If you are into kayak fishing and have all the right gear from a slip-resistant fishing kayak, the best reel and rod, a premium dry bag for kayaking to the ideal personal floatation device, there is nothing that should stop you from getting into that water and fishing all day long.
However, there is one problem. While a kayak paddle should be enjoyable to glide across the water, by the time you are getting to your ideal fishing spot, it’s already midday and it isn’t much you can do except catching what you can.
Top 5 Best Trolling Motors for Kayak (Summary)
For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.
This is because you are all tired from paddling for all those hours. If you are an angler who needs to cover a lot of distance, then a trolling motor would be ideal for you. They are small, powerful and quiet and have already grown in popularity in the kayaking world.
Finding the right trolling motor in a market saturated with so many brands, however, is not going to be easy, hence the need for this guide.
11 Best Trolling Motors for Kayaks With Reviews
Minn Kota Endura Trolling Motor is designed to deliver fast response and easy control as you navigate the water. It can easily switch to back trolling mode and be steered, stowed and deployed at the push of a button.
A composite shaft is made of a material stronger than steel. It flexes on impact and does not break or corrode easily. It has a telescoping tiller that can extend up to 6 inches and allows for easy steering.
It features five forward and three reverse speed settings, which are easily adjustable and can help to conserve your battery. It can be easily rotated and steered with less effort and greater control.
There are also components that help to remove heat and cool the motor for extended battery and motor life. Short flared blades can cut through weeds and other things.
- Strong frame that can withstand high impact
- Has adjustable speed settings
- Easy to steer and control
- Might produce a loud noise while working
Newport Vessels NV-Series is a highly functional product that was built with the highest quality materials and a modern and unique design concept. The electric transom mount motor is powered by a 12-volt deep cycle battery.
It has a 30-inch composite fiberglass shaft that has high strength and can be easily adjusted to allow for ideal depth placement in all water conditions. The other components are made of stainless steel, zinc and magnesium that make the motor suitable for freshwater or sea.
The efficient motor allows you to fish all day without getting overheated. It has a bright 5 point battery indicator that immediately provides battery level.
It has five forward speeds and three reverse speed modes with a 6-inch ergonomic telescoping handle that can be extended. These settings are easy to control for a smooth and effortless ride.
- Frame is made of fiberglass
- Noiseless while operating
- Telescoping handle that can be extended
- Might be susceptible to water damage
Goplus Electric Kayak Trolling Motor is a device that is created to give users the most effortless ride possible. It is equipped to offer the best trolling performance, thereby helping you to enjoy your trip on the water.
A reinforced nylon bucket ensures superior strength, corrosion resistance and excellent stability. Fiberglass composite shaft ensures high tensile strength and the aluminum head helps to increase the working life of the motor.
The 6-inch telescoping handle can be adjusted to make trolling easier and comfortable. It has three reverse speeds and five forward speeds that allow you to easily control the pace of your trolling.
It features a 10 point LED lights battery indicator that allows you to easily determine the amount of charge left and conserve your battery. A unique three-blade propeller design ensures smooth movement.
- Heavily reinforced frame
- Handle and speed can be easily adjusted
- Unique propeller design that can move through weeds and marsh
- Battery drains quickly
MinnKota Edge Bowmount is a product that takes the stress out of moving your boat or kayak through the water. Whether saltwater or freshwater, this motor is equipped with features that will help you have an enjoyable time on the water.
The components are enclosed in a composite shaft that is made from premium, high strength materials. It is resistant to corrosion and can withstand a fair amount of heavy impact.
It features a latch and door mount for easy installation and removal. A heel-toe and cable steer foot pedal leaves your hand free to carry out other activities such as fishing.
It has five forward speeds that can be easily controlled with the push of a button. A heavy-duty propeller can move through all kinds of water.
- High strength and corrosion resistant frame
- Foot pedal
- Features a latch and door mount for easy removal
- Propeller might get stuck when moving through weeds
Newport Vessels Kayak Series is developed to deliver optimal performance for all boats, canoes and kayaks. The 36-pound thrust motor operates on a heavy-duty, 12-volt deep cycle or marine battery.
It is constructed with materials that will not be easily damaged by saltwater and feature a fiberglass composite shaft, stainless steel and zinc anode elements.
The shaft is 24 inches long and can be adjusted to allow for proper depth placement on any kayak. It has an extended battery cabling, almost 6 feet in length, that allows for flexible battery placement.
A two-blade propeller reduces drag and improves balance and thrust for maximum efficiency. The adjustable, five forward speeds and three reverse speeds allow for easy control of the motor.
- Constructed with high strength materials
- Suitable for use on all types of boats and kayaks
- Has a heavy-duty propeller
- Consumes a large amount of battery charge within a short period of time
WaterSnake ASP Trolling Motor is a compact product that is packed with features necessary for optimal performance. It is optimized to be compatible with various types of boats.
Weighing just 6.7 pounds, the motor has 24 pounds of thrust and is powered by a 12-volt battery. It has a 24-inch shaft that can be adjusted to fit the specifications of your boat.
The product is finished with anti-corrosive paint and has stainless steel parts that are resistant to damage. The motor can be used in fresh, salt or brackish water without sustaining damage.
High and low speed can be selected with a forward and reverse switch. The motor is easy to steer and can be easily installed and removed.
- Has anti-corrosive parts
- Shaft can be adjusted to fit any boat
- Easy to steer
- Propeller might become defective after some time
U-BCOO Trolling Motor is created for multipurpose tasks. The universal electric motor is a fit for boat fishing, water entertainment and many more.
While built for smooth and effortless fish hunting, it has an easy installation and can be used based on individual preference. This fishing installment is lightweight and of high-quality performance.
Also, it can be adjusted to different angles and lengths. It has a modern design and is made of high-quality materials. All components are functional and in excellent positions.
Considerably, this fishing tool resists corrosion perfectly, even in saltwater. If you want a reliable trolling motor, this item is definitely for you.
- Suitable for all types of boats
- Lightweight and easy to mount
- Adjustable shaft angle and length
- Speed might not be easy to adjust
AQUOS Trolling Motor is a perfect choice for hunting fish and is quieter than every other similar product.
Enticingly built with high-quality features, the motor is universal and suits usage in freshwater and saltwater. The speed is controllable with a wireless remote.
Included in this handy device are control icons for making adjustments and regulating the pace. Also, it positions well and can be attached around the neck or belt with the support of a lanyard.
This device is portable and lightweight. This shaft bow trolling motor aids easy transportation, meaning that you can quickly move it from your car to the boat.
- Ergonomic handle that aids seamless lifting
- Remote control is handy and capable of regulating the cruise
- Allows the transitioning of depths easily
- Not easy to steer in water that contains weeds
With the Haswing Cayman Trolling Motor, you can avoid signaling the fish. It has features that are installed to perform at high-quality. Whether it is just fishing or leisure activities, this device will provide optimal performance.
It is firm upon mounting and can work on fresh and saltwater. Equipped with a power bank, it can be used for charging the battery when drained and it uses a USB cable.
With this device, you can control the movement and speed with a handy remote control. Attached to the remote control is an icon used to manage the cruise.
The cruise control is a vibe on its own, as it regulates and assigns the desired speed when moving.
- Motion is controlled at the desired speed
- Stable in terms of battery-life and mounting
- Aids a smooth and quiet movement
- There might be a need to steer manually
Leadallway Electric Trolling Motor is an animal-like machine that helps anglers to scout for fish in a quiet manner, although it yields minimal noise.
The device was created with the purpose of giving amateur and professional anglers the chance to enjoy a reliable and effortless tool that can be used for fishing and other water activities.
This product is made with heavy-duty materials that ensure its durability and strength. It operates and moves through the water without making a lot of noise. The external parts are resistant to corrosion.
Attached to the engines is a three-blade machete propeller that produces five forward speeds and two reverse speeds. For added strength, the motor consists of an aluminum mount bracket and head.
- Works with minimal noise
- Resists corrosion
- Suitable for a long period of fishing without overheating
- Battery doesn’t hold up to 3 hours on a full charge
Minn Kota Riptide is a device that was carefully crafted to provide the best steering and to propel quality for water enthusiasts.
The trolling device automatically loads and assigns a rapid response with the push of a button. It enables you to set desired speeds without having to reach the motor itself.
The unit adjusts fishing conditions right from the remote control. Included as part of its features is a Digital Maximizer, which sets precise speeds, draws necessary power and provides longer run time on a full charge.
It has an in-built GPS that can be used to lock on fishing spots, identify and backtrack paths, command speed and steering.
- Operation can be controlled with a remote piece
- Provides a long run time on a single charge
- Components are resistant to corrosion
What Is a Trolling Motor for Kayaks
A trolling motor is normally attached to the stern or bow of your kayak or canoe, although it is mostly installed on the stern. Essentially it is a piece of apparatus that features a propeller, motor, and control all in a self-contained unit.
Trolling motors can be electric or battery-powered and there are also gasoline-powered ones. They normally get their name from the type of fishing they are involved in known as trolling, where the fish line moves through the water slowly to attract fish to the bait, although you could just mount a fish finder on a kayak with ease.
The main aim of a trolling motor is to make it easy for you to move through the water without paddling manually. Trolling motors can either be controlled by hand or foot, although it is more common for recreational kayaks to make use of hand-powered motors with a handle located at the back.
Benefits of Using a Trolling Motor for Kayaks
Just like an electric fillet knife helps you clean fish much faster when kayaking, there are few benefits of owning a trolling motor that you shouldn’t overlook.
Plenty of Power
One of the main benefits of using trolling motors when kayaking is that they have more than enough power to hold a heavy boat against substantial current or wind. Trolling motors are usually made for use in salty waters since they can stand the abuse of this harsh environment.
Hold the Kayak on a Specific Heading
The True North feature makes it easy to hold your boat regardless of the size on a specific heading. This feature will come in handy when you are striper fishing in a river and want to drift parallel to the bank, flat or channel without being blown perpendicular to it.
Control the Drift
Another benefit of a trolling motor is that you can control the drift of your boat to your desired speed, especially during periods of high winds and peak current.
The fact that trolling motors are quiet makes it possible to maneuver the boat without spooking the fish, making for a successful fishing trip.
How Do Trolling Motors for Kayaks Work
A trolling motor, as mentioned earlier, is a stimulating motor that has a propeller and controls. Trolling motors are ideal for both saltwater and freshwater fishing.
They can be mounted on either the bow, motor or transom. Trolling motors work on the rule of electromagnetic acceptance and work slower than the traditional fuel motors.
With an increasing demand for shaft size assortments, manufacturers are making powerful trolling motors that can be used on big and small boats alike.
Some trolling motors have handles to make controlling the boat easy either by hand or foot. Some are connected to the motor itself while others are connected to a remote, both of which allow you to direct the motor with your foot.
By applying weight to one part of the motor, by the power exerted by your foot, the motor will swing to one side. When the motor is in control, a propeller located at the base of the glide twists and this is the way motors drive boats.
In the case where a trolling motor has a grip and foot control, you can choose how much capacity you want to transfer to the propeller. A stronger motor tends to react quickly, making the propeller turn faster and the boat to move quickly in the water.
Different aspects affect the size and momentum of a motor and they include the length and amount of edges on the propeller, bodyweight of the kayak, climate conditions, as well as the water circumstances such as bearing. However, regardless of the conditions, the more a propeller pushes, the faster that boat will move.
Pros and Cons of Trolling Motor for Kayaks
Just like every other kayak accessory has advantages and disadvantages, here are a few of trolling motors that you should be aware of.
- Since trolling motors are quiet, environmentally friendly and easy to use, they create very little disturbance to other anglers and people who live on the banks of waterways and not to mention they don’t spook the fish.
- They are light in weight and easy to install and remove. Transom motors are usually available for small boats and kayaks and if you want absolute maneuverability or happen to have a bigger boat, you can get a bow mount motor.
- They are available in a variety of thrust levels, shaft lengths, and battery power to cater to the different boats and weather conditions you may encounter.
- They are ideal for stealth fishing since they can quietly get you into those fishing spots that are hard to reach without scaring the fish. Whether shallow, deep or weedy waters, trolling motors will get you where you want to go.
- The good thing about trolling motors is that you can either choose to hand steer or foot steer when you are controlling your boat.
- Features like co-pilot autopilot, GPS iPilot, and self-directional steer allow you to concentrate on your fishing and not the steering.
- The biggest disadvantage with trolling motors is that unless you can charge your batteries in the boat, removing them to recharge is usually an inconvenience.
- If you want a trolling motor that has enough power so that you can tow your kids at speed behind the boat on a ski or tube, then you can forget about it because it’s not possible.
- If you are looking for higher thrust motors, then it means that you will have to carry two or three heavy batteries. Ensure that you have enough space for them in your kayak.
- Good batteries for trolling motors are expensive to acquire, but if well maintained, they should last for about four to five years.
How to Choose the Best Trolling Motor for Kayaks
Kayaking is a great recreational activity and trolling motors come in a variety of sizes and styles to suit any kayak or boat type.
They also have a variety of features that are tailored towards particular uses. Here are a few factors that you should keep in mind when you are buying a trolling motor.
Bearing in mind that trolling motors are usually designed for boats that weigh over 1,500 pounds, you never have to worry about being underpowered if you have a kayak.
The rule of thumb is to maintain a 2 pounds per 100 pounds of loaded weight. Trolling motors are usually meant to move something that is the size of a bass boat and the power that they generate tends to reflect that.
Compared to outboards, the thrust of trolling motors is measured in pounds and not horsepower and if you have a kayak, even the puniest of electric motors will provide enough thrust to move your boat. Unlike the hull of speeds boats, a kayak is designed to plane on the water as the speed increases.
As a result, it will top out quickly regardless of the motor you have. While your top speed will depend on a few factors, it is much faster than pedaling.
Trolling motors take power systems of either 12v, 12/24v, 24v or 36v. The more powerful a trolling motor is, the more electricity it requires to run it.
For instance, a 24v system needs two 12v batteries to run while a 36v one will require three batteries. However, considering the thrust to weight ratio on any kayak, you can do with a simple 12v system that requires one best trolling motor battery.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you will need a motor that sips electricity to keep your battery charged for long.
Mounting System and Location
Trolling motors are primarily designed to bow mount on bass boats and a lot of designs make use of a sliding hinge to allow them to quickly be raised and lowered into the water.
For a kayak, this will not work at all. Instead, you will be forced to find a transom mounting system that can fit the scuppers behind the cockpit. Such systems are adjustable to fit any kayak and they offer a solid bar where you can mount the new motor. It’s, however, best if you don’t mess with the bow mount on a kayak.
This kind of configuration allows you in a bass boat to operate the trolling motor from the captain’s chair or when standing on the deck, although it doesn’t add any kind of functionality for you.
A kayak for beginners is easy to set up, but for experienced anglers, this will take some skill. To determine the amount of thrust and how much battery power is needed, you need to analyze your kayak size.
Trolling motors usually come in three ratings – 12, 24 and 36v to match different requirements. For kayaks that are less than 16feet long, a 12v power source will be more than enough. For 19 feet kayaks, then you need a minimum of 36v power source.
The loading capacity of the kayak determines how much thrust you need. If the capacity of the boat is over 1500 pounds, you will need a minimum of 30 pounds of thrust to move the boat.
Larger boats, on the other hand, require a minimum of 80 pounds thrust. If, for any reason, you will be taking your family along on the trip, a trolling motor that has a minimum 80 pounds thrust will work perfectly for you.
While the trolling motor handbook contains details of thrust, you need to know beforehand the kayak size, weight and loading capacity.
A majority of trolling motors will have different speed settings such that you can easily adjust the speed when you are on the water.
Such motors are more expensive than the ones that have fixed speed settings. However, operating a motor that makes it possible for you to control your speed will come in handy should you require to speed down as you approach your favorite fishing spot.
Adjusting the speeds also helps you get more usage out of the battery since slower speeds help the battery last longer. The speed setting will also come in handy when you want to maintain a certain speed when you are on the water.
Ease of Use
Just like you would adjust seat rests in your tandem kayak, when it comes to trolling motors, you want something that is easy to use. The last thing you want is a trolling motor that takes time to start or has complicated settings like those of speed.
This can be tricky for kayakers. The shaft between the propeller and the engine on trolling motors is long so that it can easily stretch from the gunnel of the boat to the water so that the propeller is always submerged.
For kayaks, the long shafts are a problem. For one, the propeller needs to be underwater at least 12 inches so that it doesn’t suck air from the surface that makes the motor make a lot of noise.
Unfortunately, most guides that you will come across don’t have a kayaker in mind. Additionally, careful measurement is very important. For a kayaker, once you have attached your mount, you will need to measure from the horizontal bar to the water surface, add 12 inches and then three to four inches in case you encounter rough waters.
What you get is the shaft length that you will need. For really poor conditions, you are better off adding five to six inches.
There are a variety of control systems of trolling motors on the market and given their use, a majority will offer some form of foot pedal operation.
As useful as this kind of system is on a bass boat, it’s completely useless where a kayak is concerned. Foot pedals are designed to provide enough thrust to push a massive boat and since they are mainly electric motors, the push will be nearly instant.
Kayaks are light in weight and this will be a lot of energy for you to operate and still stay on your feet. Additionally, they are designed for bow-mounted motors and as such, the cables are not designed to reach from the transom mount to the footpegs in a kayak.
If you want to stay in your kayak, you need to stay seated when you are operating the motor. While expensive remote control options exist, a tiller handle is the most popular and simplest set up you can use.
Weight is always an issue when it comes to operating a kayak and that is something that you will have to keep in mind when you are searching for a trolling motor.
With a battery, mount and a trolling motor, the kayak’s maximum capacity becomes even more important. You also need to ensure that the stern still rides above the water and for this reason, a light trolling motor makes more sense.
What type of water will you be fishing in? Is it saltwater or freshwater? Saltwater normally leads to a rigorous environment to fish in and the accessories tend to corrode when they haven’t been lubricated or aren’t made from anti-rust material.
When you are buying a trolling motor, you need to be sure of the waters you will be fishing in. Getting a trolling motor designed for saltwater use increases its efficiency, giving you the best outfit and ensures that it lasts longer.
Some trolling motors have way more propeller blades than others, which makes them sturdier and easier to navigate better through grass and seaweed.
Some motors also have way better thrust than others, which means that you will maneuver faster through the water with more power.
A majority of states require that any boat that is equipped with an engine should be registered when a trolling motor has been fitted.
Make sure that you check with your local wildlife as well as the fishery agency to ensure that you are complying with the laws.
How to Use a Trolling Motor on a Kayak
Step 1 – Attach the motor with the propeller
The first thing you need to do is to attach a suitable propeller with the motor. The type of propeller and motor that you use is a matter of preference. However, you need to consider the weight capacity of your kayak when doing so.
Step 2 – Mount the motor
At the back of the kayak, drill four holes to fit a stand. The stand is then connected to the motor with the kayak. You can purchase this kind of stand and if one is not available, you can have it made according to the specifications of your kayak.
At the end of the day, however, avoid a stand that is too heavy such that it will end up adding to the weight of the kayak.
Step 3 – Build a steering linkage
When you have connected the propeller to the motor, you need something that will steer the system. For this, you will need to make two quarter-inch holes at the back of your kayak.
Each hole should be an inch and half away from the back depression. Put a plastic tube in the holes. The size of the tube depends on the kayak size. If the material is thick, then you will require a larger sizer and it is thin a quarter-inch plastic tube will work just fine.
Step 4 – Plug the wires
You can then remove the motor head to expose the wires that are coming from there. Cut the yellow and red wires and tape them to avoid short circuits.
Drill a hole at the back of the kayak two or three inches from the rear storage compartment lid and make the hole big enough to fit a “Minn Kota Plug”. After that, add a receptacle to make it waterproof, plug the black and white wires and insulate them with a pipe.
Step 5 – Connect the steering linkage
After that, remove the rudder system, but make sure not to dismount the rail that is attached to the boat. Get yourself a set of new paddles and drill holes on each, one at the top and another one at the front side. Pass the wire through the front hole and then attach a detain pin in the other hole and attach the pin with the wires.
Step 6 – Attach the circuit with a Reverse Polarity Switch
This is a tricky part mainly because attaching a circuit directly to the battery will make the kayak move in a single direction. To move the kayak forward and backward, you need a reverse polarity switch.
Put the battery on a plastic tray and then mount the tray on a piece of wood and lay down foam underneath the wood. This will prevent the battery from sliding.
Top Brands of Trolling Motors
When it comes to trolling motors, getting one can prove difficult because there are so many manufacturers, each claiming that their product is the best.
To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the best brands of trolling motors that you can choose from.
When it comes to freshwater trolling motors, Minn Kota has already made a name for themselves. The company believes in technically creative and innovative designs and that is why it is well known for building some of the world’s best trolling motors that have the power to outsmart the rest on the market.
The brand also makes other fishing gears for both saltwater and freshwater fishing, as well as other water sports.
Newport Vessels is usually a direct company that is involved in the sale of fishing gear as well as accessories directly to end customers.
For this reason, their products are usually cheaper than their competitors. Innovation and quality are at the core of this company and the high-speed motors are made to stand both saltwater and freshwater fishing.
Newport Vessels is also known to develop technically advanced engines that have an LED display and an indestructible motorhead.
Just like the deadliest water snake, the company is known for making trolling motors that can withstand every aspect. The company manufactures trolling motors for canoes, kayaks, and inflatable boats. The motors are light in weight, elegantly designed and powerful.
The company is known for its wide range of saltwater and freshwater trolling motors that are designed for various vessels from kayaks to large bass boats.
Motorguide is usually part of the Attwood Marine company that falls under the Mercury company umbrella, one of the largest distributors of marine parts as well as accessories all over the world.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When it comes to trolling motors, more spending does mean more quality. Kayaks are usually light in weight and you need to get a motor that can work for your particular boat.
At the end of the day, your safety when you are on the water is all that matters and the last thing you want is a trolling motor that will put your life at risk when you are on the water.
You also need a motor that doesn’t add to the weight of the kayak, making maneuvering harder. As such, always go with the highest quality of trolling motors on the market even if it means spending more.
A good quality trolling motor is also designed to withstand both saltwater and freshwater fishing, which adds to its efficiency and ensures that it is durable.
Do’s and Don’ts With Trolling Motors for Kayaks
- Do consider stainless steel or composite shaft since this one will ensure shock and stand up to abuse way better than other metals.
- Do make sure that the propeller is weedless and that there are replacement blades available for the model you have.
- Do ensure that the mount is strong and heavy-duty. In such a case, the fewer plastic parts there are, the better.
- Do ensure that the cable is long enough if you intend to use the foot control pedal anywhere in the boat.
- Don’t get a trolling motor that is too heavy because this will only increase the weight of your kayak.
FAQ About Trolling Motors for Kayaks
Why do I need a trolling motor?
Trolling motors help you cover long distances that you wouldn’t if you were paddling. Additionally, a trolling motor will come in handy in helping you stay in one spot when you are fighting against the current as well as the wind without deploying any physical anchors.
Are there any prerequisites before I buy a trolling motor?
There are three main prerequisites that you need to consider before you buy a trolling motor; enough thrust power to do the job, batteries and voltage and bow vs. transom mounting location and hand or foot control.
Where to put a trolling motor on a kayak?
The trolling motor goes on either the bow, motor or transom and makes steering easier.
How fast will a kayak go with a trolling motor?
Regardless of the pounds of thrust, the maximum speed of a trolling motor is 5mph and that’s how fast your kayak will go.
How fast will a 55 lb thrust trolling motor go?
Assuming that all riding conditions are perfect, a 55-pound thrust trolling motor will attain a speed of 5 miles per hour only, which means that the battery will last for about 2 hours before the charge is depleted.
How many pounds of thrust do I need for a trolling motor?
The boat weight is the most important thing that you need to consider when you are choosing a trolling motor. The rule of thumb, however, is to have a minimum of 2 lbs of thrust for every 100 lbs.
How large of a trolling motor do I need?
The rule of thumb is that larger trolling motors need more battery capacity and if you are going fishing from dawn to dusk with a 16-inch-long boat, then you need 24v of thrust. Serious anglers who spend a lot of hours on the water could do with a 36v motor.
Choosing the right trolling motor is an important decision that you need to make that is largely dependent on the type of kayak you have. You also need to consider where you intend to use the trolling motor. If you are not sure or want to fish in both sea and saltwater, you could use a versatile motor that is designed for both types of waters.
At the end of the day, however, one thing you need to keep in mind is that you may need to consider registration or to license for the kayak once you install the trolling motor. Additionally, ensure that you go with a motor that has enough thrust to be able to load in the kayak.
Photos from: Kostia777 / depositphotos.com and VladimirNenezic / depositphotos.com.