Anglers looking for a powerful, networked trolling motor are spoiled for choices like never before. Companies like Minn Kota/Humminbird and Lowrance now offer high-tech models with features like spot-lock and auto-navigation, as well as powerful communication with both fish finders and outboards.
But let’s not forget about Garmin. Once the dominant name in automotive GPS, they’ve turned that know-how toward anglers with fishing electronics of their own, recently adding a head-turning trolling motor of their own to the mix: the Force.
So how does the Garmin Force stack up against the competition?
Let’s take a close look and find out!
Table of Contents (clickable)
Garmin Force Review
Thrust: 80 or 100 lbs.
Shaft Length: 50” and 57”
Control: electric and pedal
Voltage: 24V and 36V
Weight: 98.68 lbs.
There’s simply no question that Garmin has an awesome trolling motor on offer, and if you can afford it as well as top-of-the-line fish finders like Garmin’s ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv, you’ll truly have a tournament-winning combo on your hands that will make you the envy of the lake.
Fresh and salt
Right off the bat, it’s worth mentioning that Garmin has designed the Force for both fresh- and saltwater. Almost certainly, that means some very carefully engineered seals to prevent saltwater intrusion, and whether you run this trolling motor on a muddy Louisiana marsh or in a crystal-clear Ohio lake, a quick rinse with a hose is all the maintenance it should require.
And for anglers who switch from bass to reds, specks, stripers, or snook just a few times a year, this versatile trolling motor has what it takes to get the job done.
Garmin equips the Force with a brushless motor that provides plenty of power. For a 24V system, expect 80 pounds of thrust; a 36V system will push 100.
Those numbers are great, and unless your boat exceeds 5000 pounds fully loaded, the Force has…well…force to spare. That has pretty much everyone in freshwater covered, and there’s no question that you’ll feel that full power on the water.
This trolling motor is fast, no question about it.
It’s also very, very quiet - maybe the stealthiest trolling motor we’ve ever (not) heard. That helps avoid spooked fish, especially in highly-pressured areas like tournament lakes, and cuts down on interference with your transducer.
Garmin claims that the efficiency of this brushless motor is unbeatable, and real-world performance reflects this. There are too many variables in play for us to provide hard numbers, but practically, battery life is noticeably improved when switching to the Force.
That’s an advantage that tells, and longer battery life at higher power settings is something every angler dreams of.
The Force comes in two shaft lengths - 50-inch and 57-inch - making it usable on boats with as much as roughly 36 inches between the bow and waterline. Freshwater anglers are going to find the Force a good fit, and only the largest saltwater boats will need anything longer.
That makes Garmin’s top-of-the-line trolling motor pretty versatile: not only is it saltwater capable, but it will also fit some pretty sizable center consoles.
Is it a real competitor for Minn Kota’s Riptide Terrova?
Not in this respect, but then these trolling motors were built for very different purposes.
Garmin made its name with easy-to-navigate user interfaces, and its engineers really understand how to make tech simple and intuitive to use.
Three options are available for control, both revolutionary in their own right.
The first is a wireless foot pedal that provides controls bass anglers know and love. And despite being paired with the motor by nothing more tangible than an electronic connection, this pedal provides crisp, immediate feedback as though it were hard-wired.
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?
This is truly amazing tech that Minn Kota and Lowrance need to integrate to catch up.
The third option involves a networked Garmin chartplotter, allowing spot-locking, intuitive autopilot navigation, and easy waypointing.
Networking and integrated transducer
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, the Force has you covered.
With high-end Garmin fish finders like the Ultra series, you’ll have some of the most advanced - and probably the best - shallow-water imaging on the market.
That’s really saying something, and you can count me as downright impressed by what Garmin’s latest and greatest electronics can do.
But just like Lowrance’s Ghost, if you don’t own a compatible fish finder already, you’ll need to fork out the cash for another one - and that’s going to be pretty expensive when all is said and done.
What can we say about Garmin’s Force?
It’s powerful, efficient, and stealthy. It’s sized right and perfectly at home anywhere you want to fish. And its control options are simply game-changing.
Compatible with the best fishing tech Garmin has to offer, you can equip yourself with what just might be the best trolling motor/chartplotter/fishfinder combo currently available.
- Efficient - noticeably improved battery life
- Very, very quiet
- Tough shafts
- Next-level control tech
- Networking with your Garmin chartplotter
- Built-in transducer
- Exclusively compatible with Garmin fishing electronics