Fishing from a kayak is a great way to get up close and personal with the fish you are trying to catch, but at some point, all kayak fishermen have wanted to get to where they’re going just a little bit faster. This is where a trolling motor can come in handy! However, is it even possible to put a trolling motor on your kayak?
The short answer is yes…you can put a trolling motor on some kayaks, but there are a few things that you will need to consider and rules that you will need to follow in order to do so.
In this article, I’ll bring you up to speed on some things that you’ll need to consider before installing a trolling motor on your kayak.
Is It Possible to Install a Trolling Motor on a Kayak
Technically, you could install a trolling motor on just about any type of kayak, including sit-inside and sit-on-top kayaks. With that being said, I don’t recommend trying to install one on a sit-inside or a kayak that’s smaller than 10 ft in length due to the amount of space you have inside.
Kayak Trolling Motors Take Up Valuable Space
The truth is that a trolling motor takes up space regardless of where you end up installing it! Not only do you have to account for the mounting bracket, but you also have to have space to store your battery, not to mention, the rest of your fishing gear.
The amount of space that your kayak has isn’t the only thing to consider before deciding on whether a trolling motor will work for you!
It Can Be Expensive
Having your kayak outfitted with a motor is also going to set you back a few bucks.
I know that here in Florida, as well as most other states, require that any type of motorized vessel be registered in the same way that you would a regular motorboat.
Yes, this includes a kayak that is powered by a trolling motor!
What’s The Best Trolling Motor for a Kayak
There are a ton of trolling motors on the market today! Some are meant specifically for fishing in saltwater, while others are designed for freshwater only. There are even those that are made for the sole purpose of being mounted to a kayak, canoe, or even paddleboards.
So which electric trolling motor is best for a kayak?
I personally like Newport Vessel’s 36 lb thrust saltwater transom mounted electric kayak trolling motor. This trolling motor is rated for saltwater and has a short shaft length of just 24″, making it the perfect size for a kayak.
Newport Vessel’s 36 lb Kayak Trolling Motor
The 36 lbs of thrust should be more than enough for most kayaks and the smaller thrust will also give you more life out of your battery.
However, before you go out and buy one, there are a few things to think about!
What You Need To Know
First, if you primarily fish in freshwater, there’s no need in paying the extra money for a trolling motor that is rated for saltwater use!
With that being said, if you are a saltwater fishermen, then you absolutely need to invest in a saltwater trolling motor. The freshwater models will work for a little bit, but the corrosion properties of the saltwater will eventually take its toll and ruin your trolling motor.
The next step is to decide if you want a trolling motor that’s specifically designed for kayaks, or a bow mounted trolling motor that’s made for any type of small vessel, including Jon Boats, canoes, and even kayaks.
The kayak specific trolling motors while nice, are much more expensive than their bow mounted counterparts!
For example, there’s a company called Island Hopper Outboards who makes a trolling motor and kit for kayaks, but it will set you back about $500.
On the flip side, Newport Vessels makes bow-mounted saltwater trolling motor for less than half of that.
I prefer the bow-mounted trolling motors due to their versatility.
How to Put a Trolling Motor on a Kayak
There are a few different ways to go about this, including some homemade kayak mounts or mounts that are specifically designed for installing trolling motors on kayaks.
Newport Vessels actually offers a trolling motor and mounting bracket combo for a pretty reasonable price.
Of course, you can always buy a mounting bracket by itself if you already have a trolling motor.
If you are a DIY kind of guy, you can always go the route of making your own kayak mounting system.
A lot of these homemade trolling motor mounts only require some PVC, glue, and a little ingenuity.
If you’re not quite sure how to start, there are a bunch of YouTube videos that can walk you through the process, including the one below:
Is it legal to Put a Trolling Motor on a Kayak
As I mentioned above, it is legal to put a trolling motor on a kayak as long as you follow the rules.
Even though you’re only using an electric motor, most (if not all) states will require you to register it the same as you would a regular boat.
The only exception to this rule that I know of is if you fish on private lakes and ponds. However, if you plan on fishing at all on public waters, you must get your kayak registered or risk being issued a hefty fine.
If you are the original owner and have all the right information (including hull number), the registration process is quick and simple.
However, it can get a little confusing, not to mention frustrating if you bought your kayak used from someone.
This is because obtaining the necessary documentation for registering your yak becomes much more difficult!
Are Trolling Motors Safe for Kayaks
Another question that gets asked a lot is if it’s even safe to put a trolling motor on a kayak?
As long as you use common sense when installing and using your trolling motor, then yes…using a trolling motor on your kayak is completely safe!
Most Important Safety Concern
With that being said, the biggest safety concern would be flipping your kayak over!
This could potentially occur if you take too sharp of a turn while on the water! Even though you are only traveling a few mph, an abrupt turn could create an imbalance of weight which could cause your kayak to roll and flip.
Secure The Trolling Motor Battery
It’s also a good idea to make sure that your battery is tightly anchored to your kayak. This is not only for your safety but from what I hear, there are some pretty hefty fines if you don’t properly secure your battery inside your kayak.
Can You put a Trolling Motor on an Inflatable Kayak?
Yes, you can install a trolling motor on an inflatable kayak as long as you properly mount it.
Again, there are several trolling motor mounts that you can purchase that are specifically designed for inflatable kayaks.
There are also plenty of DIY YouTube videos that can help you make your own custom mount.
Keep in mind though that even though it’s an inflatable kayak, you still have to register it.
What Size Battery For Kayak Trolling Motor
Most trolling motors will require a 12-volt deep cycle battery. However, I would skip the regular batteries that you would typically use for starting your boat and opt for a smaller, more manageable battery such as the Mighty Max.
As far as its size goes, it measures 7.68 in x 5.16 in x 7.13 in and has a weight of about 23 lbs.
Besides its small size, the thing that I like most about this particular marine battery is that it’s spill proof! This means that it can be mounted in any position that best fits your situation.
There are plenty of small marine batteries on the market that can operate a trolling motor, so finding one that fits your needs and your budget shouldn’t be a problem.
How Fast Will a Kayak go With a Trolling Motor
There are several factors that will determine how fast a kayak will go with a trolling motor:
- The amount of gear you have on board.
- How much you and your kayak weigh.
- The thrust of your trolling motor.
- The current and wind speed.
With that being said, assuming you are an average size man with minimal gear, you should be able to get at least 2-3 mph for top speed.
While that may not seem like much, try comparing it to how long it would take you to travel the same distance with a paddle.
If you want to go a little bit faster, you can always opt for a trolling motor with a higher thrust, but with the extra speed comes less battery life.
In my opinion, the little extra speed that you may get with a higher thrust trolling motor is not worth sacrificing battery life, not to mention a higher thrust motor will set you back a few more bucks.
Are There Kayaks That Have Trolling Motors Built-In
If you don’t want to bother with having to install a trolling motor on your kayak, you could always buy a kayak that comes pre-equipped with a trolling motor.
There are several brands that offer this option including the Old Town Predator XL Kayak with Minn Kota® Motor.
These kayaks are quite expensive and will run you in upwards of $2,500!
You will also still need to register them as you would a motorboat or kayak that has had a trolling motor mounted on it.
I’ve been kayak fishing for a number of years now and while I really do enjoy paddling to get to where I’m going, there are times when I am fishing a larger area and need to move around more than usual in order to get to where the fish are.
This is when a trolling motor can really come in handy!
Not only does it allow me to get from point a to point b faster, but the extra time saved from paddling allows more time for fishing, which is what it’s all about.
With that being said, if I know that I’m not going to have to move around a lot, I usually just leave the trolling motor at home and opt for the paddle. This is another reason why I like trolling motors that you can easily put on and take off!
If you do decide to put a trolling motor on your kayak, make sure to consider all the pros and cons before investing your time and money into installing one on your kayak.
Then when you’re ready, be sure to take a look at the electric trolling motor that I use on my own kayak. You can learn more about it below.