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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!

Kayak & Canoe Trolling Motors Compared

Newport Vessels
Kayak Series 36lb
Newport Vessels
NV-Series 36lb
Minn Kota
Endura C2 30lb
Watersnake
T24
ReviewReviewReviewReview
Rating9.79.59.39.2
Highlightsgreat for kayakersgreat valuefreshwater onlylightweight
Thrust36 lb36 lb30 lb24 lb
Shaft24"30"30"24"
Weight19 lb19 lb17 lb5 lb
Voltage12V12V12V12V
Amp Draw30A30A30A20A
Speeds5 FWD, 3 REV5 FWD, 3 REV5 FWD, 3 REV2 FWD, 2 REV
SaltwaterYESYESNOYES

Kayak & Canoe Trolling Motor Reviews

1. Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36 lb

As you can see above, the Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36 lb is now rated as our top trolling motor for kayaks and canoes in 2021!

Why is it ranked #1 in the kayak category? Simply put, it offers the best value for kayakers of the trolling motors we reviewed so far.

The design incorporates elements from a hugely popular NV-Series, but it was developed with kayak anglers in mind. The result is a good and reliable performance at a very affordable price.

We especially liked an easily adjustable 24-inch shaft and longer cables so that you have more flexibility in battery placement 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.

Combine all these features and you have our top pick for 2021!

TECH SPECS

Thrust36 lb
Weight19 lb
Max Amp Draw30 Amps
Voltage12 Volt
Shaft24″ Fiberglass
Speeds8 (5 fwd, 3 rev)
Propeller2 Blade

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Extended cables
  • Easy tilting with a large lever
  • Saltwater rated
  • 55 lb version for heavy kayaks and canoes
  • 2 year warranty

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • A little heavy for side mounting on a light kayak

2. Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb

NV-Series 36 lb takes the #2 spot in our 2021 ranking! This is in part due to how many people bought and loved the NV-Series last year.

Basically, it’s a very well-designed and tested model that offers the right balance of performance, size, and weight for kayak and other small boat owners.

The most noticeable differences between Kayak Series and NV-Series are the black color for the NV-Series, longer shaft, and shorter battery cables.

It comes with a 5-point LED battery indicator and a sacrificial anode, which alongside with other corrosion resistant components, makes it saltwater compatible.

Whether you prefer the Kayak or NV-Series, you won’t be disappointed!

TECH SPECS

Thrust36 lb
Weight19 lb
Max Amp Draw30 Amps
Voltage12 Volt
Shaft24″ Fiberglass
Speeds8 (5 fwd, 3 rev)
Propeller2 Blade

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Very quiet
  • Easy tilting with a large lever
  • Saltwater rated

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • The weight makes it less suitable for really light kayaks and boats

3. Minn Kota Endura C2 30 lb

At #3 on our list of best trolling motors for kayaks and canoes is the Minn Kota Endura.

Although slightly less powerful than most motors on this list, 30 pounds of thrust is still plenty for most kayaks.

Most importantly, it’s a motor you can rely on. After all, Minn Kota has been in the business of making trolling motors for over 80 years!

True, it’s one of their lower-spec models. However, it is still well designed and made of durable materials. Its composite shaft is so strong; it comes with a lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer.

It’s also very affordable, currently the least expensive model in Minn Kota’s range.

The thing we love most about Minn Kota Endura 30lb is the ergonomic tiller handle. It’s very comfortable to hold and steer. It’s also telescopic and can be extended 6″ if needed.

Unfortunately, the Minn Kota Endura is not rated for saltwater use. It’s a little disappointing but not entirely unexpected considering the lower price.

TECH SPECS

Thrust30 lb
Weight17 lb
Max Amp Draw30 Amps
Voltage12 Volt
Shaft30″ Fiberglass
Speeds5 FWD, 3 REV
Propeller2 Blade

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Easy to use and comfortable tiller handle
  • Indestructible composite shaft

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • Freshwater only

4. Watersnake T24

We absolutely loved this little trolling motor!

If you want a very light motor and you’re on a budget, you don’t need to look any further.

This Watersnake model indeed provides less thrust than most competition, but it really doesn’t make a big difference on such a light boat like a kayak.

You really won’t go any faster on a motor with more thrust.

What matters more on a kayak is how heavy your motor is. It’s not just about the load capacity or balance. If you have to carry your motor and mount it to your kayak frequently, you will appreciate how light this model is.

The main problem I have with Watersnake T24 is speed and direction control. There are two separate switches for each task, but what is really annoying is that they’re not located on the tiller handle. You need to reach further back to change the speed/direction setting.

Another related problem is that there are only 2 forward and 2 reverse speeds. It would be great to have more choices, especially lower speed available, to slow the kayak down and possibly reduce power consumption.

If you can live with these drawbacks, it’s a great little motor, light and well built.

TECH SPECS

Thrust24 lb
Weight5 lb
Max Amp Draw20 Amps
Voltage12 Volt
Shaft24″
Speeds4 (2 fwd, 2 rev)
Propeller2 Blade

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Lightweight – only 5 lb!
  • Lower current draw at high speed than competition
  • Saltwater rated

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

  • No speed control on the tiller
  • Only two forward speeds
  • Optional bracket is not very rigid

Trolling Motor Buying Guide

What to look for to find your perfect trolling motor?

Here are the most important things to consider:

  • Thrust (power)
  • Mount type
  • Battery
  • Features

Now let’s talk more in detail.

Step 1: Choose the Right Thrust

As a rule of thumb, you need 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 is good news.

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

Step 2: Choose the Mounting System

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.

Step 3: Choose Your Battery

Most 12 volt trolling motors with a single battery will provide sufficient thrust and power.

This is usually a deep-cycle/marine battery, which is enclosed in a weatherproof battery box. A standard lead-acid battery looks very much like a car battery and can be quite heavy.

This 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, as long as you properly charge them.

What will be my range?

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.

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.