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Can You Convert a Hand-Controlled Trolling Motor to Foot-Controlled?

Do you have a hand-controlled trolling motor that you would like to be able to control with your foot? Or maybe you want to have the option to control your trolling motor with either your hands or your feet.

While this may seem like a pipe dream or something you can only do if you’re an electrical genius, the truth is that it usually isn’t too hard to make the switch.

A Foot-Controlled trolling motor on a boat of 2 persons fishing

Here’s what you need to know about changing the way you control your trolling motor so you can decide what will be best for you and implement that choice on your boat.

Air up an inflatable boat using a foot pump and an electric pump video

What it Means to Convert a Hand-Controlled Trolling Motor to Foot Controlled

When people talk about converting a hand-controlled trolling motor to a foot-controlled one, they can mean one of two things. Some people still want to steer with their hands, but they would like to control the power of the trolling motor with their feet.

Others want to control both the power and the steering with their feet and legs, rather than with their hands.

Foot pedal to control the power
Minn Kota foot pedal to control the power and the steering

It’s important to know which kind of conversion you are intending on because each one requires different parts and different kinds of work to install those parts.

It’s much easier and more common to convert the power on your trolling motor to foot-controlled. Changing the steering is more difficult and can cause all sorts of problems for your boat if not done correctly.

Why Convert a Hand-Controlled Trolling Motor to Foot-Controlled

There are several reasons why some people choose to convert their trolling motors from hand-controlled to foot-controlled.

Foot controls allow you to use your hands for fishing alone and to focus on that. If you don’t like having to stow your rod while you turn your motor off and on, or if you find yourself kicking at the motor control because your hands are full, then a foot-controlled motor might be right for you.

A foot-controlled motor may also allow you to rest more during the day. Since you can turn it off and on while sitting, you won’t have to stand up to use your trolling motor. Thus, you won’t get as fatigued after a long day out on your boat.

Converting your hand-controlled trolling motor to a foot-controlled one can also give you more control of your boat, especially in windy situations. If you’re fishing into the wind, you don’t want to have to let go of your rod to turn on the power or steer your boat.

Can You Add a Foot Pedal to a Trolling Motor?

The easiest way to change your trolling motor from hand-controlled to foot-controlled is to add in a foot switch. The Seachoice 28101 Foot Control Switch for Manually Operated Trolling Motors is a great option.

Seachoice 28101 Foot Control Switch for Manually Operated Trolling Motors – Rated Up to 50 Amps DC
  • Hands free operation for manually operated (hand controlled) trolling motors
  • Provides the convenience of turning the motor on by simply pressing down on the switch with your foot without having to reach the trolling motor head

With a foot switch, you can interrupt the power on your trolling motor without having to reach around to it or turn the handle.

Before you purchase a switch, make sure that it is compatible with your trolling motor. If you aren’t sure, look in the manual, ask online, or contact the company’s customer service number to ask them.

While these switches are compatible with most trolling motors, they will not work with all of them. Some companies have their own foot switches that you can install, such as the Minn Kota Power Drive BT Trolling Motor Corded Foot Pedal.

Minn Kota 1866070 PowerDrive BT Trolling Motor Corded Foot Pedal, Black
  • Side-to-side steering control
  • Includes speed control knob and momentary/constant ON switch

Ensure your success by doing your homework before you buy a foot pedal to be sure that it will work for you.

How Can I Convert My Hand-Controlled Trolling Motor to Foot-Controlled?

Each foot pedal will be installed differently, depending on who makes it and how it is set up. This video will show you how to install one kind of switch. You may be able to modify these instructions to accommodate other switches, too.

How to install a trolling motor foot switch

The general steps for installing a foot control on your trolling motor are:

  1. Find the two wires that control your trolling motor power. One will likely be black and the other red.
  2. Determine where in the boat you want the foot switch to sit.
  3. Cut one of the wires so that it is the correct length to reach the place where you want the foot control to sit. Some people will argue that you should cut the negative (black) wire, but it actually does not matter which one you cut on most trolling motors.
  4. Attach the switch between the two pieces of wire that you just cut. Make sure that the connections are secure and watertight, as they will be carrying a large amperage load.
  5. Solder the wires together or connect them using crimp connectors. Then wrap the connection with electrical tape or cover it in a shrink tube.
  6. Keep the wires off your deck as much as possible. You might want to run it behind a gunnel or another part of your boat so that it’s not in the way and has less of a chance of coming into contact with water.

If you’re not sure how to install your foot-control switch, talk to a professional electrician, preferably one who has worked on boats before. Your local marina should be able to put you in touch with someone reliable or you can search online.

More than anything else, you will want to make sure that your foot-control switch is installed safely and that it is working well. Test it before you try to take your boat very far to ensure full functionality and safety.

There are options that you can purchase and install that convert your steering to foot-controlled, too. However, these involve some complex electrical work and we recommend that you don’t take on the task yourself.

In addition, you may want to test the steering before you purchase anything as it can take some significant adjusting and getting used to before it’s actually useful for you.

Conclusion

No matter what kind of hand-to-foot control conversion you want to make on your trolling motor, it’s possible to do so. All it takes is the right parts and a bit of electrical work to get everything functioning the way you want it to.

Start the process today and have the kind of controls you’ve been looking for soon! Then take your boat out and enjoy fishing more than ever before!


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