Tiller vs. Console steer

  • Avatar of luckydog2 luckydog2 
    Posts: 364

    Am considering a new boat, and have always had tiller steer so I could backtroll my favorite walleye lake. But, with the advent of 24v and 36v trolling motors and batteries that will last for 8 to 12 hours or more, is there a reason not to go to console steer? Consoles also take up more room than I like to give up, but would consider a longer boat to remedy that problem. Cost is definately a factor, but maybe could consider used instead of new when shopping. Opinions welcome!

    Avatar of doug-ertl doug-ertl 
    Posts: 952

    In my opinion it comes down to preferance. I have console now and won’t give it up. The room factor you hit right on the head. But with the layouts and storage in boats these days, it’s not that big a deal. That’s my two cents.

    avatar fishahollik 
    Posts: 1,776

    I bought a console steer so the wife could drive the boat. DUMB move, She has driven it once. My next boat will be a tiller, she will just need to learn. You can’t really troll with a electric for any duration, tillers provide better boat control, and yes, space is a premium.

    Like I said, my next boat will be a tiller.

    Avatar of clarence_chapman clarence_chapman 
    Posts: 1,349

    I concur with fishahollic.
    Had a both like the tiller for the control and room. Another consideration is the kind of fishing you primaraly do. Then look at how the steering wheel/console will effect how you fish. For me it was not a hard decision.
    And that is my 2 cents.

    Avatar of moler02 moler02 
    Posts: 514

    In my opinion it comes down to how far or how much you are going to travel on the water. If youre 20 miles down the lake and the wind is up a console is by far better. A tiller fishes easier and in my case allows me to not have to move from one end of the boat to the other. I think I am more apt to change locations more often in the tiller. Less to get ready every time I move. For what it’s worth.

    avatar carpking 
    Posts: 859

    I liked the console for cruising around in a non fishing family mode, but I found it to be a pain fishing out of, especially trolling. I like the tiller for being able to see rods in front of me, the control I have and especially the room. And NO…you cant have the 30 horse back…lol!

    Avatar of derek_johnston derek_johnston 
    Posts: 5,025

    fishaholic, i did the same and never once she wanted to drive the boat. This year I finally got my tiller back and will never go back to a wheel boat. There are times when you need both. Its a hard choice so think it over good. Heres my pro’s and cons

    Wheel boat pros:

    Safer, generally drier ride.

    Travel faster in windy conditions

    More comfortable when travelling

    Higher HP rating

    Wheel boat cons:

    Less room

    More expensive

    Trolling motors and kickers are pretty much manditory which adds batteries, locators etc.

    Boat control

    Pros for tiller


    Boat control

    More boat room

    Less of a need for accessories

    Able to move from spot to spot sitting in the same chair


    Less HP rating

    Can be wetter ride

    Fatigue on arms when driving into wind.

    Obstructive view when driving with passangers.

    Avatar of Mark Steffes Mark Steffes 
    Posts: 1,349

    My 2 cents, I had a tiller & now I have switched to a consule. The factor that switch is the kids getting older & wanting to tube & ski plus fish. We just couldn’t do that with the tiller in a perfect world I’d have both. But I’m not that lucky.

    avatar timmy 
    Posts: 1,968

    I ran a 1775 pro-V tiller for 9 years, then switched to 1850 Tyee. I would not go back. Having the roof and side curtains when needed makes it a lot more family-oriented of a rig. I do a lot of great lakes trolling and it is ideal. It is not nearly the walleye/musky boat that the pro-v was, but it is WAYYYY more comfortable to be in( ) – and that makes for a good compromise for the family.

    My $.02 – Tim

    Avatar of brian_peterson brian_peterson 
    Posts: 1,702

    I also ran a 1775 prov tiller for a number of years and loved that boat. The kids are now old enough to wanna tube and the wife likes to just relax and take cruise once in awhile, so I went with a wheel boat this time. With todays big motors and kickers, trolling is easily attainable and fun watching rod holders from the console. I will add however, that once the kids are old enough I will go back to a big tiller. I spent about 2 hours sitting in a big tiller at the Sportsmans show drooling all over the floor!

    Avatar of luckydog2 luckydog2 
    Posts: 364

    Wow! Thanks for the replys and opinions. I thought the concensus would be way in favor of console/wheel boats. Wrong…Thank you to all again.

    Avatar of tom_gursky tom_gursky 
    Posts: 4,605

    We’re not done yet …If tillers are better for fishing then why do 99% of the guides in the midwest NOT use them?
    Eliminate the backtrolling factor and you would have few if any favoring the tiller…there is also the factor of limiting the size of the outboard so it will troll down…or…put all kind of doohickies on the back so it will…Thats why they make kickers. Kickers are also handy when you are miles up MilleLacs and your big outboard dies…

    One important factor to add is rough water…I have had several tillers and did not appreciate trying to drive back across Lake Michigan in 4 footers sitting in the back of the boat…I will NEVER go back to a tiller…NO WAY!

    avatar StaleMackrel 
    Posts: 443

    Hi, I have had seven boats. Six have been console. Safety first! I had three near accidents with tiller when people were up fron blocking my view. As I said, “safety first”!

    avatar Logan 
    Posts: 389

    I agree with Tom 100%. I used to have a tiller and after going on over 20 minute runs on LOTW, Mille Lacs, Winnie, Lake Michigan, I was tired of driving and also was wet. I know have a shield boat and will not go back.
    I had three of us trolling last Saturday night and one of the guys is 300 pounds. We trolled with my 4-stroke kicker and never had one tangle all night. And we could still have a conversation while fishing. I don’t understand how people say you can’t troll in a console.

    avatar fishahollik 
    Posts: 1,776

    Just for my own peace of mind…would all you console guys still want a console if you were limited to a boat of 17′ or less? I would have NOOOOOO problem with a big lund 20′er with dual consoles, but I can’t afford that. in 15-17 foot boats, the cosnole eatsd up enough room to take place of one man.

    avatar 2Fishy4U 
    Posts: 973

    Absolutely, stick with the console. I have a Crestliner 16ft. FishHawk with a 90 HP E-Tec and would never go back to a tiller. The motor idles down to 800 RPM’s and I also troll with it.

    Avatar of kooty kooty 
    Posts: 16,193

    I respectfully disagree with anyone who says you get better boat control from a tiller. If you rig a wheel boat properly, you can get the exact same control. It does come at a price though.

    In my eyes, the one and only reason to run a tiller is cost. If your budget doesn’t allow for all the extra electronics, motors etc…buy the tiller.

    Yes, there is more storage in a tiller, but for me personally, I can get all the gear I need in the boat on any given day. If I’m really worried about not having enough tackle/rods/methods to catch fish, I’ll bring it all and do my best to keep it organized.

    Have fun shopping!! No shortage of opinions here.

    Avatar of derek_johnston derek_johnston 
    Posts: 5,025

    I would agree, if money is no object, I would be running a 20 footer with a kicker. Its going to be a matter of personal preference. Tom had a good point. I backtroll probably 90% of the time when i’m trolling, this is where tillers excel. If you spend your day running all over the lake and not fishing, a console is a great choice. Sometimes when the bite is tough, your going to be driving alot.

    avatar Ingy 
    Posts: 135


    We’re not done yet …If tillers are better for fishing then why do 99% of the guides in the midwest NOT use them?

    Because they have clients who might not be as hardcore as us about fishing and appreciate a few more creature comforts? Similar to the “because of my wife” answers others have posted.


    avatar impalapower 
    Posts: 936

    I bought two tillers last fall. I do appreciate the floor space. Having someone up front while moving can pose a bit of a challenge, you really have to pay attention.

    avatar Willeye 
    Posts: 683


    Just buy a pontoon.

    Bob Propst Sr. does a lot of guiding on Lake Oahe with his pontoon and puts many walleyes in the boat. His other rig is a tiller. But of course, Bob could strap a motor to a log and pull in a limit of fish.

    I think it comes down to whatever you are most comfortable with when deciding between a tiller and console rig.

    Avatar of amwatson amwatson 
    Posts: 5,147

    I have gone back and forth between the 2 for a few years now. I am pretty much a multi-species guy and fish the river most of the time.
    Tillers are great for the room, availability, and the price. But, for myself I am much more comfortable with a wheel Most of my fishing is run and gun and I usually cover a lot of water. With the console, my arms and shoulders do not get tired, I have a windshield, and more comfortable seating.
    It is definitely a personal choice for which is actually better, because we all fish different species and use different techniques

    avatar TSCTSC 
    Posts: 497

    Hear hear. I agree with Watson. Console more comfortable. But tiller gives better control. Walk thru windshield, most comfortable, but less room.

    avatar Tom P. 
    Posts: 2,186

    I have had a tiller for the last 15 years but my next boat will be a wheel boat. I get tired of freezing my butt off when it`s early spring, ( especially if the wind is kicking up and I am getting all wet ) late winter, or the weather get`s bad and trying to run in the rain and waves. I sometimes won`t run as far because running a tiller even twelve to fiften miles is really tough. As mentioned before trying to see around passengers is a real pain and can be a hazard.

    I think the layout in the newer wheel boats are so much better for storage and room that I don`t think that is much of an issue anymore. With most of the newer boats pushing closer to 8 foot wide even in the 17 foot range having a console in there isn`t as big an issue as it used to be.

    Just My Two Cents

    Avatar of bill_cadwell bill_cadwell 
    Posts: 10,269



    Just buy a pontoon.

    Bob Propst Sr. does a lot of guiding on Lake Oahe with his pontoon and puts many walleyes in the boat. His other rig is a tiller. But of course, Bob could strap a motor to a log and pull in a limit of fish.

    I think it comes down to whatever you are most comfortable with when deciding between a tiller and console rig.

    Bob is a tiller man at heart but his shoulder is kinda shot so that fact and the idea of guiding more people at a time he uses a poontoon alot of the time. He even has fished the MWC Circuit some in his poontoon. Yep, Bob can catch fish out of anything. Hes a great fisherman. And very down to earth too, great guy. I too am a tiller man at heart thats why I love pulling three ways so much as I am running my 8 hp kicker. The neck and hands won’t let me run a much bigger tiller. My jon boat has a 9.9 tiller motor on it and pretty soon the Lund will start sitting behind the jon boat in the driveway. My son Nate finally went back to a tiller this year [been wanting to for the past 5 years] and says he loves being back in a tiller. It all depends on what a guy really wants. Tillers will become even more popular again is my guess as gas prices are so darn high.
    Thanks, Bill

    avatar dank 
    Posts: 1,111

    I am a tiller guy because of the room factor and like to have the extra space for other items in the boat. I also enjoy having the feeling of immediate control over the boat.
    2 cents

    Avatar of kooty kooty 
    Posts: 16,193

    I understand you tiller guys love your boats, but I have yet to see hard facts that a tiller boat gives you better boat control than a wheel boat with a kicker. Sorry for stirring the pot, to each his own.

    avatar Jason_N 
    Posts: 248

    It sounds like you just need to spend a little time in a tiller, and you will answer your own question. I run a tiller, and my tournament partner runs a wheel boat. He would be the first to tell you all about the control of a tiller. We do use his rig if there is a trolling bite going on. Those kickers are great for trolling, but try to rig on a tight contour in the wind….

    Avatar of koldfront kraig koldfront kraig 
    Posts: 1,531

    With the advent of the Enginsteer hydraulic tiller, arm fatigue isn’t an issue. This is an aftermarket hydraulic assist that makes driving even the big tillers effortless in any weather.

    It comes down to what kind of fishing you do and how important boat control is to you. Do you plan on tubing or skiing with the family? Or do you want a fishing machine.

    Yes you will get wet in a tiller, even a glass tiller. The reason being is your sitting in the back of the boat. Of coarse being in the back you get a better ride. Any tiller guy knows he needs a good rain suit.

    If you fish lakes where you mostly slow troll lindy’s and jigs, its tough to beat a tiller for boat control.

    If it’s all you do is troll cranks then get a console boat and a kicker.

    I have a tiller and it would be tough to give it up.

    It’s pretty tough to beat the control of a tiller on windy days.

    I put the back of the boat into the wind and steer with both the main motor and the transom electric. Very precise and instant turns keep me on the right track in high winds and the structure I’m fishing.

    That’s tough to do in a consul boat even with a kicker. First of all the kicker is off to one side. That right there is a disadvantage when backtrolling, its tougher to keep the boat going straight into the waves.

    When I need to make an adjustment and I can’t get turned fast enough with the big motor, I turn the electric to the way I want to go and gun it. This swings the back of the boat around instantly back on coarse.

    Go out on a rough day. You see all the tiller guys backtrolling into the big waves in high wind and all the wheel guys are drifting with their drift bags out.

    As for guides not using tillers, spend a summer fishing northern Minnesota and decide for yourself.

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