Pattern Your Boat Speed with Your Bites

Trolling Motor Speed Matters

Winter 2020

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your partner flailing in the wind, you may want to consider consistency.

Being able to be in the boat with Dee Thomas and other west coast top fishermen over the years has shown me the importance of a constant momentum. A constant momentum, meaning an unvaried speed of the trolling motor works out better for you and your co angler, partner or non-boater.

One feature that my Lowrance units offer is MPH. I believe this is a feature that most guys use now and typically I see them use it on their graphs that are located on the driver’s console to see how fast they’re going. Everybody loves to see how fast they can run their big motor!

A lot of guys do not realize the usefulness of this feature on the front graph as well. It can be extremely beneficial and can be used so you can monitor your trolling motor speed as you’re fishing.

What I have found is that a trolling motor speed of 0.4 to 0.6 seems to be a really good baseline speed to get started. Like with most things about fishing, you can use that as your jumping off point and then let the fish tell you where to go from there.


As anglers, we typically put a lot of consideration into fishing conditions; but we can easily forget that the speed that we are moving at becomes a condition – a condition we have control over – but still a condition that we create.

We should treat our movement speed and its changes with the same thought of presentation that we do the season, spawning phase, depth or cloud cover.

With that being said, consider the fact that, trolling motor speed carries the same importance as any other factor (be it wind, water depth, and line size). The speed can even make a difference on how much weight you need to fish your bait correctly.

And now, weight size brings me to my last piece of advice – the size for the backseater.


The angler in the back is always at the mercy of the trolling motor operator in the front. As I mentioned before, too fast or too slow can throw a wrench in the works.

I follow the rule of thumb that the guy in the back either needs to have the same weight as the guy in the front or maybe even a little more weight would be beneficial to him.

If the guy at the pointy end is going too slow, I will be able to make long casts all around while they are camped out and if they is going too fast, the heavier weight allows me to get to the bottom faster and keep bottom-contact as they race forward.

Again for a baseline, I would say, if you are fishing in 20-feet of water and you’re trolling motor speed is about 0.4, you can probably get away with a 1/2-ounce jig, but if your trolling motor speed is 0.6 or higher, you will be better served by a 3/4 or 1-ounce jig.

Keep that in mind the next time you’re “strolling“ down

the bank – and what I mean by strolling is when you are

fishing your bait vertical and letting the guy on the

trolling motor determine the speed you are fishing.

They may determine your speed; but if you

react to it, you don’t have to let it seal your fate. •

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