best kayak trolling motors

The 5 Best Kayak Trolling Motors to Replace Your Paddles

Kayak trolling motors can truly save the day. Here’s how…

Once, I went on a kayaking trip with a friend through Central Florida, which involved paddling through a whole host of small rivers, leading to beautifully clear springs.

But it also included paddling through bays and larger bodies of water.

The first few hours were pure bliss—beautiful views, sparklingly waters and interesting wildlife. But thanks to both the Florida sun and some incoming storm clouds, the day took a drastic turn.

Frantically paddling against the wake of larger boats, we fought to return to the dock where we’d rented our crafts. By the end, my arms felt like they’d be carrying the world for centuries.

What could’ve gotten us out of this sticky situation? Simple: a kayak trolling motor.

Why You Need a Kayak Trolling Motor

While most folks assume kayaks and paddles go hand in hand, a kayak trolling motor can make a fine accessory for a variety of activities. Here are some main reasons:

  • No wakes or splashes — The main reason people gravitate towards kayak trolling motors is because of fishing. After all, trolling motors cause less motion in the water with virtually no wake, so you don’t have to worry about scaring fish away. It also allows anglers to get into tributaries bigger boats can’t.
  • Frees up your hands — One major benefit trolling motors provide is that they remove the need for paddling, which opens your hands for other tasks like holding a fishing rod. And like I mentioned earlier, it can really give your arms a break.
  • Convenience and emergencies — Anglers love them, but I can’t stress enough their convenience for everyday boaters. Especially for someone older or younger, who isn’t able to keep up without getting physically exhausted. Kayaking can sometimes feel like a young man’s game, but bringing along a trolling motor for your kayak certainly evens the playing field.

Choosing the Best Kayak Trolling Motor

When it comes down to it, how do you know you’re choosing the best trolling motor for your kayak?

Consider these big-picture features to ensure you’re getting the right trolling motor for your kayaking style:

Saltwater vs. Freshwater

Pretty much a given for everything in the boating world, you need to decide if you want anti-corrosive properties on your trolling motor. Where you plan to paddle will dictate which motor you go with, as some are only designed for saltwater or freshwater use.

Ask yourself: Which bodies of water do I frequent the most? You can likely make the right call from here. But if you’re unsure or dream of throwing a line into brinier waters, purchase a trolling motor suited for both. (I’ll profile a handful below, so don’t worry!)

Battery Voltage and Thrust

How much thrust, or power, your kayak trolling motor has is based on the battery voltage. Most motors will distinguish in terms of weight, but thankfully a kayak is certainly not the heaviest boat out there on the market (not by a long shot).

This typically means you don’t need to worry too much about power performance when it comes to your trolling motor. This is even truer for fishing, where dexterity and mobility in smaller bodies of water are far more important.

In terms of size, a 12-volt trolling motor model is enough for a kayak, which typically seats one to two people tops.

Number of Blades

Blades, though, are a different story. There are essentially two kinds to consider:

  • Two-blade propellers — If you’re looking for a general trolling motor, a two-blade propeller is not a bad investment at all.
  • Three-blade propellers — As you might assume, three-blade propellers are typically more efficient and create less noise, making them more ideal for fishing.

Types of Controls

Typically, trolling motors are controlled manually, but some offer remote controls or controls via pedals attached to the motors.

  • Motor pedals — Most anglers will tell you pedals are the way to go because they allow you to move your hands freely. This allows you to move about and manage your rod.
  • Remote — Using a remote control is all about convenience while using your hands is all about assurance. Ultimately, it comes down to comfort level and personal preference.

If you like the idea of using your trolling motor by hand and then staying in one place to cast your line, that might be best for you. Otherwise, most folks will tell you it’s the pedal way or no way at all.

Shaft Length

While you always want to be able to adjust shaft length, it’s important to consider that most kayak trolling motors range on the shorter side compared to, say, a pontoon trolling motor. Because you’re more likely to navigate smaller bodies of water and don’t want to hit rocks or get tangled in seaweed, a shorter shaft length is typically no problem at all.

Standard kayak trolling motor shafts offer an average range from 24 – 30 inches.

The 5 Best Kayak Trolling Motors to Replace Your Paddles

Now, let’s dig into it! I’ve rounded up the five best kayak trolling motors on the market—let’s see what makes them special:

Preview
Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust Electric Kayak Trolling Motor with Kayak Mount Set
Newport Vessels 36lb Thrust Kayak Trolling Motor with Railblaza Mount Kit
Watersnake ASP Salt Water Transom Mount Trolling Motor with 24-Pound Thrust, 24-Inch Shaft, 12-Volt
GOPLUS Electric Trolling Motor 46/55/86 LBS Thrust Transom Mounted 8 Speed with Adjustable Handle for Fishing Boats Freshwater and Saltwater Use (55 LBS)
Watersnake T18 ASP 18 lb. Thrust 12V Electric Trolling Motor with 24" Shaft - White
Item
Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust Electric Kayak Trolling Motor with Kayak Mount Set
Newport Vessels 36lb Thrust Kayak Trolling Motor with Railblaza Mount Kit
Watersnake ASP Salt Water Transom Mount Trolling Motor with 24-Pound Thrust, 24-Inch Shaft, 12-Volt
GOPLUS Electric Trolling Motor 46/55/86 LBS Thrust Transom Mounted 8 Speed with Adjustable Handle for Fishing Boats Freshwater and Saltwater Use (55 LBS)
Watersnake T18 ASP 18 lb. Thrust 12V Electric Trolling Motor with 24" Shaft - White
Blade Count
2
2
2
3
2
Voltage/Thrust
12V / 55LB
12V / 36LB
12V / 24LB
24V / 46/55/86 LBS
12V / 18LB
Shaft Length
24"
24"
24"
24"
24"
Mount Included
Preview
Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust Electric Kayak Trolling Motor with Kayak Mount Set
Item
Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust Electric Kayak Trolling Motor with Kayak Mount Set
Blade Count
2
Voltage/Thrust
12V / 55LB
Shaft Length
24"
Mount Included
Check Price
Preview
Newport Vessels 36lb Thrust Kayak Trolling Motor with Railblaza Mount Kit
Item
Newport Vessels 36lb Thrust Kayak Trolling Motor with Railblaza Mount Kit
Blade Count
2
Voltage/Thrust
12V / 36LB
Shaft Length
24"
Mount Included
Check Price
Preview
Watersnake ASP Salt Water Transom Mount Trolling Motor with 24-Pound Thrust, 24-Inch Shaft, 12-Volt
Item
Watersnake ASP Salt Water Transom Mount Trolling Motor with 24-Pound Thrust, 24-Inch Shaft, 12-Volt
Blade Count
2
Voltage/Thrust
12V / 24LB
Shaft Length
24"
Mount Included
Check Price
Preview
GOPLUS Electric Trolling Motor 46/55/86 LBS Thrust Transom Mounted 8 Speed with Adjustable Handle for Fishing Boats Freshwater and Saltwater Use (55 LBS)
Item
GOPLUS Electric Trolling Motor 46/55/86 LBS Thrust Transom Mounted 8 Speed with Adjustable Handle for Fishing Boats Freshwater and Saltwater Use (55 LBS)
Blade Count
3
Voltage/Thrust
24V / 46/55/86 LBS
Shaft Length
24"
Mount Included
Check Price
Preview
Watersnake T18 ASP 18 lb. Thrust 12V Electric Trolling Motor with 24" Shaft - White
Item
Watersnake T18 ASP 18 lb. Thrust 12V Electric Trolling Motor with 24" Shaft - White
Blade Count
2
Voltage/Thrust
12V / 18LB
Shaft Length
24"
Mount Included
Check Price

Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust Motor

best kayak trolling motors

This is a great universal option for any kayaker out there. This motor comes with 55 lbs of thrust, which is perfect for most anglers and single kayaks, and also includes its own mounting set.

While it is not guaranteed to work for every single kayak out there, it comes pretty close, and the combination for the price is the real kicker here.

A compact motor that’s versatile, works in both salt and freshwater, and comes with all the necessary hardware? Can’t go wrong!

  • Blade Count: 2
  • Voltage/Thrust: 12V / 55lb
  • Shaft Length: 24″
  • Mount: Included

Newport Vessels 36lb Thrust Motor 

best kayak trolling motors

For kayakers on a budget, Newport Vessels also offers a trolling motor which carries 36 lbs of thrust. If you’re interested in all the same customizable elements, as well as the additional mount, this is a great option for those who are okay with a little bit less get up and go.

  • Blade Count: 2
  • Voltage/Thrust: 12V / 36lb
  • Shaft Length: 24″
  • Mount: Included

Watersnake ASP Salt Water Motor

best kayak trolling motors

This Watersnake model is pretty much the definition of a kayak trolling motor. What it lacks in speed—24 lbs of thrust and a 12-volt battery—it makes up for with a clever propeller design that repels weeds.

This saltwater-specific motor is equipped with anti-corrosive paint, which generally makes it more resistant (rather than being saltwater-coated which is only specific to water conditions and nothing else).

Perfect for shallow waters, this trolling motor does not come with a mount. But you can easily find universal motor mount brackets (listed in accessories!)

  • Blade Count: 2
  • Voltage/Thrust: 12V / 24 lbs
  • Shaft Length: 24″
  • Mount: Not Included

Goplus Electric Trolling Motor

best kayak trolling motors

The folks at Goplus know how to engineer a nice trolling motor for kayaks and other small boats.

A fisherman’s dream with a whole host of customizable elements for tinkering a little bit while out on the water, this motor features an adjustable boat clamp, depth and shaft angle adjuster. It also offers a telescoping handle for easy accessibility.

  • Blade Count: 3
  • Voltage/Thrust: 24V / 46/55/86 LBS
  • Shaft Length: 24″
  • Mount: Not Included

Watersnake T18 Motor

best kayak trolling motors

The most affordable of the best kayak trolling motors on the market right now, this Watersnake T18 motor has the least amount of thrust (18 lbs), which makes it perfectly suited for small runs on the boat.

Unlike the Watersnake ASP motor, this model is simply “saltwater coated.” While it’s not entirely resistant to the elements, it can keep up in saltwater with ease. I’d only suggest giving it a good freshwater cleanse after your day out.

This is a fantastic “break glass in case of emergency” option for boaters who are happy to paddle most of the way there but want an effortlessly smooth drive home.

  • Blade Count: 2
  • Voltage/Thrust: 12V / 18lb
  • Shaft Length: 24″
  • Mount: Not Included

How to Install Your Kayak Trolling Motor

Now that you have your trolling motor, how do you install it?

best kayak trolling motors

Most trolling motors come with their own mounts and an installation guide. Some provided mounts work great, but if you want a well-made mount, I suggest this Brocraft Universal Mount (check price on Amazon) as a reliable and super sturdy way to ensure your trolling motor isn’t going anywhere. Ans if your trolling motor doesn’t come with a mounting set, this is one of the best in the business.

Another great option is the Watersnake Trolling Motor Kayak Bracket (check price on Amazon).

How to Maintain Your Trolling Motor

In general, maintaining your trolling motor is all about prevention and minimizing risks.

  • Avoid running too hard and long — This will undoubtedly burn out the motor and can easily become a costly replacement.
  • Be mindful of shaft length — Keep out of trouble, particularly around rocks, which can cause damage to the propeller (and cost you big time).

best kayak trolling motors

  • Install a rudder — If you feel like your trolling motor is running out of steam after some wear and tear, consider investing in a rudder. These handy accessories add stability to your motor’s direction. Clip them onto your motor—it’s as easy as that! This Bullnose Clamp On Rudder (check price on Amazon) is a fantastic option!

Find the Best Kayak Trolling Motor For You

If you’ve been itching to hop into your kayak to hit the high seas or to simply enjoy an afternoon fishing, a trolling motor can really help bring the experience to that next level.

Whether you need help keeping up, or simply want a more convenient (and quiet) ride, then a trolling motor should be in your plans!