Complete Guide to the Best Kayak Trolling Motors 2021 (Everything You Need to Know)


These days, kayak technology is improving all the time, and that includes accessories as well as the kayaks themselves.

We’re always looking for new ways to upgrade the way we fish, or enjoy our recreational experience out on the water.

In this article, we explore the best kayak trolling motors, which can offer a highly effective way to get around, control your kayak, and improve your fishing game.

A buyer’s guide with FAQ section will follow – which is highly recommended if you’re new to learning about this tech.

Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.

What to Look for in Good Kayak Trolling Motors

Before we get started on the reviews, it’s a good idea to arm yourself with some information on the basic features you should know about.

Here’s what you should be looking out for:

  • Battery and power.
  • Speed/thrust.
  • Controls
  • Weight
  • Mounting and kayak compatibility.
  • Shaft length and overall adjustability.
  • Salt or freshwater use.
  • Local ordinance and legalities.

Of course, there might be other factors you wish to take into consideration depending on your own needs and circumstances, but this should cover most bases.

TOP 6 Best Kayak Trolling Motors 2021

Newport Vessels NV-Series Electric Trolling Motor

Based out of California and on the go since 2008, Newport Vessels are famous for their trolling motors and inflatable boats.

It’s little surprise, then, that we lead with one of their products, the NV-series, saltwater-rated, transom-mounted electric trolling motor.

Available in a choice of thrusts depending on the weight of your kayak, it’s one of the most popular models out there, with most options powered by a 12V battery.

Focusing on the 36 lbs model, it features a durable, fiberglass composite shaft that’s adjustable to 30-inches, a motor weight of 18.5 lbs, and is rated for a vessel size of 8-12 feet – which makes it ideal for one of the best 10-foot fishing kayaks on the market.

Offering eight speeds, including five forward and three reverse, this is a top-quality, versatile and affordable trolling motor that will suit just about any kayak out there.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Latest design in the range.
  • Great price point.
  • Versatile thrust options.
  • Super-bright LED readout.
  • 6-inch handle.
  • Durable nylon transom mount.
  • Very highly rated.

Cons

  • So long as you get the right motor for your craft – I can’t find fault with this.

Takeaway

Probably the best saltwater trolling motor for kayaks out there, this is a top-drawer offering from Newport Vessels, and at this price point for the 36 lbs model (which is suitable for most fishing kayaks), this is a great option if you’re just dipping your toe into the world of trolling motors. I didn’t mean that to sound as painful as it did.

Minn Kota Endura C2 Freshwater Trolling Motor

Minn Kota Endura C2 Freshwater Trolling Motor

Hailing from Minnesota and famous for their world-class trolling motors and accessories, Minn Kota offer this highly popular Endura C2 model that’s specifically designed for kayak fishing.

Capable of 30 lbs of thrust, it has a 12V battery and a shaft length of 30-inches. Like the Newport, it allows five forward speeds and three reverse, running whisper-quiet and cool to help extend the battery life when you’re out on the water.

The composite shaft is “indestructible”, while the power prop provides additional strength to get through heavy underwater vegetation. And the telescoping tiller offers comfortable control and intuitive operation at your fingertips for an enjoyable experience all round.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Excellent price point.
  • Rugged lever lock bracket.
  • Perfect for smaller craft.
  • Cool and quiet operation.
  • Telescoping tiller.
  • Durable construction.

Cons

  • Freshwater only.
  • No battery meter.

Takeaway

While it might not be the fastest trolling motor on the market, this sure is a reliable option for smaller craft and would make an ideal entry-level choice for beginners.

Minn Kota also works with Old Town kayaks and canoes, and you can check out more of the best kayak fishing brands at that link.

Pexmor Electric Trolling Motor

Offering a choice of thrust options, this 36 lbs trolling motor from Pexmor is arguably the best for most fishing kayaks.

The 12V battery LED indicator is very thorough, with a 1-to-10 readout system, so you know exactly where you are when it comes to how much juice is left, and 1-3 red indicator lights warn you when you’re running really low.

The telescoping tiller handle offers the standard eight speed options – five forward and three reverse, while the comfortable handle design is intuitive to use.

The three-bladed propeller offers increased efficiency over two blades, and it’s built to handle challenging weeds and vegetation.

The shaft is fully adjustable to your preferred depth, and for the price, it’s a highly-rated trolling motor that should get the job done.

Pros

  • Excellent value for money.
  • Clear, easy-to-read battery meter.
  • Choice of thrusts.
  • Clear read-out system.
  • Comfortable handle design.
  • Fully adjustable.

Cons

  • Not the most powerful motor out there.

Takeaway

While it might not be as well-regarded as some of the brand-name motors out there, this option from Pexmor is a great choice considering the price point for what you get.

And the money you save here can be put to one of these useful kayak fish finders – so you’ll be truly unstoppable out on the water.

Watersnake 12V Saltwater Trolling Motor

Another company offering great value for money paired with a practical, efficient trolling motor, Watersnake offers us this 12V model with 18 or 24 pounds of thrust.

Specifically designed for smaller craft, it even has a choice of a transom or kayak mount – so you can easily attach it to your vessel depending on which option is more suitable.

Highly portable and weighing just 4.85 lbs, it’s the perfect go-anywhere motor, with a 24-inch shaft, extendable hand tiller, and anti-impact clip system. High and low speeds are available, with an intuitive forward and reverse switch, all at your fingertips.

The weedless, two-blade propeller is able to handle underwater vegetation, and the adjustable height collar ensures you can set the prop depth to where it’s going to work the best.

Pros

  • Simple, sturdy design.
  • No-nonsense control system.
  • Durable construction with alloy shaft.
  • Retractable handle.
  • Kayak and transom mounts options.
  • Highly rated.
  • Super lightweight.

Cons

  • Limited choice of speeds.

Takeaway

Designed by kayak anglers for kayak anglers, the Watersnake line of trolling motors are up there with the best in the business. Probably one of the lightest trolling motors for kayaks on the market, this option is ideal for on-the-go, guerilla-style fishing.

Pair it with one of these practical, space-saving telescopic fishing rods and be ready to fish at a moment’s notice.

Newport Vessels Kayak Series Trolling Motor

Here we have another Newport Vessels option – the Kayak Series, which is an upgraded version of the NV range specifically designed for fishing kayaks.

And by “upgraded,” I mean that it’s simply a better size for use on smaller craft.

Keeping all the same features from the first entry in this review, the kayak series also has the improved LED battery display and control options, with a more compact shaft that’s adjustable up to 24 inches. As such, it’s better suited for boats that sit lower in the water – like kayaks.

Available in a 36 or 55 lbs of thrust, it’s saltwater rated, and offers five forward speeds and three reverse for maximum control. And the extra-long battery cables are perfect for allowing the scope to place your battery pack in the most suitable place.

Try it in saltwater with one of these awesome ocean fishing kayaks.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Designed specifically for kayaks.
  • Fiberglass shaft.
  • Variable depth placement.
  • Corrosion-resistant hardware and powder coating.
  • Telescopic handle.
  • Durable nylon transom mount.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • A little on the heavy side.

Takeaway

Arguably one of the best fishing kayak trolling motors out there, the Kayak Series from Newport Vessels is perfectly designed for this sport. Easy-to-use, a clear read-out, and whisper-quiet operation, if this doesn’t help you catch more fish – you’re doing it wrong.

AQUOS Haswing Trolling Motor

At the higher end of the price scale, we have the more advanced technology. This 12V or 24V transom trolling motor is suitable for fresh and saltwater – and it’s also available with remote control.

The compact design does away with the need for a tiller, as you can fully operate the motor at the touch of a button with the palm remote.

The depth of the propeller can be easily adjusted depending on the environment, and the control system allows you to increase or decrease speed, or go all-in with full power when required.

Enjoy a luxurious fishing experience with one of the best remote-controlled trolling motors on the market.

Pros

  • Great choice of options.
  • Three-level LED battery indicator.
  • Compact design.
  • No tiller handle.
  • Easy-to-use remote.
  • Triple blade.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Might be a bit of overkill for smaller kayaks.

Takeaway

For the ultimate in hands-free control, try a trolling motor with a remote control. Sure, it might be on the pricey side, but it’s going to make a world of difference for convenience and efficiency when you’re on the hunt for fish.

How to Choose the Best Kayak Trolling Motor

There’s a lot of features and facts to consider when you’re in the market for a kayak trolling motor.

Below, you’ll find a handy guide with all the info you need to help you choose the right product for your needs.

fishing on a river bank from kayak in the morning

What is a Kayak Trolling Motor?

For those who are unfamiliar with what a trolling motor actually is, let’s start with a short explanation.

A trolling motor is a battery-powered propeller that offers kayaks and small boats extra propulsion, without the need for paddles or pedals.

They can be mounted on the stern or bow of compatible craft – the latter being particularly useful on bass fishing boats.

While not as powerful as a gas outboard engine, depending on the type, a trolling motor can offer a nice, peppy speed, and near-silent operation.

As such, they’re perfect for anglers who want to get to the best fishing spots fast, without spooking the fish.

And as their name suggests, they’re designed for trailing a baited line behind the boat, which can be an enjoyable and relaxing way to get a catch.

Check out this article on the best kayak rod holders if you’d like to add more hardware to your kayak for trolling or organizational purposes.

Do You Need a Kayak Trolling Motor?

While all that might sound wonderful – you don’t actually need a kayak trolling motor to enjoy kayak fishing.

So long as you have a decent kayak – like one of these awesome river fishing kayaks, for example, and you have a good paddle – like one of these awesome kayak fishing paddles, then you’re good to go.

However, a decent kayak trolling motor is going to give you a real edge when you’re out there, and both seriously up your fishing game, all while raising your overall levels of enjoyment while out on the water.

Trolling motors can also be used to hold your position, dispensing with the need for and risks associated with a kayak anchor. Although you can follow this link for some quality kayak anchor solutions if you’d prefer.

And aside from this, recreational kayakers might enjoy using a trolling motor if they want to give their arms a rest, get somewhere fast, or just as a backup in case of emergencies.

So, no, you don’t need one – but boy are they practical and a lot of fun!

angler fishing from kayak on lake

Battery and Power

The more power a trolling motor is capable of, the higher the voltage of battery required. Choosing the right battery is imperative for kayak fishing with a trolling motor.

Voltage increases in 12V increments, starting at 12 Volts, then 24V, then 36V, and so on.

For kayak fishing purposes, you’ll find that a 12V battery powering around 36 lbs of thrust is going to be perfectly adequate for your needs.

Remember, the larger and heavier the craft, the more power the battery is going to need in order to propel it forward.

It’s as simple as that, really.

Battery choice will depend on your own preferences, how much space you have on your kayak, the kayak’s weight capacity, and of course, the trolling motor voltage.

Take a look at the video below for some helpful tips and advice on choosing the right battery for your boat and trolling motor.

Speed and Thrust

Now, here’s where things often get a little confusing when it comes to the “fastest trolling motors for kayaks,” and those who want to attempt to break the water speed record.

First, you need to understand that thrust is a measurement of pushing or pulling power. Anyone familiar with Newton’s third law will understand this.

Higher thrust does not guarantee you greater speed.

What higher thrust will offer, is better compatibility and success at powering a heavier craft. The rule of thumb is that for every 100 pounds, you need two pounds of thrust.

When it comes to speed, how fast you can go depends on so many factors, it’s almost impossible to slap a definite figure on any trolling motor.

Kayak size, weight, load, water and wind conditions will all affect your speed, but for argument’s sake, for most kayak trolling motors, you’re not going to be going much faster than five miles per hour in optimum conditions.

Controls

For kayak fishing, you’re not going to need a foot-controlled trolling motor. They’re more suitable if you’re rocking a bass boat, or maybe even one of these pontoon-style boats for fishing.

Instead, look for motors that have an intuitive tiller control system, with extendable tiller handle – which usually comes to around six inches.

Depending on the type of motor, you’ll either be able to control the throttle with the turn of the handle – similar to an outboard gas motor – or by flicking a switch.

Remote-control trolling motors are also available, as well as foot-operated versions, although the latter isn’t particularly suitable for most kayaks, unless you’re using one of these models you can stand up in.

Remote-control trolling motors are also going to be much more expensive than any other kind, but there’s no denying how much fun they are for truly effortless propulsion and control.

Not to mention, they take up much less space as they don’t require a tiller handle – which can often get in the way – particularly if and when you need to paddle.

And if you have a craft where reaching a tiller isn’t practical, a remote-controlled motor can be a convenient solution.

angler fishing from kayak in sunset on lake

Weight

Regular readers will know that I’m always banging on about kayak weight capacities, and how you should do your very best not to test them.

Well, if you’re adding a trolling motor – coupled with yourself and all your gear – plus whatever you might catch, then you’d better have a kayak that can take it all.

And don’t forget that you need a battery, too – which will add a significant amount of weight, depending on the type of power cell you decide to use.

As such, I would recommend you pay close attention to trolling motor weight, and lean towards the lighter models, especially if your kayak has a maximum weight capacity that’s on the low side.

Incidentally, if you find the weight capacity of your loadout is increasing, you might benefit from one of these back-saving kayak fishing carts, which can be great to get your kayak from A to B without damaging you or it.

Mounting and Kayak Compatibility

It’s important you check that the trolling motor you’re interested in is actually compatible with your kayak.

It’s infuriating that there are so many negative reviews out there because folks didn’t take this simple step into consideration.

Examine your craft, and then double-check the mounting hardware and capabilities of the trolling motor you’re interested in.

Most trolling motors are either bow or stern mounted. However, kayakers commonly rig up a mount on the side of the kayak in order to use the motor from the cockpit.

Make sure that if you do need to purchase additional hardware or brackets in order to successfully mount the motor, you know where and how to get them.

Remember, you don’t need to have a transom to mount a kayak trolling motor – you wouldn’t be able to reach it anyway on most fishing kayaks. And bow-mounted options aren’t that suitable either.

Check out this video on how to mount a kayak trolling motor with a bit of DIY know how and some readily available hardware from your local big box store.

Shaft Length and Overall Adjustability

As kayaks sit lower in the water than most other craft, the length of the trolling motor shaft is very important.

You certainly don’t want it getting damaged by underwater obstacles and hazards – or actually hitting off the floor.

As such, you should look for fully adjustable shafts that are capable of being used in a variety of depths – as the environment can change quickly when you’re out there.

It is recommended that the motor housing and propeller is capable of being submerged at least 12 inches for optimal performance.

Salt or Freshwater?

Saltwater ruins just about everything – unless it’s something that has been treated for saltwater use, that is.

Just like these durable, anti-corrosion saltwater fishing pliers, if you want to use a trolling motor in these challenging conditions, you need to make sure it’s going to withstand it.

Check to see if the trolling motor you’re interested in is saltwater compatible, or if it’s only meant for use in freshwater.

Otherwise, you might find yourself forking out a lot more cash on repairs and/or replacements.

And remember, even if your gear and equipment is rated for saltwater, you should always be sure to rinse it off with freshwater as soon as you return from your trip, and before putting it into storage.

Local Ordinance and Legalities

Once your craft has been kitted out with a trolling motor, it will be classed as a motorized vessel, and as such, will likely require registration with local authorities.

You may well require a license, so always check to see you’re keeping in line with local ordinance with reference to the type of motor you’re mounting on your boat.

Cost

The higher the trolling motor thrust, the more expensive the unit is going to be.

For kayak fishing, however, you don’t need to have the most powerful product on the water, and as such – you don’t need to break the bank.

A quality kayak fishing trolling motor will cost you somewhere between $130-200.

Just don’t forget, you also need to purchase the battery and any necessary mounting hardware separately.

fisherman kayaking and fishing on lake

FAQs

How big of a trolling motor do I need for a kayak?

It’s not so much about how big as how heavy and how many pounds of thrust it offers.

For most fishing kayaks, something with no more than 36 lbs of thrust is all you’ll ever need.

Just remember to take the weight into consideration, as well as the weight of the battery, so you don’t exceed your kayak’s maximum weight capacity when it’s loaded with you and all your gear.

And don’t forget about factoring in the weight of any fish you might catch. This is something that’s easily and often overlooked.

What kind of trolling motor do I need for a kayak?

It depends on the size of the kayak and the weight of its load – including occupants.

The larger and heavier the kayak, the more thrust you’re going to need to propel it forward. The more trust offered, the larger and bulkier the trolling motor will be.

Having said that, kayaks are generally smaller than other craft, so you need to look for a unit that is compact and lightweight.

As a rule of thumb, for most kayaks around 10-12 feet long, I would suggest a 12V, 35 lbs thrust trolling motor is perfectly adequate for your needs.

What is the best kayak trolling motor?

This is almost impossible to answer, as the best trolling motor for my needs isn’t going to be the same as the best trolling motor for you.

All the motors in this review are top-quality products that will suit a variety of kayaks, conditions, and circumstances, and it’s up to you to figure out what they are and what is going to work for your setup.

You can lead a horse to water…

Are trolling motors good for kayaks?

Provided you stick to the weight capacities of the kayak, and the kayak is compatible with a trolling motor in the first place, then there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be good.

Having said that, some people might be reluctant to add a trolling motor if it means doing any surface work in the kayak, such as drilling holes or adding mounting brackets.

How long will a trolling motor battery last on a kayak?

That depends on so many factors – including how hard and fast you’re running the motor. Not to mention the type and quality of the battery and motor in the first place.

As a rule of thumb, however, just to offer you a ballpark figure, a trolling motor with a 30 lbs thrust running at full speed will probably last around three hours. At low speed, you’re looking at around 20.

But don’t quote me on it – there are so many variables to take into consideration. Just make sure to do your battery and trolling motor research well.

If you want more run time – don’t jack it to constant warp speed. Run it conservatively, and only when you need to, and you should get a full day out of it – at the very least.

How fast can a kayak go with a trolling motor?

Again, this depends on a number of factors mentioned in the article above, but for the most part, and in optimum conditions, with the right motor, battery, kayak, and weight load, you’re looking at no more than five miles per hour top speed.

Which might not sound like much in a car, but that’s fairly peppy on the water – particularly in a kayak.

Can I put a trolling motor on my inflatable kayak?

Yes, you can – but with a few caveats.

You need to make sure you’ve got a compatible mounting system, as most inflatable kayaks don’t automatically come with the means to add a trolling motor.

Trolling motor mounts might be available as aftermarket accessories, or you can have a go at building your own.

Take a look at these awesome inflatable kayaks and see if any of them are already trolling motor compatible at the point of sale, or even these inflatable boats if that’s what you’d prefer.

Remember, it’s important to stick to weight capacities, as well as balancing the load in your kayak – regardless of if it’s an inflatable or hardshell.

Summary

The best kayak trolling motors can turn a good fishing excursion into a great one.

But there’s a lot to consider and think about before you make a purchase.

I hope this article has helped point you in the right direction to find the most suitable motor option for you.

Let me know which one you’ve gone for and why, or if you have any trolling motor tips and tricks you’d like to share.

Happy kayak fishing!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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