Kayaking can be a great recreational activity; a chance to get back to nature, enjoy the great outdoors, and catch a few fish. In some cases, however, it can be tricky to navigate moving quickly and silently, especially if you need to keep your hands free for other tasks.
Adding a trolling motor to your arsenal is a great way to improve your kayaking experience, and can improve your chances of a successful fishing trip.
A trolling motor is a small electric engine or self-contained mechanical unit, which consists of a number of components: an electric motor, propeller, or controls, and which is placed on the stern or bow of boats.
This is designed to allow you to move around the water in virtual silence, and without the need for a paddle. Using a trolling motor offers an additional means of propulsion, allowing you to enjoy increased speeds, as well as a higher capability to move and navigate the kayak, all while enjoying a hands-free experience.
Choosing the best trolling motor can be a challenge - there is a wide range of products available, and this can be an overwhelming decision.
Fortunately for you, we have put together the best options on the market, as well as the ultimate buyers guide to help you make a fast, smart and confident decision. Time to take your kayaking experience to the next level!
OUR TOP PICK
When you are out on the water, you need equipment you can rely on - the last thing you want is to find yourself stranded miles from land!
Newport Vessels has a strong reputation within the industry, and their kayak trolling motor is no exception. Made from quality magnesium and aluminum, this is a high-quality and long-lasting material that makes this product suitable for both saltwater and freshwater environments.
The trolling motor also comes with an impressive eight different speed settings, including three reverse and five forward speeds, and the throttle will gently click when you change the gears, or to let you know that the motor has been switched off - this is important with such a quiet motor.
The product also includes a fiberglass shaft of 24 inches in length, allowing for great variation and options in terms of depth.
This feature, combined with a three-blade propeller, means that the Newport troller is a versatile option, and can generate an impressive 55 pounds of thrust, able to take on a boat up to 2700 pounds in weight.
As an added bonus, this is a motor with great battery life, especially at lower speeds, and this ensures that you will never be stranded.
- Quality material - which is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater
- Designed to last - making this a great investment
- Extra-long battery life - for peace of mind
- Range of speed settings - three reverse and five forward
- Reliable company with great customer service
- Heavier than other options
If you are looking for the most portable option, the Watersnake is a great selection. The entire product weighs a grand total of 4.8 pounds, meaning that it will not weigh down your craft, or be an inconvenience if you are moving from place to place.
This portability is a major advantage and makes the Watersnake an ideal option for kayakers who transport their boat across the country, as it helps to minimize weight and overall baggage.
The thrust of the Watersnake is lower than other options on the list, at just 18 pounds, but this is not a disadvantage if you are looking to power a lightweight kayak or craft.
While it may not be the best option for larger, heavier vessels, this is great for those with a smaller and more compact kayak, for whom portability is important. A 24-inch shaft and two-blade propeller allow you to adjust the trolling motor to meet your exact needs.
- Suitable for both saltwater and freshwater for a versatile product.
- Very lightweight and easy to handle - offering portability
- Extendable handle - allows you to adjust as needed
- Quiet operation - allowing you to move silently
- Separate Forward/Reverse switch for ease of use
- Less powerful than other motors
- No built-in battery indicator
If versatility and the ability to personalize your product are important priorities, then the Goplus trolling motor is a great purchase.
This device comes in several different configurations, and you can opt from 46, 55, or 86 pounds of thrust, depending on the size of your kayak, and the requirements of the setting.
This not only offers you plenty of choices, but it also ensures that you have the power you need in different types of water.
The Goplus also offers a number of options when it comes to adjustability, with an adaptable shaft, a tilting mechanism allowing the mounting bracket to be placed in a number of different positions, and a telescoping handle, all of which come together to offer plenty of opportunities for personalization, no matter the environment you find yourself in.
There is also a 10-point LED battery indicator.
- Customizable - choose from 46, 55, or 86 pounds of thrust
- Powerful motor - allows you to handle a range of water types
- Fully adjustable - adjust the shaft, handle, mounting bracket, and speed for total control
- LED battery indicator - makes it easy to see how much charge you have left at a glance
- Suitable for saltwater and freshwater - you only need to buy one motor to enjoy a range of conditions and water types
- Quite heavy - the motor comes in at 18 pounds without the battery, meaning that it can weigh your kayak down if you already have a heavy load.
Solid, reliable, and affordable, the AQUOS Haswing is a quality trolling motor that does its job to an excellent standard and is a great pick for those who are purchasing their first trolling motor, or who are new to kayaking in general, and need something super reliable without any of the bells and whistles.
One of the main advantages of this pick is the lightweight, portable nature of the motor - it weighs just 7.9 pounds, and the tiller is totally collapsable, making this an ideal choice if you travel a lot, or will need to be transporting your kayak from place to place on a regular basis.
While there is unlikely to be enough power for large, heavy kayaks, this is a great choice for lightweight vessels or ones that will be sailing in largely calm, shallow water.
The maximum thrust is 20 pounds, and this, combined with a two-blade propeller, offers just enough power for a smaller kayak, or a mid-sized boat without too heavy a load, or too many passengers.
- Super lightweight and portable - the motor is lightweight and collapsible, making it easy to transport
- Ideal for smaller vessels thanks to a reduced thrust and lighter weight
- Quick-release lock on bracket makes it easy to use
- Tilt Twist Tiller is adjustable, allowing you to store the motor more easily
- Only four-speed settings - far fewer than other options
- Lacks the power for larger kayaks
- Shorter battery life may be frustrating
The Minn Kota is a tough, durable trolling motor, which is specifically designed to stand the test of time, even when exposed to the elements of nature while out on the water.
The motor is made from a reinforced composite material, which is designed to withstand damage from UV rays, as well as flexing and warping, allowing you to enjoy fishing no matter the weather. As an added bonus this composite shaft is guaranteed for the life of the product, helping to boost the value for money.
As well as being tough and durable, the Minn Kota motor offers plenty of power, thanks to an impressive 40 pounds of thrust and a 36-inch shaft, making it perfect for larger, heavier kayaks, or those which need to be able to carry a heavy weight or plenty of passengers.
The handle is telescopic and this, combined with a choice of 5 forward directions, and 2 reverse ones, means that you are in total control at every moment, no matter how quickly conditions around you change.
- Very powerful, with an impressive 40 pounds of thrust
- Battery has a long life and can be recharged when not in use
- Quiet operation allows you to stay quiet on the water, increasing your chances of a successful catch
- Very versatile, offering excellent value for money
- A little pricier than other options
Best Kayak Trolling Motors Buying Guide
Now that we have taken a closer look at the top options available on the market, we will spend a little time helping you work out how to choose your new kayak trolling motor - there are a number of considerations to bear in mind, and with so many products on offer, you can use our guide to help you make a confident, informed decision that ticks every box.
The first thing to consider is whether you will be using your kayak in saltwater or freshwater, or a combination of both. Certain materials are better suited to specific environments, and a few products work well in both - these are the products you want to target.
Make sure that your chosen motor works well in the water of your choice, or you risk damaging it very quickly. As a side note, the motors designed to be suitable for both salt and freshwater are generally built to a slightly higher standard.
Stainless steel tends to be a popular option for many kayaking fans - it resists corrosion, can handle both types of water and is typically lighter in weight than other materials.
The next important consideration is power - this is the amount of power needed to propel your kayak smoothly through the water. As a general rule, the weight and length of your vessel will determine the amount of power needed.
On average, you will need around two pounds of thrust per 100 pounds of weight - the heavier the kayak, the more power you will need. It is important to note that even a weaker unit will offer greater speed and power than your average paddling speed, unaided by a motor.
The most common thrust options include 36 and 40 pounds at the bottom end, 46, 50 and 55 in the middle, and 60 and 86 pounds at the top end - when selecting your trolling motor, consider the size of the boat and the conditions you will be fishing in - this will help you determine the best level of thrust.
While a higher thrust rate may not necessarily equate to a higher speed, it does make it easier to reach your maximum speed and maintain this even when the current is against you.
The more speed settings your motor has, the greater your control over how fast you go, and the more efficient your battery is.
If you take charge of your speed, you can ensure that you get the maximum from your battery, reducing the amount of time it will need to charge, and allowing you to spend longer on the water.
As a rule, most motors come with five forward speeds, and three reverse speeds, but this is not universal, so make sure you check this factor closely if speed is a deal-breaker.
The smaller size of kayak motors means that they are battery-operated, and choosing the right battery plays a key role in how well your motor operates and runs.
You should make sure that the battery you choose is the right match for the motor - for example, 12V for a 12V motor - and opt for a lithium battery wherever possible.
These can be a little pricier but are lighter and smaller than other options - important for a kayak where the load can make all the difference - while still storing a large amount of energy.
In addition, they can typically be recycled when they reach the end of their life, helping to boost their green credentials.
Number of Propeller Blades
Not all motors are made equal - the most common options are two or three blades. The higher the number of propeller blades, the easier it is to navigate grass and weeds, and the quieter the motor tends to be.
Length of Shaft
Another important consideration is the length of the shaft - this has a significant impact on the level of the thrust, and the performance of the motor. A shaft that is too short will be very noisy, while one that is too long will risk hitting rocks and beds underwater.
To get the perfect fit, measure the distance from the waterline to the motor mount - the motor should be around 12 inches under the water level. If the distance you measure is under 10 inches, opt for a shaft length of around 30 inches.
For distances between 10 and 16 inches, select a shaft of around 36 inches, and for distances between 16 and 20 inches, your shaft length should be around 42 inches. These measurements will help you to make the perfect choice for your kayak.
Best Kayak Trolling Motors - FAQ's
Can You Use A Trolling Motor With A Kayak?
As long as you have a trolling motor mount, you can attach a motor to a kayak quickly and easily. You can purchase a standard, off-the-shelf mount for a little extra cost, but a lot more convenience, or opt for a homemade mount if funds are tight.
Is It Worth Putting A Trolling Motor On A Kayak?
Adding a trolling motor to a kayak not only makes your job easier on the water but also increases your load capacity, allowing you to bring more equipment on your trip which would otherwise make your kayak too heavy.
How Much Thrust Do I Need For A Kayak Trolling Motor?
The most important consideration to take into account when calculating thrust is the weight of your boat. As a rule, you will need at least two pounds of thrust for every one hundred pounds that your boat weighs.
Is It Legal To Put A Trolling Motor On A Kayak?
It is legal to put a trolling motor on a kayak, but just check the legislation in your area - in many cases, a motor-powered kayak will be subject to a different set of laws or regulations than those operated by a paddle, as they will be recategorized as motorized vessels.
Make sure that your vessel is fully compliant with any requirements, including registration where necessary, before heading out.
Adding a trolling motor to your kayak is a great way to enhance your experience on the water, and is perfect for taking your kayaking adventure to the next level.
From increasing speed to boosting your power, you can increase your chances of a successful fishing trip, or simply explore brand new horizons, all without worrying about paddling by hand or running out of energy.