Adding a trolling motor onto your 20-foot pontoon boat is going to give you so many more options when fishing. Having the right-sized model will let you get on top of the fish, stay with them, and hopefully catch more.
But it’s much more than that; with the correct sized trolling motor on your 20-foot pontoon boat, with just the right amount of thrust means you won’t get pushed around by the wind.
If you get the thrust wrong and buy something not powerful enough, you will waste time and money.
It’s not always obvious though, and you will hear lots of different opinions on what size you need to buy, what thrust, what spec and so on.
The right sized trolling motor for a 20-foot pontoon boat is…
The answer is quite simply nothing that has less than 70 pounds of thrust, and if you can afford it, go for 80 pounds of thrust. My advice is don’t ever be cheap on a trolling motor. And don’t get low thrust one.
Buy the best one you can afford with 24 volts as a minimum.
The reason why I say 70 pounds minimum is due to the wind. Pontoon boats can be like kites and in a good wind you need that extra thrust to keep her in track.
I boat and fish in big lakes all the time and have seen plenty of days where wind has picked up to 20 miles per hour plus. With a 70-pound trolling motor, my 20-foot pontoon boat has zero problems.
Plus, if you are doing straight line trolling you will need something with autopilot and cruise control if your budget allows.
Every single person I’ve ever talked who’s running a trolling motor with a remote control has said they’d never go back to a foot pedal. Literally no exceptions.
So, whatever you do, if you can afford it, get something with GPS and remote control.
What is the best trolling motor for a 20-foot pontoon boat?
For me it’s the Minn Kota Terrova with Bluetooth wireless operation. This one ticks all the boxes that I would look for in a trolling motor.
It pulls my 20-foot pontoon boat with ease, even in high winds.
It has an 18-foot cord in the foot control, and a cordless remote too, with loads of other options.
The wireless functionality is an absolute must.
Trolling motor battery and charger recommendation
Get yourself a deep-cycle battery. Don’t run off the main battery, as it could drain with you getting stuck out on the water.
Vmaxtanks are very good (view on Amazon), and are manufactured to work with 20-foot pontoon trolling motors such as the Minn Kota Terrova.
I recommend their two-bank charger (see Amazon prices) as it means if you have a starting battery and a trolling battery, you can take care of both.
How to calculate how much thrust you will need?
One of the biggest regrets I read on pontoon boat forums is from people who bought a trolling motor, only to wish they had gone bigger. You need as much thrust as you can get.
There is a tried and tested method to calculate how much thrust your trolling motor needs, based on the size of your boat. It goes like this:
Rough Calculation: Weight of boat in pounds divided by 100. Then multiply that result twice.
Based on that, if your 20-foot pontoon boat weighs 3,400 pounds, then divide that by 100 and you get 34. Multiply that by 2, and you get 68, which is just shy of 70.
But I always want to err on the side of caution, and give me as much power as I can, which is why I recommend taking it up to 80 pounds if you can.
Can I get away with using a 55-pound trolling motor on a 20-foot pontoon?
You will hear of other pontooners using 55 pounds of thrust, but for me it’s just not worth the investment.
Yes, it will push your boat fine with no wind, but the distance you’ll travel will be very short unless you have a ton of batteries. You also aren’t going to be able to pull crank baits for hours based on my experience.
A buddy of mine had a 55 on his 20-foot pontoon, and it was fine as long as the wind was less than 10 miles per hour. Anything more than that and he was constantly having to use the outboard.
You’re going to have a hard time in wind and also the bigger thrust the more voltage system. That in turn lasts longer between charges.
The battery on a 55 pounder will probably just be 12 volts, and it simply won’t last very long – go for an 80 pounder with 24 volts instead.
For a 20-foot pontoon boat, I would say no less than 70 pounds, with 80 pounds of thrust ideally.
What other pontooners say
I read some online comments from other pontoon boat owners to see them what sized trolling motor they were using on their 20-footers. Here’s a selection of their answers, including what features they recommend.
“I have the Minn Kota Terrova V2 36v 112lb thrust 60” shaft mounted on my 20-foot pontoon and it pulls the boat at 4.5 to 5 mpg with it loaded up heavy. I bought this motor for a different boat, then later took it off and put on my pontoon. The wireless remote control is the only way to go! Also, if you get one of the larger motors, say 24v or even 36v, your batteries will last a lot longer.”
“I’ve got an 80-pound Minn Kota on my 20-foot pontoon. I use the trolling motor mostly for moving along the bank while casting for bass and for that it works really well. Yesterday, I ran out of fuel about ½ mile from the fuel dock and had to use the trolling motor to get me there. We made it there, but it overheated and auto-shut-down twice on the way.”
The last word…
Buying the right-sized trolling motor for your 20-foot pontoon boat lets you develop the perfect fishing set-up, without having to spend out big on a manufacturer’s fishing package.
Buy big, and over-estimate the amount of thrust you will need – you won’t regret it!