When it comes to trolling, getting your outboard motor to cooperate can be a real challenge. Trolling often requires you to slow your boat down to a crawl, which can be difficult or impossible – depending on the size of your motor. Trolling plates for outboard motors perform this task flawlessly.
They’ll let you slow your boat down significantly, so you can set just the right trolling speed for the job. The design is fairly straightforward, with the plate slowing your boat speed by decreasing the level of thrust generated by the motor.
While you might think all trolling plates for outboard motors are pretty much equal, there are several different designs and features that provide varying levels of performance. I’ll break down some of the best trolling plates for outboard motors and how to pick the right one for your boat.
Quick Answer: 5 Best Trolling Plates for Outboards
- Best Overall: Ironwood Pacific EasyTroller
- Runner Up: Trol-A-Matic Trolling Plate
- Also Consider: Davis Instruments Happy Troller
- Best for Small Motors: Davis Instruments Lil Fella
- Multi-Use: Nauticus SXPT9510-40 ProTroller Smart Tabs
What does a trolling plate do?
Beyond reducing the thrust from your outboard motor, trolling plates for outboard motors have several functions for both anglers and boaters.
Trolling plates for outboard motors create a physical barrier in front of your propeller, which acts like a giant brake. When the plate is the ‘down’ position, it reduces the trolling speed significantly. When it’s in the ‘up’ position, it acts as a stabilizer for your entire boat – reducing porpoising and smoothing out the entire ride.
TThe braking effect means you’ll be able to troll effectively in a variety of conditions without needing to purchase a separate trolling motor. You also won’t need to deploy multiple drift socks to slow down your boat.
Most trolling plates for outboard motors are fairly easy to install, mounting directly to the anti-cavitation plate on your motor. Plates without some form of hinged design are best avoided if you’re clumsy, as they can become bent or damaged if you accidentally gun the engine when it’s in the down position.
Best Overall Trolling Plates for Outboard Motors: Ironwood Pacific EasyTroller
Ironwood Pacific is a company that manufactures quality, durable accessories for fishermen and boaters. All products are designed by a team of experts who are also fishermen and boaters, so they understand the needs of these people and create the accessories accordingly.
Aside from trolling plates for outboard motors, they also create various tiller extensions, canvas tools, trailer tools, and accessories for anchoring and fishing. But one of their best products is undoubtedly the Ironwood Pacific EasyTroller.
Rugged, well-made, and highly versatile, this hinged trolling plate for outboard motors is the perfect choice when you want a high-performance trolling plate that won’t sustain accidental damage. The spring-loaded aluminum-hinged plate automatically flexes upward when it’s under heavy stress – preventing accidental damage or shear pin breakage. This means you won’t need to replace the entire unit if you accidentally gun it in the down position!
This particular trolling plate for outboard motors mounts directly on top or underneath the anti-cavitation plate on any outboard or I/O motor, and two different sizes (30-45 HP and 50-300 HP) allow you to select the ideal size for your motor. Optional fins increase your stability and performance in the water, acting like a hydrofoil for your motor.
The design doesn’t interfere with your motor’s directional control or handling and can slow your craft down to a 1 Mph crawl – which is perfect for catching walleye and lake trout. Raising and lowering the plate is done with a simple pull cord, and the plate should be raised fully whenever you’re running at full speed.
- Two sizes available: Short (30-45 hp) and Standard (50-300 hp)
- Reduced trolling speed as low as 1 mph
- Spring-loaded hinged plate flexes rather than breaking when under heavy stress
- Available with or without optional hydrofoil fins
- Made in the USA
Runner Up: Trol-A-Matic Trolling Plates for Outboard Motors
T and L Products is the company that manufactures the Trol-A-Matic Trolling Plates for outboard motors. The company has been going strong since the 1970s, creating various tools and accessories to help boaters.
All their products have excellent quality and affordable prices, so many people choose to go with their products instead of some more expensive ones. With that said, let’s look into their most famous trolling plate – the Trol-A-Matic!
This well-designed trolling plate for outboard motors is the perfect choice for the forgetful angler. The built-in springs eliminate the need for raising and lowering the plate manually, which makes operation virtually fool-proof. This makes it ideal for a wide variety of trolling speeds, so you’ll be able to fine-tune your speed to match your quarry.
This trolling plate for outboard motors is constructed from fiberglass-filled nylon, making it completely rust and corrosion-proof. Installation takes mere minutes, mounting directly to the bottom of anti-cavitation plates of outboard and I/O motors. All you’ll need to do is drill four ¼” holes.
Unlike many other plates, it doesn’t lock completely in the horizontal position, so there’s no chance of accidentally damaging the plate by gunning the motor. The plate will fit most motors over 50 horsepower, and will also fit some smaller outboards.
- Fully automatic spring-loaded design
- Glass-filled nylon construction
- Virtually fool-proof operation
- Will fit most motors over 50 horsepower
Also Consider: Davis Instruments Happy Troller
Davis Instruments was started in the late 1960s by two freshly graduated business school students. They initially intended to create weather stations, which they quickly excelled at. Soon after, they started to dabble in other specialties, like accessories for boating and fishing.
Among the many accessories they have created, a few that we would like to mention are the sailing accessories, wind indicators, power boating accessories, and, of course, marine replacement parts. The happy troller is one of their most popular inventions, suitable for large trolling plates for outboard motors.
While it doesn’t come with a spring-loaded hinge like several other models, this anodized aluminum trolling plate for outboard motors is an excellent choice as long as you maintain a slow speed. It can be locked in either the ‘down’ position for reducing troll speeds and in the ‘up’ position for increased stability. There is also a middle 45° angle position, which works well for faster-trolling speeds.
Two sizes are available – a larger 50 hp and up, and a smaller 20 to 50 hp size. Both are less expensive than their equivalent made by EasyTrolller, so as long as you remember not to go full throttle, you’ll save a few bucks.
Stainless steel mounting hardware comes included, as well as installation and operation instructions. Like most other trolling plates for outboard motors, it installs directly to the anti-cavitation plate.
- Three locking positions for use in a variety of conditions
- Two sizes available: Small (20 to 50 hp) and Large (50+ hp)
- No spring-loaded hinge included
- Stainless steel mounting hardware included
Best for Small Motors: Davis Instruments Lil Fella
The Lil’ Fella trolling plate for outboard motors is another great invention by Davis Instruments. We spoke about the company’s background in the previous section, so let’s get right into reviewing this great boat accessory anyone could benefit from.
If you’re looking for the ideal trolling plate for outboard motors that are smaller, the Davis Instruments Lil Fella is the one for you. It’s designed for motors up to 25 horsepower, so you’ll be able to fine-tune your trolling speed with a smaller motor.
The design is similar to the Davis Happy Troller reviewed above, but scaled down to fit a smaller outboard. It uses polycarbonate instead of aluminum for the main plate, but don’t let that discourage you from springing for it, the quality is still excellent. Stainless steel mounting hardware comes included, which allows for quick and easy installation.
It has two settings, down for slow trolling and up for cruising. Keep in mind there is no spring-loaded hinge on this model, so you’ll want to avoid mashing the throttle when the plate is in the ‘down’ position.
- Smaller version of the Davis Instruments Happy Troller
- Ideal for smaller motors up to 25 horsepower
- Durable polycarbonate and stainless-steel construction
- Two settings: Up for cruising and Down for slow trolling
Multi-Use: Nauticus SXPT9510-40 ProTroller Smart Tabs
When Nauticus unveiled its line of SX trolling plates for outboard motors, everyone knew that they would be some of the best plates available on the market. As for the Smart Tabs SX Trim Tabs trolling plates for outboard motors, you should know that they are feature-packed and made with the best quality materials.
The materials used for these plates make them rust and corrosion-resistant, which means you will be able to use them for years after buying them. Installing them on your boat only a few minutes, thanks to the straightforward installation process.
Even if you do not have the best switches and hardware on your boat, these particular trolling plates for outboard motors will help make your boat more stable. The stabilizer system works like a glove, regardless of the speed or water conditions.
As if all this was not enough, you should also know that these plates are very affordable, so anyone can try them on their boat. They will improve your stability, acceleration, and handling and allow you to have a smoother experience altogether.
- These trolling plates for outboard motors allow faster acceleration.
- They give the boat better handling.
- They help lower fuel consumption.
- Easy installation in mere minutes.
- Suitable for boats of various lengths and motor types.
- Durable design suitable for use in salt water and freshwater.
How to Pick the Right Trolling Plates for Outboard Motors
Choosing the right trolling plates for your outboard motor will depend on several different factors, including your motor size, fishing style, and safety features. Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
First and foremost, you’ll need to make sure you get the right-sized trolling plate for your outboard motor. Trolling plates for outboard motors come in different sizes, often a smaller version for motors below 50 hp, and a larger version for motors above 50 hp.
Undersized trolling plates can excessively dampen your boat speed and could be difficult or impossible to mount. On the other hand, oversized plates won’t slow down your motor sufficiently, which can prevent you from trolling effectively. Also, always make sure to check the dimensions of the trolling plate for outboard motors before purchasing to ensure it’s compatible with your boat’s motor.
While it’s not strictly necessary, one of the best features to be on the lookout for is a spring-loaded hinge built into the trolling plate for the outboard motor. This will cause the plate to bend rather than break when put under excess stress – such as when you mash the throttle and forget to pull up the trolling plate!
If you are forgetful like me, then it’s only a matter of time until this occurs. On the other hand, if you can remember to set the trolling plate to the ‘up’ position when using full power, then you may not need this safety feature.
Some models, like the Troll-A-Matic, are automatically spring-activated and don’t require you to set any position for the plate.
Optional hydrofoil fins are available with some models, which work to stabilize your craft and reduce the time it takes to get your boat on plane. If you frequently fish in choppy conditions and find yourself getting tossed around at slow speeds, then this can be a valuable addition.