Can a 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.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Newport Vessels NV-Series 55lb Thrust Saltwater Transom Mounted Trolling Electric Trolling Motor w/ LED Battery Indicator & 30' Shaft (23M1000203)
3,764 Reviews
Newport Vessels NV-Series 55lb Thrust Saltwater Transom Mounted Trolling Electric Trolling Motor w/ LED Battery Indicator & 30" Shaft (23M1000203)
  • EFFICIENT POWER: 55lb Thrust - this 12v electric trolling motor provides excellent power and efficiency for any boater. The high quality build allows the motor to run all day long without overheating, or making noise to spook fish
  • FEATURES: This motor features a 30 inch shaft, a 5 LED battery meter, a 6 inch telescoping tiller handle, and 3 blade propeller. The mount angle, height, and direction can all be adjusted and locked into place when needed
  • SPEED: This motor has 8 speeds, 5 forward and 3 reverse. The motor is designed for trolling, so the top speed of this motor is about 4mph, but depends on your boat shape, weight, water, wind, and other factors. Our 3 Blade Propeller gives the motor great low end torque to get the boat moving
  • BATTERY: The NV 55lb motor requires one (1) 12V Lead-Acid Deep Cycle or Lithium Deep Cycle battery (battery not included), 50ah recommended. The motor also includes a 50amp circuit breaker which is recommended at all times to protect from battery voltage surges. Max Amp Draw: 52A
  • QUALITY & RELIABILITY: All Newport motors are made to high quality stainless steel, magnesium, and zinc hardware to withstand fresh water and salt water environments. We stand behind every product we make with industry leading customer service and a 2 year warranty
Bestseller No. 2
Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor (30' Shaft)
2,291 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 — Guaranteed for Life: At the core of your Minn Kota trolling motor is an indestructable composite shaft. It's a Minn Kota exclusive, and we guarantee it for life.
Bestseller No. 3
Minn Kota 1363742 Riptide Terrova Saltwater Electric-Steer Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with Digital Maximizer & i-Pilot GPS, 80 lbs Thrust, 72' Shaft
11 Reviews
Minn Kota 1363742 Riptide Terrova Saltwater Electric-Steer Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with Digital Maximizer & i-Pilot GPS, 80 lbs Thrust, 72" Shaft
  • 72" Shaft, 24v, 80 lbs Thrust
  • i-Pilot GPS Trolling System: The most-trusted GPS system in fishing. i-Pilot uses GPS to control your trolling motor with incredible features that keep you on the fish. Set Spot-Locks, record paths, control speed and steering, and more. i-Pilot makes boat positioning and control automatic, and you can take command from its easy-to-read large LCD screen
  • Spot-Lock with Jog: Spot-Lock will hold you in place with unparalleled GPS accuracy. Available on i-Pilot Link GPS system that is pre-installed, Spot-Lock gives you the power to stay right on top of any productive fishing spot, without touching your trolling motor. With the included heading sensor, you can use Jog to move your Spot-Lock location five feet in any direction. Activate Spot-Lock from the i-Pilot Link remote or Humminbird fish finder.
  • AutoPilot: Automatically navigate your boat in any direction you choose. Just point the head of your trolling motor in the direction you want to travel, activate AutoPilot, and your trolling motor will keep you on that heading automatically, even correcting for wind, waves and current
  • Digital Maximizer: Provides up to 5 times longer run time on a single battery charge. These variable speed trolling motors let you dial in your exact speed, and they deliver only as much power as you need, helping to conserve your battery for a full day of fishing

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 2021-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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