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Can a Freshwater Trolling Motor be Used in Saltwater?

Freshwater Trolling Motor be Used in Saltwater

Here’s the truth:

Yes, a freshwater trolling motor can be used in saltwater. However, you must clean and protect your trolling motor before and after. 

Choosing the Right Trolling Motor

Did you know getting into the best fishing spots with minimal noise will boost your chances of catching fish? This is one of the main reasons why trolling motors are used. They are a source of boat propulsion with lots of ease and minimal hand work. Depending on where you need to use your boat, you can purchase the appropriate motor to suit your needs. The main selection for the trolling motors depends on the mode of steering and the water type. Here is a in depth trolling motor guide that I have written.

From possessing fish finders to using high tech GPS advancements, trolling motors have seen improvement and adoption over time by all those who enjoy good sails. Trolling motors are precisely high-tech replacements of an oar.  It is an outboard powered engine meant for more natural boat propulsion.

Trolling motors help in positioning the boat in the best form and spot, and when used for fishing, this angle is best to cast. Based on the control, the motor is classified as foot-control, hand-control or wireless remote control. These motors are further classified to salty water or fresh water motors depending on the water body they are used.

The main difference between the fresh water and salt water motor is the material they are made of. For saltwater use, the motor compartments are made of material that repels corrosion brought by the corrosive properties of the salt water in the ocean. Water type thus plays a critical role in determining which type of motor to get.

Bestseller No. 1
Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor (30' Shaft)
2,259 Reviews
Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor (30" Shaft)
  • Lever Lock Bracket: This solid 10-position bracket features a quick-release lever lock and reinforced composite material that resists flexing, warping, and UV damage
  • Telescoping Tiller: Get easy, comfortable, intuitive operation of your trolling motor with the six-inch telescoping tiller.
  • 5 Fwd/3 Rev Speed Settings: Five speed settings for forward and three speed settings for reverse.
  • Power Prop: For 3-1/4" motor diameters, this prop delivers extra power to push throw heavy vegetation. Includes prop pin, nut and washer.
  • Indestructible Composite Shaft — for Life: At the core of your Minn Kota trolling motor is an indestructable composite shaft. It's a Minn Kota exclusive, and we it for life.
Bestseller No. 2
Watersnake T18 ASP - 18 Pound Thrust 12v Electric Saltwater Trolling Motor with Kayak Bracket, 24' Shaft, White
95 Reviews
Watersnake T18 ASP - 18 Pound Thrust 12v Electric Saltwater Trolling Motor with Kayak Bracket, 24" Shaft, White
  • LIGHTWEIGHT SIMPLE DESIGN: If you're after lightweight and portability. This motor weighs a mere 4.85 lbs (2.2kg) and is ideal for powering kayaks, canoes, small dinghies and inflatable boats, especially if you have to carry your craft to the water.
  • CONTROL + FEATURES: There is a high and low speed control, a forward and reverse switch, and extendable handle for easy steering, a 24" (61cm) shaft plus an anti-impact clip system in the mount. The 2-blade propeller is a weedless design. Bracket optional
  • ELECTRIC POWER: Available in 18 lb (7-15 amps) and 24 lb (9-20 amps) thrust, both 12 Volt motors, Battery Not Included.
  • VERSATILE: Universal design suitable for most kayaks and canoes, optional bracket for more mounting options and less DIY mounts. Adjustable transom mount fitting
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEE: Necessity is the mother of invention. Created by anglers to be used by anglers. If you’re not satisfied with your Watersnake Electric Motor, contact your distributor to be taken care of.
Bestseller No. 3
Minn Kota Edge 45/Hand
102 Reviews
Minn Kota Edge 45/Hand
  • 5-Speed Settings to dial in the right speed control when you're trolling
  • Heel-Toe / Cable-Steer ultra-responsive foot pedal includes speed control, momentary and constant on/off
  • Anodized aluminum compact mount perfect for smaller boats
  • For 3-1/4" motor diameters, this prop delivers extra power to push throw heavy vegetation
  • Includes prop pin, nut and washer

What are the difference between saltwater and a fresh water motor?

There are some critical differences between these two motors that one needs to know before purchasing a trolling motor.

Freshwater has a dissolved salt content of less than 1%. The density of the salt is much higher in salt water, but fresh water is not entirely devoid of the salt. Salty water covers about 71% of the earth. From these statistics, it’s clear that in one way or another, the ratio of boaters on salty water vs. fresh water is quite high, so one might end up needing to use their freshwater motor in a brackish water body.

One main difference between the two motors is the sacrificial anode, which is a small metal tab on the bottom. This comes in handy when it comes to the performance and durability of the motor. In salty water, the anode is covered with material to prevent it from rusting easily. Brackish water is highly corrosive, and this covering is used to avoid the motor from rusting easily.

Can a Freshwater Trolling Motor be used in Saltwater?

The answer to this is a yes or no, or somewhat it depends. The main disadvantage of using motors in salty water is that salt corrodes metal and shorten the lifespan of the motor. Salty water trolling motors have some enhancements, meant to suit their use in the high salt density water mass. These include stainless steel hardware, sealed electrical connections and an advanced painting process for improved corrosion protection.  When using the freshwater motor in saltwater, ensure there is a service that is used to match the protective enhancement used in the salty water directly or indirectly.

How to protect a freshwater motor after use in salt water.

Some of the methods below are more permanent than others. The protective method of choice is highly dependent on why you would want to use the fresh water motor in saltwater and for how long.

If it is just for a quick one time sail, then just rinsing the salt off would be appropriate whereas if you want to make a shift to use your boat more in a salty water ocean, a more permanent solution would be preferred.

Run fresh water on the motor after use in salt water

This will help you flush out any remaining salt deposits in the motor

Attach sacrificial nodes to the motor

These are pieces of metal used to prevent corrosion. The anode will corrode such that the motor is spared from the corrosion. Monitor the anode and replace it regularly to protect the engine from rusting.

Never leave the boat submerged in salty water when the boat is moored

For more protection, thoroughly rinse the motor with fresh water after every use in salt water to prevent rusting.

Paint the metal surface

Painting is one way to prevent metal from rusting. You can apply temporary paint on the motor when you want to use it in salt water and can then quickly go back to the previous form of the motor by removing the paint.

Pain, however, is vulnerable to degradation thus one needs to be on the lookout to apply paint whenever it chips out.

Use anodization

Anodization uses electric current giving metal a protective coating which then prevents the metals from corroding. This create a corrosion and rust resistance layer on the metal. This process changes the structure at the top of the service and you can do this if you want to use the fresh motor on saltwater for longer timelines.

Use salt removal sprays

Star brite Salt Off Protector with PTEF 22 oz Spray

Click Image to See at Amazon

These sprays remove salts and suspend rusting more quickly. It is a refillable pump-spray bottle that is filled with chemicals to minimize the rusting.

There are different types of salt-off sprays that can be sued.

Final thoughts

The decision to use the freshwater motor on salt water is highly dependent on for how long and also if you are willing to go the extra mile of observing the protection to prevent corrosion. This follow up is a bit tasking and one quick solution would be buying the salt water motor instead. You can however just use your fresh water motor on salt water if this is just a one-time thing and quickly follow up with the protective measures.

Go ahead and try one of these protective method if you are looking to spice up your boating or fishing adventures cutting across different water bodies while still maintaining the durability of your motor.

Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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