Trolling Motors for Kayaks Guide - 2022

Canoes and Kayaks

If you are a regular kayaker, especially kayak fishing, you may have given a thought or two about installing a kayak trolling motor. However, if you are still confused about whether you should do it, this blog will help guide you. Read below to find out what to consider before installing a trolling motor on a kayak, which is the best trolling motor for a kayak, and answer any questions you may have about trolling motors.

What is a Trolling Motor?

A trolling motor is basically a small electric motor that can be attached to a small boat or kayak. Trolling motors can be fixed to the bow, stern or side of a kayak.  They allow quiet motion of the kayak or to remain static in one place in strong currents or winds. Trolling motors are beneficial for kayak fishing to quietly manoeuvre through the water whilst freeing up the hands for fishing.

Is It Worth It To Put a Trolling Motor on a Kayak?

Putting trolling motors on kayaks can make paddling easier and more fun. A trolling motor can enable you to get to locations more efficiently using less energy.

Kayak trolling motors are relatively easy to install and remove and will not break the bank with many options available under $200.

What To Consider Before Buying a Trolling Motor

Before buying a trolling motor, you need to consider several things. First, whether you will be using the motor in seawater or saltwater, and secondly its intended use. With these in mind you will need to look at the specs of the motor, such as the size, the speed settings, blades used in the motor, length of the shaft, etc. We go into more detail about each of these below.

Trolling Motor Mount

Some kayaks and especially canoes already have a trolling motor mounting system built in while others may not. Therefore if your vessel does not already have a trolling motor mount then you will need to install one yourself.

There are three mounting systems;

Bow Mount: A bow mount has the trolling motor situated on the front of the kayak. The bow mount is popular with some anglers as it gives them good control over their kayak.  A bow mount trolling motor pulls the kayak through the water instead of pushing it which can effect tracking.

Side Mount: Side mounts are vastly more popular than bow mounts in many types of kayaks and canoes as it puts the motor handle within arms reach. The major drawback of the side mount is the significant impact is has on tracking and balance issues due to thrust concentrated on only one side of your vessel.

kayak trolling motor
Kayak Trolling Motor Side Mount

Stern Mount (Transom Mount): The stern mount located at the rear of the kayak is probably the most efficient mounting position for a trolling motor if you kayak allows for it. It enables the greatest degree of tracking and control over the kayak. However the stern mount kayak trolling motors are usually out of reach of the paddler requiring a remote control system for thrust and leverage system for steering. Many modern kayaks and canoes are now made with a squared back with a trolling motor attachment in mind.

Saltwater or Freshwater

The type of trolling motor you choose depends on whether you kayak in saltwater or freshwater. Most motors are made for use in saltwater. The ones built for saltwater have an anode at the bottom that is protected better than the freshwater motor. This protects the motor from corrosion because of the high salt content of seawater.

There are trolling motors that are designed to be used in both freshwater and seawater. This can be good if you want to keep your costs low and have a versatile option.

Type of Propellor Blades

Some trolling motors have more propeller blades than others. The two most common types of propeller blades for kayak trolling motors are two-bladed and three-bladed propellers. The type of blades your trolling motor has can make a significant difference.

Having more blades means the trolling motor will have more thrust, meaning you may be able to manoeuvre the boat better through seaweed or water grass.

Generally however, a two-blade propeller will have more speed and is a better option if you intend to stay out of the weeds in open clear waters.

Size and thrust of the Motor

Some trolling motors will be too large or powerful to be fitted onto your kayak. So you will need to determine the weight of your loaded up kayak and work out the limitations of the trolling mount.

It’s super important to ensure the size of the kayak trolling motor is suitable for the mount you’re planning to use. Installing a trolling motor that’s too heavy or large is an accident waiting to happen with the potential to cause some serious injuries, not to mention the damage it may cause your kayak. 

Thrust is a measure of mechanical force in one direction the propels and object in the opposite direction. In trolling motors for kayaks the propulsion capacity is recorded in units of pounds of thrust. The greater the thrust, the more force the kayak will be propelled forward. 

As a general rule of thumb, you should have a minimum of 2-4 pounds of thrust per 100 pounds of weight on your kayak. Keep in mind that it is better to have too much thrust and not use it than need more thrust and not have it.

Trolling Motor Battery

The battery systems of trolling motors are available in multiples of 12; 12v, 24v, and 36v and should be matched up with voltage requirements of the motor. A 12v system will require a single battery, a 24v will need double batteries to run, and a 36v battery system will need three. As we have already discussed, a kayak is a light water vehicle that does not require too much power to run. Therefore, single 12v batteries should be sufficient for a trolling motor on a kayak.

Other than this, before choosing a battery, check your kayak’s weight capacity. You do not want to load the kayak with more weight than it can handle.

Length of the Shaft

The shaft length is essential in determining the kind of kayak motor you need. If the propeller is not entirely submerged in water, it will make a lot of noise when hitting the water surface. Not just that, this will also affect the motor’s performance. Instead of moving through the water, it will be pushing at the air and not functioning correctly. Conversely, shafts that are too long will risk hitting rocks or getting in the way of a fishing hook set or net.

A simple trick to avoid this problem is to ensure that your kayak motor is at least 12 inches under the water. It is good to have an additional 5 to 6 inches along with the 12 inches for really choppy conditions.

Remote Control Steering

Did you know you can get a remote-controlled motor? Yes! Some motors have a remote control steering system, so you don’t need to do any work. Although more costly, it offers a lot of conveniences and is excellent for a full day on the water when you’d want to keep your hands free.  These are ideal for stern and bow mount trolling motor systems.

Trolling Motors for Kayaks Reviews

Minn Kota Endura C2 50

Thrust: 50 lbs
Weight: 26 lbs
Voltage: 12 V
Shaft: 36″
Speeds: 5 Fwd / 3 Reverse
Water: Freshwater

Minn Cota is a reliable name in the world of trolling motors. Their Endura C2 50 model is made of reinforced composite materials and is as best as they come. It will fasten onto the kayak with the lever lock bracket, which is not only quick release but resistant to elements such as flexing, warping, and UV damage. It offers multiple speed settings with power propellers that can push through weeds. Although their performance is good, and they deliver what they claim, it’s a little bit on the pricey side.

Minn Cota have a vast array of trolling motor options available for front, side and transom mounts with varying thrusts and shaft lengths.

What we like:
✅ Ergonomic design
✅ Transom mounting type that is compatible with most kayaks
✅ Indestructible shaft

We don’t like:
⛔️ Pricey

Newport Vessels NV-Series 55lbs

Thrust: 55lb (Also available in 36lb, 46lb, 62lb, 86lb)
Weight: 23.2 Pounds
Voltage: 12 V
Shaft: 30”
Speeds: 5 Fwd / 3 Reverse
Water: Freshwater/Saltwater

The Newport Vessel NV series is a series of saltwater and freshwater trolling motors with varying thrusts, as mentioned above. The shaft is 30″, which can be used in fresh and salt water. It comes with eight speeds; 3 reverse and 5 forward. This trolling motor is designed to be paired with one  12-Volt Lead-Acid Deep Cycle or Marine battery which are sold separately. Some customers have reported some corrosion after a small number of uses however Newport have a very good California based support team and have no issues replacing faulty motors.

What we like:
✅ It can be used in both freshwater and seawater
✅ Superb customer service
✅ Good price

We don’t like:
⛔️ It is heavy, making it an unfeasible option at times

Aquos Black Haswing Cayman Bow Mount Trolling Motor

Thrust: 55lbs
Weight: 46.6lb
Voltage: 12V
Shaft: 48″
Haswing Black Cayman comes with wireless remote control settings and a quick-release system that makes installing or removing the motor a piece of cake. With a variable speed option, you can choose whichever speed suits you best. It is designed to work in freshwater and seawater conditions; the materials used are resistant to corrosion.
The wireless remote control system is convenient with the speed and directional changes but can be a bit tricky to get tracking in a straight line as direction changes are in set increments of about 15 degrees. 

What we like:
✅ Wireless remote control
✅ It can be used in both freshwater and saltwater

We don’t like:
⛔️ Direction increment change with remote could be smaller

Watersnake Shadow Bow Mount Trolling Motor

Thrust: 44/54 lbs
Weight: 36.5lb – 38.4lbs
Shaft: 48/54″
Watersnake Shadow bow mount trolling motors are available with different thrusts and shaft lengths, from 44-pound thrust and 48-inch shaft to 54-pound thrust and 54-inch shaft. The three-blade propeller with a weedless design will likely push through any stubborn marine vegetation. Being made of stainless steel, we trust it to be corrosion-proof. Like many of its competitors, Watersnake offers multiple speed options.

What we like:
✅ Variable speeds
✅ Resistant to corrosion

We don’t like:
⛔️ Foot control can be challenging to grasp at first


Does having a motor on a kayak mean you need to register as a motorboat?

In most states, if you have a trolling motor on your boat, you will need to register your vessel as a motorboat. This is because your kayak is now motorized. Not registering can result in repercussions in the form of a fine, so make sure you comply with the law.

How do I attach a trolling motor to a kayak?

Some trolling motors come with complete ready-to-install packages. To attach these motors to a kayak, closely follow all the instructions. However, this may not always be the case. You may need to purchase some hardware to install the trolling motor yourself. This can often be achieved at a very minimal expense. Here is a great example of installing a side mount kayak trolling motor using only PVC pipes and a piece of wood.

Wrap Up

Installing a trolling motor on a kayak is a good idea. Not only does it give you greater control over your boat it also adds to the maneuverability. The thrust of the trolling motor ensures you save up energy that would’ve otherwise been spent on paddling manually.

Fortunately, adding a trolling motor is not too difficult or costly. 

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