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Trolling motors. No, not persistent online keyboard warriors!
Today we’re talking about the electric trolling motor type that can bolt onto your kayak and used to catch more of those lovely fish.
If you’re looking for a little extra paddling help we can help point you in the right direction with our buying guide for finding the best trolling motors for kayaks.
The motor you choose depends on what you’ll be using your kayak for and what type of water you’ll be in. Whether it be freshwater or saltwater kayak fishing.
Head’s up – the best all-round choice for most users is the Minn Kota Endure C2.
Kayak Trolling Motors: Quick PIcks
- Minn Kota Endura C2 30
- Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb
- Haswing Cayman B 55lbs 12V
- Watersnake FWDR44-48 Shadow
- Outsunny 12V Transom Mounted 50lb Trolling Motor
We can also help you discover what they are and whether you’ll actually need one (or not.)
Trolling motors are frequently used by kayak anglers. By having a trolling motor installed on your kayak you can move through the water without your paddle disturbing the fish or the local wildlife. And it allows you to free up your hands to do other things, such as catch fish, while still moving along the water.
So if you’re planning on kayak fishing, a trolling motor is a great addition to your kayak.
Trolling motors are generally quiet, allowing you to move gradually through the water, dragging your baited fishing line along smoothly behind you.
Some trolling motors will allow you to use foot pedals. These are usually bow mounted trolling motors, and sometimes they can take a bit of getting used to, particularly where balance is concerned. But they can be well worth it in the end.
Some fishermen may prefer bow trolling motors with foot pedals, as it allows them to completely free up their hands, giving them more room to fish. However, bow mounted electric motors often tend to be more expensive than transom mounted ones.
Is Your Kayak “Trolling Motor Compatible”?
Before you go out and buy the best kayak trolling motor, you need to make sure your kayak is ready to have a motor installed. You also need to make sure that whatever motor you buy will be suitable for your kayak.
The weight and length of your boat will play an important role in the amount of thrust you’ll need from your motor. More on that later.
Most transom trolling motors with a 12 volt battery will be suitable for use with a kayak. Most trolling motors with higher voltage batteries tend to be used on larger or heavier boats.
Keep in mind that once you’ve installed a trolling motor to your kayak, it will then be classed as a motor vessel and will often require to be registered with your local authorities and may be subject to taxation. You may also require different licenses.
Video: Installing A Trolling Motor
Trolling motors come in a variety of styles and sizes to suit the type of boat or kayak you have. The best kayak trolling motor will also have different features tailored to particular uses.
Saltwater Or Freshwater Motor?
First of all, there are motors specifically designed for use in the sea and ones designed for freshwater.
There are some trolling motors that are designed to be used both in the sea and in freshwater fishing conditions. These can be a good option if you’re looking for versatility and want to keep costs low with just one package. Most trolling motors from popular brands, like Minn Kota, will often have different models for different conditions.
The main difference between a saltwater and a freshwater motor is that on a salt water motor there is an anode at the bottom that is better covered than on one made for freshwater. This offers corrosion resistance in saltwater.
Some trolling motors have more blades on their propellers than others, making them sturdier and more able to navigate through seaweed or grass.
Some also have better thrust than others, meaning you’ll travel faster through the water, with more power.
Speed Settings, Battery & Ease Of Use
Size Of Motor (Power)
The size of your electric motor, or the amount of power that you’ll need will often depend on the size of your boat. Kayaks are usually much lighter than other types of boats so the amount of power you’ll need will likely be less than you might need for bass boats, for example.
A bigger motor won’t necessarily make you go any faster, but it could help you maintain maximum speed if you’re heading into the wind or battling against current.
As 100 pounds of boat needs around 2 pounds of thrust, then even a motor with 20 pounds of thrust should be able to move 1,000 pounds of boat and gear.
On the other hand, a motor with a higher pound thrust rate will likely add more weight to your fishing kayak compared to one with a lower pound thrust rate.
So a motor with 30 pounds of thrust should, in most cases, be more than enough to power fishing boats loaded with you and your gear.
How Fast Will A 55 lb Thrust Trolling Motor Go?
You may think that because a trolling motor has a higher thrust weight it should go faster than one with a lower thrust weight. However, this is not the case.
The higher the pounds of thrust, the more suitable it will be for a heavier boat. Generally, it follows a weight ratio and it’s thought that for every 100 pounds of boat you should need two pounds of thrust. The thrust powers the vessel rather than determines its speed.
Trolling motors tend to have a top speed of 5 mph on calm flatwater. But a motor with a higher thrust weight may be able to reach maximum speeds easier in rougher conditions or in water with current, compared to a lower thrust motor. This is because the motor will often have to work harder to push your vessel in rough conditions, which can affect speed.
Compared to lighter motors, a 55 pound one can often be more more expensive and heavier, which can be a disadvantage if you’re short on capacity in your kayak. A 55 pound motor may not be able to move your yak any faster than a 30 pound motor but it could give you the extra power you need if traveling on moving water.
Different Speed Settings
A lot of trolling motors will have different speed modes so that you can adjust your speed while you’re on the water. These types of motors can often be more expensive than ones with a fixed speed and generally come with all the bells and whistles.
However, having a motor that allows you to control the speed of your vessel can be useful, particularly if you want to slow your speed down on approach to your favorite fishing hole. Adjusting the speed can also help you get more usage out of your battery, as slower speeds can help battery power last longer since it’s not having to work as hard.
This can also be useful if you want to maintain a specific speed.
Choosing a battery for your motor can be an important consideration, as this is what will power your motor. The type of battery power you will need will usually depend on personal preference, as well as budget and how much space you have on your fishing kayak. Generally, it will be deep cycle battery or marine battery. A Mighty Max battery can be ideal for some motors, usually offering a long battery life.
Before you choose a battery it can be helpful to know how much space you have available in your yak and how much additional weight your vessel is able to take once you account for yourself and the rest of your gear.
Check out your kayak’s maximum weight capacity to give you an idea of what you’re working with. As for space, most fishing kayaks may have dedicated battery storage, but if your vessel doesn’t have a specific spot, then you may have to consider where you can safely store it.
So look at your available storage space, remembering to measure it, and you can then find a battery to meet those dimensions, which can be easier than finding a space to meet the dimensions of your newly purchased battery.
When it comes to choosing the voltage of your battery, it can be best to match it with the voltage of your motor. It is not recommended to use, for example, a 12v battery with a 24v motor. Similarly, it is not recommended to use a 24v battery with a 12v motor but it can be done in some cases, as long as you have a controller that can limit the current.
Video: Using A Trolling Motor (demo)
The length of the shaft is an important feature to look out for, as you want your motor to run as quietly as possible. If you buy a motor with a shaft that’s too short for your kayak the propellers could create noise from hitting the water surface!
This would also affect the motor’s performance and level of thrust. If the propeller is not fully submerged in the water, it may not be able to move as much water as if it was fully under the water because it will also likely be moving air. And this is what could limit your speed.
Ideally, you should make sure that the top part of your kayak motor is 12 inches under the water. The depth of your boat will also impact the length of shaft you’ll need, as deeper vessels will need a longer shaft since the mounting point will be further away from the water in general. Very long shafts may not be suitable for kayaks.
To choose the correct shaft length it can be useful to measure the distance from the water line to the transom mount.
- If the distance is 10 inches or less, a good shaft length might be 30 inches.
- If it’s between 16 and 20 inches, you might be better with a 42 inch shaft.
- And for anything in between, a 36 inch shaft could work.
You can also get remote controlled trolling motors, meaning you don’t need to do any manual steering in the traditional sense, as it is all controlled by the buttons on the remote rather than the solid bar handle.
These trolling motors can be expensive but they offer more convenience. They can be useful if you’re looking to spend all day out on the water and like to have your hands free. They can also give you more room within your kayak as there is no long handle. Control type may not be important to everyone.
Best Kayak Trolling Motors Reviewed
1: Minn Kota Endura C2 30 (best freshwater transom trolling motor)
Featuring eight speeds (five forward speeds and three reverse speeds) this high quality 12 volt Minn Kota trolling motor for kayak boats is designed to be transom mounted. This is ideal for using only in freshwater and it runs quietly for smooth movement across the water without disturbing fish.
With a 30 pound thrust level, the Minn Kota has the power for propelling almost any kayak and it benefits from having a 6 inch ergonomically designed handle that can tilt and twist, to give you more control over the speed and steering.
This Minn Kota trolling motor is energy efficient so you get a good life out of the battery, which is great if you’re planning on spending a few hours out on the lake. The 30 inch shaft is also tough and hard-wearing.
On our opinion, the one of the best kayak trolling motors for freshwater, with Minn Kota being one of the top names in kayak trolling motors, offering a two year warranty.
- Energy efficient
- 6-inch handle
- Great for freshwater
- Not ideal for saltwater
2: Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb (best value electric trolling motor)
Featuring 36 pounds of thrust, this trolling motor from the Newport Vessels kayak series is stainless steel and designed to be used either in saltwater or freshwater. It has a 30 inch fiberglass shaft for longterm durability, as well as a 6 inch telescoping handle.
This 12 volt trolling motor has eight speeds, including five forward and three reverse speeds, so you can be in complete control while you’re on the water. It also has a tough aluminum motor head for a smooth and quiet ride. However, as a trade off, it might not be as quiet at high speeds.
The transom mounted motor also benefits from having bright blue LED lights that let you know how much battery you have left, which is handy when you’re out on the water all day. This is an excellent trolling motor with great value and excellent customer service based in California.
- Battery light
- Telescopic handle
- Freshwater and saltwater friendly
- Excellent customer service
- Can be noisy at high speeds
3: Haswing Cayman B 55lbs 12V (best bow mount electric trolling motor)
This kayak motor is designed to be mounted to your kayak’s bow. It features 55 pounds of thrust, so is powerful enough for most kayaks and will be sufficient for a tandem kayak or small to medium sized boat.
This 12 volt motor has a larger 48 inch shaft and can be used for sea kayaking as well as freshwater. A handy feature of this powerful motor is the wireless remote or wired foot pedal that allows you to control the speed and movement without manually steering, so you can fish at the same time.
There are variable speeds and cruise control. There is also an LED battery indicator so you can stay on track of how long you can spend on the water.
This is one of the top trolling motors for kayaks with good performance on oceans and freshwater lakes.
- Great for saltwater and freshwater
- Remote control/foot pedal
- Ideal for heavier kayaks
- Cruise control option
- Can be noisy while turning
- Bow only
4: Watersnake FWDR44-48 Shadow (best with foot control motor)
This front-mounted 12 volt trolling motor with stainless steel hardware is designed for use in freshwater and features a 48 inch composite shaft. The 3 stainless steel propeller blades are tough and if you’re planning on kayak fishing in areas of underwater grass this could be a good option.
The quiet motor has 44 pounds of thrust, so it’s ideal for powering you and your fishing gear across the water and it will even work on small boats. With this powerful motor, you control it with your feet, allowing you to keep your hands free for catching fish.
- Hands free controls
- Good for grassy/weedy ponds
- Designed for freshwater
- Not great in saltwater
5: Outsunny 12V Transom Mounted 50lb Trolling Motor (best saltwater freshwater combo)
The 12 volt Outsunny transom mounted motor can be used for both freshwater and saltwater trolling, so it can be an excellent choice if you’re looking for a versatile motor. It has a 36 inch composite shaft as well as a durable metal motor head.
It’s a powerful trolling motors for kayaks with 50 pounds of thrust that benefits from having an easy to install lever lock bracket. The 6 inch telescoping handle is adjustable and lets you control the speed.
There are 8 speeds, with 8 forward and reverse speeds combined, so you can control your kayak in different weather conditions and it has more than enough power for a two person kayak.
- Good for tandems
- Telescopic handle
- 8 speeds
- Fresh and saltwater friendly
- Transom mount only
Kayak Trolling Motors: FAQs
Is It Easy To Add A Trolling Motor Onto A Kayak? How’s It Done?
It should be easy to mount a trolling motor on a kayak but you will usually need a mount to attach it to, which you can either buy or make, unless your yak already has a motor mount.
Video: How To Install A Trolling Motor On a Kayak
How Long Do The Batteries Last For?
This will usually depend on how much power you use to move across the water. The more power required, the less run time. It will also likely depend on the amp hours of the battery and the amp draw. To calculate this, divide the amps drawn by the amp hours.
For example, a 100 amp hour battery should last for approximately 5 hours with 20 amps drawn.
The same battery with 50 amps drawn will last only 2 hours. However, these calculations are not always reflective of real world use, so the length of time your battery will last will usually differ depending on your use and conditions.
Do I Need To Register My Boat If I Use A Trolling Motor?
In most states, yes. Once you add a trolling motor or any type of motor to your kayak or canoe, you will likely have to register it with the DMV in your state.
After reading this buying guide, hopefully you have a better idea of what you will be looking for in a new motor. Choosing the a trolling motor will be an important decision, and obviously one that will depend on what type of kayak you have.
You will also know now that you will need to factor in where you’re intending to use your trolling motor. If you’re unsure or if you want to be able to fish in the sea and freshwater, a motor that is designed for both may be a convenient way to go.
Just remember that you may need to consider licensing or registration for your kayak after you’ve installed a trolling motor. And be sure to choose one that’s going to have enough thrust for the load in your kayak.
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