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  • Post last modified:September 18, 2022
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Going a long distance in a kayak to get into the best fishing spots can be tiring, especially when paddling against wind or current.

This is exactly why having a trolling motor makes a lot of sense. To move your kayak or a canoe effortlessly so that you can focus on fishing.

If you’re looking for a perfect motor, we’ve narrowed down and handpicked a few trolling motors that we think you should consider.

Let’s get started!

Best Kayak Trolling Motors Compared

Best Spot-Lock

MotorGuide Xi3 GPS

  • Remote control with Pinpoint GPS and anchor mode
  • Bow-mounted
  • Saltwater option
Budget Remote

Haswing Cayman Black

  • Wireless remote control (no GPS)
  • Quick-release mount
Fastest For Kayak

Newport Vessels NK-180S

  • Powerful brushless motor (1.8hp)
  • Faster than most trolling motors
  • Cable steering system
Best For Saltwater

Newport Vessels Kayak Series

  • Short shaft is perfect for most kayaks
  • Long power cables
  • Saltwater-ready
Best Minn Kota

Minn Kota Endura C2

  • Many thrust and shaft options
  • Minn Kota reliability and support
Best Value

Newport Vessels NV-Series

  • Great value for money
  • Composite shaft
Best Budget

Watersnake Tracer

  • Inexpensive
  • 3 thrust and shaft length options

Why Put a Trolling Motor on a Kayak?

There are a few good reasons to put a trolling motor on their kayak:

Fishing. A trolling motor can help you move around in the water to find fish or to get to your favorite fishing spot. It can also help you keep your kayak in one spot so you can fish more easily.

Transportation. If you want to go exploring or travel to different parts of the river or lake, a trolling motor can help you get there.

Emergency. If you need to get to shore quickly, a trolling motor can help you get there. This is important especially if you’re facing strong current or wind.

Now, let’s have a closer look at some of the best trolling motors for kayaks today:

Kayak Trolling Motor Reviews




MotorGuide Xi3 GPS

BEST KAYAK TROLLING MOTOR WITH SPOT-LOCK

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 55 lb (12v)   Shaft length: 36″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater (saltwater model available)

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Pinpoint GPS with spot-lock and other advanced features
  • Wireless remote
  • Variable speeds
  • Very quiet

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Expensive

If you want a bow-mounted trolling motor with spot-lock for your kayak, the MotorGuide Xi3 with Pinpoint GPS is the best thing on the market today.

Why do we think so?

The Xi3 has all the advanced features and with a 36-inch shaft is small enough to fit on a kayak’s bow. Bow-mounted motors are best for maneuverability, with minimal turning circle.

The wireless remote makes it very simple to control your motor, which comes with electric-steer (Pinpoint GPS). The anchor mode from MotorGuide has a good reputation and makes staying on the fish easy.

At 55 pounds of thrust, the DC motor is powerful enough to handle adverse wind and water conditions. It has a variable speed controller, which makes for smooth speed selection and is more efficient than less expensive motors.

If you fish in the ocean or brackish water, MotorGuide makes a saltwater version.




Haswing Cayman Black

BEST BUDGET KAYAK TROLLING MOTOR WITH REMOTE

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Bow Mount   Thrust: 55 lb (12v)   Shaft length: 48″, 54″   Steering: Electric-steer   Wireless Remote: YES   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater & Saltwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Wireless remote control
  • Variable speeds
  • Can be used in saltwater
  • Quick-release bracket is included.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Shorter shaft unavailable

This Haswing Cayman Black is the cheapest remotely controlled trolling motor for a kayak.

It doesn’t have spot-lock, but the electric-steer features can help you control where the kayak is going and at what speed.

All Cayman Black models have a 12-volt DC motor delivering 55 pounds of thrust.

They can also be used in saltwater. This motor has a sacrificial anode, which helps protect the metal parts against corrosion.

We also like the handle, which makes this trolling motor comfortable to carry. The included quick-release bracket means mounting the motor is very easy each time.

Unfortunately, the shortest shaft available is 48″, which means it can stick out quite a bit on your kayak’s bow.




Newport Vessels NK-180S

FASTEST TROLLING MOTOR FOR KAYAK

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Transom Mount   Thrust: 1.8 hp equivalent (24v)   Steering: Cable-steer   Wireless Remote: NO   Speeds: Variable   Use in: Freshwater and saltwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Powerful and efficient brushless motor
  • Faster than traditional trolling motors (over 5 mph possible)
  • Cable steering system
  • Budget-friendly alternative to Torqeedo Ultralight

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Expensive

The Newport Vessels NK-180S is one of the most powerful trolling motors designed for kayaks. It has an equivalent power of a 1.8hp petrol outboard, which makes it possible to push a lighter kayak to over 5 mph.

Its 24-volt direct drive motor is brushless, making it quieter and more efficient. This helps extend your run time without the need for a bigger battery.

Another difference is a speed controller with a large display. It has boat-like speed control and a magnetic kill switch that shuts it off when you fall overboard.

The motor mounts directly onto your kayak’s stern using 4 bolts. It can be set up with steering cables so that you can steer it like a rudder.

Before you order the NK-180S, you need to check whether your kayak is compatible. Also, bear in mind this is a 24-volt trolling motor, and you will need two lead-acid (AGM or Gel) or lithium batteries.




Newport Vessels Kayak Series

BEST KAYAK TROLLING MOTOR FOR SALTWATER

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Transom Mount   Thrust: 36 lb (12v), 55 lb (12v)   Shaft length: 24″   Steering: Hand/tiller   Wireless Remote: NO   Speeds: 5 Forward, 3 Reverse   Use in: Freshwater & saltwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Perfect shaft length for most kayaks
  • Longer cables for more options in battery placement
  • Saltwater-ready

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No variable speeds

The Kayak Series from Newport Vessels is similar to the hugely popular NV-Series, but it was developed with kayak anglers in mind.

The adjustable 24-inch shaft is just the right size for most small boats. The longer cables give you more flexibility in battery location on your kayak or canoe.

This Newport Vessels model comes with a 5-point LED battery indicator and is saltwater compatible with corrosion-resistant materials and the sacrificial anode.

The Kayak Series comes in two versions with different thrust levels: 36 and 55 pounds.

There are 8 speeds: 5 forward and 3 reverse, available by twisting the tiller handle.




Minn Kota Endura C2

BEST MINN KOTA TROLLING MOTOR FOR KAYAK

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Transom Mount   Thrust: 30 lb, 40 lb, 45 lb, 50 lb, 55 lb (12V)   Shaft length: 30″, 36″, 42″   Steering: Hand/tiller   Wireless Remote: NO   Speeds: 5 Forward, 3 Reverse   Use in: Freshwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Reliable with composite shaft
  • Many thrust and shaft options

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Cannot be used in saltwater
  • No variable speeds

The Minn Kota Endura C2 is the simplest trolling motor from this manufacturer.

It doesn’t have variable speeds, but 5 forwards and 3 reverse speeds only.

The tiller is telescopic, which means it can be extended for more comfortable steering.

However, the Endura C2 proves very popular thanks to its reliability and Minn Kota brand.

Unfortunately, it can only be used in freshwater.




Newport Vessels NV-Series

BEST VALUE TROLLING MOTOR FOR KAYAK

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Transom Mount   Thrust: 36 lb, 46 lb, 55 lb, 62 lb (12v), 86 lb (24v)   Shaft length: 30″   Steering: Hand/tiller   Wireless Remote: NO   Speeds: 5 Forward, 3 Reverse   Use in: Freshwater & saltwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Great value for money

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No variable speeds

The NV Series are the best-selling motors from Newport Vessels, thanks to the excellent performance-to-price ratio.

You get the similar amount of thrust and features seen on the basic Minn Kota and MotorGuide models, but at a significantly lower price.

With a wide range of thrust options, from 36 to 86 pounds of thrust, the NV Series provides enough power for even the heaviest kayaks.

The motors have a simple speed controller, 5 speeds forward and 3 in reverse, and an LED battery level indicator.

The tiller is telescopic, extending an extra 6 inches for more steering convenience. The battery cable is 4 feet long.

They are all saltwater-capable.




Watersnake Tracer

BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY TROLLING MOTOR FOR KAYAK

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Transom Mount   Thrust: 30 lb, 44 lb, 54 lb (12v)   Shaft length: 30″, 36″, 42″   Steering: Hand-steer   Wireless Remote: NO   Speeds: 5 forward, 2 reverse   Use in: Freshwater

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Inexpensive
  • 3 thrust and 3 shaft options

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Freshwater only

The Australian-designed Watersnake Tracer is one of the cheapest trolling motors for kayaks today.

It comes in 3 different thrust and shaft configurations, all of them powered by 12 volts:

  • 30 pounds thrust – 30-inch shaft
  • 40 pounds thrust – 36-inch shaft
  • 54 pounds thrust – 42-inch shaft

The least powerful model has a 2-bladed propeller, while the other two feature a propeller with 3 blades.

The Tracer has 5 forward speeds, and 2 reverse speeds, which can be selected by twisting the tiller. (which is can be extended)

The shaft is made of chrome-plated steel. It’s not stainless or composite, like most of the competition.

This model is not rated for saltwater.


Things to Consider Before Buying a Kayak Trolling Motor

In our experience, these are the most important factors to have in mind when choosing a trolling motor for a kayak:

  • Thrust
  • Mount type – bow, transom, or side
  • Shaft length
  • Battery
  • Features

How Much Thrust Does a Kayak Need?

When it comes to choosing the best trolling motor for your kayak, one of the most important factors to consider is how much thrust it provides. The amount of thrust you need will depend on the size and weight of your kayak, as well as the type of water you’ll be using it in.

In general, you’ll want a trolling motor that provides at least 2 pounds of thrust for every 100 pounds you want to move through the water.

A fishing kayak usually weighs up to 100 pounds. If you add a person that weighs 200 pounds and another 100 pounds of gear, you have 400 pounds in total, which will require a minimum of 8 pounds of thrust.

This means even the smallest trolling motors with 30 pounds of thrust will be more than enough to push your kayak.

If you’re planning on using your kayak in calm waters, such as a lake or river, you can get away with a trolling motor that has less thrust. However, if you’re going to be using your kayak in choppy waters or in the ocean, you’ll be happier with a thrust of 55 pounds and more.

How to Mount a Trolling Motor on a Kayak?

Before you try or buy anything, you should first check how much weight your kayak can handle.

Some kayak models are rated to carry very little more than the person’s weight, e.g., 200-pound maximum. Any significant weight added to such a light kayak will make it unusable.

Mounting systems

You can either design and build your own mount, or buy a mount that has been proven and tested.

When choosing a mounting system, you will need to take a closer look at your kayak, what sort of modification to your kayak you want to make.

You should also think about how you want to control it. Are you ok with remotes, or would you like to have direct access to the tiller to steer your motor by hand?

Side mount

One of the simplest and least expensive ways to mount a trolling motor on a kayak is to fix a horizontal bracket right behind the kayak seat to extend to the side of the kayak.

You can then attach a transom mount trolling motor to that bracket and have the tiller handle right next to you so that you can control it directly.

The disadvantage of direct steering is that the position and arm movements can be awkward and take some getting used to.

Also, don’t expect steering to be very fast when using the motor alone. The side mount is too close to the kayak’s center. You will need a rudder or steer with your paddle.

Stern / transom

Another way of powering your kayak is to mount it right at the stern of your kayak. You will have to find a transom trolling motor model with a horizontal bracket, which you will bolt to your kayak.

When you fix the motor at the stern, you will steer and control the throttle via cable or wireless remote.

Bow mount

Bow mount trolling motors are installed on a kayak in a similar way to transom models. You will need to bolt them to your kayak’s bow.

Bow mount models are usually easier to steer, but that matters more on larger boats. What is perhaps more important is that they usually come with more features such as autopilot.

Shaft Length

Selecting the right shaft length is more important for larger boats, to make sure the propeller is submerged at all times.

This is less of an issue on a small boat, such as a kayak or canoe. If anything, you might want to avoid trolling motors with long shafts as they will either have their propeller deeper than necessary or will stick out too much above the kayak.

The optimum shaft length for a kayak trolling motor is between 20 and 30 inches.

What Size Battery for a Kayak?

Most 12 volt trolling motors with a single battery will provide sufficient thrust and power. If you want extra speed and efficiency you might look into 24-volt motors such as NK-180S or Torqeedo. In that case, you will need two 12v batteries connected in series to create a 24v system.

The battery will have to be lifted and carried onto your kayak, so before you buy one, check how heavy it is. If you don’t need lots of capacity with your fishing style, there is no need to go with the biggest you can afford and then struggle lifting it.

Go with the lightest battery that has enough capacity to do the job.

That’s unless you can afford lithium-ion batteries. Lithium batteries are typically 2-3 lighter than traditional lead-acid batteries for the same capacity. They have other desirable characteristics, such as a longer cycle lifespan. Although they are more expensive initially, you don’t have to replace them as often.

Calculating Your Run Time

Battery capacity is measured in ampere-hours (Ah) and current draw in amperes (amps). If your battery has 100Ah capacity and your motor draws 20 amps of current, you can calculate its run time by dividing 100/20 = 5 hours.

Your motor’s current draw depends on the speed you set it to and how heavy your kayak is, including people and gear. If you use your trolling motor at lower speeds, you will see a significantly lower current draw and much longer run time.

Weather and water conditions will also affect how long your motor will run. It is harder to push a kayak against the current, choppy waters or into the wind, which means higher current draw and shorter run time.

Always take your paddle with you. You could run out of power. Your trolling motor can get damaged and break. You should always be prepared for such an emergency and have a paddle or other propulsion means on your kayak.

Important Features

Most trolling motors for kayaks are relatively simple and inexpensive, although there are exceptions. Here are the most common features to look for:

  • GPS anchoring (spot-lock)
  • Remote control
  • Variable speeds
  • Saltwater capability

The motors with GPS anchoring, such as the MotorGuide Xi3 are significantly more expensive.

Kayak Trolling Motor FAQ

How fast is a 30 lb thrust trolling motor?

Although it depends on the kayak’s specific shape and weight with people and gear, you can expect to move up to 5mph.

Will a more powerful trolling motor increase my speed?

It is important to understand that adding a higher thrust motor to your kayak may not increase speed as much as you expect. Trolling motors are not designed for speed. If you need to go much faster and don’t mind paying for it, you should consider an electric outboard motor.

How fast will a 55 lb thrust trolling motor go on a kayak?

It really depends on the kayak and how loaded it is. Have a look at some examples in our trolling motor speed chart.