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Best Mud Motors: Surface Drive, Longtail, and DIY Kits

A new mud motor might just be your ticket to the best backwater waterfowling.

Best Mud Motors: Surface Drive, Longtail, and DIY Kits

Diehard ‘fowlers looking to get away from the crowds and dig deep into birds need look no further than outfitting their tricked-out duck boat with one of the industry’s leading mud motors. (Photo courtesy of Gator-Tail)

Shorttail/Surface-Drive Mud Motors

Pro-Drive – X40

Pro-Drive X40
Pro-Drive X40 Mud Motor (Photo courtesy of Pro-Drive)

To fulfill customer requests for faster speed and larger load capacity, Pro-Drive recently introduced their newest surface drive, the X40. Equipped with a Briggs & Stratton 40-hp EFI engine and Pro-Drive’s Full-Power Reverse (FPR) system, the X40 was designed to get you into, and out of, the nastiest duck habitats in North America. Standard features include hydraulic power trim and tilt, momentary forward or reverse, and so much more. Check out their website for their full list of features and options. 

Starting at $9109.00;

Gator-Tail – GTR40XD-EFI

Gator-Tail GTR40XD-EFI Mud Motor
Gator-Tail GTR40XD-EFI Mud Motor (Photo courtesy of Gator-Tail)

Gator-Tail’s GTR40XD-EFI is the most powerful surface drive mud motor in their line designed to complement the largest duck boats. Starting with a 40-hp, 993cc Vanguard Big Block engine, Gator-Tail equipped the GTRXD40 with many performance components to make this motor a game changer, including a hi-flow stainless exhaust, high-thrust cavitation plate, planetary reverse transmission, and a 5,000 lb-ft power trim actuator. It can be purchased in multiple camouflage patterns and configurations including both tiller and console steering options.

Starting at $9917.25; 

Go-Devil – 40HP

Go-Devil 40HP
Go-Devil 40HP (Photo courtesy of Go-Devil)

Go-Devil is well known for both their longtail mud motors and their one-piece duck boats, but did you know they also make surface drive outboards? With horsepower ranges from 23 to 40, Go-Devil builds a surface drive model for nearly every boat size. Their 40-hp model can be purchased in multiple configurations including with manual or power trim, with or without FNR. They are sold standard with electric start, direct throttle and idle air control, EFI calibration, and a high-speed rev limiter. 

Starting at $8195.00;

Mud Buddy - HDR

Mud Buddy HDR
Mud Buddy HDR Mud Motor (Photo courtesy of Mud Buddy)

Mud Buddy’s Hyper Drive Reverse (HDR) surface drive mud motor line has quickly become a fan favorite. Available in seven different configurations ranging from 23 to 40-hp, this line includes special editions and variants to help deliver you the performance you desire. Their HDR system includes electric shift reverse, which puts the ability to go both forward and backwards at your fingertips. And, if only the baddest of mud motors will do, check out their HDR 5000, and be prepared to hang on!

Starting at $9,665;

Mud Skipper 

Mud Skipper Mud Motors
Mud Skipper Mud Motors (Photo courtesy of Mud Skipper)

Mud-Skipper manufacturers one of the largest lines of surface drive mud motors on the market. This line includes surface drive’s that range in size from the 5-7-hp Feather-Lite to their Pro Model 40-hp, truly covering every boat that a duck hunter could dream of using. Their Pro Models are available with or without reverse and come standard with power trim, a cast aluminum tiller, and a stainless propeller and skeg. If you are handy, you can even buy this model as a kit, without the engine.

Fully Assembled PRO*R 40-hp starting at $7999.00;


Beavertail Mud Motors
Beavertail Mud Motors (Photo courtesy of Beavertail)

Beavertail surface drive mud motors are available in three different horsepower ranges including 35, 37, and 40, all equipped with Vanguard marine engines. The 35-hp model was designed for boats up to 20-foot in length, or smaller boats equipped with Beavertail Performance Pods. It comes standard with a flat olive-drab painted aluminum frame/housing, synchronous belt drive, 12 x 10 performance series weedless x prop, V-Twin 90 overhead valve design, digital CDI ignition, and a stainless-steel muffler. 

Starting at $6699.99;

Longtail Mud Motors

PPF Mud Motors – Wood Duck 6.5-HP

PPF Mud Motors Wood Duck 6.5-HP
PPF Mud Motors Wood Duck 6.5-HP (Photo courtesy of PPF Mud Motors)

While PPF only manufactures the Wood Duck 6.5-HP, it delivers exactly the size of outboard hunters using sneak-style boats desire. It can be purchased as a complete motor or frame only, allowing buyers to install the engine of their choosing. In either case, the Wood Duck comes standard with a weedless mud propeller, removeable handle, and way too many other features to list here. Check out their website for full details and be sure to check out their Stage 2 Hop Up Kit for increased performance.

Complete Wood Ducks Start at $1270.00;

Mud Buddy - 40 EFI Super Longtail

Mud Buddy 40 EFI Super Longtail Mud Motor
Mud Buddy 40 EFI Super Longtail Mud Motor (Photo courtesy of Mud Buddy)

While Mud Buddy may be best-known for their comprehensive line of surface drives, they also make longtail mud motors. Their 40 EFI Super Longtail is equipped with largest engine available for mud motors, the Briggs & Stratton 40 EFI. This longtail comes standard with both forward and neutral, something uncommon on most longtails, and gear reduction for increased power. This motor is perfect for 16- to 18-foot-long duck boats that need to run in the shallowest water imaginable with heavy loads.

Starting at $6617.00; 

Go-Devil - 23-HP Vanguard

Go-Devil 23-HP Vanguard Mud Motor
Go-Devil 23-HP Vanguard Mud Motor (Photo courtesy of Go-Devil)

Go-Devil longtails have been affectionally known as the “The Four-Wheel Drive” of marine engines since their inception. Available in 6.5 to 40-hp configurations equipped with engines from Honda, Kohler, and Vanguard, these longtails are rugged and dependable due to their simple direct drive system that delivers power nearly directly from the engine to the propeller. Their 23-hp Vanguard remains one of their most popular, as it is light and maneuverable, and is suitable for 16- to 20-foot boats. 

Starting at $4295.00;

Backwater Inc. - SWOMP 23

Backwater Inc. SWOMP 23 Mud Motor
Backwater Inc. SWOMP 23 Mud Motor (Photo courtesy of Backwater Inc.)

The Backwater Inc. SWOMP 23 is a great all-around longtail mud motor suitable for boats starting at 1442 and up. Equipped with a Vanguard V-Twin Industrial Engine, the SWOMP 23 provides ample power to get you through the skinny stuff. Unique features of Backwater Inc. longtails include the Revo-Clean bearing system that keeps debris out, Surface Tracer cavitation plate for added speed, and Versa-mount that allows users to optimize the position of their longtail relative to the exact transom angle of their boat. 

Starting at $3600.00;

Mud Motor Kits & Components

Backwater Performance Systems (BPS)

Backwater Performance Systems (BPS)
Backwater Performance Systems (Photo courtesy of BPS)

If you already have a mud motor and are looking to spice things up, check out Backwater Performance Systems (BPS). They carry a full line of performance products and mods guaranteed to push you back in your seat. From carb kits to performance heads to complete performance packages, you can easily transform your stock engine into a mud motor that will get you off the ramp and into your honey hole faster than your buddies, or the competition.

Prices Vary by Product;


Beaver Dam Mud Runners  

Beaver Dam Mud Runners
Beaver Dam Mud Runners (Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam)

Beaver Dam Mud Runners manufactures easy-to-assemble DIY small and large mud motor kits for engines ranging from 2 to 26-hp. These kits include absolutely everything you need, except the engine. A unique feature about these kits is that they are horsepower expandable. Let’s say you buy an 8-hp to start, but discover that bigger is in fact always better, simply buy a bigger engine (up to 26-hp), swap it out for the old one, and get back to hunting. 

Large Kit - $625.00;

Backwater Inc. - SWOMP Kit

Backwater Inc. SWOMP Kit
Backwater Inc. SWOMP Kit (Photo courtesy of Backwater Inc.)

If you like the features of Backwater Inc. longtails, but want to get your hands dirty, check out their line of SWOMP Kits. These kits are available for engine sizes starting at 4-hp and go all the way up 40-hp. They can be purchased in different shaft lengths and are available in SWOMP Lite and SWOMP variants. They are easy to assemble, just select an engine from the list on Backwater Inc.’s webpage and purchase the kit to match. Simple and easy. 

Starting At $995.00;

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