Best Spot Lock Trolling Motors: Lowrance, Garmin, Minn Kota, and MotorGuide Compared

Whether you’re fighting an incoming tide in a saltmarsh or just fighting the wind while you unhook and weigh a bass, spot locking trolling motors have proven to be an angler’s best friend time and time again.

And from tournament champions to charter captains, weekend anglers to serious amateurs, the advantages of a trolling motor that can stick your boat to a spot without any attention from you is an obvious advantage.

Now relatively common technology, spot lock still comes at a premium, and which trolling motor is the best investment for your hard-earned money comes down to careful research.

We’d like to help simplify that process for you, and below, you’ll find reviews of the best spot locking trolling motors on the market:

Best Spot Lock Trolling Motors Reviewed

Lowrance Ghost - Most Powerful Spot-Locking Trolling Motor

Lowrance Ghost - Freshwater Trolling Motor, 52' Shaft, Bow Mount, 97/120 lbs Thrust with Configurable Foot Pedal, HDI Sonar

Amazon 

Thrust: 97 or 120 lbs.

Shaft Length: 47", 52", or 60"

Mounting: bow

Control: electronic and fly-by-wire pedal

Voltage: 24V and 36V

Lowrance is no stranger to fishing electronics, and it’s no surprise that they’ve more than dipped their toes in the trolling motor water, taking the plunge with the amazing Ghost.

As silent as its namesake, the Ghost employs a brushless motor to generate massive thrust and keep your batteries on full far longer than older motor tech.

On a 24V system, expect 97 pounds of boat-turning, wind-bucking power; on a 36V system, the Ghost’s silent power leaps to a full 120 pounds!

That will lock the biggest, heaviest bass boat on any lake in America to one spot, no matter how windy it is. If you do that math, 120 pounds of thrust is enough for a 6,000-pound boat, and most of us aren’t running anything nearly that heavy.

And with three shaft lengths on offer, there’s no question that you’ll find the right one for you.

Lowrance equips the Ghost with advanced control features, and while perhaps not as high tech as the Garmin Force, it’s still pretty amazing.

Using fly-by-wire tech rather than traditional cables, the Ghost’s foot pedal offers unparalleled feel and utility. Customizable for either foot, it features fully programmable buttons, including options for Power Poles and waypointing as well as - you guessed it - spot-locking.

With simply amazing levels of thrust and precise GPS networking, the Ghost will lock you down like your boat is on a tight chain.

Lowrance also offers a simple remote that allows you to adjust speed and direction at the touch of a button, or anchor-lock in place. That’s a nice touch, and while not quite as impressive as the Force’s revolutionary remote, it gets the job done for busy captains.

Finally, Lowrance networks the Ghost to Lowrance fishing electronics, allowing you to navigate through your HDS Live, HDS Carbon, Elite FS, or Elite Ti². That unlocks powerful navigation options that can really change the way you fish.

The Ghost is very quiet, extremely powerful, easy on your batteries, and simple to control. It also offers plenty of powerful networking options for Lowrance GPS/Chartplotter/Fishfinders. The prop breezes through thick grass, and the 360-degree break-away mount protects your trolling motor from impacts.

About the only thing that the Ghost can’t do is function in saltwater, and though plenty of anglers will run a freshwater trolling motor inshore, washing it carefully at the end of the day, Lowrance is very clear that this will void any warranty.

That limits the Ghost to freshwater applications, which isn’t that big of a deal since the vast majority of buyers will be looking for a spot-locking trolling motor to mount on the bow of their bass boat.

One thing not to love, however, is that the standard transducer Lowrance supplies with the Ghost isn’t Active Target 3-in-1 capable; for that, you’ll need to shell out some more cash, adding to an already high price tag.

With that reservation in the mix, the Ghost is still a fantastic option, especially if you run a big boat.

Pros:

  • Powerful

  • Efficient - noticeably improved battery life
  • Very, very quiet
  • Tough shafts
  • Awesome foot pedal
  • Networking with Lowrance HDS Live, HDS Carbon, Elite FS, and Elite Ti²
  • Autopilot
  • Anchor-lock
  • Built-in transducer

Cons:

  • Active Target 3-in-1 compatibility requires purchasing an upgrade

Garmin Force - Best Overall Spot-Locking Trolling Motor

Garmin Force, 80/100#, 50', 24/36V, Foot Steer

Amazon 

Thrust: 80 or 100 lbs.

Shaft Length: 50” and 57”

Mounting: bow

Control: electric and pedal

Voltage: 24V and 36V

If you’re looking for a tournament-winning combination, pair one of Garmin’s top-of-the-line fish finders with the Force and you’ll be as well equipped as any angler on the water.

Garmin uses a powerful brushless motor in the Force, and two batteries generate a whopping 80 pounds of thrust, while three will muscle-out a full 100 pounds from the prop. For any boat lighter than 5,000 pounds fully loaded, that’s more than enough power to fight the elements and lock your boat in place.

That power also comes in handy in the salt - and the Garmin Force is fully ready for inshore and offshore fishing. So whether you're trying to stay put in a current, fighting wind and waves, or just need to stay off some nasty rocks while you re-tie, the Force will be with you.

Amazingly, this power is delivered by a prop that reduces noise and cavitation to unheard of levels - quite literally. The Force may be the quietest trolling motor on the water, and when the bass are pressured and wary, that can make a huge difference.

Another huge difference you’ll notice is improved battery life. Switching to the Force felt like we had fresh batteries swapped in mid-morning, and if you’re using older motor tech, you’ll be simply amazed by the difference an efficient brushless design makes.

Garmin offers the Force in two shaft lengths: a 50-inch and a longer 57-inch. One or the other should work pretty well for all but the smallest or largest boats, fresh or saltwater.

And perhaps the best feature the Force offers is revolutionary control options.

Garmin’s fish finders are leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in terms of ease of use, and their engineers have obviously been working overtime on the Force’s control schemas.

Three options are available for control, and the first two are nothing short of revolutionary.

A wireless foot pedal provides the traditional controls bass anglers know and love. And though there’s nothing connecting the pedal to the motor other than an intangible signal, the Force responds like you were a Jedi Master.

That’s impressive.

But the floating, waterproof hand control is next-level tech.

In addition to all the bells and whistles you’d expect, it features gesture control. By depressing a button, you can change your heading and course just by pointing the remote. 

Busy in the stern? Steering from the center console?

No sweat!

This is truly amazing tech that Minn Kota and Lowrance need to integrate to catch up.

And when paired with a Garmin chartplotting fish finder, touch screen controls allow easy navigation, as well as effective spot locking.

Unlike Lowrance, Garmin supplies the Force with an integrated transducer that works with all of its fishfinding tech. So from CHIRP, to Ultra High-Definition ClearVü and SideVü scanning sonars, to the incredible Live Scope on the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv, the Force is with you.

Pros:

  • Powerful
  • Efficient - noticeably improved battery life
  • Very, very quiet
  • Tough shafts
  • Next-level control tech
  • Networking with your Garmin chartplotter
  • Autopilot
  • Anchor-lock
  • Built-in transducer

Cons:

  • ???

Minn Kota Riptide Terrova - Best Saltwater Spot-Locking Trolling Motor

Minn Kota 1363740 Riptide Terrova Saltwater Electric-Steer Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with Digital Maximizer & i-Pilot GPS, 80 lbs Thrust, 54' Shaft

Amazon 

Thrust: 55, 80, and 112 lbs.

Shaft Length: 54”, 60”, 72”, 87”, and 100”

Mounting: bow

Control: electronic

Voltage: 12V, 24V, and 36V

The Riptide Terrova series is Minn Kota’s king of the salt, and if you’re looking for a powerful, teched-up, bow-mounted trolling motor that can get you into position and keep you there, look no further.

Minn Kota packs plenty of punch with this trolling motor, and it delivers 55, 80, or 112 pounds of thrust when powered by a 12V, 24V, or 36V system, respectively. MOst saltwater anglers are going to want to opt for the 36V, and it’s more than capable of holding a 5,000-pound boat still in a heavy current.

Four shaft lengths are on offer, allowing bow mounting even for the big boys. 

And if you use the Riptide Terrova in freshwater, too, you’ll be really happy with the swept blades on the prop. They cut through weeds like they’re not there, allowing you to get into shallow water and position yourself right where you need to be without worrying.

First off, your Riptide Terrova can communicate via “One-Boat Network” and “I-Pilot” with your Humminbird fish finder and outboard to allow seamless integration and navigation. That’s professional tech that matters in the real world when you need to fish tight to a contour, retrace your path, or work specific features without stopping the action.

Spot-lock is essential for pros and avid amateurs as well, as the automatic place holding is simply unbeatable when the pressure’s on and you’ve found a hot spot. Autopilot, too, has a place in your fishing arsenal, especially when you’re busy setting up gear or putting the final touches on your tackle.

Battery life is stretched for all its worth by the “Digital Maximizer,” ensuring you can stay on the water longer.

And if that weren’t enough, this motor deploys and retracts at the touch of a button!

If you’re a salty angler who needs spot lock technology to make the most of wrecks, humps, channels, and drop offs, the Minn Kota Riptide Terrova is impossible to beat.

Pros:

  • Ready for the salt!
  • Powerful thrust options
  • Long, unbreakable shafts
  • Excellent electronic control
  • Networking with your Humminbird fish finder and outboard
  • Autopilot
  • Spot-lock
  • Powerful navigation options
  • Long battery life
  • Great prop

Cons:

  • ???

Minn Kota Ultrex Quest

Thrust: 90 and 115 lbs.

Shaft Length: 45” and 52” 

Mounting: bow

Control: electronic and pedal

Voltage: 24V and 36V

Minn Kota now offers an upgraded “Quest” Ultrex that features a brushless motor, improving an already excellent option for freshwater anglers.

The Ultrex is admirably quiet, but not on par with the Lowrance Ghost and Garmin Force on this front. Nevertheless, if you’re moving from old tech to this new generation of trolling motors, you’ll notice a huge difference.

The Ultrex Quest comes in two power configurations: a 24V that generates 90 pounds of thrust and a 36V that pushes a full 115. The larger of the two is more than enough power for wind bucking on your favorite bass pond, and between the brushless motor and Minn Kota’s time-tested “Digital Maximizer,” the Ultrex Quest sips power, giving you hours of run time more than you’d expect.

Minn Kota offers four control options for the Ultrex Quest.

The first is a foot pedal with “power steering” and a spot-lock button. This hard-wired unit works well, and if you’ve spent years getting the hang of fishing with one foot on the control, you’ll love the Ultrex Quest.

You can also operate this motor via a fob-like remote, or through your smartphone when connected to the One-Boat Network.

And finally, with a networked Humminbird chartplotting fishfinder, you can set waypoints, course control, and spot lock.

The navigation features available for the Ultrex Quest are impressive, including Spot-Lock with Jog and an Advanced GPS Trolling system that leaves your hands and feet free for fishing.

And to round this awesome package out, the lift assist cuts the weight of the motor by 50%, making deployment easy.

Head to head against the Ghost or Force, however, I think the Lowrance and Garmin are the better options. They’re more quiet, more powerful, and more advanced technologically, while still offering dead-simple control.

But if you're a big Humminbird fan, or you’re not ready to make the switch to Lowrance or Garmin electronics, the Ultrex Quest is a tournament-ready option.

Pros:

  • Powerful thrust options
  • Unbreakable shafts
  • Excellent electronic control
  • Networking with your Humminbird fish finder and outboard
  • Autopilot
  • Spot-lock
  • Powerful navigation options
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • Not as quiet as the Lowrance Ghost or Garmin Force
  • Not as powerful as the Lowrance Ghost or Garmin Force

Minn Kota PowerDrive - Best Budget Spot-Locking Trolling Motor

Minn Kota 1358749 PowerDrive Freshwater Electric-Steer Bow-Mount Trolling Motor with Universal Sonar 2, Digital Maximizer, & i-Pilot GPS, 55 lbs Thrust, 54' Shaft

Amazon 

Thrust: 55 and 70 lbs.

Shaft Length: 54”

Mounting: bow

Control: electronic

Voltage: 12V and 24V

If you fish in the salt but don’t run a large boat, Minn Kota’s PowerDrive may be the ideal option to get you the tech you want at a price you can afford.

Minn Kota makes the PowerDrive in one shaft length - 54 inches - and two power options - a 12V generating 55 pounds of thrust and a 24V delivering 70. Both options are reliable, and if your boat weighs less than 3500 pounds fully loaded, the more powerful of the two will provide plenty of muscle to resist currents and wind.

Keep in mind that larger, heavier boats will not be well-served by a 70-pound thrust motor, and that fighting a heavy current for hours is going to push this motor - and its batteries - really hard.

And while this motor isn’t brushless, Minn Kota’s “Digital Maximizer” works well to extend battery life within reasonable limits.

The PowerDrive is built for the salt, and as such, comes with a remote that allows you to control the Advanced GPS Trolling System that allows you to spot lock and control your speed and heading. It’s fairly intuitive, and while it doesn’t offer the advanced networking options of the more expensive Minn Kota models, it works well.

If you find yourself struggling to stay where you want when you start to hit specks, or if you’re fighting a moving tide more than your fishing, the PowerDrive is a cost-effective solution that will dramatically change the way you fish.

Pros:

  • Ready for the salt
  • Good price!
  • Unbreakable shafts
  • Good electronic control
  • Autopilot
  • Spot-lock

Cons:

  • Not as powerful as the Riptide Terrova
  • Not as advanced tech as the Riptide Terrova
  • Only one shaft length

MotorGuide Tour Pro - Best Spot-Locking Trolling Motor for Old-School Anglers

MotorGuide Tour Pro 82lb 45' 24V with Pinpoint GPS, 941900020, Black

Amazon 

Thrust: 82 and 109 lbs.

Shaft Length: 45”

Mounting: bow

Control: pedal

Voltage: 24V and 36V

Last, but certainly not least, MotorGuide’s Tour Pro is an excellent option for anglers who prefer old-school controls and compatibility with major fishing electronics manufacturers like Humminbird, Lowrance, and Garmin.

Right off the top, that compatibility is a big plus. You’re not locked into a single brand’s offerings, and the MotorGuide plays well with the Big Three.

The Tour Pro is offered in a 45-inch shaft length, and man is this thing tough. An outer shell of steel protects an unbreakable inner core, and that, combined with a 360-degree breakaway design, means that this trolling motor won’t be destroyed the first time you bump a stump or strike a submerged log.

The 12V model pushes 82 pounds of thrust, while the 36V generates 109. For bass boats - and that’s what the Tour Pro is designed for - that’s more than enough power to keep you put on a windy day.

And MotorGuide has a very accurate spot locking feature that greatly reduces drift when compared to its competitors. So if pinpoint spot locking matters to you, MotorGuide’s Pro Tour will be perfect.

MotorGuide goes old school with the control option: a more-or-less standard foot pedal that’s hard-wired to the unit.

If smartphones and complex fish finders give you a headache, and what you want is immediate, user-friendly control, MotorGuide has you in mind with the Pro Tour. If you’ve spent decades on the water steering with your right foot, you’ll be right at home with the Pro Tour right away: no learning curve, no problems, just perfect control.

The Pro Tour’s Zero-G lift system cuts the weight of the head and shaft by 50%, helping you stow and deploy this trolling motor without needing a visit to the chiropractor.

For old-school anglers, MotorGuide’s Pro Tour is a nearly perfect spot-locking trolling motor.

Pros:

  • No fuss controls
  • Major brand compatibility
  • Powerful motor
  • Unbreakable shafts
  • Great weed-eating prop
  • Spot lock
  • Easy deploy and stow

Cons:

  • No advanced networking features

Buying Guide

Spot Lock

Whatever it’s called, and you can be sure that different manufacturers use different proprietary names for this feature, spot locking is essentially an electronic anchor.

A trolling motor equipped with spot-locking technology can sense its location with GPS, and uses those coordinates to turn and adjust thrust to hold your boat in place.

Many anglers describe the difference this feature makes as “miraculous” or “game changing.”

Why?

In freshwater, you may be fighting the wind to stay in the perfect position to cast to tricky cover. With spot lock, you can focus on your fishing and leave the taming the wind to the tech.

Another frequent situation where spot lock matters appears when you’re landing, weighing, and sorting fish. While all that’s going on, who’s keeping your boat in place and off the stumps and trees downwind? 

With spot lock, your trolling motor has your back while you focus elsewhere.

In the salt, you face similar problems.

When you locate that perfect spot above a wreck where the fish are hitting your lures like mad, spot lock takes over letting you focus on the fight. 

And when the specks are running hard near rocks, it’s great to fish with confidence knowing you can net them, measure, drop them in your cooler, and re-tie without worrying about ending up in a bad situation.

In short, spot lock is the next best thing since plastic worms!

Power

Power matters - a lot.

For transom-mounted motors pushing a small boat, even the weakest trolling motors provide plenty of power, and adding more engine won’t dramatically increase your speed because of basic hydrodynamics.

Unless your boat is designed to plane, riding up on the water to reduce drag, you’re very quickly going to hit maximum speed no matter how many pounds of thrust your motor delivers.

For larger boats, the standard rule is 2 pounds of thrust per 100 pounds of loaded weight - at a minimum. The 2 pound rule is great for calm water like bass ponds, but in the salt, where the wind, tide, current, and waves will force your trolling motor to contend with greater forces, you want a conservative margin of error.

I’d recommend at least a bit of extra power, say, 112 pounds of thrust for a 5000 pound boat.

That gives you some extra oomph when it's needed, and it will be needed.

But keep in mind that more power comes at the cost of more batteries and heavier power draws.

Shaft length

Shaft length is critical, and this is not a decision to be made by guesswork.

The shaft of your trolling motor needs to keep the prop submerged 12 inches under water to stop it from sucking air from the surface and making a lot of noise, a process called cavitation. 

Cavitating isn’t just loud; it will also reduce your motor’s performance, robbing it of power.

On a kayak or small boat, a long shaft can be a problem as it will reduce your boat’s draught. That’s why we recommend short-shafted models for these applications.

But on larger boats, the opposite is generally true, and you’ll need to measure carefully to get it right.

First, measure the distance from your bow to the water line in calm seas.

Add 12 to 16 inches to that length, and then another 5 to 8 inches for waves.

Minn Kota recommends the following shaft lengths for each measurement:

BOW TO WATERLINE RECOMMENDED SHAFT LENGTH
0" - 10" 36"
16" - 22" 42" - 45"
22" - 28" 48" - 52"
28" - 44" 54" - 72"
45"+ 87"

Control options

Four control options are common to spot-locking trolling motors.

Foot pedals will be familiar to the vast majority of anglers, as this control method has been around for a long time. 

There’s a lot to like about pedal controls. They’re hands free, familiar, and easy to operate. And the models that offer a wireless connection between the pedal and the motor can be placed right where you want them - no need to stand at the pinnacle of the bow.

And for anglers who really dislike bells, whistles, buttons, and menus, a good foot pedal like the one available on the MotorGuide Tour Pro is a thing of beauty.

Remotes are increasingly common, and pretty much the standard on saltwater trolling motors. They’re typically much like a downsized TV remote, with buttons to adjust power and direction as well as activate features like spot lock.

Many trolling motors pair with your smartphone as well, allowing you to access apps that enable full control over your trolling motor, much like a remote.

And finally, most high-end trolling motors are also capable of networking with the appropriate brand of chartplotting fish finder, typically then offering more advanced navigation options.

Which is the best choice for you largely depends on how you plan to use your trolling motor and how comfortable you are with tech.

Final Thoughts

We can’t tell you which of the trolling motors we’ve reviewed today is the best fit for your boat, your needs, and your budget, but we can all but guarantee that one of them is perfect!

Some anglers will crave the unrivaled power of the Lowrance Ghost; others will want the incredible overall performance of the Garmin Force; and plenty of people will love the simplicity 

of the MotorGuide Tour Pro.

Saltwater anglers will love the full-featured Minn Kota Riptide Terrova, while fishermen on a tight budget will find the Minn Kota PowerDrive gets the job done at a price tag they can live with.

We hope that this article has helped you choose your next trolling motor, and we’d love to hear any questions or comments you might have!

About The Author
Pete Danylewycz
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.