Is It Worth Getting A Recessed Trolling Motor Tray For Your Boat? (Here’s What You Need To Know)


by Eric Bartlett

If you want to use a trolling motor with a foot pedal, an important consideration is whether you should put it on top of the deck, or instead install a recessed tray for it.

Most anglers who switch from a regular foot pedal setup to using a recessed tray say they don’t ever want to go back again. But what exactly makes this solution so attractive?

In this article we’ll cover the key benefits of recessed trolling motor trays, and will discuss your options if you decide to buy one, or to make it yourself. 

Is a recessed trolling motor tray worth it?

If you fish a lot, then a recessed trolling motor tray is definitely worth it, as it allows you to fish with more comfort over longer periods of time, and also helps to increase your balance while standing on the deck in choppy conditions. 

With that being said, if you are an infrequent angler, or don’t fish longer than a few hours at a time, you’ll be perfectly fine without getting a recessed trolling motor tray. 

What are the advantages of recessed trolling motor trays?

The key advantage of using a recessed trolling motor tray is that it allows the foot pedal of your trolling motor to be recessed below the level of the deck.

As a result of this pedal setup, your foot is flush with the level of the deck while you use it to control the foot pedal.

This is in contrast to having to lift your foot up in the air to control the pedal when it’s not recessed below the deck.

And while this doesn’t sound like a huge deal, having both feet at the same level on the deck while controlling the foot pedal really helps a lot to avoid back pain from hours of fishing.

A recessed trolling motor tray also helps to improve your balance when fishing under choppy conditions. When a wave rocks the boat, it’s much easier to use both of your feet to catch your weight and counteract the motion.

Finally, one thing to keep in mind is that some people prefer it if their foot pedal isn’t completely flush with the deck, but instead protrudes a little.

This is because if it is completely flush, you may have to bend the knee on your other leg slightly when you press down with your foot on the pedal, which can also be uncomfortable if done over a long period of time.

Fortunately, the exact height of the foot pedal can be easily adjusted to suit your preferences, by adding a little padding below the pedal.

Where do you put a recessed trolling motor tray?

It’s usually best to place the recessed trolling motor tray in a centered position in the footboard of your deck close to the front of your boat. This is because foot pedals are almost always used with bow mount trolling motors, and so you’ll want the tray to be close to the trolling motor.

When you choose the best location to install it, it’s important to avoid cutting wires or ports underneath the deck where you want to place the tray, so you need to check for this first.

Also, in order to center the foot tray, it’s good to run a string along the centerline of your boat, and use that as a reference when choosing the right spot.

What are the best recessed trolling motor trays?

The top recessed trolling motor tray brands are:

  • EZ-Troll
  • Panther
  • Rod Saver
  • Comfortroll
  • LucaSng
  • R&R Design

In terms of pricing, recessed trolling motor trays start around $70, and go up to around $230 for the most expensive ones. In most cases you’ll be absolutely fine with one of the simpler options, but some of the more expensive models come with additional features, such as a tool holder or cup holder, which can be nice if you spend a lot of time fishing.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you buy a recessed trolling motor tray is that its dimensions need to fit your trolling motor foot pedal. Some brands, such as Rod Saver, provide trays that are specifically designed for Minn Kota or MotorGuide foot pedals. Other brands (especially the simpler ones), provide a universal design that fits most pedal brands. 

But in either case you should still check that the specific dimensions of your foot pedal fit inside the tray that you’re thinking of buying, and that the top of the pedal will be flush with the level of your boat deck.

If you already have your foot pedal on hand, the easiest option is to measure the dimensions of the foot pedal, and if that’s not possible you can use the product manual to get them (which is usually available from the manufacturer website).

If your pedal turns out to be a little too low inside the tray, you can easily correct that by adding some padding underneath it. Also keep in mind that you’ll have to cut a hole in your floor board in order to install the tray.

Can you make a homemade recessed trolling motor tray?

Yes, you can absolutely make your own recessed trolling motor tray, and a great way to do this is by adapting a cake pan with roughly the right dimensions. If you choose to do this, you’ll need to remove a round section at the front, to accommodate the wiring of the pedal.

Another option is to make a customized tray by printing it out with a 3D printer, which you can do by using the recessed trolling motor tray dimensions available online from one of the top tray brands, such as Panther

Finally, you should also make sure to drill a hole in the bottom of the tray to allow water to drain out of it. Otherwise you’ll quickly flood the pedal in rainy weather or choppy water, which will ruin it in no time at all.