Have you ever noticed that your boat is trolling in one direction, but the arrow on the motor is pointing in a different direction?
You probably have a misaligned directional arrow on your trolling motor.
So what does that mean for you?
What causes the arrow to become misaligned?
How do you fix it so the arrow is realigned with the motor head?
And what do you do if the arrow keeps slipping out of place?
Keep reading. In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions.
Ready to get started?
Table of Contents
What is the Directional Arrow on a Trolling Motor?
First of all, if you’re new to boating with a trolling motor or aren’t familiar with all its functions, we should spend a couple of minutes talking about the directional arrow. What does it do, and why is it important?
Simply put, the directional arrow is a part of the trolling motor that lets you know which direction you’re traveling.
The arrow is connected, through gears and internal hardware, to the motor head. When the motor head is trolling through the water, its specific direction should determine which way the arrow is pointing. That way, you can easily pinpoint the exact direction the boat is traveling.
Directional arrows aren’t exactly a critical part of trolling motor function; the motor will still work even if the arrow isn’t working.
That said, it’s nice to have a working directional arrow, especially on large bodies of water where you don’t have many landmarks to use as reference points.
On more narrow bodies of water, such as streams and rivers, a directional arrow may also help you notice sooner if you’re drifting toward the bank.
What Causes a Faulty Directional Arrow?
It may depend somewhat on the type of trolling motor you have, but there are a few main issues that may cause a directional motor to become misaligned with the motor head.
Firstly, the gear holding it in place may get jarred loose over time, either from repeated uses or from banging the controls around. If this happens, it’s a simple matter of realigning the arrow and setting the gears back in place. We’ll discuss how to do that below.
Another common cause is that certain internal parts may come loose because the screws holding them in place have loosened up. In that case, you’ll need to replace any loose parts and tighten whatever screw has become loose.
If nothing is loose, the problem may be that one or more of the gears are stripped. They are generally made out of plastic, so it isn’t uncommon for the nubs on the gears to become worn down. If this happens, the stripped gear, or gears, will need to be replaced.
What are the Steps for Fixing a Directional Arrow?
(Whatever is going on with your directional arrow, this video may help you visualize the process and figure out what the problem is.)
The good news is, fixing a directional arrow is usually pretty easy and straightforward.
The first thing you’ll need to do is remove the cover from the control portion of the trolling motor. On the underside of the controls, you should find three or four screws holding the cover in place. Remove these screws and gently lift the cover off.
On the underside of the cover, you’ll find the gear that controls the directional arrow. Normally, these gears would interlock with a couple of gears on the control box, which in turn will change the arrow direction according to the direction of the motor head.
If the arrow gear has simply become disengaged from the other gears, you can turn the arrow until it’s pointing forward, then carefully replace the cover so that the gears will come into contact.
You may not be able to tell whether the gears are disengaged or not. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t find anything else wrong, then a disengaged gear is probably the culprit.
While you have the cover off of the control box, check all the internal parts to make sure everything is tightened down as it should be. Be careful not to damage or disconnect any of the wires.
You may see a metal or plastic plate pressed up against one of the gears, held in place by a screw on either end. This plate is the most likely culprit to come loose with repeated uses.
Check to see if the plate wobbles back and forth. If it does, tighten down both of the screws and your problem should be fixed.
If instead, you find that one or more of the gears look worn down, you may need to buy replacement parts. Check your owner’s manual to see what type of gears to buy. You may be able to find them at a local supply shop or order them online.
Once you have the parts you need, loosen the screws of the plate that holds the gear in place, as well as any screws that hold the gear itself. Carefully remove the old gear, set the new one in place, and screw everything back down.
What if the Directional Arrow Keeps Slipping Out of Place?
As noted in the video above, you may notice that your arrow seems to slip out of place over and over again. What could be causing this? And what should you do?
This problem may be caused by either of the problems mentioned above: a loose part or a stripped gear. It’s most likely to be caused by a loose part, however.
Check to ensure that all screws are tightened down and there are no loose or damaged parts.
Again, as noted in the video, the small plate holding the gears in place is a common cause of a directional arrow consistently slipping out of place. Double check this plate, tighten it down, and, if it can’t be tightened, the plate may be cracked and need replacing.
And there you have it!
Directional arrows are a convenient feature of most trolling motors, but it isn’t uncommon for them to become misaligned with the motor head and stop functioning accurately.
Luckily, as noted above, a misaligned directional arrow is easy to fix.
If you follow the instructions given in this guide, you’ll be back on the water in no time!
Sarah Hood has been writing for Anchor Travel since 2021. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, singing, and spending time in the great outdoors.