Across the board, the best trolling motor batteries are likely to last at least all day on a charge, and not leave you stranded or weakened after hundreds of charge cycles. Beyond that, there are a myriad of considerations to take into account when buying your power source, including the size of your boat, your budget, how many you’ll need, and weight considerations.
When I bought my first bass boat in 1996, the choices were relatively simple: You bought what the marine dealer had, or whatever you could find at the local big box or automotive store. You also expected random failures, and at the least, to have to replace your batteries every few years. Some anglers I know even carried an extra in their tow vehicles for the semi-regular failures. At the time, we didn’t know better, but those limited choices underserved us.
My 18-foot bass boat had a 12/24 volt trolling motor and 43 pounds of thrust. Today my 20-foot model has a 36-volt trolling motor and 112 pounds of thrust. Where I once had to fire up the outboard to go from one isolated piece of cover to the next, now I can just run the electric. Just as importantly, perhaps, I expect to be able to do that at the end of a long day of fishing just as quickly as I do at the very start. Today’s batteries are stronger, more bulletproof, and in some cases, costlier, so make sure that you buy the correct option or options for your boating choice.
After more than 20 years of testing the best trolling motor batteries here are my favorites:
- Best Lithium: Pro-Guide Lithium
- Best Budget: Bass Pro Shops Deep Cycle 12V Marine Battery
- Best AGM Trolling Motor Batteries: Deka Intimidator AGM Batteries
- Best Compact: Optima Bluetop Batteries
- Best for Kayaks: Dakota Lithium 12V 54AH Deep Cycle Battery
- Best Budget Kayak Battery: Interstate 12V DCM0035
Best Lithium: Pro-Guide Lithium
Why It Made the Cut
The Pro-Grade Lithium has proven technology and reliability in a lightweight package, with a prorated warranty.
- Three sizes (largest/heaviest is 26 pounds)
- Unique corrosion-resistant terminals
- State of charge indicator built into the case
- Rates for 2500 cycles
- Enclosed cell dampens the impact of vibrations
- Light weight makes them manageable
- Withstands environmental stressors well
- Not inexpensive, especially if you need more than one
Lithium batteries are the darlings of the boating world and also the villains. When working properly, they deliver max power for long periods of time in a package that weighs about a third of their AGM counterparts. On the flip side, they’re quite expensive, and some have suffered through random shutdowns. Also, some lithium batteries have been blamed for fires. So when I decided to invest in three Pro-Guide Lithiums for my new boat, I was wary but the weight and performance benefits won out.
So far, I’ve been thrilled. Embarrassingly, I didn’t have my charger set up properly at first. I actually made it through six long days on the water before I even noticed. That would never happen with any other battery type. Moreover, they charge quickly, and it’s easy to see the state of charge. The power is insane—I can cut through grass and haul long distances between docks in a flash. At only 26 pounds apiece, it adds speed and maneuverability to my boat, and with a capacity of 100 amp hours, I’ve yet to run them down, despite trying my best.
Best Budget: Bass Pro Shops Deep Cycle 12V Marine Battery
Bass Pro Shops
Why It Made the Cut
The Bass Pro Shops Deep Cycle battery is readily available, and offers proven technology that will fit any budget.
- Two sizes
- Warranty: Free replacement for one year, and prorated for two years after that
- Wet cell construction requires distilled water
- Technology has been proven for decades
- Simple to get a replacement if needed
- Maintenance required
A lead acid, wet-cell, deep cycle battery may not be the most technologically-advanced member of this group, but it’s the one with the longest track record. Arguably, that means they’re the least likely to have problems, but even if they do, at this price point and with a solid warranty the Bass Pro Shops model is a bargain. With a store just seemingly around every corner these days, an exchange would be simple. Fortunately, that’s not likely to be necessary, as these vibration-resistant batteries are industry standard. They resist vibration and work in a wide range of temperatures, with plenty of reserve capacity.
Best AGM: Deka Intimidator AGM Batteries
Why It Made the Cut
My Deka Intimidator is one of the best trolling motor batteries because it was just as powerful after four years of hard use as the day I bought it.
- 11 different models available (some better suited for trolling motors than others)
- Protection against deep discharging
- No-spill design prevents acid leaks
- Maintained power for many years
- High level of vibration resistance
- High level of freeze resistance
- Heavy weight may make installing and removing difficult
AGM batteries are the battleships of the trolling motor world. They’re more vibration-resistant, more powerful, and more maintenance-free than wet cells, but also more expensive, much more unwieldy, and heavy.
These are a really good choice if you’re ready to make the leap. I had some in my last bass boat, and when an unrelated engine problem stranded me six miles from the ramp, I made it back in relatively good time just on the electric—four years after the initial battery purchase. They were still going as strong that day as the day I bought the boat. To me, that’s the greatest endorsement ever. The 31M models that I’ve used have 1000 marine cranking amps and 200 minutes of reserve capacity, which means they’ll start your boat as well as they run the trolling motor, if you prefer to use them for alternate purposes. They’re readily available at a variety of retailers and outlets, and even if you’re using “another brand,” you may actually be using Dekas just badged as something else.
Best Compact: Optima Bluetop Batteries
Why It Made the Cut
The Optima Blue Top is great compromise between lithium and a traditional AGM battery.
- Four sizes
- Maintenance free
- Compact design
- Survives hundreds of recharges
- Can be mounted in virtually any position
The Optima Bluetops incorporate AGM design into a frame that’s lighter and substantially more compact than the often-unwieldy AGMs from other manufacturers. That means you get the incredible runtime and the high number of recharges this category provides, but without the space-stealing footprint of the competition.
There are four models to meet anglers’ particular power needs and space limitations, but all of them come with the same proven reliability. They’re also widely available, so if you do run into an issue an exchange or replacement should not be a problem—but their trouble-free design makes that unlikely. They’re truly plug-and-play. Put them in the boat and prepare to run your trolling motor as long as you can stand to be out.
Best for Kayaks: Dakota Lithium 12V 54AH Deep Cycle Battery
Why It Made the Cut
Kayak anglers need a lightweight and compact battery to power their motors, and the Dakota Lithium delivers.
- 9.01” x 5.43” x 8.38” footprint
- 17.6 pounds
- 54 amp hours
- Long-lasting power
- Specialized charger included
- Does not take up much space
- Not inexpensive
Kayak anglers have a specific set of needs that require a specialized battery: They need to fight the current and cover water just like bigger boats, but they also have major space considerations. For those with the wherewithal to invest in a lithium battery, the Dakota Lithium takes all of this into account and does an exceptionally workmanlike job of pumping out power. It’ll handle up to 2,000 cycles at 80 percent discharge and charges quickly with the included charger, so anglers can get back on the water day after day after day—and those days will be even more efficient thanks to their substantial power. The battery comes with an amazing 11-year warranty, should you ever run into any problems. It can also be used to power the best kayak fish finders.
Best Budget Kayak Battery: Interstate 12V DCM0035
Why It Made the Cut
For kayak anglers on a budget the Interstate 12V provides reliable and consistent power.
- Dimensions: 5.16 inches x 7.68 inches x 6.42 inches
- Weight: 22.90 pounds
- AGM construction
- Proven reliability
- Non-spillable sealed design
- Slightly heavier than lithiums
This is a pretty “vanilla” battery, but that’s meant in a really positive way. It’s proven technology, works with a variety of chargers, and will most definitely not break the bank. Sure, it’s a little bit heavier than most lithium models, but not so much as to be a game-changer. Furthermore, at only a fraction of the price of most other batteries it’s a true bargain. Interstates are one of the most common and widely-available batteries because they provide reliable power and also because of their price. For the casual angler, they’re a no-brainer, and even for the seasoned kayak tournament pro they’re a viable choice.
Things to Consider
How much do you have to spend or want to spend? Whether you need one trolling motor battery or three of them, that’s the first guideline, but there’s more to it than that. If you keep the boat for more than just a few years, you may have to replace your batteries, so for example, something that lasts three times as long at twice the price will actually turn out to be a bargain. And of course, if bargain basement batteries aren’t up to snuff in the first instance, you were penny wise and pound foolish.
There are wet cell batteries, advanced glass mat (AGM) and lithium models. All have their advantages and disadvantages, along with differing price points.
Different boats have different storage capacities and might not be able to fit or heft your battery of choice. That requires compromise on occasions. Kayaks in particular are weight- and space-sensitive and require careful consideration. When I switched from AGMs to lithiums in my bass boat, I dropped over 150 pounds from the rear end of the boat, adding speed, but requiring different trim and jackplate levels for optimized driving.
Most batteries have a period of “no questions asked” replacement, followed by a period of prorated warranty. Take that into account, in case they go down at an inopportune time, but also consider the circumstances around replacement. Is it over-the-counter from the store down the street, or will you have to mail it back somewhere and wait a month for assessment and replacement?
How long can a trolling motor run on a battery?
The run time for a trolling motor depends on the reserve capacity of the battery or batteries, the health of the batteries on how hard the motor is run on any given day. Anglers who are not getting a full day’s use out of their batteries should consider replacing them with newer batteries, stronger batteries, or a different overall setup.
How often should I charge my trolling motor battery?
Charge your batteries immediately after use, and keep them plugged into the appropriate charger until they are 100 percent charged. Most chargers have a shutoff and a trickle feature that will keep batteries topped off. Also, with wet cell batteries, make sure that water levels are adequate.
How many years do trolling motor batteries last?
Trolling motor batteries used several times a week should last no less than three or four years, and possibly five or six with no loss of charge. Some anglers change them out every two years to be safe. Some of the newer lithium models promise over a decade of use.
It’s only when their trolling motor batteries get noticeably weakened or die altogether that most anglers give them a second thought. That’s a mistake because in many instances you cannot fish without them—they’re literally the belt loops that hold up the belt which holds up your pants. That’s increasingly true in the kayak world, where long days in current demand long-lasting. It also matters with bigger boats, because high gas prices lead many of us to pick an area apart rather than run and gun from spot to spot. Basically, the best trolling motors need the best trolling motor batteries to work to their full potential.
I am hard on trolling motor batteries I spend lots of time with the trolling motor on high, and long days of deep discharges that take max effort from my charger. I’m also a value-hound, with a strong preference for saving dollars, but willing to spend more when it makes financial and practical sense to do so. Over nearly 30 years of boat ownership I’ve tried just about every strategy and realized that there are pros and cons to all of them.