Best Trolling Motor For Kayaks Reviewed – 2020 Buyer’s Guide
Trolling motors. No, not 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 beautiful fish.
If you’re looking for a little extra paddling help we can help point you in the right direction 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.
Head's up - the best all-round choice for most users is the Minn Kota Endure C2.
Kayak Trolling Motors: Comparison Table
Minn Kota Endura C2
- Easy to maintain
- Very durable
- Great visibility
- Extra storage
Haswing Cayman B
- Easy access pockets
- Good ventilation
- Budget motor
- Good battery life
(the full list is below)
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. 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 yak 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.
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- How To Mount Trolling Motor On A Kayak
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- How To Mount A Transducer To A Trolling Motor
- How To Charge A Trolling Motor Battery
- Best Battery Charge Unit For Trolling Motors
- Trolling Motor Wire Size Explained
- Trolling Motor Battery Life: How Long Does It Last?
- How To Wire A Trolling Motor
Is Your Kayak "Trolling Motor Compatible"?
Before you go out and buy your 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. 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
Main Kayak Trolling Motor Features
Trolling motors come in a variety of styles and sizes to suit the type of boat or kayak you have. They also have different features tailored to particular uses.
Saltwater Or Freshwater Motor?
First of all, there are motors 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.
The main difference between a saltwater and a freshwater motor is that on a saltwater motor there is an anode at the bottom that is better covered than on a freshwater motor. This prevents corrosion of the parts when 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 a bass boat, 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 yak 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 a fishing kayak 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 is thought that for every 100 pounds of boat you should need 2 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 a 30 pound motor, 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 settings 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.
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 it 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 decision, as this is what will power your motor. The type of battery you will need will usually depend on personal preference, as well as budget and how much space you have on your yak. Generally, it will be deep cycle battery or marine battery.
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, some angling 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.
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.
Remote controlled 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.
Best Kayak Trolling Motors Reviewed
1: Minn Kota Endura C2 30 (best freshwater transom trolling motor)
Featuring 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds, this high quality 12 volt trolling motor for kayak boats is designed to be transom mounted. This is ideal for using only in freshwater and it runs quietly so you can smoothly cross the water without disturbing fish.
With a 30 pound thrust level it 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 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 composite shaft is also tough and hard-wearing.
On our opinion, the one of the best kayak trolling motors.
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 durable 30 inch composite fiberglass shaft as well as a 6 inch telescoping handle.
This 12 volt trolling motor has 8 speeds, including 5 forward 3 reverse, 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.
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.
3: Haswing Cayman B 55lbs 12V (best bow mount electric trolling motor)
This kayak motor is designed to be bow mounted on your kayak. It features 55 pounds of thrust, so is powerful enough for most kayaks and will be sufficient even for a two person 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 with this one is that it has a wireless remote control or wired foot pedal that allows you to control the speed and movement without manually steering.
With this electric kayak motor, there are variable speed settings and cruise control - giving you more 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.
4: Watersnake FWDR44-48 Shadow Bow Mount (best with foot control motor)
This bow mounted 12 volt trolling motor 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 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 motor, you control it with your feet, allowing you to keep your hands free for catching fish.
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 a good choice if you’re looking for versatility. 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 any types of waters and it has more than enough power for a two person kayak.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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, hopefully you have a better idea of what you will be looking for in a kayak 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.