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So my friend succeeded in impressing me with his fishing experience, and I also decided to go fishing in a fishing kayak. Who doesn’t love adventure and rock and roll, after all?

Having reached the destination, I paddled and took a far stretch of the south lake, thinking the far the merrier. However, I forgot one thing; I had to come back too.

And man, it’s serious cardio if you only rely on paddles. Although, after lots of crying and cursing, I made my way back, my muscles kept screaming for days. Can you feel my pain?

Well, my friend clearly didn’t, as he laughed his ass off over my misery of failed trip, and now he’s nowhere to be found. Back to the topic, I learned my lesson: always do proper research and planning.

Long story short, if you don’t mind experiencing the same distress as I had, be my guest. Otherwise, let’s read how to mount a trolling motor on a kayak and keep your activity as fun as possible.

Can You Put a Trolling Motor on a Kayak?

kayak trolling motor setup

There is good news for all the beginners out there who bought kayaks without trolling motors and are wondering if their fate is the same as mine.

Of course, you can put a trolling motor on a kayak yourself. You can mount the trolling motor on either of three places; bow, transom/ stern, or gunwales. 

Usually, a 12-volt marine battery and around 55 lbs of the thrust of kayak trolling motors provide you the best of both worlds.

Trust me; it ensures high performance by letting you travel quickly and keeping your energy levels and fun mood in check, thus providing more time and area for exploring and fishing.

What Are the Requirements for Mounting a Trolling Motor on a Kayak?

Now that you know you can mount your kayaks with trolling motors, I bet you can’t control yourself rushing to get it done.

However, you would want to take your time and know the gears and tools required for mounting before buying them. 

The requirements for mounting a trolling motor on a kayak depend on your kayak type, mounting locations, and trolling motors. Therefore, double-check the brands and models of your kayak and trolling motor to ensure a secure fit.

For example, an inflatable kayak will probably demand a transom mount trolling motor. The transom-mounted trolling motors prove very efficient in fishing as it doesn’t hinder the activity.

Trolling Motor

can you put a trolling motor on a kayak

You would not want to buy just any trolling motor for your kayak. Imagine the motor doesn’t fit perfectly with your kayak or stops working halfway through trolling.

Therefore, you must consider trolling motors suitable for your kayak based on the kayak’s weight, length, and model. Why not look for kayak-specific trolling motors? It can make installing much easier on your kayak.

Trolling Motor Battery

mounting a trolling motor on a kayak

Modern electric trolling motors operate on batteries. But what makes a battery suitable for your motor depends on many factors, such as its type, size, voltage, and capacity to power the battery for the time you need to spend trolling with safety and efficiency.

Moreover, it is also vital to consider the weight of your yak, gears, and people on the kayak while choosing a trolling motor battery.

Also, don’t use regular car batteries for the risk of damaging your electric trolling motor. Otherwise, be ready to spend extra bucks for sure. 

Battery Box

add trolling motor to kayak

As the name suggests, a marine battery box is a superhero to keep your battery safe, secure, and dry while you enjoy trolling.

It minimizes the risk of battery corrosion and short circuits/ shocks. Also, it protects you from harmful toxins released from the battery by providing an extra layer of defense.

You can also look for a smart box for its convenience, vents, power outlets, storage straps, and circuit breakers to have a bomb battery box for your kayak.

Oh, and by the way, although the battery boxes are waterproof, don’t submerge them in the water to check their efficiency. 

Quick-release Mounting Bracket

A quick-release trolling motor bracket is popular among avid kayak users for quick storage, maintenance, and security of your trolling motor. It has two interlocking parts that help attach and detach trolling motor to/ from the kayak deck.

The key is to look for a good quality mounting bracket with a rubber isolator and shock absorption quality compatible with the kayak.

An Impact/Drill

two rod holders and stern mount

As you install the motor, you must fix the screws and drill holes. Why do it the hard way when you can work smart? You only need an impact or a drill to make the installation easy. 

Waterproof Sealant/Silicone

To avoid leakage or sinking of the kayaks, you need to seal the holes as drilled to install the motor. However, it’s not a big deal. A silicone sealant can be applied on and around the holes and keep the area waterproof, aka say goodbye to the leakage.


trolling motor for kayak

You must be thinking, why need a screwdriver when you have an impact drill? The answer is simple; you are dealing with plastic or fiberglass. Since you don’t want to strip these materials using extra force, a screwdriver is handy to tighten the screws.

Wiring Kit

trolling motor kayak setup

A wiring kit includes all the accessories to wire your battery to the trolling motor. These kits contain all ready-to-install parts, but you can buy individual items and create your motor cables.

However, if you are looking for an easy and clean job, do yourself a favor and get one.

How to Put a Trolling Motor on a Kayak?

Putting a trolling motor on a kayak may seem as tricky as plucking stars from the sky, but it’s the opposite.

Anyone can do it as long as they have all the gears required and follow the simple instructions according to their kayak’s requirements. 

Most trolling motors do come as a complete kit with an instruction manual. However, it is not a common occurrence to get a ready-to-install trolling motor.

Worry not; get your battery, motor mounts, and hardware, and follow the installation guide describing every step in detail.

So, in case you don’t plan to lift your kayak paddles and do your cardio workout on the water, what are you waiting for?

Please read the instructions below and thank me later for this easiest installation process:

Decide Where to Mount

mounting trolling motor on kayak

First thing first, before you crash the market to find the ideal trolling motor for your kayak, you must understand where you want to mount the motor.

As described earlier, you can fix it on the kayak’s gunwales, bow, or stern. Each has its implications, and you must consider your preference and requirements.

The motor mounted on the gunwale is easier to access even when the rider sits comfortably on his seat while trolling.

However, unless one is an experienced kayak user, you may face navigational issues. It is due to the difference of thrust on both sides, with more on the mounted side.

On the other hand, the motor installed on the bow or transom comes with a remote control operation, helping you steer with the foot braces. 

Select a Suitable Motor Mount

adding a trolling motor to a kayak

Once you decide the position where you want to mount the kayak motor, the next step is choosing the mount which will hold the motor in that place on the kayak.

When you explore the motors mount varieties and styles, you will learn some motors fit best to gunwale while others to bow or transom of the kayak.

Also, consider the motor mount’s compatibility with your motor and kayak. For instance, the mount that attaches to the kayak’s side should fit your kayak’s width.

On the other hand, the mount that attaches to the bow or stern of the kayak should have clamps and bolts that fit the design of your kayak’s bow or stern.

Moreover, the sit-inside kayaks require mount attachment on the sides due to the absence of a solid handle or edge on such varieties.

In contrast, the top sitting kayaks are more flexible with the type of motor mount you choose, and you can attach the mount to the bow, stern, or gunwale position.

Connect the Motor’s Propeller to It

How one wishes to buy motors with attached propellers makes the installation super straightforward.

Unfortunately, wishes don’t ride on horses. Imagine getting your excitement down the drain when you receive the damaged shipped propeller that comes attached to the motor.

 That’s why the propellers come separately, and you need to attach them after following the manufacturer’s instructions. Moreover, remember that a propeller increases the thrust of the trolling motor, not the speed of your kayak. 

An expert tip: always keep an additional propeller on board as a backup in case the existing propeller is damaged during the trolling. Better safe than sorry.

Mount Motor to Kayak

mount trolling motor to kayak

You can install the motor to the kayak after getting the motor and mount compatible with your chosen kayak position.

Gunwales mounted motor needs clamps to hold the mount in place. In contrast, you will need to drill holes and use bolts and nuts to secure the bow/ stern mounts.

Once mounts are attached, seal the holes and make them watertight with silicone sealant to avoid leaks. Now, secure the motor to the mount with screws.

Mostly every other kayak trolling motor mount has the function of pivoting and swiveling the motor, requiring a pin to secure it in place. This feature can help you to raise the motor when trolling in shallow water.

Make sure to keep the pin safe that keeps the position of the motor in place and avoid any accidents. 

Build Steering Linkages

Now that you have mounted the motor, you need to access it to steer your boat’s direction. The gunwale mounting location allows you access to the motor while sitting and control orientation with your hands.

On the other hand, the bow or stern locations provide hands-free options, are they are positioned away from the seat. Here comes the role of steering linkages which helps you connect with the motor via foot pedals.

If your kayak comes with a foot pedal and skeg, installing steering linkages is much easier. Just identify the locations for the entry of steering linkages and replace the existing skeg with the kayak trolling motor. 

Attach the two metal eye bolts with the shaft at the height of the steering linkages. Ensure the connection is not too tight to avoid restricting the shaft’s movement and affecting the motor’s efficiency.

Test the steering linkages by putting on a kayak stand if it’s working fine before starting your venture.

Link a Motor to a Marine Battery

how to mount a trolling motor

The final step of mounting the motor on the kayak is wiring the battery to the deep-cycle marine battery and testing it before you dip your kayak in the water. Don’t fret; it’s not complicated at all.

After removing the cap of the motor, you will expose the wiring and electrical components.

According to the instructions in the manufacturer’s manual, you need to understand the colors of the wires and locate the two wires (ground and hot lead) that are supposed to attach to the marine battery. 

Although the common color code is black for ground wires and red for hot leads, it depends on the type of motors. Therefore, you must recognize the instructions, or you may be doomed.

Checking the connections, testing its functionality, and guaranteeing waterproof wiring is necessary before dipping your kayak in the water.

Trolling Motor Buyer’s Guide

Did you get overwhelmed with all the variety and types present in the market? No problem; I have your back by highlighting some important criteria for choosing the right trolling motor.

Power Needs

fishing kayak with trolling motor mount

A trolling motor needs a battery to supply power to it. When choosing a trolling battery, you need to consider how much power it provides to the motor and how long it can last in the water. The most common motors come with a 12-volt, deep-cycle marine battery. 

The duration of time the battery will last in the water to supply power is measured by its energy storage capacity (mAh).

Once you know the voltage and storage capacity, you can buy a suitable battery that is strong enough to support the motor’s power supply without being heavy enough to affect the overall weight of the kayak.


Thrust can be defined as the amount of power a trolling motor needs to move the kayak forward.

It is an important criterion as the trolling kayaks are heavy with the kayak’s own weight, your weight, and the fishing supply and accessories you may need on board. Decide; how much thrust is needed?

Therefore, you need a trolling motor with enough thrust to propel your kayak.

A quick reference, for every 100 lbs, the motor needs two pounds of thrust. Generally, the minimum recommendation is at least 50 lbs of thrust in addition to the kayak’s weight and the rider’s body weight.


The size of the trolling motor, mount, and battery impacts the available space and weight of the kayak. Moreover, the performance of the motor is also affected by its shaft size, as a longer shaft can provide more thrust. However, it is not suitable for shallow water as it sinks deep.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to mount trolling motors on kayaks can be a game changer. It is neither expensive nor difficult; I literally mounted it myself and found it appealing as I am an avid DIY-er. So, TA-DAA!!

Mounting trolling motor is quite an easy and fruit-bearing procedure. If you have a thing for exploring different parts of lakes and rivers, you have to learn how to mount a trolling motor on a kayak.

Remember, your comfort is crucial. You don’t want to stress your limbs and need massages later, as I needed after my first adventure. You might also want to learn how to make a kayak more stable for a safer journey.

On the contrary, install the trolling motor with simple instructions, enjoy roaming and kayak fishing, and later have a delicious fish BBQ with your friends and family. What a perfect therapy for all kayak anglers! 

Categories: Kayaking


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