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.
The best all-round choice for most users is the Minn Kota Endure C2.
Trolling Motors At A Glance (Top 5):
Minn Kota Endura C2
- Easy to maintain
- Very durable
- Very comfortable
- Plenty of storage
- Great visibility
- Extra storage
Haswing Cayman B
- Easy access pockets
- Good ventilation
(the full list is below)
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
Size Of Motor (Power)
The size of your 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 (don't worry, we go into more detail on this in a moment), 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.
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.
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 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.
How To Use A Trolling Motor On A Fishing Kayak
How to operate your trolling motor will depend on the type you choose. Some will have foot pedals that can allow you to steer your boat as well as control the speed. Some motors may be controlled using a hand powered rudder system.
Video: Using A Trolling Motor (demo)
Trolling motors can come in handy when kayak fishing because it generally allows you to fish more easily, with your motor helping to keep you in position as you cast or reel in, instead of an anchor system.
For energy efficiency you can reduce your speed when covering water, which can help you to maximize your battery’s output, meaning you can stay out on the water for longer. But depending on the conditions, you may require maximum speed to power you through strong currents.
What Are The Popular Motor Brands?
Minn Kota is known around the world for its trolling motors.
The first gear-driven electric trolling motor was invented by O.G Schmidt in 1934 and when the idea proved popular Schmidt named his company Minn Kota after his home near the Minnesota and North Dakota border.
Newport Vessels is a relatively new company, founded in 2008 and based in California.
They're known for their range of trolling motors, as well as inflatable boats and SUPs. Newport Vessels offers a selection of products designed specifically for kayaks.
Watersnake was born in Australia in 2004 out of an idea to create trolling motors that were better designed for anglers.
Their first trolling motors were sold in 2006 and the company now designs and makes a wide range of trolling motors for different types of boats, with kayak-specific options.
Motorguide is known for its range of freshwater and saltwater trolling motors, designed for a wide variety of vessels, from kayaks to larger bass boats and more.
Motorguide is part of the Attwood Marine company which falls under the Mercury company, which is the largest distributor of marine parts and accessories in the world.
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.
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 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...