How to Put a Trolling Motor on a Kayak

Trolling motor on kayak
Photo by Harrison Kugler on Unsplash

Kayaking is a popular leisure activity. Many people like practicing this sport in both freshwater and saltwater. Most kayakers practice the sport to keep their bodies strong. Kayaking can be an excellent way to exercise different parts of your body. Whether you use a paddle or foot pedals to power a kayak, you need a good amount of physical effort.

Others practice kayaking as a way to relax and have a good time. In such cases, physical effort is not necessary. Hence, some of these kayakers equip their kayaks with a sailing kit. And others equip their kayaks even with trolling motors. This is particularly popular among sport fishermen. They use kayaks as low-cost alternatives to fishing boats.

Why Would You Want to Equip Your Kayak with a Trolling Motor?

A kayak can be very versatile as an alternative to a fishing boat. It is relatively small and light, so you can transport it easily. You won’t need any special maneuvers to launch it to the water. Despite its small size, a kayak is good to fish in lakes and rivers. Some kayaks are stable and strong enough to allow you to fish near the beach.

You can fish with a kayak using paddles or foot pedals. However, adding a trolling motor will simplify your fishing. First, a kayak full of fishing gear and accessories (tackle boxes, coolers, etc.) can be very heavy. It will be tough to move it for several hours with your physical power only.

Another reason is that, while fishing, you need to approach some spots very quietly. This is necessary to avoid spooking the fish. A trolling motor allows the kayak to move slowly and with minimum noise. Moreover, it is easier to maneuver and position your kayak with a trolling motor. If you usually fish in the sea, make sure you get the best saltwater trolling motor you can afford. We’ll explain later why this is so important.

Choosing the Right Trolling Motor for Your Kayak

If you decide to put a trolling motor on your kayak, first, you need to know which motor your kayak needs. You must take into account the following factors to make a decision:

  • The thrust;
  • The mounting system;
  • The weight;
  • The power supply.

Let’s discuss each of these points in detail.

The Thrust of the Trolling Motor

We measure the delivered mechanical power of a trolling motor in pounds of thrust. In general, larger trolling motors deliver more thrust. How powerful should a trolling motor for a kayak be? As a rule, you need 2 pounds of thrust for every 100 pounds of weight. Hence, an average person weighing 200 pounds on a 50-pound kayak would need 5 pounds of thrust. Add another 100 pounds of fishing gear, and you’ll need 7 pounds of thrust.

Hence, a small trolling motor that delivers 30 pounds of thrust is more than enough to move your kayak comfortably. This is somehow good since you don’t have much space for a trolling motor in a kayak.

The Mounting System

Some kayaks come with a mounting system for a trolling motor. Others don’t have it. Check whether your kayak comes with a mounting system, so you can buy a trolling motor that fits. Otherwise, you can choose a trolling motor that you can mount using clamps. This is the simplest system. You can mount and remove your trolling motor without special tools.

The Weight

We said that the advantage of a kayak is its low weight in comparison to a boat. You don’t want to lose this advantage by using a heavy trolling motor, do you? Hence, you should look for the lightest trolling motor. Moreover, kayaks don’t support much weight in general.

The Power Supply

A trolling motor uses DC electricity to work. In most cases, you’ll need a 12V battery to power it. If you use a marine battery, you’ll be putting too much weight on your kayak. This is why you need to get the lightest battery. Unfortunately, lighter batteries provide electrical power for less time in most cases. Hence, you can opt for a solar power system. These systems are relatively new.

In all cases, bear in mind that your power supply may fail. Also, a trolling engine can break down. Hence, make sure to have a way to move your kayak if this happens. This can be a paddle or an oar. This is particularly critical in the sea.

Kayak trolling motor
Photo credit to Christian Collins

How You Mount a Trolling Motor on Your Kayak

Whatever the type of trolling motor you get, you have to learn to mount it on your kayak. Don’t worry; this is a relatively easy task. The first thing to do is to verify the weight limit of your kayak. Make sure that the trolling motor and its corresponding battery won’t exceed the said limit. You must consider your weight and your gear’s weight in the calculation. It won’t make sense to learn to mount a trolling motor if your kayak can’t support it.

If you can mount a trolling motor, then you have to purchase a mounting kit. Such a kit comes with all the necessary parts and instructions. In most cases, you just need to drill some holes in your kayak. You can build a trolling motor mount yourself, but this will take more time. Alternatively, you can mount the trolling motor directly on the stern or bow. For this approach, you’ll have to drill some holes to fix the clamps of the trolling motor.

However, the most practical way is mounting the trolling motor on the side of your kayak. Having the trolling motor on the side will allow you to reach the steering handle more easily. You have to make a mount that crosses the stern. This can be a sturdy pole. This pole will hold the clamp of the trolling motor. On which side should you put the trolling motor? It depends on whether you are right- or left-handed. Take into account that you will hold your fishing rod with one hand and the steering handle with the other.


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Justin Archer
Hi, I'm Justin Archer a family man with 2 boys and a wife. I'm an outdoorsman who loves hunting, fishing, hiking and lots of other outdoor activities. I love testing new outdoor gear, learning new things and passing on the knowledge I have gained. Feel free to contact me anytime -