What Style of Electric Motor is Right for Your Boat?
By: Mark Romanack
Pivot style electric motors such as this Minn Kota Terrova are ideal for deeper V aluminum boats, heavy gauge aluminum boats and blue water boats. Pivot style motors feature longer shaft lengths necessary for these larger and deeper boats.
Modern (bow mounted) electric motors are produced in two distinctively different designs. Known as the “pivot” and “scissor” bracket designs, each of these electric motor options has it’s strong points and short comings. Ultimately, boat design is one of the biggest factors determining if a boat is better equipped with a pivot or scissor style electric motors.
SCISSOR BRACKET MOTORS
Scissor bracket electric motors tend to be tougher and more stoutly built than a pivot style electric motor. That is not to say a scissor bracket motor can’t or won’t break down, it’s just a general statement of fact.
Scissor bracket motors typically feature some type of deployment and stowing assist that makes it easier to get the motor into and out of the water compared to pivot bracket motors. Some scissor motors even have auto-deploy and auto-stow features that make using an electric motor a hands free experience.
Inherently, the scissor bracket electric motor is best suited to boats that are fairly shallow draft. Because a scissor bracket can only accommodate shaft lengths up to about 60 inches, these electric motors are most commonly found on bass boats, flats boats, select multi-species fiberglass boats and a few V hull and modified V hull aluminum hulls.
Scissor style electric motors will fit on some aluminum boats, but the longest available shaft length is generally 60 inches. Scissor style motors are more commonly found on bass boats, flats boats and select multi-species boats that are are lower sided.
PIVOT STYLE ELECTRIC MOTORS
Deeper boats such as aluminum Deep V hulls, heavy gauge aluminum boats, Great Lakes and blue water boats are best equipped with pivot style electric motors that feature longer shaft lengths. For example, the Starcraft STX 2050 Deep V aluminum boats that Jake and I fish and film from are a good candidate for a pivot style electric motor with a shaft length of at least 72 inches.
The longer shaft length insures that the power head of the electric motor will remain in the water when fishing in bumpy seas. If the electric motor shaft is too short, the motor will loose bite as the power head cavitates and bounces in and out of the water.
A pivot bracket style electric motor is typically a little more difficult to deploy and stow compared to a scissor bracket motor. Also pivot bracket motors require a motor shaft stabilizer to be installed to prevent the motor head from bouncing and banging on the top deck of the boat when running in rough water. At Fishing 411 we have been using the Cisco Fishing Systems Electric Motor Stabilizing Bracket for many years. This simple and tough design virtually guarantees your electric motor will be protected when running in rough water.
GPS NAVIGATION INTEGRATION
Both scissor and pivot bracket style electric motors feature GPS navigation features such as anchor or spot lock, cruise control, jog and heading lock modes. These navigation features can be controlled by the foot pedal of the motor or the key fob. In the case of some motors, the navigation system can be controlled via touch screen sonar.
BRUSHLESS MOTOR DESIGNS
In recent years electric motors have been designed with brushless motors. A brushless electric motor is quieter and uses less amp hours of electricity to function. The result are electric motors that run longer while at the same time using far less juice.
Eventually all electric motors will feature brushless designs, but currently only the more expensive motors offer this important feature.
Anglers have a lot of different electric motors to choose from. A number of new scissor and pivot style motors have hit the market recently. The author recommends choosing wisely, as an electric motor has to be matched up to the size and depth of the boat carefully to insure the best function.
MORE MODERN FEATURES
The latest generation of electric motors feature some additional features we could only dream of a few years ago. The new Power Pole Move electric motors feature a titanium shaft that keeps flex to a minimum and maximizes electric motor power. Available in both a scissor and pivot style bracket, the Move is arguably the most durable electric motor ever built.
Garmin’s Kraken integrates the transducer for Live Scope (forward viewing sonar) into shaft of the electric motor creating a clean and functional design. In addition, the Kraken supports CHIRP and also down and side-scan imaging through a built in transducer system and the shaft lengths are offered in 63, 75 and 90 inches ideal for Deep V and larger Great Lakes and saltwater boats.
Minn Kota has redesigned the Terrova, Ultrex and Ulterra electric motors to feature brushless motors, stronger brackets, universal key fobs that operate on all three motors and some exciting GPS features such as “drift mode”, a function that allows the boat to maintain a drifting course and speed, freeing up hands for casting. Those anglers who appreciate the features of the Terrova will also be excited to learn a new saltwater Riptide Terrova features 87 and 100 inch shaft lengths suitable for larger Great Lakes and saltwater boats.
SUMMING IT UP
In short, the good ole days of electric motors are here and now. All the major brands are offering greatly improved products designed to fish harder and fish longer. That is important because, the first thing an avid angler does at the beginning of the day is put the electric motor in the water and the last thing he does is take it out at the end of the day. Serious anglers need serious electric motors. Amen.