3 Best Trolling Motors For Kayaks

Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering the 3 best trolling motors for kayaks in 2021. Recently I wrote a post about a kayak fishing friend of mine who had turned up to our weekly expedition with a fish finder for his kayak. Well this dude must have too much money as now he has also acquired himself a new trolling motor as well. I will say from the start it took him a little time to get used to it and there appears to be some intricacies to be aware of when using a trolling motor on a kayak, but in time, there does seem to be some advantage there.

So as usual, I have had a good look at his rig (he has it mounted on the side of a 11ft sit on top model) and done some more research and come up with 3 models that I think could work well for you on a kayak. So grab yourself a nice cold beverage and a snack and let’s see if we can get you started with my 3 best trolling motors for a kayak…

My 3 recommended trolling motors for kayaks

I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:

 MotorPriceGet it
trolling motor for kayak newportNewport Vessels Kayak Series Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor$CURRENT PRICE
trolling motor for minna kotaMinn Kota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor$$CURRENT PRICE
trolling motor for kayak aquosAQUOS Black Haswing Transom Electric Trolling Motor$$$CURRENT PRICE

Click Here To See My List Of Trolling Motor Battery Options

What are trolling motors?

Trolling motors are small battery powered motors that can be attached to boats, kayaks, canoes or sailing vessels. They are designed to provide a slow steady movement for a vessel allowing it to move gently forward in silence (which is why they are popular with fishermen). In short, they can provide the following advantages for kayak fishing:

  • Faster movement to fishing spots (especially against gentle currents).
  • Remove the need to constantly paddle.
  • Can allow for greater trolling abilities (specially if chasing larger, faster moving surface fish with lures).
  • Good for those with injuries or disabilities.

However, there are also some other potential issues to consider:

  • Some mounts can require holes to be drilled into the kayak.
  • Storage space required for the battery.
  • Can be hard to handle on smaller craft.
  • Not good for strong currents.

Note: Some state/local Marine Authorities require users to obtain a boat license prior to operating a canoe/kayak with a trolling motor attached. Always check local regulations prior to purchase.

What should you be looking for?

Ok, so when it comes to the use of the trolling motor on a kayak, the main things to consider are:

  1. Where you are going to attach the motor to the vessel?
  2. How you are going to attach the motor to the vessel?
  3. Where you are going to store all of the other required equipment on the craft (batteries, wiring etc.)?

With this in mind, here are some things to consider as you look into getting yourself a good trolling motor for your kayak:

Types of Kayaks

In terms of kayaks, there are three main types that you may be interested in looking at. These are:

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1. Sit on Top kayak

As the name suggests, these are the style that you sit on top of as you paddle along. These are great for fishing as they are generally wider and more stable than some of the others as well as giving you the ability to swing a rod 360 degrees around the vessel with ease. On the downside, there is no protection from the water (you will get a wet backside) and they are also generally slow moving.

These work quite well with a trolling motor however the shorter models do struggle with them if the throttle is turned up. Ocean kayaks often have mounting and battery storage space that their shorter counterparts do not however with careful mounting this can be overcome. I have a 10 ft estuary fishing kayak that has mounting motor bar grooves for a small bar to be screwed into the top that the motor can attach to.

trolling motor for kayak mounts

2. Sit in Kayaks

These are the ones where you site inside the kayak (via the little ‘cockpit’ at the top). They can be just as effective for fishing as the sit on top models and work well in areas with stronger current. They do tend to be narrower and longer making them a little faster across the water however this makes them a little less manoeuvrable as well.

The only real issue here is that if there are not any grooves for a mounting bar, then the motor mounts will invariably have to be screwed into the side. I have however seen trolling motors in use in these models and they can be very effective.

3. Inflatable Kayaks

Again as the name suggests, these kayaks inflate for use and come in both sit on or sit in options. Many do come with fishing capabilities and can definitely be used in this capacity. They are also very good where storage and transportation space is limited (I.e. you don’t have a roof rack or trailer on which to carry the hard plastic versions).

I normally don’t like inflatable models for fishing however in my research I have seen trolling motors used extensively with them also. I guess mounting is the only issue here as obviously you cannot screw the mounts into the vessel.

Location

In addition to the three main type of kayaks outlined above, there are a number of variations that you can look into as well. So as you start to look into the type of trolling motor you would be looking to purchase, the first thing to consider is where you will be using them. Think about:

  • Water type – Will you be on a lake, in an estuary or on the open sea? Check the recommended usage locations for any model that you are thinking about.
  • Current – Estuaries generally are susceptible to tidal currents – if these are strong then a trolling motor may not be strong enough to work effectively – although they can help keep you in the one spot for longer.
  • Hazards – Some water locations (especially lakes) contain hazards such as rocks and fallen trees etc. which whilst generally do not bother a kayak as they may a faster moving motor boat, they are still something to be aware of if you have a small motor on the water.
  • Distance – If you have a distance to ‘paddle’ to get to where the fish are, then a trolling motor can definitely assist you in getting there without expending all of your energy.

There is more to this but from the point of view of fishing from a kayak, as long as none of the above are too extreme, then you should be ok with most models. At the end of the day, the main question to ask yourself is whether you need something that is lightweight or built for speed as you manoeuvre around your chosen waterway.

Species of fish being chased

Another consideration to think about is the type of fish that you will be chasing. Again, this is mainly about balance and manoeuvrability. If, for example you are chasing fast moving surface fish with a lure, then you may need a motor that will allow you to move quickly not only get to where they are, but to chase them once you get there as well. Alternatively, those of you looking to drift along in the current with your bait or lure bouncing along the bottom, then slower moving, multi speed set models may assist in staying above the fish for longer.

trolling motor for kayak stripe

Other considerations

We have already discussed some of the influences to consider when we talk about trolling motors for kayaks. AS always, you just need to remember that with a kayak, there is only really a certain amount of space and fishing does generally need a little bit of equipment such as a rod (obviously), bait and a knife at a minimum. So as you consider your options, here are some of the main components/settings that you may want to check out…

  • Thrust – When it comes to a small boat, the general rule of thumb is 2 pounds of thrust is needed for every 100 pounds of boat weight. As kayaks are quite light by design, this is generally not something that can really affect purchase processes. However, it is something to keep in mind if you are looking for one to power a large ocean fishing kayak.
  • Weight – As above, kayaks are lightweight by design. Shorter models can actually be weighed down if the motor is too heavy.
  • Speed settings – Most come with a number of forward and reverse speed settings (5 and 2 is a common spec) – the more speed settings, the greater control you have over the movement of the kayak.
  • Salt water use – If you are using your motor in salt water, make sure the motor is graded to do so. This means anti corrosive materials (such as carbon graphite or aluminium) and a waterproof battery/housing.
  • Adjustable/Extendable rotor shaft – longer shafts are good for ocean use whereas as the ability to shorten in a lake or estuary can assist in avoiding underwater hazards.
  • Long/adjustable handle – This is critical if you are mounting the motor to the back of your kayak. The tiller needs to be long enough to use comfortable or the advantages of having it in the first place will be lost.
  • Mounts – As discussed, are these compatible with your kayak.

Note: Most models are sold without a battery included. Check that the motor you choose is compatible with most standard 12-volt 30-50AH sealed marine grade batteries. Oh, you will need a charger for these too.

What Do I use?

Ok, so as mentioned above, I do not have a trolling motor on my kayak but I did have a play in Phil’s. He has his setup as follows:

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  • Kayak length: 11ft
  • Mounted: on the left-hand side via a mounting bar
  • Battery: 12V 800CCA, 66Ah sealed battery which he has in sealed container under the netted compartment at the back.
  • Motor thrust: 50lb
trolling motor for kayak

His setup is as above (source kayak2fish.com)

I had a play. At top speed (rated to 5mph) there was definite bow wave but if I was not careful and moved the tiller a bit far it was not hard to lose water tracking (i nearly fell off at one stage). At slower speed however on a medium current I was able to cruise along really nicely and could also keep the kayak almost still on a really low speed.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above, and my own research, I recommend the following options:

1. Newport Vessels Kayak Series Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor

For the price, this first one would work very well in most kayaks being used in lakes, estuaries or even calm ocean settings close to shore. It is quite feature rich with a lightweight design and usability to make it perfect for beginners or those on shorter model kayaks as well. Specifications as follows:

  • Thrust: 36 lb (55lb option also available)
  • Speed Settings: 8 speeds (5 forward & 3 Reverse)
  • Composition: Aluminium motor head w/ corrosion resistant magnesium, zinc, and stainless-steel hardware. Fiberglass shaft.
  • Rotor length: 24 inch adjustable
  • Handle/tiller length: 6 inch telescoping
  • Mounting: Transom mount – fits to side motor mounting bar
  • Run Time: 1.5hr continuous

Other inclusions:

  • 5 LED battery indicator
  • Long 5ft 6in battery cables
  • 2 blade propeller
  • 40 AMP circuit breaker

Runs on 12-volt Deep Cycle or marine battery (not included)

Why have I chosen it?

I like this one purely for its saltwater rating, lightweight design and ease of use for those looking to either get started with a good trolling motor for a good price. It will work well on just about any length kayak and has enough speed settings to manage most currents as well. Its transom mount also allows for a number of mounting options on kayaks of all styles.


2. Minn Kota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor

For those looking to use in freshwater, this next one adds a little more functionality in terms of rotor management than the one above with slightly longer 36 or 42 inch rotor shafts. This added length opens it up being able to handle few extra locations and slightly rougher waters with nice movement for longer model kayaks. Its specs include:

  • Thrust: 45 lb (40, 50 and 55lb option also available)
  • Speed Settings: 8 speeds (5 forward & 3 Reverse)
  • Composition: not stated
  • Rotor length: 36 inch adjustable
  • Handle/tiller length: 6 inch telescoping
  • Mounting: Transom mount – fits to side motor mounting bar
  • Run Time: not stated

Other inclusions:

  • Rotating lever lock bracket for adjustable trim
  • Rotate the lower unit 180° by moving the tiller just 45°
  • 2 blade propeller
  • Breakaway mounting system for added protection against underwater hazards

Runs on 12-volt Deep Cycle or marine battery (not included)

Why have I chosen it?

This is a great one for those looking to get out on those large freshwater lakes or rivers with the ability to move kayaks longer distances with good power and adjustable mounts that provide protection in the case of submerged hazards that are common in these waterways. Priced decently, it again will work well on just about any length and style of kayak as well as those looking to transfer it to a smaller aluminium ‘tinny’ type craft too.


3. AQUOS Black Haswing Transom Electric Trolling Motor

The third unit I have chosen is a little more expensive however for those who venture far and wide in their kayak fishing exploits, in both salt and fresh water, it has everything you could possibly need to be successful. This one is suited to all kayak types kayaks with precision settings and thrust capabilities to handle most waterways and ‘close in’ open ocean settings:

Specifications as follows:

  • Thrust: 110 lb
  • Speed Settings: Variable sped – dial control on handle (like an outboard motor) allowing for great speed control and the ability to easily dial in desired speed .
  • Composition: 24V Brushless motor with Aluminium Alloy Shaft
  • Rotor length: 35.5 inch adjustable
  • Handle/tiller length: 6 inch telescoping, 100 degree folding handle
  • Mounting: Transom mount – fits to side motor mounting bar
  • Run Time: not stated

Other inclusions:

  • Kill switch in handle and prop clutch for ultimate burn out protection
  • LED battery level display
  • 3 blade silent brushless propeller
  • Easily transferable to dinghies, tenders, fishing boats and inflatable boat

Runs on 2 x 12-volt Deep Cycle or marine batteries (not included)

Why have I chosen it?

This is a great one for beginners and avid fishermen alike who a looking for a little quality over price. It provides full functionality to work well in just about anybody of water that a kayak fisherman would want to venture into. Its outboard motor type management and thrust mean that it would also be a great fit for those looking to use on a boat as well as a kayak.

Batteries, mounts and accessories

As stated above, trolling motors generally do not come with batteries, battery chargers nor kayaks with mounting gear. Here are some options for those who need them as well.

Conclusion

And there it is – my 3 best trolling motors for kayaks. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

Paul

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