Can a Freshwater Trolling Motor Be Used in Saltwater?

Can a Freshwater Trolling Motor Be Used in Saltwater

Freshwater trolling motors not being useful in saltwater situations is a common myth amongst fishermen. While you can use a freshwater trolling motor, some safety and cosmetic procedures have to be met.

In this guide, we’ll help you how to make sure everything is in tip top shape for your next outing.

We go over the reasons why and when to use your freshwater motor and how their build can affect your next trip.

Without further adieu, let’s begin.

Yes a freshwater trolling motor can be used in saltwater; however, you must protect you trolling motor from corrosion. You can do so with certain types of paint, anodizing, grease & lubrication and cleaning your unit after use. 

What is the Difference Between Freshwater and Saltwater Motors?

Fresh Water Trolling Motor
Fresh Water Trolling Motor

There are some important differences one should think of before selecting a fishing motor.

Freshwater has a 1% dissolved salt content. However, this salt density is higher in saltwater, but freshwater isn’t fully devoid of salt. Saltwater covers over 71% of the earth. With these statistics, it’s obvious that there is a high ratio of boaters in saltwater vs. freshwater so the market caters to that.

Freshwater has different needs for control and durability compared to the erosion danger and rougher waters that saltwater usually comes with.

Another difference is the soft metal anode. The anode is covered during saltwater trolling to prevent the material from rusting. Brackish water is known for being corrosive, and using the covering helps improve its lifespan.


Freshwater motors marine-grade. This means that they use foot and hand control to work effectively. This gives the person more control over the motor and can regulate the performance.

However, there comes a slight disadvantage because it requires more effort to work properly. It requires you to fully focus on steering the boat, reducing the ability to do other things on the vessel. Even though freshwater motors are for manual usage, they are designed in a way where users don’t need too much direct strength to operate it effectively.


Price plays a major part in getting a fishing motor, and saltwater motors are known for being more costly. The higher cost is due to the fact that saltwater motors require more modifications to stop rusting and require more effort to make.

Thus, knowing the difference between saltwater and freshwater trolling motors can help you make the right decision in finding which one is best for your location. We suggest getting a saltwater motor you are planning to fish in salt water often. But for simple freshwater fishing, a small freshwater motor will suffice.

Mount Type

There is a difference regarding the mounting when comparing freshwater and saltwater motors. The mounts are either a transom or bow mount. The difference depends on the type of work was put on the motor.

Having a bow mount is useful for when you want to access different elements. With transom mounts, the motor performs better and provide more space on the boat. This gives you more freedom to carry more equipment and use the motor more effectively.

How Can I Protect My Trolling Motor After Using it in Saltwater?

Saltwater Trolling Motor

Some of these techniques are more permanent than others. The method of choice is highly dependent on how long you want to use it for saltwater and why. If you’re using the motor for one quick sail, then you can simply rinse the salt off of the motor. However, a more permanent solution is needed if you want to make the change to fishing in saltwater.


Anodization creates a protective layer via electric current to prevent the metal from corroding. This adds a corrosive and rust resistant layer on the metal. This process will change the structure on top of the motor and is recommended if you plan on using fresh water motors in saltwater for longer periods.

Fresh Water

After sailing in salt water, use a bottle or other source of fresh water on the motor. This will help remove any flush deposits that are on the motor.

Painting the Metal Surface

To prevent the metal from rusting, use paint to keep it secure. You can use temporary paint when you want to use it in salt water. Then, you can revert back to its normal paint colors when you’re ready to fish on freshwater again.

Paint can be vulnerable to degradation, so you need to be on the lookout and apply paint whenever it chips out.

Where Are Freshwater Fish Located?

Fish activity is based on environmental factors such as:

  • Salinity
  • Structure, bottom, cover, and hiding areas
  • Water temperature
  • Water depth
  • Current


Some fish can’t live in saltwater, while other fish can live on both fresh and saltwater conditions. Living plants give oxygen to water, and so does adding water tumbling over rocks. Animals and decomposing plants use oxygen and pollution can reduce the oxygen quality in the water. Thermal pollution is also a problem, because warmer water can’t hold as much oxygen as cold water.


The amount of food that’s available in the water will determine the types of fish you’ll catch. The water depth and current are also significant factors. Bass will swim on the surface for baits, while carp will swim on the bottom. So find out what type of bait and food is best for your desired fish to receive better results.


Fish has a specific temperature that it enjoys swimming in. Some fish can survive in temperatures up to 26°C. Other fish like salmon, prefer cooler temperatures at 10°C and under.

Here is what bass like the most.

There are some fish who swim in a wide range of temperatures, while others have limited requirements. We suggest that you use a thermometer to help with determining the water temperature and knowing the specific fish that are swimming within the area.

What’s The Best Time to Fish in Freshwater?

There isn’t a best time to fish. When it comes to fishing, different species populate the ocean at different times, and can vary in response due to environmental factors. Marine fish are active during the afternoon and evening, and are the least active during the morning. You could still catch fish in the noon if you know the fishing pattern and can change your fishing tactics.

Selecting The Best Season

Just like determining the right time to fish, selecting the right season requires you to notice the movement of the fish and adjust your tactics as a response. While fishing is a year-round sport, there are some seasons that are more comfortable than others.

Professional anglers know the availability and habits of different species. Since there is a range of environmental factors, the fish will be available at any given time. Amount of daylight, temperature, food availability, and predation are the main factors. Successful anglers know how these factors affect their chances of catching a particular fish.

The Advantages of Using a Boat

Freshwater from a boat allows you to cover more distance than fishing by the shore and reach more distant spots. Different boats are designed for different types of water and perform different tasks.

Skiffs, jonboats, and canoes are ideal for fishing in small lakes, streams, and small rivers. Large rivers and areas for more extreme fishing are more suited for specialty sport fishing boats, or boats with “cathedral” hulls, or V-hulls.

Freshwater Trolling is Enjoyable and Effective

Trolling is effective for fish species that tend to eat smaller fish. Outriggers have multiple trailing lines from the side of the boat and allow for multiple fishing lines at one. Once a bait is stuck, the line is free from the outrigger, to be used as a shorter and sturdy rod.

Additional Tips

Hardware components and Electrical Wiring in Saltwater

While hardwire and automotive grade wiring are great for freshwater environments, they will not be suited to survive in the tough coastal environment. The corrosion will turn to brown stains from fasteners and mounting screws.

Don’t be cheap when buying your hardware and wiring. Make sure to buy the marine grade components. They are more expensive, but they are worth your money when fishing in a saltwater environment.

Grease and Lubricate Metal Parts

Each model and brand of trolling motors are different, but you can still maintain the quality of the metal parts. Metal, like most alloys, tend to rust over time. Because of this, you should grease any metal parts that have come into contact with other metal.

Cleaning Your Trolling Unit

Your trolling motor’s exterior needs to be cleaned regularly because grime and weeds can build up. Use a soap solution and mild water to help remove any excess bacteria off the motor. After the unit is dried, place a coating of silicon spray on the shaft, and using a dry cloth to clean it off afterward. This ensures that the unit can operate up and down freely.

Motor Prop Inspections

We suggest inspecting your motor’s prop on a bi-weekly basis. Look for bends, cracks, and dings. Serious damage (i.e., hitting underwater objects), will have a negative effect on the entire operation. You will need to replace the trolling props if it occurs.

Start by removing the prop to inspect the fishing line and tangled weeds around the shaft. If this is left unattended, the fishing line will cut in the prop seal, which will lead to more damage. While your fingers can remove most tangles, you can use nose pliers to help with the rest.

Make sure that the bolt is secured tight when you place the prop back on. Don’t overtighten, as it makes it difficult to remove the bolts for future inspections.

Electrical Connections

The plug that connects the power to the trolling power is usually found in front of the boat. These plugs become damaged over time and will require more electrical amps to run them properly.

Also, using batteries is a great way to improve your freshwater trolling efforts as a more durable battery and keeps the engine running. We recommend getting AMR batteries because they While they might cost more money, they don’t suffer from gas or acid corrosion.

Should You Use Bottom Paint When Fishing in Saltwater?

Most coastal anglers will use antifouling paint underneath the boat hull to prevent barnacles and other harmful organisms from living or growing on the bottom of your boat. This type of antifouling paint is called “bottom paint,”

Bottom paint isn’t required if you plan on fishing in saltwater for 1-2 days. But for those who plan on fishing in saltwater more often, you should consider getting it.


Before you plan on fishing in freshwater, make sure you’ve spent time investigating the species of fish laws and regulations of the water. Each province has a different set of regulations, and you’ll want to make sure you’re following their guidelines.


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