates with it. There is a directional arrow in the head to let you know which track you are going to follow. A single line connects the pedal to the head of the motor, unlike the wireless transmission of the Force. Yet, there are no cables inside of it to get twisted which is a major plus. 


According to Lowrance, the Ghost is capable of holding a boat within a 3 foot radius. That definitely works for me. It too will continually adjust for wind, current, and boat wakes that may push you off of position. 

Other GPS Features

Like other motors in this category, the Lowrance Ghost can communicate with its own graphs and utilize functionality like track follow, go-to waypoint, etc. 

Electronic Graph Integration

As expected, the Lowrance Ghost can be upgraded to include its own transducers. This connectivity allows Smartsteer and other functions to be accessed from anywhere on the boat. 

Final Thoughts

The options in this trolling motor market increased exponentially last summer. It will be interesting to see how things balance out as more-and-more of these new units find their homes on the front of bass boats across the country. 

Depending on your personal preferences, electronics you use, and pedal drive requirements, there is a model for you. Good luck out there, tight lines, and let me know which model and brand you prefer.

Steve Rogers

Steve spends his time filming and writing about bass fishing. You may even see him in your area. If so, stop and say "hi."

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