Kayaks have been used for fishing for thousands of years, powered by nothing more than paddles – and some old-fashioned elbow-grease.
But things are a little different today.
As well as pedal drives, more anglers are turning towards electric motors, to save time and effort when out on the water.
So, check out the best motorized kayaks in 2021 in the review below, and give yourself the edge when it comes to stalking those lucrative best fishing spots.
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Table of Contents
- Motorized Kayaks – What to Look For
- The 8 Best Motorized Fishing Kayaks in 2021
- Old Town Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota
- Vibe Shearwater 125 Fishing Kayak
- Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD Kayak
- Sea Eagle FastTrack Angler Kayak
- Old Town Predator MK Fishing Kayak with Motor
- Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K 140 Fishing Kayak
- Pelican CATCH PWR 100 Fishing Kayak
- BKC PK11 Angler Fishing Kayak with Trolling Motor
- How to Choose the Right Fishing Kayak with Motor
Motorized Kayaks – What to Look For
It might come as no surprise that kayaks that have been designed for use with a motor are generally packed with more features than your average, basic craft.
As such, you should arm yourself with a bit of knowledge on what to look out for when reading through the reviews.
Pay attention to:
- The type of kayak.
- The motor compatibility – and if it comes with a motor as standard or sold separately.
- Pedals and Paddles.
- Size and weight.
- Weight capacity.
- Cockpit and seating.
- Fishing friendly features.
- Storage options.
We’ll explore these factors in more detail in the buyer’s guide that follows the reviews.
Additionally, I thought I’d include a couple of options that I would purchase myself, right off the bat.
There’s also an honorable mention for the FastTrack Angler from Sea Eagle, as an inflatable option, which – if you choose the whole package – is a great price point for what you get.
Without further ado, let’s power on through, and see if you can find your favorite among the products, below.
The 8 Best Motorized Fishing Kayaks in 2021
How to Choose the Right Fishing Kayak with Motor
I’m sure you’ll agree that understanding a bit about kayaks and motors is important if you’re in the market to buy one.
You don’t need to be an expert, but following our handy, bite-sized guide below should be more than enough to get you started.
Type of Kayak
So, the hard work may or may not have been done for you when it comes to the type of kayak you should choose.
Most of the time, when it comes to motorized craft, it’s going to be a sit-on-top design.
However, that’s not to say sit-inside kayaks are not compatible with trolling motors – far from it.
But as you can see from the review above – and many other reviews like it – sit-on-top kayaks are overwhelmingly the most popular type of kayak for this sport.
Feel free to check out this article on sit-inside kayaks versus sit-on top models for more information.
Next, you need to decide if you would like an inflatable or a hardshell.
Again, hardshells are generally more popular, but inflatables have some notable advantages.
They’re lighter, more portable, and easier to store, and – contrary to popular belief – they’re not likely to get as damaged or scraped up as hardshell kayaks.
The main disadvantage of an inflatable is that it doesn’t come close to a hardshell for speed, tracking, and overall performance.
Still, the type you choose will depend on your own needs and circumstances, and I would heartily recommend owning one of each if space and budget allows.
If you’re interested in adding a motor to your kayak – and it’s not listed here – then please make sure it’s going to be compatible before you start drilling a bunch of holes.
Not all kayaks are suitable for adding a motor – hence the reason for this review.
Some of the kayaks listed above come with motors already built-in, while others are specifically designed to be upgraded at a later date.
The advantage of buying the full package, is that the manufacturer has done the hard work for you – and you don’t need to worry about choosing a compatible setup, because it’s already there.
If the kayak you’re interested in doesn’t come with a motor installed, then you need to think carefully about which product it’s going to be compatible with.
This guide to the best kayak trolling motors will go into more detail about the types of motor available, as well as the level of thrust you need depending on your kayak and loadout.
But generally speaking, a kayak that is 10-12 feet long will need a 35 lbs thrust motor, minimum. A 13-14 foot kayak should choose a 45 lbs thrust motor.
Remember – the heavier the kayak (including occupants, gear, and any potential catches), the more thrust you’re going to need. For the most part, anything over 45 lbs is going to be overkill – and potentially dangerous.
Either way, the maximum speed of a small trolling motor is going to be around five miles per hour, given optimum conditions – so don’t set your heart on breaking any records.
Pedals and Paddles
Just because you’re packing a motor onboard, doesn’t mean you need to ditch the other forms of propulsion.
Batteries can easily fail, run out of juice, or the motor itself might break down, get damaged, or become inoperable in some way.
As such, kayak anglers aren’t getting rid of their paddles – just yet. Take a look at this review on the best kayak fishing paddles on the market, to see the latest, cutting-edge options.
But you need to decide if you want your kayak to have a pedal drive – which is going to be located in the center of the craft, within reach of your feet and legs.
It’s entirely possible – and popular – to have all three – pedals, paddles, and a motor.
But if that’s the case, then you’ll need to choose a kayak/motor that can be attached to the transom, at the base of the rudder (if there is one), or with a suitable mounting system within easy reach.
If you’d prefer not to have pedals, you might be able to add a compatible motor where you would usually find a pedal drive.
Some anglers prefer to have a trolling motor in the center console, rather than behind them – but this is more for personal preference rather than a performance-related choice.
Take a look at this article for more of the best pedal-powered fishing kayaks, to see what’s out there – many of which will also be motor-compatible.
Size and Weight
When it comes to motorized kayaks, the craft’s weight is arguably more important than its size.
The heavier the kayak, the more pounds of thrust you’ll need in the motor to propel it forward.
Aside from this, you should keep an eye on how much gear and equipment you’re adding to the kayak – as when you factor in pedals, and/or a battery and motor – the weight will soon add up.
Remember, you still need to get it to the water’s edge. If you haven’t already, I would suggest taking a look at this article on kayak carts to help you do that.
As for size (length), the usual adage applies – the longer and slimmer the kayak, the faster and straighter it will go.
Shorter kayaks are more maneuverable and ideal for whitewater and negotiating obstacles, whereas longer craft are preferable for touring, distance kayaking, and racing.
For fishing, therefore, a kayak of around 10-12 feet is ideal, usually around 34-36-inches wide for improved stability. Some anglers prefer a longer craft for more storage space.
And don’t forget tandem kayaks – many of which can be used with a motor setup. Tandem kayaks are often piloted alone, as they can also be useful for offering extra storage – or the ability to bring a furry-friend along.
As previously mentioned, the heavier a kayak, the more pounds of thrust required to successfully propel it forward.
A kayak’s weight capacity is how many pounds a craft can safely carry before getting into difficulty. It’s important you adhere to this figure and never overload your kayak.
Heavier items like trolling motors and battery packs will add weight to your loadout. And you need to factor them in when including yourself, your tackle and gear, any other humans or pets, and any potential catches.
Furthermore, never overload, or poorly load your kayak.
Even if you’re not at the weight limit, you might be off balance, struggle to navigate waterways safely, and you could easily capsize following an over-zealous paddle stroke.
Cockpit and Seating
Motorized kayaks, or motor compatible kayaks, usually come with some seriously impressive seating technology.
Because let’s face it, if you’re at the level of kayak angling where you want to add a motor, you should be as comfortable as possible in the cockpit, too.
It’s important that your cockpit is set up to give you easy access to all the necessary controls, depending on where your motor is mounted.
Seats that offer 360-degree swivel action can be invaluable if the motor handle is located behind you, making it less awkward to turn from a fixed position.
Fishing Friendly Features
Aside from all the wonderful benefits of motorized technology, these fishing kayaks shouldn’t neglect the basics when it comes to angling.
It’s no good adding a top-of-the-range motor drive if you don’t have a rod holder, for example.
Thankfully, all the kayaks in this review are packed with an abundance of fishing friendly features to keep fisher people happy.
In fact, kayaks that are motor compatible are often the flagship models of a company’s range, and as such contain just about everything but the kitchen sink.
Look out for rod holders, gear accessory tracks, transducer mounts, fish rulers, tackle trays, and more.
If you’re not satisfied with what’s there, you can always add one of these rod holders for kayaks, aftermarket.
And check out these awesome kayak fish finders that would compliment your setup and improve your chances of success.
Pay attention to how customizable a kayak is. The very best kayaks with motors will offer almost inexhaustible scope for pimping your ride just how you like it, designed to fit your fishing style.
And here’s a great piece on even more kayak fishing accessories to help inspire you.
Wow, with all that stuff on board, you’d better have somewhere to put it all, right?!
One of the most important aspects of any good fishing kayak is its storage options. How does it make use of the space, where you can stash your stuff, is your gear going to be in a conveniently accessible location?
And this is especially true when you’re adding a potentially large battery and motor setup.
You need to make sure that this new acquisition isn’t going to take the place of something important, and/or it’s stored out of the way.
A quality fishing kayak with motor will offer a specific space in which to house a battery, as well as having pre-drilled holes for wiring and other such gadgetry.
At the very least, you should have a large stern tank well for one of these sweet fishing coolers.
And sandwiches. Don’t forget the sandwiches.
Just make sure to leave the bananas at home.
As you might have noticed, motorized fishing kayaks aren’t exactly budget-friendly, and they can set you back a fair bit of coin.
Aside from that, purchasing a separate motor setup can be just as expensive as the kayak – sometimes even more so.
I would heartily recommend you buy the best you can afford, and perhaps consider purchasing a kayak you can upgrade with a motor at a later date – to give you a chance to save for it.
Alternatively, if you feel you can’t quite stretch this time, you can check out this excellent review of the fishing kayaks under $1000, or even the best fishing kayaks under $500 – if money is really tight.
Do I need a motorized kayak for fishing?
No, you do not. You can fish adequately without one.
Motorized kayaks are something of a luxury, and are generally preferred by tournament anglers, folks of advancing years, less mobile individuals, and/or anyone who is keen on a more relaxing, almost effortless fishing experience.
There are paddlers out there that decry motorized craft, citing that it defeats the very notion of kayaking in the first place.
Take a look at this article on choosing a fishing kayak for more information. You don’t need to keep up with the Joneses if you don’t want to.
What type of motor do I need for my kayak?
It depends on the size and weight of the kayak, and whether the kayak is compatible with a motor in the first place.
Make sure you check with the manufacturer’s specifications to find out if a kayak is designed to handle a motor, and if so – how powerful that motor needs to be.
Again, as a rule of thumb, a 12Volt, 35 lbs thrust motor should be more than enough for a 10-12 foot kayak.
Are motorized kayaks good?
Yes, they are. Motorized kayaks, or kayaks that are capable of handling motors, are commonly some of the best fishing kayaks on the market.
Just check out the products in the review above – every single one is a doozy.
Is there a motorized kayak?
Kayaks that come with motors built-in are actually not as common as you might think. At the time of writing, there were only a few available on the market – and most are included in the review above.
Thankfully, kayaks that are compatible with motors are in plentiful supply, and many anglers enjoy the freedom to customize their own setup with aftermarket accessories.
Can I put a motor on any kayak?
No. While it’s possible to add a motor to most decent kayaks, many cheaper models (such as budget recreational play boats and poor-quality inflatable) will not be able to handle one.
Hence, the reason for this article.
When in doubt, check with the manufacturer directly, or an experienced paddler/kayak angler.
How fast does a motorized kayak go?
With optimum conditions, you’re probably looking at no more than five miles per hour.
What is the best motor for a kayak?
Again, it depends on the type of kayak, the design, and its overall weight. Plus, where you’re mounting the motor on the kayak itself.
There isn’t a definitive answer to this question. What works for my kayak, might not work for yours. Thankfully, there are plenty of products out there to suit every loadout.
How do you put a trolling motor on a kayak?
There are multiple ways to add a trolling motor to a kayak, and how you do so will depend on the type of motor you’re using, as well as the kayak design.
If you want to have a go at a spot of DIY for a basic, but popular set up, check out the video below.
For other mounting options, I would suggest researching the type of rig you’re most interested in, and go from there.
There’s nothing wrong with adding a bit of pep in your step, and you will certainly do that with the best-motorized kayaks in 2021.
Let me know which model you’re interested in and why. Bonus points if it aligns with any of my personal picks.
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!