The 5 Best Kayak Trolling Motors to Replace Your Paddles

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. This involved paddling through a whole host of small rivers leading to beautifully clear springs. If you haven't seen Florida's springs, you really need to. But, I digress ... 

It also included paddling through bays and larger bodies of water. The first few hours were pure bliss with beautiful views, sparkling 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 been 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 since there's virtually no wake, so you don't have to worry about scaring away the fish. It also allows anglers to get into tributaries that 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 in our kayak trolling motor review 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'll need to decide if you want anti-corrosive properties on your trolling motor. With any body of water, you'll want to properly rinse the kayak and flush the trolling motor. You'll just need to be more diligent and use a product like Better Boat's de-salt concentrate if you're paddling along saltwater regions.

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.

Featured Boating Product

     Better' Boat's Flush Kit removes saltwater deposits from inboard, outboard and jet engines. Use on boats, driveways, RVs, dive and snorkel gear, fishing equipment, driveways and more. 

Check Price on Amazon - Better Boat's flush kit comes with a control valve, a mixer cup and a fire hose nozzle. The twist nozzle has an adjustable spray pattern to customize the water flow. Combine with a garden hose and boat soap or de-salt concentrate to quickly and efficiently remove saltwater from the engine, hull and deck of your boat or kayak. 

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.

1. Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust Motor 

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Newport Vessels 55lb Thrust Electric Kayak Trolling Motor with Kayak Mount Set




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. It also includes its own mounting set.

While it's 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

2. Newport Vessels 36lb Thrust Motor

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Newport Vessels 36lb Thrust Electric Kayak Trolling Motor with Kayak Mount Set





For kayakers on a budget, Newport Vessels also offers a trolling motor that 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

3. Watersnake ASP Salt Water Motor

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Watersnake T24 ASP - 24 Pound Thrust 12v Electric Saltwater Trolling Motor with Transom Mount





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

4. Goplus Electric Trolling Motor

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

5. Watersnake T18 Motor

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Watersnake T18 ASP - 18 Pound Thrust 12v Electric Saltwater Trolling Motor with Transom Mount





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. You'll still want to be sure to rinse and flush with a de-salt concentrate and fresh water.

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? 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. 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).

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 from our kayak trolling motor review 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.