Trolling Motor, Which Side Do You Mount it On?

What Side is the Kicker Mounted On ?   Have you ever looked at different boats and wondered who is right or wrong, or does it really make a difference?

There can be many reasons, for one it may depend on the manufacturer, or the dealer and their ideas.  I know that in 2008 when I was looking at a Hewes-Craft, to get the transom cut out on the starboard side to accept a kicker, called for a special built boat and they were not sure what they would have to do other than mounting a motor on an existing boat to see what was entailed.  

Other reasons could be for better balance of the boat when fishing and with how many passengers.  Another reason could be where the fuel tank or batteries are placed, again the balance may be the issue.  Then it can depend on the style of fishing you do, whether you fish alone much of the time, or whether your boat is a console/helm control steering or a tiller unit.  Using a TR-1 can also be a determination as compared to a manual kicker operation.   If you have a helm steering, most fishermen seem to prefer the kicker mounted on the port side, but if your main motor that is tiller operated, then having the kicker on the starboard has it’s benefits.

Or it could just be what the fisherman has become accustomed to, either by purchasing a used boat that way, got used to it being that way and never thought about it being any different.

OK, for a few of you not so dedicated boaters, where I describe Port or Starboard, PORT, (4 letters)  LEFT (4 letters).   Starboard in old Norseman language meant steering board, (hence the steering was on that side which later became standard on the right, or starboard).  Starboard = Steering Wheel.  And as an aside if you can not remember the color of your bow navigation lights “Port wine is red”.

Port Side ;    It could be that the owner may be fishing alone most of the time and if the boat has a remote steering station forward behind a windshield, which will always on the starboard side, he may prefer the trolling motor on the port side, again for balance.   And he can see it better from the helm with it on that side of the boat.

On some of the larger boats, of say 26′ with a rear door leading to the offshore step or motor bracket, about the only place to mount the kicker is on the Port side.

Port side trolling motor mounting

Starboard Side ;   When talking about small boats (20′ and under) you seem to have a lot more reasons for it to be on the Starboard side than the Port.  Most smaller motors seem to carry over from years gone by that the tiller handle is on the left side of the motor.  With the tiller on this side, when you mount the motor on the Port side, if you try to make a sharp LH turn, parts of your body may be hanging over the gunwale somewhat.

If you are the skipper, with the kicker on the starboard side, if you fish with the rod in your right hand, you can run motor with the left.    Some that do it a lot this way, have gravitated to a left hand reel.   So you can put rod under your knee and reel while running motor.   However I just adjust the motor’s pivot tension so it stays where I put it.    But again that is why they make rod holders.

If you use this same principle but your main motor is tiller operated as in many jet sleds, that is used mostly on rivers where you need almost immediate control from one motor to the other, with it on the starboard side, both tiller handles are close together & readily accessible.  You will therefore see many river guide boats set up this way.

It may also make a difference if you have remote controls on the trolling motor and have them in tandem with the main motor controls, where routing of the cables can be an issue, therefore easier to install on the Starboard side.  However I have a friend who has his mounted on the port, has throttle and speed controls to it, just more cables laying out on his offshore bracket.

Another reason if you are right handed, and fish for salmon alone and have to net solo, with the kicker on the starboard, you can net with your right hand off the starboard side AND at the same time, manipulate the kicker to place the fish where it gives you the best advantage for a netting job..

I have a little different reason, as I am blind in my right eye (have a prosthesis actually).  When trolling (unless it is a windy rainy day), I like to sit on a swivel chair in the center in front of the main motor.  If I have the trolling motor on the Port side, I am facing straight forward, but my blind spot is from about 2 o’clock rearward.  I have had a few near misses and scowls during tight river / bay fishing conditions.  However with the trolling motor on the Starboard, this forces me to sit at a slight angle where I then have at least an equal view on both sides.  Maybe not ideal, but hey I am fishing instead of setting on the bank complaining.  Obviously the reverse would be true if the other eye was bad.

Starboard side trolling motor mounting

Conclusion ;   After reading the above, it becomes obvious that there is no real right or wrong as conditions and personal preferences or methods of fishing can dictate either one or the other.

Someone once said that the Columbia river seems to be the dividing line between the Port and Starboard kicker mounting.  Being the Starboard side is generally used north of that river.  Maybe it is simply the marine dealership where the boats are rigged?



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