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Best Trolling Motor for Kayak – 2018 Buyer’s Guide

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best trolling motor for kayak

Tired of manually padding your kayak? Install a trolling motor, sit back and let it do the work for you!

Do keep in mind though that some states require you to license any motorized boats, including kayaks. So make sure you comply with your state regulations.

A trolling motor includes a motor, propeller, and controls attached either at the bow or stern of your boat or kayak. In most kayaks, the trolling motor is installed on the transom. Don’t forget that you will need a battery for your trolling motor.

Whether you are an experienced fisherman or a beginner, with the right trolling motor, you get to have total control over your kayak at all times and also move from one spot to another with no effort.

The importance having the right trolling motor for what you need is imperative. We have looked at the top 5 trolling motors with the best features for your convenience so you can review each of them and choose the one that is best for you.

Why should you get a trolling motor?

  • A trolling motor enables you to fish in many areas you would not be able to reach in a kayak without a motor and also allows you to slowly troll along your favorite fishing spots
  • You can increase your time on the water with a trolling motor since it will take a shorter amount of time to get to your fishing spot and back to the shore with your catch
  • Less tiring compared to paddling
  • A foot-controlled motor will completely free your hands
  • ​​Trolling motors do not produce loud sounds like normal boat motors allowing you to move silently in water without spooking fish
  • You can choose the speed whether you want to quickly get to your favorite fishing spot or troll very slowly around the shore.
Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb. Thrust Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor with 30

How to mount a trolling motor

We have two different methods; mounting on the transom or on the bow.

1. Mounting a trolling motor on the transom

First, open the bracket locks used for mounting by turning them counter-clockwise. Transom-mounted trolling motor mounting brackets have either 1 or 2 clamps to hold the motor in place.

Second, slide the motor over the transom with the transom’s top on the same level as the top of the bracket. This can be achieved by placing the trolling motor as close to the center of the stern as possible.

Lastly, tighten the clamps by turning clockwise to ensure the motor is secure while in operation. Ensure the motor is positioned so that its center is at least 9 inches below the water while in operation to ensure the propeller does not break the water surface.

2. Mounting a trolling motor on the bow

First, decide where the base will be mounted. Ensure the place you have selected allows the mount base to accommodate the motor both when it is on the deck and when it is in the water propelling the kayak.

  1. Using the mount base as a guide, mark the holes to be drilled into the deck
  2. Using a sharp tool, drill 6.5 mm deep and clean any debris
  3. Drive a bolt through each of the holes drilled on the mount base
  4. Below the mount base, slide a rubber washer onto each of the threaded bolts
  5. Place the base over the drilled holes sliding the bolts through each hole
  6. Ensure the base lies flat against the deck surface
  7. Thread a steel washer and nut onto each bolt. Secure the base by tightening the nuts
  8. Lastly, place the assembled motor to the set up base

Features to consider when selecting trolling motor for a kayak

After deciding to purchase a trolling motor for your kayak, we have a number factors you should think about before purchasing one to make sure you get what will best work for you. Below are some of the features to look for as you choose trolling motor for  your kayak.

1. Thrust

How much thrust is needed to propel the kayak? Thrust is the amount of strength needed to move your kayak through the water; it is measured in pounds of thrust. Your kayak needs sufficient thrust/power to handle high waves and wind while still getting you to your destination quickly.

You should understand how the trolling motor will affect your kayak before purchasing one. The size and weight of your kayak are important factors to take into consideration before purchasing a trolling motor. For the right trolling motor, consider the weight of your boat plus its contents. If the boat, its gear, and the passenger(s) are quite heavy, you will need a motor with more thrust. A quick rule of thumb is that you will need 2 lbs. of thrust for every 100 lbs. of weight.

A bigger boat will need higher thrust for optimal operation. Also, consider a trolling motor with higher thrust if you frequently fish in adverse weather conditions or strong winds.

3. Length of the shaft

Getting the right shaft length on the trolling motor gives you better control over your kayak for a safe and relaxed ride. This is dictated by the transom and bow heights. A longer kayak will require a trolling motor with a longer shaft while a shorter kayak will work well with a shorter shaft trolling motor.

Also, note that operating in shallow water is difficult with a long shaft whereas a short one will be difficult to operate in rough waters. A shaft with an adjustable length shaft is ideal since it enables you to adjust your trolling motors depth for more control.

4. Saltwater vs. freshwater

Whether you will fish on salt or fresh water will also affect the type of trolling motor you should buy. Trolling motors designed for saltwater are designed to be corrosion resistant. They are also more expensive compared to those designed for freshwater. If you are not sure where you will take your kayak, consider a trolling motor that is built for both.

5. Hand or foot control

After deciding on purchasing a trolling motor for your kayak, the next choice to make is whether to control it by foot or by hand. This is mostly determined by the size of your kayak. A transom-mount motor limits you to hand control whereas for a bow mount you can choose how to operate the motor based on your preference.

A foot control gives you a hands-free fishing experience, can be used anywhere in the boat and is easy to use. Its downsides are; the pedals clutter the deck and some models have slower response time.

A hand controlled trolling motor offers less clutter on the deck and real-time response. The shortcomings are it does

6. Trolling motor battery

A quality trolling motor battery will ensure you get the most out of your kayak every time you go out fishing. With a good trolling motor battery, you get to stay in the water longer and the battery can also be used to power other gadgets on the boat.

A dual purpose or deep cycle battery will give the trolling motor a steady and consistent electric power source. A top end deep cycle battery takes a short period to recharge and stores more electricity because of its thicker cell plates. A deep cycle battery can also be discharged to a lower capacity and recharged with no loss of power unlike a standard “car” battery.

The size of the trolling motor corresponds to the battery capacity needed. Consider a battery with more Amp hours (Ah) if you want to spend more time on the water.

7. Voltage

The size of your kayak will determine the amount of power needed for your trolling motor. They offer three different power systems; 12, 24 and 36. For under 16 feet kayaks (which is almost all kayaks), a 12V motor will suffice. The 24V and 34V will be best for a larger kayak or if you just want more power.

A trolling motor with high voltage power will give you long hours of use. For anglers who wish to stay on the water for even longer time periods, we have trolling motors that have been designed to work with more than one battery.

Kayak trolling motor maintenance tips

To get the most out of your trolling motor, here are a few tips

  1. Ensure you have done the installation correctly and the unit is stable to avoid issues once you are out on the water. 
  2. Depending on whether you will be using it on salty water or fresh water, ensure the motor is made for the water you are using it in. For instance, salt water trolling motors are resistant to corrosion which isn’t the case with freshwater trolling motors.
  3. Ensure the vibration is not extreme. Extreme vibration can be a sign of mechanical problems or improper installations.

5 Best Trolling Motors for Kayaks in 2018

1. Best for Inflatable Boats, Kaboats, Kayaks and Canoes - Saturn 55 Lbs Short-Shaft

Saturn 55 Lbs Short-Shaft Electric Tolling Motor For Inflatable Boats, Kaboats, Kayaks and Canoes.

The Saturn Short-Shaft electric trolling motor is designed for all kinds of inflatable boats and small vessels such as canoes and kayaks. Given its shaft uses fiberglass in its construction, you know that it will flex more than steel and last for many years. The adjustable angle throttle handle with 10 adjustable positions makes it easy to position it where it's most convenient. The handle is also comfortable since it gives you the option of either raising it or tilting it down as you prefer. You can also change the motor depth with the adjustable depth collar.

The Saturn Short-Shaft electric trolling motor features 55 pounds of thrust making it extremely powerful. Its 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds make it easier to maneuver the kayak giving you better control in the water. The adjustable handle that can be lifted almost 45 degrees up or all the way down makes this a compact and portable trolling motor for easy storage and transportation. It also features a battery level reader that shows available power, so you know when to recharge. It is made of a corrosion resistant material and can be used in both salt and freshwater.

If you are looking for a trolling motor with high thrust for your kayak, this may be a great choice. It is also a great choice for areas where it is very windy with rough water conditions thanks to its strong shaft and the powerful 55 pounds of thrust. This makes it easier to control in rough water.

PROS

  • Easy to install and uninstall
  • Adjustable angle throttle handle
  • Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater
  • Adjustable handle and depth collar
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    Suitable for kayaks of all sizes
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    Features 8-speed levels​

CONS

  • Suitable for moderately deep waters as it hits objects in shallow waters

2. Best Saltwater Trolling Motor - Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb.

Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb. Thrust Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor with 30

The Newport Vessels NV series transom-mount electric trolling motor is designed to fit kayaks and all inflatable boats. The Newport trolling motor 36 pounds of thrust with an adjustable 30-inch composite shaft that is super strong and easy to carry. It features 8 speeds; 5 forwards and 3 reverse speeds for a smooth ride and to give you better control of your kayak.

Steering is easy and comfortable with the NV series electric motor thanks to its 6-inch telescopic handle. It is constructed with stainless steel hardware that is corrosion resistant making this a great choice for saltwater kayaking. The 5-point LED battery meter will alert you on how much battery you have left during the day and at night.

The motor head of the NV series is strong and designed to withstand impacts from underwater rocks and debris.

The Newport Vessels NV series is built to last with features that offer great maneuvering and is also easy to install. The Newport trolling motor is a good choice for your kayak for both freshwater and saltwater use.

PROS

  • Features 8-speeds
  • The handle has a good grip for easy operation
  • It can be used in both freshwater and saltwater
  • Built to last
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    Easy to read LED battery meter​

CONS

  • Isolated complaints of being loud

3. Best for Freshwater and Saltwater Use - Goplus Electric Trolling Motor

Goplus New 86lbs Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor 36

The Goplus electric trolling motor is available in 46, 55, and 86 pounds of thrust. It mounts easily to your kayak using brackets. It features a 6-inch telescopic handle that is adjustable making it easy and comfortable for you to control. The 46 thrust trolling motor has a 2-blade propeller for ease of maneuvering your kayak. The 55 and 86 thrust motors feature a 3-blade propeller offering smooth movement through underwater weeds. 

Anglers will find the 36-inch shaft easy to control. The shaft is constructed with fiberglass to ensure many years of service. The 8 speeds; 5 forward and 3 reverse speeds gives you better control of your kayak for a smooth and easy ride. With a 10 point LED battery indicator, you will always know the status of your battery both at night and during the day.

The brackets are covered with nylon for strength and stability. Its head is also made of durable aluminum to give years of service. You will never have to worry about spooking fish with this trolling motor thanks to its swift and quiet movement that makes this a great choice for fishing in freshwater.

PROS

  • Easy to mount
  • Features 36-inch adjustable shaft
  • Provides good thrust; 46, 55 and 86 pounds options
  • Cool and quiet motor system
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    Durable
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    Easy to read 10 points LED battery indicator​

CONS

  • For saltwater use, it must be cleaned with freshwater immediately when you come out of the water
  • Quite heavy

4. Best Freshwater Trolling Motor - Minn Kota Endura C2

Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor (30

The Minn Kota Endura has been designed by one of the biggest brands in trolling motors making it a perfect choice for freshwater kayak fishing. Its 13-inch composite shaft is corrosion-resistant and has been built to be durable ensuring it will last over many fishing seasons.  Anglers will love this trolling motor thanks to its ability to run quietly without spooking fish. The 12 volt motor is suitable for 12 to 16-foot kayaks due to its thrust of 30 pounds.

We like the 8 speeds; 5 forward and 3 reverse that makes it easy to control for a smooth and easy ride. The 6-inch telescopic handle makes steering easy and comfortable. It is also easy to install and is energy efficient giving you long lasting battery life. This makes it great for longer fishing trips. The trolling motor is durable and UV resistant. It features a lever lock bracket that is strong offering a rock-solid mount.

The Minn Kota Endura is a durable transom mounted electric motor that is easy to control and offers excellent performance for both beginners and experienced anglers. 

PROS

  • The telescopic handle has a good grip for easy and better steering
  • Solid mount
  • Has an excellent battery life
  • 8 speeds for better control
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    Best freshwater trolling motor
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    Quiet, smooth and calm movement that does not spook fish
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    Durable and UV resistant

CONS

  • It does not work well on larger kayaks in rough conditions
  • Not suitable for extended saltwater use

5. Best Electric Trolling Motor - Newport Vessels 55 lb.

Newport Vessels 55 Pound Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor

The Newport Vessels 55 pound thrust electric trolling motor is designed for big kayaks. It is very powerful with 55 pounds of thrust to allow for long hours of fishing without overheating. Its 30-inch composite shaft is not only durable but can also be adjusted to allow for proper depth placement in all water depths.

You get easy and smooth operation of your kayak with this motor thanks to the 8 speeds it offers; 5 forward and 3 reverse speeds. The 6-inch telescopic handle also makes it easy to steer. Anglers will love that this motor operates smoothly and quietly without spooking fish. The LED light battery meter reader is easy to view both at night and daytime.

The tilt angle of the Newport trolling motor can be fully raised for ease of cleaning and storage. It is made of stainless steel, Aluminum and Zinc thus corrosion resistant making it great for both freshwater and saltwater use. The aluminum motorhead is built to last and will withstand regular boating trips for years. We also like that it is lightweight and portable.

This versatile trolling motor features great design and has been constructed with quality materials making it the best electric trolling motor for your kayak.

PROS

  • Very powerful
  • Suitable for both saltwater and freshwater use
  • Features 8 speeds
  • Suitable for big kayaks
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    Has 55 pounds of thrust
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    Durable
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    6-inch adjustable handle

CONS

  • We wish it had more solid placement when changing speed intervals; it is easy to bump the handle changing the speed.

Final Thoughts:

Trolling motors have become more common over time and anglers will agree a good trolling motor makes all the difference in your fishing experience. For a great experience on the water, you must choose the perfect trolling motor for your kayak. The trolling motor reviews above have hopefully helped you chose the best one for you!