Best Trolling Motor For Kayaks
Once you’ve got your kayak you may be surprised by all the extra accessories, including motors, that are available as add-ons.
If you’re looking for a little extra paddling help we can help point you in the right direction for some of 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, for example, freshwater or saltwater.
Trolling Motors At A Glance:
(clicking the links below will take you to Amazon. Scroll down for more on each motor)
We can also help you discover what they are and whether you’ll actually need one (or not.)
What Is A Trolling Motor?
A trolling motor attaches to either the bow or stern of your canoe or kayak but it is more frequently installed on the stern (or transom.) It is essentially a piece of apparatus that features the motor, propeller and the controls in a self contained unit.
Trolling motors are frequently electric and powered by batteries but you will also occasionally see gasoline powered ones. They take their name from the type of fishing, known as trolling, where the fishing line moves slowly through the water to attract fish to the bait.
The purpose of a trolling motor is to allow you to move through the water without needing to manually paddle. They can be controlled by foot or by hand, but it’s more common for recreational kayaks to have hand powered motors with the handle at the back.
Why Do I Need A Trolling Motor?
Trolling motors are frequently used by fishermen. By having a trolling motor installed on your kayak you can move through the water without your paddle disturbing the fish. You can just sit and relax without the effort of paddling.
Trolling motors don’t create a loud sound like a large propeller engine would. Unless, of course, the motor is not deep enough under the water. They are quiet, allowing you to move gradually through the water, dragging your baited fishing line along smoothly behind you.
The best thing about a trolling motor is that 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 fishing, a trolling motor is a great addition to your kayak.
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.
Some fishermen may prefer the bow mounted trolling motors with foot pedals, as it allows them to completely free up their hands, giving them more room to fish. However, bow mounted motors often tend to be more expensive than transom mounted ones.
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.
Are There Any Prerequisites Before I Buy?
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. Usually this is around 2 pounds of thrust for every 100 pounds of weight.
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.
In order to install a trolling motor on your kayak you need to make sure you have the equipment to do so. You will require to install a mount on your kayak, usually with steel bolts, so that you can then attach the trolling motor to the mount.
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.
The length of the shaft of the trolling motor you choose will depend on your kayak. You should always aim to have the top of the motor section at least 12 inches under the water.
Trolling Motor Features To Look Out For
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
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. 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
A lot of trolling motors will come with different speed settings, including a reverse setting, giving you more control. Another feature that is handy to have is an adjustable handle, so you can set it at a comfortable angle for maneuverability.
The length of the shaft is also 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. You should also look out for the handy LED light feature that indicates battery level. It’s good for giving you an idea of how much longer you can stay out before you need to head back to shore to recharge.
Best Kayak Trolling Motors
1: Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor
Featuring 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds, this 12 volt trolling motor 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.
2: Saturn 55 Lbs Short-Shaft Electric Trolling Motor
This trolling motor is designed to be used in saltwater, so is ideal for using for sea kayaking as well as freshwater kayaking. Just make sure that you rinse down the motor with freshwater after you’ve used it in saltwater.
It is an easy to use motor that can be attached to a range of kayaks and small boats. It also features 55 pounds of thrust, so it’s pretty powerful and it benefits from 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds, giving you more control in the water.
The handle on this Saturn motor also fully adjustable and can be tilted in different positions and up or down 45 degrees, meaning it is much more comfortable as well as a lot easier to transport and store.
This trolling motor features a durable 26 inch composite shaft, with a handle that can extend up to 13.8 inches, and it also operates quietly. It even benefits from having a battery level indicator that alerts you to the battery life.
3: Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb
Featuring 36 pounds of thrust, this Newport trolling motor 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 and 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.
4: Goplus 86lbs Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor
This trolling motor is a little larger than most, with a 36 inch shaft and is designed to be used in freshwater only. It will fit on most kayaks as well as some medium sized boats.
It has a powerful 86 pounds of thrust, which is more than ample for a kayak. There is also the benefit of a 3 blade propeller, so you could have that extra power to help you get you through more types of water, such as marshes or underwater grass.
The Goplus trolling motor features a 6 inch telescoping handle that can be easily adjusted to suit your comfort and it also has 10 LED lights to let you know the status of your battery life.
5: Haswing Cayman B 55lbs 12V Bow Mount Electric Trolling Motor
This trolling 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 trolling motor, there are 10 different speed settings, giving you more control. There is also an LED battery life indicator so you can stay on track of how long you can spend on the water.
6: Watersnake FWDR44-48 Shadow Bow Mount 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.
7: Outsunny 12V Transom Mounted 50lb Trolling Motor
The 12 volt Outsunny transom mounted trolling motor can be used in both freshwater and saltwater, 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 motor 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 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds, so you can control your kayak in any types of waters and it has more than enough power for a two person kayak.
After reading this, hopefully you have a better idea of what you will be looking for in a trolling motor. Choosing the ideal trolling motor for your kayak 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.
Do you have a trolling motor, or are thinking about getting one? What have you got, and why? Let us know about it below...