Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

First Look: MotorGuide X5 Trolling Motor

After using this new trolling motor this year, Managing Editor Walker Smith has been impressed by its toughness, power efficiency and smooth operation.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not easy on a trolling motor. I’m a shallow-water fisherman and my trolling motors usually look like they’ve been dragged down a gravel road after a few years of use. A trolling motor is a tool in my mind—and that’s exactly how I treat mine. 

I had an opportunity to test the new MotorGuide X5 this year and I’ve put it through a lot of abuse thus far. I’ve slammed it into boat docks, hit the prop on submerged rocks and trees, banged into stumps at high speeds and wrapped a darn-near full spool of line in its prop (whoops).

So far, it’s still going strong and shows no signs of slowing down. Here’s what I’ve liked most about it:

  • Excellent boat control
  • Tough and quiet mounting bracket
  • The shaft has a lifetime guarantee against breaking
  • Easy on the batteries

Precise steering—even at high speeds

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

This is probably what I’m most particular about when testing trolling motors. I spend most of my year in less than 6 feet of water, so it’s important that I can make quick, last-second maneuvers when I see a stump or a rock. The last thing I want to do is ruin my fiberglass or perhaps even more importantly, alert the fish to my presence. I also fish a bunch of boat docks and proper boat control is imperative.

The new MotorGuide X5 has something called Variable Ratio Steering (VRS) technology. Essentially, this translates to quick turns with virtually no lag time between the pedal and your trolling motor. The composite foot pedal gives me a lot of control and has no slack whatsoever. When I move the pedal an inch, the trolling motor turns an inch—there’s no delay to speak of. 

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

I’ve also appreciated how smooth this trolling motor turns at high speeds. With 105 pounds of thrust, it’ll boogie at full speed; but when you make a sharp turn to avoid an obstacle or circle back to a school of fish, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to fall out of the boat. I’ve operated a lot of trolling motors that’ll just about throw you overboard, but this new model doesn’t have that problem. Both the responsiveness and increased boat stability are impressive. 

I can slither in and out of skinny slews and between close-quarters boat docks without any problems. 

The bracket is tough and quiet

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

I’ve put a lot of trolling motors on my old 1999 bass boat—the bow looks like Swiss cheese. Many of the motors I’ve used will eventually become noisy and get a fair amount of play in the bracket. Because I fish so much shallow water, this is a no-go for me. Stealth is a big deal when you’re making precise, short-range presentations. 

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

The newly designed X5 mounting bracket is made from extruded aircraft-grade aluminum. I’ve run into just about anything you can imagine throughout my testing and this bracket has held up wonderfully. The snap-back breakaway feature comes in handy if a stump comes up and bites you—I can certainly vouch for that. 

The mount is also quiet, even after a year of heavy use. MotorGuide included tight-fitting composite bushings that eliminate common squeaks and keep the mount securely attached at all key wear points. 

Lifetime guarantee on the shaft

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

In the past, the thought of a lifetime shaft guarantee never even crossed my mind. But after I nailed a coffee table-sized stump in 8 feet of water a few years ago and broke a shaft, it became a major consideration for me. Unfortunately, these things can happen if you spend enough time on the water. 

The oversized outer column of the X5’s shaft is made from stainless steel and is built like a rock—it’s much beefier than the shaft on my old Tour Digital model. The inner column is made from premium composite to add even more protection, but in the event you manage to break it (I would love to hear that story), MotorGuide covers it. 

If you’re going to drop this kind of money on a high-end trolling motor, it’s good to have some peace of mind to go along with it. 

It’s very power efficient

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

I don’t have these ultra-expensive batteries that a lot of anglers run in their boats, so I was anxious to test the efficiency of this new trolling motor. I cringe when I think of the number of boat batteries I’ve replaced over the years. 

MotorGuide designed this motor with digital technology that includes cooler-running power electronics. This is meant to provide more power to the thrust motor, fewer charges and longer overall life.

I’ve run this trolling motor for just about a year, so I can’t attest to its ultimate longevity yet. But I can certainly comment on its power efficiency: It’s excellent. I’ve used this trolling motor for three fishing trips without any charging and there was no noticeable loss of power. 

So if you get a wild hair to hit the lake one afternoon, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not you remembered to plug your charger in. This has actually been a very helpful feature for me this year.

Additional considerations

I replaced my MotorGuide Tour Digital with this X5 and have been quite pleased with the upgrades I’ve discussed thus far.

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

I will, however, miss the variable speed control of the Tour Digital. The new X5 has “set” notches that dictate your speed, ranging from 1 to 10. It has taken me a while to get used to this new feature, as I enjoyed the versatility of the previous speed control design because it allowed me to make very small adjustments without looking. 

In my opinion, the head design of the X5 doesn’t look quite as sharp as the previous Tour Digital, but it does serve a purpose. It doesn’t scratch near as easily, so it maintains its like-new look for much longer and resists fading quite well. 

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

I also decided to use the Machete III Prop from my Tour Digital instead of the two-blade weedless propeller that comes standard on the X5. I don’t fish much submerged vegetation, so I opted for a bit more open-water efficiency and speed with the three-blade design. 

Final impressions

I’ve really enjoyed the new features of the MotorGuide X5. After a year of testing, I haven’t had any issues with mine and I look forward to using it throughout the year. 

The MotorGuide X5 Trolling Motor is available at TackleWarehouse.com


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