Kayak With Trolling Motor? Here’s How To Do It (Easy Guide)

In Boating by Christopher Schopf

A kayak can be powered in many different ways.  Some people do it the traditional way with a paddle while others use foot pedals instead.  Still, others will get a sailing kit and sail their sailboat.

But what about using a kayak with a trolling motor?
Is it possible to put a trolling motor on a kayak?

It is possible to put a trolling motor on a kayak and in this post, we’ll tell you how!

Let’s get started!

What Kind of Trolling Motor to Get For Kayaks

Once you’ve decided to get a trolling motor for your kayak, you have to decide what type of trolling motor to get.

Here is what you need to look for when buying a trolling motor for your kayak:

  1. The size of the trolling motor.
  2. The mounting system for the trolling motor.
  3. The weight of the trolling motor.
  4. The power system of the trolling motor.

1) Size Matters

A trolling motor’s power is measured in thrust.  Typically, the larger the trolling motor, the more trust it will have.

The rear area of a kayak really isn’t built to hold a large trolling motor.  Luckily, a kayak isn’t very heavy and thus doesn’t need a motor with a lot of thrust.

In fact, every 2 pounds of thrust can move 100 pounds.

This means that a 200-pound person with 100 pounds of gear and a 50-pound kayak would really only need about 7 pounds of thrust.  A tiny 30-pound thrust trolling motor will be more than you ever need for your kayak.

2) Mounting Systems To Know About

Some kayaks will come built with a mounting system for a trolling motor while others will not.  You’ll want to take a look at your kayak before you decide exactly how you’ll mount it.

In the end, you may find that some motors work better with your particular mount.

3) The Weight Of The Motor

If you’re looking to carry your kayak and your motor to the water, you’ll want to get the lightest trolling motor possible.  This is especially true if your kayak will not support much weight.

4) The Power System

A trolling motor will run off of electricity.

You’ll need to decide how you’ll supply this electricity to your motor.

Trolling Motor Power Systems

Most trolling motors are powered with the help of a 12-volt battery.  This battery is usually a marine battery and it can be quite heavy.

However, you’ll be placing your battery on a kayak so you’ll need to try to get the lightest battery possible for your needs.

Just remember, the lighter and smaller the battery, the less you’ll be able to run your trolling motor.

Some people will opt not to bring a battery with them at all.  These people will instead use a special solar power setup that works well with a trolling motor.  This type of setup is relatively new so you may have limited options with this particular type of setup.

If 12-volt batteries and solar systems don’t work for you, you may also run two 6-volt batteries in parallel.  This type of setup will give you 12 volts of power that you can use to run your trolling motor.

One last thought to keep in mind is that your trolling motor is an engine and engines can break down.  Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that you have additional options for powering your kayak.

In most cases, this will a paddle, but you could also bring a sail or even a single oar to help you get to shore in an emergency.

How to Mount A Trolling Motor On A Kayak

Now that we’ve talked about using trolling motors on kayaks, we need to talk about how to go about actually mounting them.

Mounting a trolling motor on a kayak is easy on some kayaks and more difficult on others.

Before actually attempting to mount anything to your kayak, you may want to check the weight limits of your kayak.  Some kayaks aren’t meant to carry much weight and even the smallest of motors and batteries will be too much for the kayak.

For instance, if you have a kayak that is rated for 200 pounds and you weigh 185 pounds, you should probably get a larger kayak before you attempt to get a trolling motor.  In this case, it won’t matter whether the kayak has easy mounting options or not as you simply won’t be able to mount a trolling motor and still continue to use your kayak.

After you’ve discovered that you can mount your trolling motor, you’ll have to decide between buying a professional mount kit or making one for yourself.

If you decide to buy a mounting kit, you’ll most likely just need to create a few holes in your kayak so that you can attach the mount.

The mounting kit will have all of the instructions you’ll need for a proper install.

Otherwise, you may want to try to build a mount yourself.  You can do this by creating a cross brace over the back of the kayak or by mounting it directly to the stern.

Side Mounting Options

My personal belief is that the best way to do this is to create a mount that crosses over the stern so that the motor can be mounted on the side of the kayak.  This makes it easy for you to reach the steering handle of the motor.

To do this, just drill a pole or a waterproofed board across the back of the kayak.  Make sure it is sturdy enough to hold the clamp that came with your trolling motor.

If you’re right-handed, put your motor on the left so that you can hold your fishing pole in your right hand and your motor steering throttle in your left hand.

Otherwise, reverse the setup so that the throttle is in your right hand.

Mounting Directly to The Stern or Bow

If you’d prefer not to have the motor to the side of the kayak, you can put it on the stern or even the bow of your kayak.  To do this, you’ll need to drill down into the kayak so that you can clamp the trolling motor down onto it.

In some cases, you’ll have to reinforce the bow or stern as most kayaks aren’t sturdy enough to support a trolling motor without reinforcement.

The reinforcement that you use could be anything from metal, to fiberglass, to waterproofed wood. 

Just be sure you use a sturdy material or your trolling motor will end up at the bottom of the lake.

Registration

In most areas of the country, you don’t have to register a small boat that is not powered by a motor.

However, once you put a trolling motor on your kayak, it will no longer be a human-powered watercraft.

Before adding a trolling motor to your kayak, find out what type of registration changes you need to make to your boat.  In most cases, you’ll just have to pay a small fee and display a different registration tag on the boat.

Failure to do this, however, could result in a hefty fine.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting your motored kayak registered properly.

Why Use a Trolling Motor With A Kayak?

One of the great aspects of owning a kayak is the fact that it is small and human-powered.  This makes it easy to access lakes, rivers, and even the beach.

A kayak can easily be thrown in the back of a truck or on top of an SUV without much trouble.

Not only this, but you don’t have to limit yourself to just one form of movement.

A person with shoulder or back issues can get a peddle kayak and even sailors get to have fun with kayaks as sails can be added to them as well.

So why would anybody want to add a trolling motor to their kayak?  One reason is that a weighed-down kayak can get extremely tough to move with human power alone.

For example, some people with larger kayaks bring coolers, several fishing poles, and large tackle boxes with them out on the water.  This can make the idea of adding a trolling motor to the kayak very appealing.

Another reason people might want to add a trolling motor is that it makes fishing easier.  This is especially true if you have a kayak that does not have a peddling system built into it.  In this case, the addition of a trolling motor will make it so that the fisherman can move up and downstream without ever having to put their fishing pole down.

Thirdly, some people just don’t have the strength to move a large kayak up and down a river.  For these people, adding a trolling motor to their kayak may be their only option.

In Closing

Adding a trolling motor to a kayak can make kayaking easier and more fun.  It can also give you the ability to bring gear that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to take with you.

Luckily, adding this motor is not very difficult or expensive.  Just be sure you have a good plan for your kayak before you start drilling holes in it or you may find you have to do more repair work than necessary.