There are many opinions about what is the best way to control your boat with a trolling motor. There are probably as many opinions as there are fishermen that use them. The hand control has been around for a long time. In fact it was the first type of control that was used to control a trolling motor. As technology advanced the foot control was developed to give you an additional choice in how you might want to control your motor. The hand control consists of a tiller that is mounted to the top of the motor housing. The tiller sticks into the boat a few inches so that it can be easily grasped. You steer the boat by moving the tiller from side to side. You don't get the advantage of “hands free” steering as you do with the foot control. A foot control allows you to steer the boat with your foot, and gives you hand freedom to catch and land fish.
In actual operation both these types of motors have positives and negatives depending on your viewpoint. Some fishermen like the foot control best, but I have heard some complaints about the foot control. Having to keep your foot on the control for an extended period of time can cause some discomfort. I have heard some people complain that the foot control wore out their leg, hip and back. Guess it depends on how in shape you might be. At least you can still have the “hands free” fishing ability. Some people don't like the amount of foot space on deck that the foot control takes. I guess you can get use to that after a period of time. It is true that a foot control can wear you out if it is real windy and pushing your boat. With the hand control you have to be in close proximity to the tiller to be able to operate it. Sitting is usually the preferred way to use a hand controlled motor over standing. One guy suggested that you could put an extension on the tiller and sit further away. I am not sure how that would work out. I have heard that some models of hand controlled trolling motors will develop some “play” in the connection of the tiller. This will cause noise that is counterproductive. So if you prefer to use this type be sure that you get a very well constructed model.
On the positive side the hand controlled trolling motor has fewer moving parts and is much less complicated so it has less chance of developing problems. There is not much in electronics to breakdown. You have to think of the greatest benefit of a foot control, you get more casts in a day than you do with a hand control.
To make a selection of type of steering for your trolling motor it would be good if you could actually have experience with each before you buy. If you have a friend with one of them maybe you could give it a try. Sometimes a dealer can give you a chance to try one before you buy. Otherwise you are going to have to make an educated guess about which type of steering you would prefer for your trolling motor. Bottom line is, you have to get as much experience with both of these before you make a selection. Do your research before you make your purchase.