Kayak With Trolling Motor? Helpful Tips (Easy Guide)

A kayak can be powered in many different ways.  Some people do it the traditional way with a paddle, while some models use foot pedals instead.  Still, others will get a sailing kit and sail their kayak like a 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 and battery.
  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, which means you’ll need a battery.  Don’t forget to account for the weight of the battery when choosing a 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 setup type is relatively new, so that 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 setup type 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.

Always bring a paddle, but you could also bring a sail 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 attempting to mount anything to your kayak, you will want to check your kayak’s weight limits.  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 at 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 won’t be able to mount a trolling motor and 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 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 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, mount a piece of painted angle iron 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.  As previously mentioned, you’ll need to buy or build a mount and install it on the kayak, which will require drilling holes.

In some cases, you’ll have to reinforce the bow or stern as some 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 and mount it well, 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.  You’ll have to pay a small fee and display registration numbers on the boat in most cases.

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.

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 upstream 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 putting their fishing pole down.

Thirdly, some people 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 it 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 a 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.

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