Can A Trolling Motor Be Used On A Kayak?
Share this article:
TopNotch Outdoor is independent – we research, test, and rate the top products to help you make the right buying choice. We sometimes use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on your purchase. Learn more…
Trolling is one of the most efficient methods of kayak fishing. You just have to attach your fishing line to the stern of your boat, get going, and voila!
You have fish!
Of course though, it does require some planning and preparation to get to that place.
We recommend you attach a trolling motor to your kayak.
There are different reasons you to know Can a trolling motor be used on a kayak? The most obvious is kayak fishing. The strength you’d have to exert paddling would have been put to better use to haul your fish over into the boat.
Whitewater kayakers look for this addition to their boats. They’re all for speed, and it’s no secret that a motor is a lot faster than manual paddling.
If you’re not going kayak fishing or coasting through the rapids, you may want to enjoy the scenery – and lots of it – so you need something to propel your boat forward that little bit more efficiently.
That, or paddling, simply exhausts you.
Whatever the case, trolling motors are a great help to many kayakers – and may just be your new best friend.
But there are things to consider. In this article, we’re going over the important factors of attaching a trolling motor to your kayak. And also:
Kayak fishing is not a race. That’s why trolling motors can go only as fast as five mph, even if you keep increasing the pounds of thrust. But that’s not all there is to know about the speed, thrust, and other specs and features of a motor.
We know you’re excited to learn all about it, but let’s take it one step at a time.
So fasten your seatbelts…
… we’re sailing!
Can You Put a Trolling Motor on Your Kayak?
Yes, that should be possible. It’s a walk in the park for someone with boating and fishing experience. And over the years, manufacturers have gone out of their way to make it easy for us, enthusiasts.
But first of all…
Let’s make sure that we’re on the same boat about what a trolling motor is.
A trolling motor is an independent engine attached to either the stern or the boat’s bow to propel the boat forward. A complete set includes an electric motor, a propeller, and controls. It’s made only to augment the boat’s primary propulsion.
Anglers use it often, but nowadays, even leisure fishers do. Trolling motors used to be large because they were made for big ships.
You can rejoice because manufacturers have decided to cater to the needs of your kayak too!
They now come in small sizes, yet powerful enough to propel a small boat. For a kayak, trolling motors usually rely on battery power. It’s also called an electric motor. And there’s a lot to choose from.
So, if you want to attach one to your kayak, you need to know which is the best trolling motor for you. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. To know more about that, you can read this article about the best trolling motors on the market RIGHT HERE.
Before you put a trolling motor on your kayak, make sure it’s the type that’s specifically designed for small boats.
Trolling motors for kayaks
One of the most obvious indicators of a made-for-kayak trolling motor is the shaft length. The shaft is how the propeller is joined to the motor.
A kayak’s hull isn’t designed to go deep under the surface of the water. It floats very lightly. So, trolling motors have long shafts to get the propellers deep underwater.
If you’re not on a strict budget, the Newport Vessels Kayak Series may be a good choice. It has an adjustable shaft that allows you to use it with a kayak, canoe, or a larger boat. The Minn Kota Endura is one example of a versatile motor when it comes to its durable shaft.
Since it’s an electric trolling motor, most likely, it has a battery indicator. Modern designs compete in how accurately the indicator displays the condition of the motor’s battery.
Lastly is the size. Generally, small trolling motors are meant for kayaks. The size doesn’t indicate fewer pounds of thrust. It’s more for the compatibility of the motor to the size of the kayak itself.
It’s important to note because you’ll have to have space for the battery on your kayak.
Will a Trolling Motor Mount Onto my Kayak?
First, check your kayak if it has a mount for a kayak motor. Most kayaks do, but some don’t. If it’s a whitewater kayak or a fishing kayak, there’s a huge chance it has a mount.
But don’t fret…
If your boat doesn’t have a mount, there’s still a way to attach a motor to it. It’s going to be more complicated, but not impossible.
How to mount a motor onto a kayak
Basically, what you’re going to do is attach a mount to your kayak. You can do this yourself or leave it in the hands of a professional. The latter’s safer, but the former’s more fun!
If you choose the fun option, there are three ways to do it.
Either you attach the mount to the bow of the boat, the stern or transom, or the side of the stern.
You need to choose whether you want plywood, fiberglass, or a metal mount.
Whatever you decide on, you’re going to need a drill and screws compatible with the material of your choice. Yes, that’s it!
Now you can…
… go to the nearest – or your favorite – kayak or boat store. You can also go online for this. Then, ask for a DIY trolling motor mount. Chances are, they have it, and you can buy it.
When you get a hold of your mount, you’re ready to install it. Every mount is different, so carefully read the instructions first. And you can always watch instructional videos online.
And once you’re done with that, you can mount the trolling motor.
The first thing to do is attach the propeller to the motor. They’re usually bought or delivered separately to avoid damage. Then, you can install the motor on the mount of your kayak.
If you mount the motor at the bow or the stern, you can add steering linkages to it. That would be very functional – and also really cool.
But then again, every trolling motor is different. We can’t stress this enough: read the instructions or watch installation videos.
And take note:
Trolling motors are also classified by where it’s supposed to be mounted. These are what we call the bow-mounted, stern-mounted, side-mounted, and transom mount kayak motors.
So make sure that you buy the motor that matches where you installed the mount.
Is It Safe to Do?
Asking the safety question is understandable. A kayak, unlike full-blown boats, is meant to be propelled through paddling. That’s the way they were designed.
So the image of toppling over may scare you.
But let us tell you…
It is safe. Bring your paddle on board and wear a life jacket for extra precaution. It’s a must. But there’s nothing to be scared of about a trolling motor.
Just make sure that the trolling motor installed on your kayak is working properly. And the installation itself is correct.
Before you even buy a new motor for your fishing kayak, take a moment to learn a few things first.
Things to consider:
These are the features and specs that you need to look out for in choosing trolling motors for kayaks.
The thrust of a trolling motor is the measure of how powerful it is. As per the standard, it’s measured in pounds (lbs). One horsepower or 746 W of electricity is equal to around 72 to 75 pounds of thrust.
Basically, the bigger your boat, the more powerful the thrust of the trolling motor should be.
In other words…
If you have a small boat, steer clear of motors with higher thrusts. It’s fishing, not a carnival ride!
The optimal thrust for kayaks is 30 to 60 pounds. That counts as a powerful motor. Go any higher, and it would be like a drag race on water. Any lower, and it would defeat the purpose of buying a trolling motor.
One of the issues about mounting a trolling motor onto a kayak – or any boat for that matter – is the drag. It’s the resistance that a moving object receives as it navigates on a surrounding fluid. That’s why it’s sometimes called “fluid resistance” or “fluid friction.”
Drag isn’t always a bad thing.
It can regulate the length of the line coming off the reel of your fishing rod. But too much of it will reduce the top speed or pull the fishing hooks from the fish’s mouth.
From game to shame – nobody wants that!
The good news is…
There’s something you can do about it.
Most trolling motors have adjustable thrust settings. When you perceive that the drag is slowing you down and pushing the fish away from you, try reducing the thrust a little. In other words, you can reduce the drag by reducing the thrust.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right away. Once you’ve gained more experience, it will be like second nature to you.
The weight of the set is a significant matter. You don’t want your boat at an awkward angle while you’re riding it.
But that’s not all.
Usually, high-thrust motors are heavier. An 80-lb thrust can have engines that weigh up to 60 lbs. So we need to go lower than that for a kayak or canoe.
How Fast Will I Go with a Motor?
Speed is connected to thrust. A powerful thrust means you’ll have a speedy boat ride. But being the fastest boat is not the goal of using a trolling motor.
That said, no matter how heavy the thrust is, there’s a limit to how fast a kayak trolling motor can go.
When trolling, you’d want a motor to lighten up your paddling load and give you an advantage over the fish. Plus, it will help you get to your fishing spot in no time. Speed is an added feature, not the whole purpose.
The top speed for a kayak trolling motor is 5 miles per hour (mph).
Some motors go faster than that, especially when they have heavier thrusts. But fishing kayaks don’t need that much. However, it can be an advantage over rough weather or heavier boats.
What do we recommend?
If your budget permits it, look for a trolling motor with different forward and reverse speeds like the Minn Kota Endura with its five forward speeds and three reverse speeds. That way, you can alter the setting to suit your needs.
How long will a battery last with a trolling motor?
There’s a short answer and a long answer to this question.
Here’s the long one:
We can run the computations by measuring how a marine battery life is usually calculated – amperage hours divided by the motor amperage draw.
Amperage hours mean the length of time that a battery can supply a certain consistent amperage. For example, 100 amp hours indicates that the battery can supply 20 amps for 5 hours or ten amps for 10 hours.
On the other hand, motor amperage draw is the amperage that a motor draws at a certain speed. For instance, a motor may draw 20 amps per hour or ten amps per hour.
Suppose that you have a marine battery with 100 amp hours. Then your electric trolling motor operates at 20 amps per hour. Then, your battery will only last you five hours.
As for the short answer:
A 12-volt deep cycle battery with 110 amp hours is the ideal choice. Most trolling motors have an average amperage draw of 20 hours. That should at least last you 5.5 hours of run time. The Mighty Max Battery falls into this category.
But these figures are heavily affected by weather conditions. A resistant wind would require a higher amp draw, so it would mean less run time for your battery.
Conclusion: Can a trolling motor be used on a kayak
You can use a motor on your kayak.
Yes, you can mount it onto your kayak. If it doesn’t have a built-in mount, you can install one first or have a professional do it for you.
The important thing here is that the best kayak trolling motor is waiting just for you. You just have to know which one it is.
For a small and light kayak, a heavy motor won’t work. A small and light one, instead, would be the perfect option – always check out the specs.
A small-size trolling motor doesn’t mean it’s not a powerful motor. The same goes with lighter motors. These things might not look much, but they have more than enough power to give you a better fishing experience.
What’s it going to be for you? A Newport Vessels motor or a Minn Kota? Or maybe a MotorGuide?
Reading this detailed review will give you some insights on what to buy for your next adventure.
Whatever you choose, we hope that it helps you catch all the fish you ever want.
For now, so long and top speed!
Related: Best Trolling Motor For Kayak