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Can a Trolling Motor Take You, as a Kayak Angler, to a New Level?

Kayakers sometimes forget the whitewater, the lakes, and the sea, and just focus on their other passion: fishing. Well, at least those of us who have fishing on our minds 24/7.

Lakes, river canals, and bays may need you to cover great distances to get to the best fishing spots. Sometimes a day isn’t enough. This is where kayak motors come to mind.

Are trolling motors all about kayaking, in the end, or are they a way of making things easier while fishing?

If you come to think of it, the main purpose of a trolling motor (we’re talking about smaller ones, fit for kayaks) is to help you move smoothly across the water and not scare the fish.

As this article progresses, we will look into what helps us shop for the best kayak trolling motor. I will also answer some extra questions that will shed some light on the features that are still unclear.

Let’s find the best kayak trolling motor there is and get you started on the kayak fishing of your dreams!  

Product

Details

Savor-your-fishing-trip

Motorguide xi3

  • Material:
    other
  • Item Weight: 41 Pounds

Value for Money

Newport Vessels

  • Material:
    Fiberglass, Aluminum, Plastic
  • Item Weight: 23 Pounds

Fast but not Furious

Torqeedo Ultralight

  • Material:
    other
  • Item Weight: 41 Pounds

Best Bargain

Haswing W20

  • Material:
    other
  • Item Weight: 20 Pounds

Motor that Fits

Watersnake T18 ASP

  • Material:
    Aluminum
  • Item Weight: 10.48 Pounds

Most Popular

Minn Kota Endura

  • Material:
    Composite
  • Item Weight: 240 Pounds

Budget Version

Minn Kota Traxxis

  • Material:
    Aluminum
  • Item Weight: 29 Pounds

Whole day of Fishing

Electric Trolling Motor

  • Material:
    Aluminum, Stainless Steel
  • Item Weight: 18 Pounds

Best Trolling Motors for Kayaks

The small electric motors used on kayaks make things easier, allowing you to stay more on the water, discover a new fishing spot after another and unknown routes, and even return to your initial position when the weather takes a turn for the worst.

What’s the most important feature to consider, in the end, when talking about the best trolling motor for kayak?

We are dealing with motor-powered kayaks, so it has to be the output. How much power do you need? It should be as high as possible (and you’ll thank yourself later).

Add to that some excellent battery life and the right battery voltage (when considering the features that can turn a great fishing trip into an unforgettable one).

Let’s browse through the best kayak trolling motors suggested below and assess them one by one. As I always say, the best motor for a kayak won’t be the one that’s best in everyone’s eyes but in yours.

1. Motorguide Xi3

Motorguide xi3

The lightweight Motorguide xi3 is a delight to have not just on kayaks and canoes (for which it was designed) but on other smaller boats, too. It will take you to places that seemed inaccessible and will help you savor your fishing trips more. Extended exploration will mean more fun on the water, searching for the fish.

The Pinpoint® GPS remote will have you stay in one place, irrespective of wind, waves, or currents. The kayak won’t even budge, as the Pinpoint GPS is the most accurate in the industry, providing a tighter hold on your anchoring kayak point. You’ll also have a record route available and remote steering for hassle-free fishing.

What complaints are out there about these trolling motors? The remote control may not always be working properly. The motor is not a saltwater trolling motor and only features a bow mount.

The trolling motor was reported to simply stop, without noting any prior issues; other kayak anglers reported software (GPS) problems – the GPS sometimes works, but it doesn’t work other times (after being in Anchor Mode for a few minutes).

The xi3 is, however, sonar-compatible and foot-pedal-compatible (although this feature is not always recommended for a kayak).

kayak motor

The price may not be the right one, but the electric kayak motor might. Especially if you’re an avid kayak angler, taking to water every chance you get, this could be the ideal trolling motor for you.  

Features That Might Be of Interest to You

  •  The kayak trolling motor was designed for freshwater only.
  •  It was designed for kayaks and canoes.
  •  It has variable speed settings.
  •  It is 40% quieter than its competitors.
  •  It is remote-controlled.
  •  It has GPS anchoring.
  •  It has a LED dashboard informing you under any light conditions about the main four key functions.
  •  There is an option to adjust a wireless pedal.
  •  It is sonar-compatible.

MotorGuide Xi3

The Price of “Motorguide xi3” varies, so check the latest price at

2. Newport Vessels Kayak Series

Newport Vessels Kayak Series

Revered as the best saltwater kayak trolling motor (it is built using saltwater corrosion-resistant materials, after all) and the best-selling one, too, the Newport Vessels Kayak Series is a good purchase at a fair price.

You’ll need a 12V best trolling motor battery to power the motor. The LED battery life indicator will help you estimate the remaining battery charge.

It has five forward speeds and three reverse speeds, turning your ride quite flexible. The motor will run for 1 hour at top speed and 3 hours at speed 3. It also comes with multiple mounting options.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have GPS anchoring, which would have turned it into the ultimate trolling motor designed specifically for canoes and kayaks! It is also a bit heavy and the motor itself isn’t waterproof.

trolling motor for kayak

Then again, combine the high-quality trolling motor provided, the ease of use, and the price and you’ll get an offer that is going to be hard to refuse. Anyway, it’s one of the anglers’ favorite trolling motors around and it’ll feel great on your river fishing kayak.

Features That Might Be of Interest to You

  •   The kayak trolling motor was designed for saltwater and freshwater.
  •   In terms of speed settings, it has 5 forward and 3 reverse.
  •   It has a LED battery indicator.

Newport Vessels Kayak Series

The Price of “Newport Vessels Kayak Series” varies, so check the latest price at

3. Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC

Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC

On the more expensive side of the trolling motors, the Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC from Fish USA is advertised as ‘efficient and stealthy’ by its manufacturer. The trolling motor was designed with anglers in mind and is indeed ultralight.

Quiet enough to take you close to the fish, the motor comes with a built-in GPS and the latest lithium batteries (plus the charger). It is completely waterproof and boasts a range of up to 31 miles.

Reversing is easy by pulling the reverse cord. When meeting obstacles, the mounting system allows the motor to kick up towards the stern and limit the damage.

The strong points? It is a very fast trolling motor; its top speed is 6.5 mph. This means that you’ll be faster in your fishing kayak than any of your fishing buddies. Also, it can be used both in fresh water and salt water, making it very versatile. You will also be provided with a 2-year warranty.

best trolling motors for kayaks

The downside? For the high price paid, although it does have GPS tracking, the trolling motor does not offer GPS anchoring, which would be essential for windy/rough days on the water.  

Features That Might Be of Interest to You

  • The kayak trolling motor was designed for saltwater and freshwater.
  • It was designed for kayaks and canoes, with anglers in mind.
  • It has an onboard computer display (battery indicator), with real-life information.
  • It provides solar charging. 

Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC

The Price of “Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC” varies, so check the latest price at

4. Haswing W20 20 Lb. T​​rolling Motor

Haswing W20 20 Lb. T​​rolling Motor

Look at that price! No, you’re not dreaming! But you could fulfill your dream of having one of these trolling motors installed on your kayak even on a budget.

Called a ‘baby trolling motor’, it is suitable for small kayaks and SUPs (weight limit: 1000 lbs) and can be used both in fresh water and salt water.

The ultra-light Haswing W20 comes with a 2-year warranty and with a transom mounting system. You will be in charge of purchasing your battery – and a 12V deep-cycle marine battery is recommended. You can check the battery status on the small power indicator provided.

smallest trolling motor for kayak

While some buyers are thrilled with their purchase, others believe that it’s just ‘cheap plastic’.

You’ve got only two speeds (low speed and high speed)… but you cannot beat this price!  

Features That Might Be of Interest to You

  • The kayak trolling motor was designed for freshwater and saltwater.
  •   In terms of speed settings, it has only two speeds (and a switch for forward and reverse).
  •   It has a power reader to check the battery status.

Haswing W20 20 Lb. T​​rolling Motor

The Price of “Haswing W20 20 Lb. T​​rolling Motor” varies, so check the latest price at

 

5. Watersnake T18 ASP

Watersnake T18 ASP

Another trolling motor at a bargain price! Endowed with 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse, the Watersnake T18 ASP is a trolling motor designed by anglers specifically for kayaks and canoes (inflatable kayaks, too!).

The tiller-steer transom-mount motor is sturdy and you can use it in salt water and fresh water, too. The truth is that it doesn’t come with too many options or features, but does its job. It would be a great buy for a beginner kayak angler aiming to test the waters, so to speak.

A big con? The bracket on which the trolling motor is mounted tends to come loose while on the water.

Pros? The trolling motor is lightweight and the foot pedal is quite easy to operate. The circuit board is waterproof.

kayak electric motor

While the bracket and the battery are not included, you could still find yourself facing an irresistible deal. Just think about the long battery life – you’ll use your trolling motor for what it was intended: to help you explore and fish.

Features That Might Be of Interest to You

  • The kayak trolling motor was designed for saltwater and freshwater.
  •  It was designed for kayaks and canoes.
  •   In terms of speed settings, it has 5 forward and 3 reverse.
  •   It has a waterproof circuit board.  

Watersnake T18 ASP

The Price of “Watersnake T18 ASP ” varies, so check the latest price at

6. Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater

Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater

Or so claims its manufacturer. Operated by hand, the Minn Kota Endura C2 30 trolling motor has 8 speeds: 5 forward and 3 reverse. It is the perfect tool to push through the heavy vegetation of freshwater via the Power Prop, which delivers extra power.

It may come as a surprise to you, but the composite shaft is guaranteed for life. Kayak anglers love the quiet character of the kayak motor.

Also, the popularity of the motor is justified by the fact that it was designed for more convenient and comfortable fishing. Lightweight, easy to install – all for a good price.

motor for kayak

On the other hand, some anglers are complaining that the trolling motor stops operating pretty soon after its purchase, without reasons or signs. Other parts also break and/or are damaged all of a sudden.

Many people decide to purchase the Minn Kota Endura C2 30 freshwater engine based on the reputation of Minn Kota kayak trolling motors. Will you be one of them? 

Features That Might Be of Interest to You

  • The Minn Kota Endura C2 kayak trolling motor was designed for freshwater only.
  • In terms of speed settings, the Minn Kota Endura C2 has 5 forward and 3 reverse.
  • Easy steering among the kayak trolling motors: by moving the tiller just 45⁰, the lower unit is rotated 180⁰.

Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater

The Price of “Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater” varies, so check the latest price at

7. Minn Kota Traxxis

Minn Kota Traxxis

Responsiveness and reliability are the two ‘R’s that the manufacturer stresses while recommending the Minn Kota Traxxis trolling motors.

Steering is easier and requires less effort, as, by moving the tiller just 45⁰, the lower unit is rotated 180⁰. The Power Prop helps provide more power and navigate across heavy vegetation (it is not a saltwater trolling motor but a freshwater one).

The Digital Maximizer provides kayak anglers with up to 5 times longer run time following a single battery charge – that’s something to be thrilled about!

electric trolling motor kayak

This trolling motor can feel a bit heavy and anglers report that it broke after only one season’s use.

Other anglers claim that the motor is very powerful and incredibly efficient.

What do you think? Are you willing to test this kayak motor?

Features That Might Be of Interest to You

  • The kayak trolling motor of the Minn Kota Traxxis was designed for freshwater only.
  •  In terms of speed settings, the Minn Kota Traxxis has 5 forward and 3 reverse.
  •   Easy steering: by moving the tiller just 45⁰, the lower unit of the Minn Kota Traxxis is rotated 180⁰. 

Minn Kota Traxxis

The Price of “Minn Kota Traxxis” varies, so check the latest price at

8. Cloud Mountain 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor

Cloud Mountain 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor

It is durable – the all-aluminum head increases the service life of the motor. You’ll ride on variable speed, 8, to be more exact (5 forward and 3 reverse).

While the battery itself is not included, the battery indicator protects the battery and helps you note how much battery you have left. You may wish to conserve battery life for that whole day of fishing.

The stainless steel hardware is saltwater compatible, making it the perfect device to operate both in saltwater and fresh water. The lightweight Cloud Mountain 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor is also fit for inflatable kayaks, not only regular fishing kayaks.

Some users claim that the battery life lasts for one full day, that the product is well-designed, and that it arrived well-packed.

kayak electric trolling motor

Other users argue that the trolling motor is heavier than expected. Would that be an obstacle in purchasing it? Again, look at the price and compare it to other prices of trolling motors.

Features That Might Be of Interest to You

  • The kayak trolling motor was designed for saltwater and freshwater.
  •  It was designed for kayaks and canoes.
  •   In terms of speed settings, it has 5 forward and 3 reverse.
  •   The battery indicator protects the batteries and helps note the power left.

Cloud Mountain 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor

The Price of “Cloud Mountain 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor” varies, so check the latest price at

Buying Guide for Best Trolling Motors for Kayaks

What should we consider while shopping for one of the best kayak trolling motors? Read on to make sure that you take all the key features into account before you become the happy owner of a trolling motor.

kayak trolling motors

Position 

The trolling motor can be placed on the bow (bow mount) or the stern (stern mount), guaranteeing the quiet movement of the kayak through the water.     

Weight

Roughly put (and we’re not talking about the motor’s weight), several pounds in your kayak’s weight need pounds of thrust from the trolling motor to be able to move the kayak.   

Of course, a lightweight motor would be optimal, as it wouldn’t increase the entire weight of the kayak too much.

Thrust

What is thrust?

Trolling motors are usually available in configurations of 12 V, 12/24 V, 24 V, and 36 V. Higher voltages equal larger electric trolling motors and more power.

We measure the power output of a trolling motor in pounds of thrust, and not horsepower. More pounds of thrust stand for a more powerful motor. 

Shaft Length

To get the correct value, measure from the bow or stern of the kayak (depending on where you’re going to place the trolling motor) to the top of the water and add 20”. This will be the minimum recommended shaft length.

Add 5” more to obtain the ideal shaft length if you intend to fish in rough water. 

Batteries

A trolling motor mounted on a kayak operates electrically. Naturally, it will need a battery to work. In the kayak’s case, one battery will suffice.

However, as a general rule, the larger the boat, the better the idea of having one more deep-cycle battery for the trolling motor.

If you spend a long day fishing in larger fishing boats, most of your battery will be gone and you’ll need some extra battery life to get you from your fishing spot to shore/back to where you started your fishing trip.   

Speeds

First off, we will not be dealing with the maximum speed given by the trolling motor but with the number of speeds/reverse speeds of each motor.

Of course, a larger motor will have a higher number of speeds. On the other hand, eight-speed settings even for lighter motors are not uncommon.

Remember, however, that all extra features will add up to the final price.

If you’re curious about the top speed of a kayak endowed with a trolling motor, it’s 5 mph.

Steering

There are three ways to steer a trolling motor – by hand (via a tiller handle), by foot (via a pedal), and via remote control.

If you’re going for the fastest installation/removal, you’ll likely choose a tiller steer motor. Two thumbscrews are all you need to mount this on a kayak (on the bow or stern, wherever you prefer).

The foot pedal operation only comes with a bow mount. Most foot pedals will use cables to move the trolling motor. By pressing your toe down the pedal, you’ll move the kayak one way, while your heel will be used to move the kayak in the opposite direction.

If you opt for remote control, all the newer trolling motor models will have it (in small size).

Here’s where another gadget steps in (and provides the link to the next feature) – if you wish to steer your kayak without neglecting your fishing, a high-tech autopilot can be used.

GPS

GPS governs the autopilot’s control. Moreover, GPS will keep the kayak parked when you want it, in any water depth, fighting the wind, cross-currents, and waves.  

Waterbody Compatibility

As kayaks are different and differently built based on their use and the envisaged bodies of water, trolling motors, too, come with various purposes.

It would be best to know if they are saltwater compatible or if they can manage in rough water (remember that we are not dealing with larger boats operating on electric engines here) or are simply designed for flat water.

Price

As mentioned above, more electric motor features mean a higher price. On the other hand, well-established motor brands will also have a high-end starting price.

Are There More Questions on Your Mind?

If the explanations linked to the features above had the exact opposite effect from the planned one, you may need some more details. This is where the questions (and the answers) below may prove useful for any kayak angler.  

How Long Will a Trolling Motor Battery Last?

The short answer is— 80 minutes at maximum speed (high speeds) and 12 hours at slower speeds.

The long answer would include suggestions—balance and compute your time well. You won’t want to paddle hard, for a long time, or in difficult water at the end of your day, when you are tired, hungry, and far away from where you started.   

Can You Add a Trolling Motor to an Inflatable Kayak?

You can, depending on the position or the changes that you need to make to reinforce the structure.

Build your mount should you be unable to find a trolling motor designed specifically for an inflatable kayak. After all, inflatable kayaks are usually lightweight kayaks, with special features requiring a specific motor type.

Is It Legal to Put a Trolling Motor on a Kayak?

It is. In the end, you are not trolling per se but using your motor to silently get closer to fish. Research, read, and observe your country’s legislation on trolling motors. You’ll probably be required to register yours. 

Closing Thoughts

To conclude, trolling motors are perfect when you wish to move closer to the fish without being too loud.

Trolling motors became the rage in the 1980s. So many have changed since then, as anglers themselves witnessed the advancements and the benefits that came with them! Sonar transducers, temperature sensors, and GPS anchoring are some of these state-of-the-art features.

As fishing kayaks do not generally have a motor, mounting one on your kayak can bring along more hours spent on the water, discovering the surroundings (shallow water will continue to be accessible), or just fishing, and providing a quick battery-powered lift to the starting point.

From this perspective, motorized kayaks seem too good to be true, don’t they? Most kayak trolling motors probably are.

Choose between hand control, pedal control, and remote control. Kayaks are now able to stay in one spot, fighting the wind, the waves, and the currents only by GPS anchoring. Your new trolling motor can connect to various apps or fish-finder devices.

I agree electric motors for a kayak are smaller than those used even on small boats but they still come with many benefits. Kayak fishing tends to be more fun while steering a standard trolling motor, that’s for sure.

With larger boats (again, this isn’t the case for kayaks), the outboard motor that you regularly use can be tilted out of the water. Instead, the trolling motor can be your companion in exploring areas that are otherwise too shallow to access via a regular outboard motor.

With an excellent battery life attached to a strong motor (see the discussion about pounds of thrust above), which has enough power to let you explore new fishing grounds, you’ll be a happy angler.

So, have you drawn your conclusions and chosen the best kayak motor? Are you ready for that new motor to come into your angler’s life?

Categories: Kayaking

Olivia Petra

My name is Olivia – I travel, I write, and I love action sports. I discovered this passion for extreme sports in 2009 while rafting down the Una River in Bosnia and Herzegovina – I must say that it remained my favorite river. It is, after all, unique (as its name suggests). From there, I couldn't stop. My connection to water got me closer to water sports: expedition kayaking, whitewater kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, and kitesurfing (I also tried surfing; it's not for me). I am also a passionate snowboarder. The most modern winter sports resort in Romania is only 12 km away, so I am there every week from December to April! I also sandboarded while traveling through Egypt; it is harder than it seems. What about air? I tried paragliding, I tandem-skydived... and ziplining relaxes me a lot. All these activities made me feel alive over the past years. I traveled to certain parts of the planet only to experience some of them. Traveling and I are forever linked. No trip is complete without experiences connected to a new slope, a remote diving spot, or a fast-moving river. Friendship and kindness on the road are ranked highest in my heart. A lover of animals and sweets – which always get me closer to the human factor –, I believe that the small joys in life are the greatest.

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