Kayaks are lightweight, which you like, but you miss the degree of control that a trolling motor delivers to your boating and thus fishing experience. Can you outfit a kayak with a trolling motor or are you stuck paddling?
You can put a trolling motor on your kayak for fishing, mounting it to the transom or bow using a trolling motor bracket. The average trolling motor for a kayak offers 55 pounds of thrust and needs a 12-volt battery to run.
In this guide, we’ll go through all the ins and outs of using a trolling motor on a kayak for fishing. If this is something you’ve seriously thought of doing before, then make sure you keep reading!
Can You Use a Trolling Motor on a Kayak?
Paddling on a kayak is good exercise, and sometimes you prefer paddling. During other days, you crave the high degree of control and stability that a boat with a trolling motor afforded you.
Well, good news for you! As we touched on in the intro, you can indeed use a trolling motor on a kayak.
Now you’ll have all the perks of using a kayak in conjunction with the trolling motor that you’ve relied on for fishing for many years.
The Benefits of Trolling Motors
If you’re perhaps on the fence, here are some reasons to inspire you to give a kayak trolling motor a try.
Optimal Boat Control
Kayaks can be rather unpredictable boats even if you begin to get the hang of yours.
A boat with a trolling motor, by comparison, offers far more precise control over the entirety of the boat.
This grants you the permission to try the slow and steady yet sneaky approach when catching fish or any approach that suits you, really. You’ll feel like you’re the one in control, not your boat.
For those who are still getting the hang of their kayaks, they may find that using a trolling motor delivers enough control that they don’t want to go without anymore.
You Can Finally Stay Put
If you read our recent post, then it shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that kayaks can gradually drift through the water. All it takes is a decently strong current or a good wind.
While anchors are a solution to that problem, trolling motors are another.
Some trolling motors let you lock your entire boat in one spot. Your kayak won’t move again, and even better, you have no need to drop and later retrieve an anchor!
These sophisticated trolling motors often include GPS as well to map the coordinates of your kayak and ensure it stays in that spot.
Even if the water currents or wind levels happened to change, your boat wouldn’t budge.
More Power Than You Can Achieve Through Paddling
Even if you’re an incredible paddler, unless you’re world-renowned, then you can’t compete with the power that a trolling motor could deliver.
That’s not to say that you need a lot of power when all you’re doing is fishing, of course, but getting to your preferred destination sooner is always better.
What’s even nicer still is that you won’t have to expend the manual effort to reach your fishing spot.
You can use the trolling motor and maybe your oars as assistance, but no longer as your primary mode of traveling.
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How to Choose the Right Trolling Motor for Your Kayak
Not all trolling motors are created equally.
First and foremost, you need a trolling motor designed for kayaks, not any other type of vessel. As we talked about in the intro, a trolling motor for a kayak will typically run on a 12-volt battery.
You’ll only get about 55 pounds of thrust because you don’t need more when on a kayak.
Here are some more factors to keep in mind when considering your kayak trolling motor options.
You should recall that some trolling motors on the market today can be rather sophisticated! They might boast GPS and other smart features.
However, not every trolling motor includes these features by default, so if you want them, you’re going to have to go out of your way to get them.
Another feature that might be an interesting inclusion for your kayak trolling motor is remote-control steering for an optimal degree of control.
Integrated sonar can come in handy as well, especially if you’re using a fishfinder on your kayak.
At the very least, a 12-volt marine battery is fine, as we’ve made clear.
Some anglers might prefer a 24-volt marine battery for a higher degree of thrust, but that’s not really needed when you’re fishing from a kayak. Besides, you’ll only make your boat heavier in the end.
After all, a 24-volt battery on its own is quite weighty. Using two 12-volt batteries to make one 24-volt power source also adds up in the weight department!
A degree of thrust that’s about 55 pounds is more than sufficient for a fishing kayak. You’re not racing on your boat, but merely traveling across the water to reach a destination for fishing.
Any greater degree of thrust isn’t necessary, even if some anglers want it. Keep in mind that the more thrust, the faster your battery drains, which is why you’d need a 24-volt battery.
A shaft length of anything more than 36 inches is too big for a kayak. At the shortest, a 24-inch shaft is fine, as is any length between 24 and 36 inches.
The reason that the shaft length of the trolling motor needn’t be too long is that your kayak already sits very close to the water level anyway.
If you’re working with an overly long shaft, you might find that your boat is too bottom-heavy. You’ll bump into stumps and rocks more, which can damage both the trolling motor and the kayak.
The shaft length can also interrupt your fishing, getting caught up in your line.
Adding more features and more battery power to your trolling motor is going to increase its weight. This will slow down your kayak.
What matters most is that you don’t exceed the weight limit of your kayak, whatever that happens to be. If you do, then you could easily capsize from your boat when zipping about on your trolling motor.
The last consideration to think about is how much your kayak trolling motor will cost.
If yours is a simpler motor without a high degree of thrust or a lot of additional features, then you probably won’t spend a lot of money on the trolling motor.
However, the absence of those cool features does make it harder to use a trolling motor as a beginner.
The more features and the heavier your trolling motor, the more expensive it will typically be.
Below, are a couple popular trolling motors you can find on Amazon.
High-end Trolling Motor
Best For Value
Budget Friendly Option
How to Mount a Trolling Motor to Your Kayak
You found a pretty great trolling motor for your kayak, but you’re not sure how to install it. Without further ado, here are some handy mounting instructions!
Measure Your Bow or Transom
First, you have to choose whether you want the trolling motor on your boat’s bow or transom. The bow is the more common choice, but you can select a spot based on availability on your kayak as well as stability.
Once you choose between the bow and the transom, make sure you measure the length and width of the area so you can buy a compatible trolling motor.
Attach the Mounting Bracket
A trolling motor should include a mounting bracket for installation. You should also find instructions in the box that tell you exactly how to install the mounting bracket.
If you don’t see any instructions, then look up the trolling motor online, as there should be an online version of the instructions in PDF format somewhere.
Most trolling motor mounting brackets use bolts or screws, between two and four of them. The bolts or screws hook the bottom bracket part to your kayak.
The bottom bracket will include a quick-release portion that goes atop the motor bracket. The quick-release bracket will be held together by the same number of bolts or screws as the bottom component.
Test everything out before you move on. If you can’t get the quick-release bracket to work, then you probably installed something incorrectly. Work backward, undo your progress to that point, and then put everything together again.
Wire the Trolling Motor
Okay, so you’ve got the brackets for your trolling motor to go, but not the wiring.
It’s a lot easier to figure out how the wiring works if you bought a kit, and so we’d really recommend that for beginners.
The crux of it is this: you’ll find a red wire attached to a plug that connects to a longer red wire. Then you take the black wire from the plug and connect that to the longer black wire.
Since you’re working with wiring and thus electricity, we have to warn you to be careful. Electrical injuries can be quite serious, and electric shock can sometimes result in death.
Even once you have everything wired together for the trolling motor, you might have to make holes in your kayak to send the wires and plugs through.
This is not a great part of the process, as who wants to drill through their kayak, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
If your boat has a removable plate or two, then you can put the drill down.
Test Your Trolling Motor
Once you’ve got the trolling motor secure and it’s receiving power, give it a try! You can test it on dry land just to see if it works, but the best way to get a feel for how your new kayak trolling motor is to ride it out on the waves.
You can indeed install a trolling motor on your kayak for fishing, and we highly recommend it!
You’ll enjoy less drifting, more control, and greater power than foregoing a trolling motor, and mounting one onto your boat isn’t all that challenging either.
If you were debating whether to put a trolling motor on a kayak for fishing, we hope this guide has changed your mind!