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Walleye Boat Rebuild Part 1: Trolling Motor Install

Ross Robertson walks you through Part 1 of an extensive boat rebuild on his Ranger 618 tiller.

Walleye Boat Rebuild Part 1: Trolling Motor Install

Part 1 of Ross Robertson's boat rebuild.

Little argument can be had as to how important a bow-mounted trolling motor is for boat control. Advancements such as Spot-Lock essentially allow anglers to digitally anchor and hold in place, hands-free has been proven a game changer when fishing under numerous conditions. Instead of waiting weeks at a local dealership and handing over a stack of hard-earned cash, you can install one yourself. Drilling holes into a new or new-to-you boat can make even a confident person take pause, but these simple steps to consider will allow you to knock out this project quickly and properly.


Put the motor on the deck and make sure that it will have both enough clearance when deployed and that its angled correctly so that the head will be inside the boat gunnel far enough to allow the cover to fit properly. Plus, it’s important to keep it from coming into contact with docks or other-on-water obstructions. Slight changes to the angle make a big difference for clearance once the trolling motor is secured.

Minn Kota Ultrex Mounted
Place the trolling motor and carefully determine where each hole will be drilled.

Checking Access

Remove any panels that provide access to the area under the motor’s mounting position and where it will be fastened. Also remove any wires or rigging that could be drilled into or damaged during the install process. Many boat manufactures will rig a reinforced panel for extra strength, make every effort to be sure you drill through this to specific area for additional support.

Open the access hatch to make sure drilling holes won’t compromise existing wiring that might be damaged in the process.


Once the trolling motor and/or trolling-motor plate are in the right position, and no obstructions are below drill holes, be sure you can be easily access the area and that there is enough room to place a flat washer and nyloc nut on the bolts. If you’re providing your own hardware, make sure to use all stainless steel and avoid using power tools to secure them as stainless steel mars easily—the nuts and bolts can also seize up, consider using anit-sieze as a preventative measure.

Hand-tighten the bolts, power tools could over tighten and then damage the bolts and fiberglass.
trolling motor bolts
Add an extra, larger washer for added support.

As you can see in the picture, Ranger Boats has a large, reinforced section dedicated for the trolling motor and not much backing is needed other than some large fender washers. If the boat manufacture doesn’t have extra backing, it might be wise to cut pieces of aluminum bar stock to create a larger surface area and create a marriage between multiple bolts.

Aftermarket Accessories

Items such as a removable plate allow trolling motors to be quickly removed for service, winter storage or when the boat is to be used for family time. These plates also allow for multiple trolling motors to be swapped out quickly.

Another worthwhile investment is a battery plug such as the Minn Kota MKR-28. This adapter plug provides a solid power connection, yet quickly remove it to either disable power or when the trolling motor needs to be completely removed. If you plan to install an aftermarket power plug, be sure to make the connection inside the boat where it is in a sealed junction box—as pictured. This is a safe and easy way to join both ends of the positive and negative wires together.

secure connection
Use a secure connation to marry up the trolling motor power cables.
Connection secured
A hard-wired plug connection like this makes removing the trolling motor for one reason or another a simple task.

Installing a trolling motor is not a difficult task but there are a few things you need to consider before drilling holes in the bow of your boat. Watch the video below to learn more about how I accomplished this on my boat rebuild.

Capt. Ross Robertson

Bigwater Fishing

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