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Garmin Force vs Minn Kota Ultrex (2021): Comparing the Top Trolling Motors for Game Fishers

Game fishing is a hobby that several people take seriously. They would invest thousands of dollars in equipment to get the best for their passion. Garmin & Minn Kota, two major game fishing manufacturers, know this so they developed high-end trolling motors for this community.

These trolling motors provide precision maneuvering and enough engine power to fight against river currents. They also employ GPS and sonar technology to keep you on track while you focus on fishing.

Today, we will compare the Garmin Force and Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motors. The specifications of these high-tech bow-mounted engines will be laid down side-by-side below and then we will study each feature to help you decide which one to choose.

Garmin Force vs Minn Kota Ultrex Comparison Chart

MotorGarmin ForceMinn Kota Ultrex
 Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
Shaft Length50″/ 57″45″/ 52″/ 60″
UseFreshwater / Brackish / SaltwaterFreshwater
Voltage36 v / 24 v36 v / 24 v
Max Thrust100 lbs / 80 lbs112 lbs / 80 lbs
Motor StyleElectric steeringElectric steering / Cable steering
Lift-assistDual gas springsNitrogen gas spring
Built-in GPSYesYes
Wireless remoteYesYes
Foot pedalWirelessWired
Built-in sonarYesYes
Auto PilotYesYes
Fish Finder ConnectivityChartplotteri-Pilot Link

Autopilot and Control

While both devices have autopilot and advanced control settings, you must choose the Force if you want its point-and-go feature.

Both devices have foot controls but Garmin (left) offers a wireless pedal as compared against Minn Kota’s (right) wired version.

Both the Garmin Force and Minn Kota Ultrex come with autopilot and remote-control features. The Ultrex AutoPilot allows you to travel just by pointing it at the desired direction. It will follow your desired path and correct for different factors such as wind, waves, and current. A wired pedal comes standard with the device so that you can control it without having to let go of your fishing pole – perfect when you are on the chase for your catch of a lifetime. There is also a wireless remote control meaning you do not have to move around your boat just to change the engine settings.

Garmin Force has similar features – GPS autopilot that will follow your set track, provide cruise control, heading hold, and anchor lock. The big advantage that Garmin has over the Ultrex is its pedal control unit is wireless, you can position it anywhere on your boat, giving you the flexibility to move around without having to deal with a tangle of wires. Furthermore, Garmin’s remote has point-and-go gesture steering – all you need to do is point where you want to go, and the Force will take you there.

Sonar Imaging

The Garmin Force trolling motor’s sonar transducer covers more water than Minn Kota’s Ultrex Down Imaging device.

Down Imaging by Minn Kota (left) vs side sonar scan by Garmin (right).

If you want to have a record-breaking catch, you must know where to find your fish. Both the Garmin Force and the Minn Kota Ultrex come with built-in sonar transducers to help you locate the best spots.

Garmin’s motor comes with a built-in GT54UHD-TM transducer. This ultra-high-definition scanning sonar system uses sound signals to develop and build highly detailed underwater images of fish and fauna. The images that it builds is so precise that you can see branches, brush, and rocks under your boat and even individual fishes that swim amongst the debris. It has a range of up to 200 feet below and 500 feet to the sides of your boat.

Minn Kota uses a built-in MEGA Down Imaging transducer from Humminbird. Its resolution is as sharp as Garmin’s sonar and has a similar range of 200 feet below the hull. The images that it returns are similar to most traditional down looking sonars, that means you don’t have to change from what you’re used to. However, compared to Garmin, it does not have coverage on the sides of your boat.

You have to note that both of these sonars, although built-in the machine, do not come with control head units. These devices are sold separately.

Fish Finder Technology

Wireless connectivity is important to process and analyze the sensor data from the motors.

These fish finding devices from Garmin (left) and Humminbird for the Minn Kota motor (right) are required if you want to take full potential of your motor’s sensors.

The primary purpose of the on-board sonar is to find your game. The fish finder is the device that will process and analyze the returns of the transducer so that you can interpret it and see where the fish in plain sight.

Garmin’s Chartplotter and Minn Kota’s i-Pilot Link are wireless connectivity technology that is used to connect various fish finding devices. These devices, when paired with the Force or the Ultrex respectively, combines sonar and GPS technology to show the location of your targets in relation to the boat. When you spot the fish on your screen, you can command the trolling motor from the same device to take you there.

The technology developed by Garmin is compatible mostly with control units they have developed in-house. On the other hand, Minn Kota does not make their own fish finding devices; instead, they partner with Humminbird and develop their technology to specifically work with the second-party device.

Minn Kota and Humminbird are under the same parent company, they are still two distinct entities with their own processes. Garmin’s in-house development of fish finding devices means that they are only one department away from the team handling the engine development, making it easier to coordinate between the two teams.


The Minn Kota Ultrex offers a longer shaft and has slightly more power than the Garmin Force.

Even though the Garmin Force weighs a substantial 100 pounds, it looks and feels fast.

Although primarily designed for freshwater, the Garmin Force warranty covers use in brackish and saltwater. You have a choice between a 50-inch or 57-inch long shaft, both giving out 100 lbs. of thrust at 36 volts. It has electric steering for ease of use and comes with dual gas springs for easy deployment, retraction, and stowage. Although the design is beautiful with sharp lines reminiscent of modern sports cars, it does weigh at least a hefty 100 pounds.

The Minn Kota has a shorter 45-foot long shaft but is more powerful with a thrust rating of 112 lbs at the same voltage. They also offer longer shafts of 52 or 60 inches. You have an option of electric or cable steering, useful for situations when you need to manually control the trolling motor. To assist you, it comes with a single nitrogen gas spring for easier deployment of the 112-pound machine.


For a thousand dollars more, Garmin will give you extra sonar capabilities and the ability to use the Force to drive your boat just by pointing where you want to go.

Amazon product

Both the Garmin Force and the Minn Kota Ultrex are high-tech devices. They come with the latest technology in sonar, GPS, connectivity, and detection. The main advantage that Garmin has is that its built-in transducer has sonar coverage along the side, as compared against the Ultrex which only scans underneath the boat. Another thing that the Force has over its competition is wireless foot pedal and point-and-go remote technology. These advancements give the game fisher more flexibility in operating on their boat.

The downside of this is that the base-model Garmin Force has a thousand-dollar gap over Minn Kota’s offering. Even the top range Ultrex with all options included still comes at lower price.

If you’re going to invest top dollar on your boat, you might as well go for the Garmin Force. The higher price tag on it is worth the additional features that you get on this futuristic-looking motor. But if you’re looking for top-bill quality without needing extra features like side sonar and wireless pedals, then the Minn Kota Ultrex is the way to go.


📌 Is the Garmin Force worth the money?

It is a considerable investment but the extra features that you get on this motor is well worth it.

📌 What is the difference between i-Pilot and i-Pilot Link?

The i-Pilot is a remote control for Minn Kota motors, while the i-Pilot Link will offer the same features as i-Pilot while connecting the motor to Humminbird control units that will take advantage of the built-in sonar and GPS data sensors in the engine.

📌 What fish finders are compatible with the Garmin Force?

Since Garmin develops their own technology, all of their fish finding devices are compatible with the Force.

📌 How long will the Garmin Force 36-volt battery last?

According to field tests, its battery can last up to 43 weeks. This, however, depends on the environment, use, and age of the motor. Battery life can vary wildly with different scenarios.

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John Morales

John is a writer for a living and a pilot for life. He accidentally discovered his writing talent in College when he shifted to a degree in Humanities from Engineering. He dreams of combining his love for writing and flying by creating a book detailing his adventures while flying around the country.