July 05, 2023
Catch up on the series:
Part 1: Bass Boat Breakdown
Part 2: Bass Boat Interior Repairs
Part 3: Minn Kota Raptor Install
Part 4: Bass Boat Repower
Part 5: BBT Custom Dash Graph Mounts
Part 6: Electronics Full Repower
Installing a new trolling motor on an older bass boat isn’t rocket science, but it requires some attention to detail. This is Part 7 in an ongoing series about updating an older and outdated bass boat. The goal in this piece is to illustrate the steps to installing a new 52-inch, 36-volt Minn Kota Ultrex with iPilot Link—there are a number of factors that need to be considered and not overlooked to eliminate headaches. The first step is to realize that if you intend to add Humminbird’s Mega 360 and Live, you’ll want a 52-inch Ultrex as the 45 is likely too short to support both systems. The long and short of it is if you want to maximize power, electronics integration and on-the-water application, you need to rig with the best options. For my rig, the Ultrex was an easy choice. Let’s dig into the process of properly setting up this motor on my 2007 Ranger Z20 bass boat.
Aside from the trolling motor and bracket, this is the basic assortment of parts you’ll need on-hand to complete the installation process. The iPilot Link remote is a critical tool to the Link users, it comes pair and will need a charge before it’s ready to go.
Minn Kota’s Heading Sensor is an important tool if you intend to utilize and follow-the-contour and more features. There are mixed reports on whether you should place this directly next to trolling motor or graph, or at the rear of the boat. I’ve had best results with it next to the trolling motor. Easy installation process. You'll need to wire this to your fuse panel beneath the bow hatch. It doesn't draw much power, but still needs a 3-amp fuse.
The Ultrex bracket comes detatched from the trolling motor so you can accurately place the bracket, and even attach it, without the motor head. This is a far easier method than trying to work around the heavy motor head.
If you’re replacing an older motor, there will be holes in the boat’s bow, and your best bet is to utilize existing holes as much as possible. Chances are good you’ll need to drill new holes but take this step first to reduce the number or holes you put in the boat. Nobody likes adding unnecessary holes to your rig.
The lift-assist plunger is a very important attribute included in the trolling motor kit. It’s easy to install and will help reduce user fatigue and keep your motor in fine working order for years to come.
In this boat, it was difficult to get around the rod tubes to place the washer and lock nut underneath. My hired help—my son Tommy—used a pry bar to push the rod tubes down so I could get my hand and wrench in there. You must stay flexible and innovative—and this project will remain easy and fun.
The bracket is fully installed here. I’d strongly suggest you use six bolts with washers and lock nuts on the bottom side. The more secure you make this thing, the longer it’s going to last.
I’ve been quite forthcoming about my mistakes in this series, so here’s another “do as I say, not as I do,” moments. I put the bracket on the first time without installing the Velcro strap. That meant I had to loosen all the bolts, lift up the bracket and slide the Velcro strap through the bottom. Stupid mistake but learn from mine! Regardless, we got it on. It’s also worth noting that if you’re putting on a taller motor than before, you don’t want the new one sticking outside the gunnel too far, or your cover won’t fit as well—if at all. In that case, you may need to angle it inward before permanently affixing to the bow. Mock everything up first, then drill holes as necessary while keeping existing holes in play as much as possible.
The trolling motor kit comes complete with a Wedge prop and a lock nut and washer to secure it with—it should be 9/16. Crank it down snug, but do not over tighten. This is a functional way to go for sure, but the next slide offers a great alternative.
The TH-Marine G-Force Eliminator Prop Nut</a is an awesome add-on to minimize vibrations, and it’s fully functional if you hand-tighten it. I’ve run these on several past trolling motors, and I can vouch for their performance. I’ll never have another motor without one.
Here it is installed. I’m not going to lie either, I like the different color options. Red, blue, black and silver will easily match your boat’s trim.
Each motor comes with this kick stand for added support. It’s critical to the life span of your motor’s base that you use this thing, and you’ll need to cut it to fit. I used the previous stand as a sample template, and they matched right up. But, measure twice and cut once.
I added some thread locker to help hold the bracket in place. But I also add it to the big threads on the kickstand itself. I’ve had some rattle free over the years, but this trick will help keep things together if navigating bumpy water is an often occurrence for your fishing.
Use the included hardware to secure the kickstand bracket but remember you’re dealing with aluminum and it’s pretty soft. Snug the bolts down, but don’t over tighten.
Here’s the trolling motor support kickstand fully resized and installed. This is an easy process and a requirement to extend the life of your trolling motor.
The only thing remaining at this point is to install the foot pedal, and that’s a 2-minute job. I’d suggest using the same holes the previous pedal was attached to if at all possible. Be careful, if the holes get stripped out, as fiberglass can from time to time, you may need to increase the screw size, and that might require an increase in hole size in the pedal—not a preferred step to consider, but I had to do it.
The installation process was fast and easy, and it works perfectly. In all, the trolling motor install took an evening between me and Tommy.