What is a Transom Mount? Navigating Your Next Boat’s Next Motor Purchase

In boat terminology 101, the transom is the part where the sides of the hull join. It’s part of the stern—the rear end of the boat—and includes the vertical area. The area is ideal for mounting an engine since the spot often has reinforced materials to handle heavy weight and manage the torque. But what is a transom mount motor, and how is it different than other types of engines?

Different Types of Engine Mounts

The same way vehicles have different types of engines, so do boats. Four main types of boat motors cover every type of watercraft. Those four types include inboard, outboard, jet drive, and stern drive.

Inboard Engines

An inboard engine can be either diesel or gas and is basically a waterproofed four-stroke vehicle engine. Inboard models mean there’s no engine jutting off the back of your boat; it’s usually inside the hull. A propeller does stick out the rear of the boat, and you can generally adjust it for storage.

Outboard Engines

Outboard engines are all-in-one marine engines which attach to the boat’s transom. Outboard motors can be two-stroke or four-stroke models. On an outboard engine boat, you steer by swiveling the engine, which moves the propeller.

Jet Engines

On a jet drive engine, water flows through a pump, and the pressurized water shoots the watercraft forward. Think of the way a squid propels itself through the water, and that’s similar to how jet engines work.

Stern Drive

Stern drive boats use a combination of inboard and outboard motor features. In the stern style, the engine is within the body of the boat and the propulsion system is outside. The engine connects to the outdrive—a driveshaft and propeller—and you steer via propeller thrust.

Types of Trolling Engines

When it comes to boating, the type of motor you choose depends on your purpose on the water. On a personal watercraft, for example, you likely won’t be fishing. Instead of a trolling motor, you need a more responsive option. If adventuring is your thing, a jet drive engine might provide high speeds and agility. For fishing, however, trolling motors are ideal.

Trolling motors come in bow, transom, and engine mount styles. Beyond where you put them, each type of trolling motor can offer helpful features, like easy removability or technology add-ons. Which type to choose depends on factors like boat size and depth, desired horsepower or thrust, voltage, and shaft length.

The cost can also be a factor. Fortunately, however, used outboard motors can be an excellent deal. Even if your boat is older, finding a replacement motor might be easier than you think. At the same time, purchasing a brand-new fishing boat—complete with a transom mount motor—could be the right fit for you.

Boat prices vary widely based on the type of boat, geographical location, and other features. Consider overall costs, such as storage, boat insurance, maintenance, and fuel, too. You can try using a boat payment calculator to determine what boating package is affordable for you.

What is a Transom Mount?

In short, a transom mount is a trolling motor which mounts to the transom of a boat. These motors thrust the boat from the rear. In contrast, a bow mount which pulls the boat through the water. These motors are typically affordable, easy to install, and simple to operate.

Purpose of a Transom Mount

Fishing enthusiasts often use transom mount motors for smaller, lightweight boats. A transom mount provides reliable horsepower to cruise while trolling, travel from fishing spot to fishing spot, and is removable and straightforward to work with.

Many anglers choose a transom mount electric motor for boating in areas where they can’t use gasoline. At the same time, an electric motor can cut down on your boat bill, including boat gas costs. Many electric motors provide just as much thrust as gasoline engines do horsepower.

Pros & Cons of Transom Mounts

A transom mount isn’t ideal for every boater (or angler). Here are the pros and cons of transom mounts.


  • Affordability versus bow mount engines
  • Doesn’t require as much space as alternative engine types
  • Easy to install (usually a single clamp)
  • Cons
  • Steering is less precise than bow mount motors
  • Fewer technology options are available

Advice & Tips for Operating a Transom Mount

Even a beginner boater is likely familiar with a transom mount motor. But there is helpful advice you may not have heard yet. Plus, there are specific features you should look for when choosing a new motor. Here’s what to consider both before you buy a motor and when you start using it.

What to Look for in a Transom Mount Motor

When shopping for a transom mount motor, there are a few crucial features to look at. Here’s what to consider when buying your next motor.

Electric Power Options

Because of environmental pollution and ecological concerns, many lakes and rivers now have restrictions in place on gasoline boat engines. If you want to fish or boat in one of these places, an electric transom mount motor is an excellent compromise in terms of functionality and eco-conscious performance.

Voltage Level

Depending on how often (and for how long) you go out on your boat, you may consider a higher voltage than standard. Some anglers can use a 12-volt system with no problems, but the longer you’re on the water, the higher the voltage you should look for.

Technology Additions

While transom mounts don’t often pack a lot of features, there are options available. You can find system monitoring tools, fish finders, and other technology components on motors.

Mounting Versatility

Most transom mount motors attach with a simple clamp. Many are removable for security and storage, while others are adjustable to accommodate a range of boating scenarios (and water depths). An adjustable tiller or breakaway mount might be a priority depending on where and how you steer (and fish).

Choose the Right Fit

When choosing a transom motor, you want to make sure you get the right size. To find the right fit, you need to measure from the top of your boat’s transom down to the water. Then, add about 18 inches to the measurement for the best size selection.

Saltwater vs. Freshwater

All motor types are available in saltwater and freshwater variations. You can get a transom mount trolling motor with features like watertight components and hardier controls. Of course, you can preserve the life of even a saltwater motor longer if you make sure the boat and engine get a thorough rinse after every trip.

Tips for Operating a Transom Mount

Operating a transom mount motor is typically straightforward. Here’s our advice for smoother boating.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Many motor issues are avoidable with regular preventative maintenance. Check your batteries, plug, and fuses. Inspect seals for damage, check your shear pin, and keep spare parts on hand just in case. Check your propeller too, for fishing line or grass and weeds wound around it.

Choose a Breakaway Mount

Especially when fishing in shallow water, you may run into—literally—underwater obstacles. Rocks, driftwood, and even grasses can tangle up your prop and motor and cause damage. A breakaway mount can help you get over those bumps without costing you a motor or propeller. Navigate carefully, yes—but also invest in a breakaway mount if shallow water is your regular fishing ground.

Store Your Transom Motor Properly

Transom mounts are easy to disconnect from most boats, making them handy for storage in the offseason. Removing the motor from power and stowing it somewhere reasonably clean and dry can help preserve it.

Also, check the battery terminals before storing and when you begin to gear up for the next trip. Remember that keeping a battery fully charged is the best way to maintain it over time. Therefore, trickle charging is helpful during storage