Is A Trolling Motor Considered A Motor Boat? | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Regardless of whether a boat is a canoe, kayak, or inflatable, the presence of a trolling motor qualifies it as a motorized boat.
  • Once a trolling motor is attached to a vessel, it typically must be registered as a motorized boat in all US states.
  • Trolling motors are slower, cheaper, and easier to maintain than outboard gas motors.

Boat owners look to save on registration fees through boat modifications. So a common question we hear is if a trolling motor is still considered a motorboat.

Yes, a trolling motor is considered a motorized boat. Once you equip your vessel with a trolling motor or any type of engine, it's classified as a motorized boat, regardless of the type of watercraft it is. This classification has consequences in terms of registration and regulations.

According to the United States Coast Guard, I can confirm a trolling motor boat is also classified as a motorized boat. I’ve spoken with various experts on the topic, and the laws are pretty clear and easy to understand for experienced boaters. Keep reading to learn more.

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Is a Trolling Motor Considered a Motor Boat?

Yes, a trolling motor counts as a motorized boat. When a boat is outfitted with a trolling motor, it is considered a motorized vessel by the authorities, regardless of its type.

Electric trolling motors are compact motors mounted at the bow or transom of a boat. While these motors are cleaner and less powerful than gasoline-powered engines, they are still considered motors making the vessels motorized boats.

Using a trolling motor on a boat classifies it as a motorized vessel, and appropriate registration rules must be followed accordingly. As a result, boats with trolling motors need to be registered, just like other motorized boats. This applies to all U.S. states.

Does A Trolling Motor Count As A Motor Boat?

Yes, a trolling motor does count as a motorized boat. According to the United States Coast Guard, any boat that is powered by a motor, including an electric trolling motor, is considered a motorized boat.

This means that the same rules and regulations that apply to other types of motorized boats, such as registration and safety requirements, also apply to boats equipped with trolling motors. This also includes boat registration laws.

Trolling motors are popular additions to various types of watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, and inflatables. These motors are designed for marine use and provide extra propulsion to help control and maneuver the boat more efficiently.

What Is A Motor Boat & How Is It Classified?

A motorboat, also known as a powerboat, is a watercraft propelled by an internal combustion or electric engine. They can range from small, single-person crafts to seagoing vessels over 100 feet in length. However, most motorboats accommodate six passengers or fewer.

Motorboats can be classified based on their propulsion system, which can be either inboard or outboard. An inboard engine is placed within the boat's hull, while an outboard engine is a self-contained unit mounted outside the transom, including the engine, gearbox, and propeller or jet drive.

A motor boat can be classified as any small watercraft powered by an internal combustion or electric engine. Boat owners can opt for electric motors or a gas-powered outboard.

Electric Trolling Motor Vs. Outboard Motor

A trolling motor and an outboard motor might seem similar, but they have some key differences. Understanding these distinctions can help you determine which option is most suitable for your needs.

Most electric trolling motors are cheaper, lightweight, and easier to maintain. But this also means they have less power, speed, and performance on the water.

One notable difference is the power source. Trolling motors rely on batteries, while outboard motors usually use gasoline or diesel fuel. This has weight capacity and range implications, as batteries tend to weigh more than equivalent fuel volumes.

The table below highlights the key differences between the two. It's worth noting that while these are general characteristics of trolling motors and outboard motors, specific models and brands may vary in terms of performance, features, and price.

Feature Trolling Motor Outboard Motor
Location Mounted on the bow or stern of the boat Mounted on the transom of the boat
Power Electric Gasoline or diesel
Speed Slower, typically less than five mph Faster, can reach speeds over 30 mph
Control Controlled by a foot pedal or hand remote Controlled by a steering wheel and throttle
Maneuverability Provides excellent maneuverability and control, especially in shallow water or near obstacles Less maneuverable than a trolling motor, especially in shallow water or near obstacles
Noise Virtually silent Produces noise from the engine
Maintenance Requires minimal maintenance Requires regular maintenance, including oil changes, filter replacements, and other upkeep
Cost Typically less expensive than an outboard motor Typically more expensive than a trolling motor
Use Ideal for fishing and slow-speed maneuvering Ideal for high-speed travel and long-distance cruising

Do You Need To Register A Trolling Motor Boat?

Yes, a boat with a trolling motor is generally considered a motorized boat in all US states and therefore needs registration. Even smaller vessels, such as inflatable boats, which don't usually need registration, will require it once a trolling motor is added.

So if you own fishing boats and think adding a trolling motor can save on fees, you’re out of luck. You’ll even need to register a kayak with a motor unless you live in Alaska, South Dakota, or Wyoming.

The only way out of these registration fees is if the boats owned by the US government or if it serves as a life or rescue boat. A few states won’t require you to register your boat if you only want to use it on private lakes.

So unless you plan only to use the boat in privately owned lakes, register it and pay the associated fees. Even with a small boat, you can send in your completed application form and get your paperwork quickly.