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Comparing Drift Sock vs. Trolling Motor

Drift Sock Vs. Trolling Motor

One of the key factors in buying a boat or an engine is speed – usually, buyers are of the mindset “the faster, the better.”

However, speed isn’t always your friend, and some fishing techniques actually require the opposite – trolling is the perfect example of this.

Trolling is one of the most effective fishing techniques out there and requires anglers to slow down their boats considerably.

This method is based on a simple concept – the moving bait emulates moving prey and is used to attract fish. However, it can be difficult to not only determine the right speed, but also to slow down the boat itself.

In fact, factors such as currents and wind make controlling the boat’s speed an even more difficult task.

To control their boats and make trolling possible, anglers use a variety of methods. Two of the most popular methods include using trolling motors and drift socks.

This article will break down both methods and ensure that you have a thorough understanding of each. Their advantages and disadvantages should help you make a decision.

Read on to find out whether you should opt for a drift sock or a trolling motor.

What Is a Trolling Motor?

Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor

Trolling motors are electrical engines that allow anglers to maneuver and position their boats. They can be attached to the transom or the bow and can be controlled through various methods such as pedals and remotes.

Although trolling motors are widely known as positioning tools, they’re excellent for trolling because they allow anglers to go hands-free and focus on fishing.

What Is a Drift Sock?

Drift Socks Fishing Kayak Buoy Sea Boat Anchor Drogue

Drift socks are funnel-shaped products that work like parachutes – they reduce speed by increasing drag. They’re usually made from materials such as reinforced nylon and come in a variety of sizes.

They can be attached to the stern, the aft, or the sides of the boat.

Drift Sock vs. Trolling Motor in Boat Control

Both, drift socks and trolling motors make for good boat control. However, they do differ when it comes to factors such as cost, durability, and suitability in different weather conditions.

Check out the following to make sure that your chosen method of boat control caters to your fishing needs.


Affordability between trolling motor and drift sock

While a trolling motor pays for itself in the long run, there’s no denying that it’s a large up-front cost, especially when opting for established brands like Minn Kota.

Drift socks are much more affordable and may be better suited for those on a budget.


Drift Sock Sea Anchor Drogue

Although drift socks are more affordable than trolling motors, they do not provide much control. Anglers often say that drift socks not only hinder maneuverability, but also get tangled and result in losing fish.

Drift socks may create drag and slow down the boat, but they also make it difficult for anglers to control the direction of the boat. There’s no control over slide slipping and turning the boat is especially hard.

Trolling motors are both, safe and easy to maneuver and offer anglers a lot of control. In fact, they make it much easier to backtrack or to stop when a fish bites.

Emergency Use

Rough weather conditions can result in emergency situations where there’s no power. In this case, anglers cannot use their trolling motors, and drift socks are essential.


Those with larger boats may not need to worry about this, but this can definitely cause an issue for anglers who have to deal with a specific weight limit.

Therefore, when it comes to weight, drift socks are the clear winner. Additionally, trolling motors require more storage, while the storage space required for drift socks is negligible.


Drift socks’ durability varies depending on the material used to construct them. Heavy-duty nylon, for example, lasts much longer than plastic.

PVC Drift Sock Sea Anchor Drogue

However, even reinforced nylon drift socks can’t be compared to trolling motors. These machines are built to last, and with proper maintenance, won’t need to be replaced for a long time.

Drift socks, on the other hand, are sure to tear eventually and will need to either be patched or replaced.

Water and Weather Conditions

Because trolling motors are more difficult to control during high winds, some anglers prefer resorting to drift socks during windy trips.

Drift Sock for boats and weather conditionsHowever, whereas trolling motors can be used in several different situations, drift socks are limited when it comes to shallow water.

Using drift socks in shallow water is at best, a hassle, and at worst, completely impossible. The latter is especially true in shallow waters with a lot of stumps or other obstacles.

Battery Use

Trolling motors deplete battery much faster when used for both, trolling and positioning. Drift socks do not require batteries and thus, do not have this issue.

Additional Features

Drift socks are suitable for trolling and controlling the movement of the boat, but not much else.

However, trolling motors are useful in a variety of other areas. They are well-known in aiding positioning and offering anglers more control over speed and steering.

AQUOS Black Haswing Shaft Bow Mount Electric Trolling Motor

The latest models offer anglers virtual anchoring, made popular with Minn Kota’s revolutionary “Spot-Lock” feature. Some even include sonar and the option to connect to one’s fish finder.


A lot of this information can be hard to take in all at once. That’s why we have prepared a comparison table for you.

Look through it to see whether trolling motors or drift socks better meet your needs.

Trolling Motor Drift Sock
Emergency Use

Hopefully, this has cleared up some of the confusion surrounding the different methods of boat control.

If you do decide to get a trolling motor, consider checking out our articles on trolling motor basics and trolling motor sizes for more additional help.