Best Kayak Trolling Motor For Going Motor-Powered In 2021

Kayaks and paddles go like peanut butter and jelly; everyone knows that. But I can guarantee that everyone needs some help propelling their kayak from time to time.

And that’s where trolling motors come in:

Compact, quiet, and efficient, these electric motors have earned their spot in the kayaking world. It’s about time you joined the trend and converted to a motorized ‘yak.

Choosing the best kayak trolling motor takes some expertise, though. So, the goal of this post is to help you make that choice!

In A Rush? The Winner After 36 Hours Of Research:

Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55lb Thrust Transom Electric Trolling Motor

Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55lb Thrust Transom Electric Trolling Motor

Our Rating: ★★★★★

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Why is it better?

  • All-aluminum motor head and corrosion-resistant magnesium, stainless steel hardware
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater environments
  • Capable of generating 55 pounds of thrust
  • Features a 24-inch shaft made of fiberglass and allows for variable depth placement
  • Equipped with a three-blade propeller
  • It offers eight different speed settings, including five forward and three reverse speeds
  • It comes with extra-long wiring, allowing for more versatile battery placement
  • It has a five-point LED battery indicator built-in
  • Backed by Newport’s warranty and exceptional customer service team

How To Choose The Best Trolling Motor For Your Kayak

powerful kayak trolling motor with handle

Choosing a motor for a kayak won’t be an easy task. There’s a lot you need to factor in before you make that decision.

And to help you in this search, I’ll introduce you to the best trolling motors for kayaks currently on the market. But not until we go over the essential features and specs you should consider and base your choice on, of course.

Let’s get to it, shall we? 

Saltwater Vs. Freshwater

First off, think about the environment you plan on using your trolling motor in – as in, saltwater or freshwater.

Some units are designed for use in rivers, lakes, and other freshwater environments; others are suitable for oceans and seas. And some trolling motors can work in both, making them a highly versatile option.

What’s the difference? 

You’re probably aware that salt water can cause corrosion, right? Well, that’s why trolling motors designed for use in such harsh environments will feature hardware made of stainless steel and other materials that ensure higher corrosion resistance. 

On the other hand, a freshwater motor can only be used in – well, freshwater. Otherwise, your motor will get destroyed.

And to be quite honest, I believe that electric trolling motors rated for use in fresh and saltwater are typically built to a higher standard than freshwater-only units. 

Power: What Size Trolling Motor Do I Need For A Kayak?

I guess that what you’re really asking here is how much power you’ll need to propel your ‘yak, right? And the answer is – a lot less than you might expect.

So, let’s get one thing straight:

An “underpowered” trolling motor is rarely an issue for kayaks. Sure, it may not go insanely fast, but even the “weakest” units will still beat your average paddling speed

That’s not to say that the weight and length of your kayak won’t play a crucial role in determining the amount of thrust required to move it; they most certainly will. But here’s the thing:

You realistically need roughly two pounds of thrust per 100 pounds of weight. 

That means that even a trolling motor that generates 20 pounds of thrust at its maximum would still be capable of moving a 1000-pound boat. It’s an impossible scenario, given that ‘yaks don’t weigh nearly as much, but you get the idea.

Most have a top speed of 4 to 5 miles per hour on calm water, anyway. 

While a higher thrust rate doesn’t necessarily equal higher speed, it is easier to reach and maintain maximum speed in rough waters and strong currents. 

Speed Settings: How Fast Will A Kayak Go With A Trolling Motor?

It would be best to have control over how fast you’re going; that part’s pretty self-explanatory. But that’s not all. Adjusting the speed also ensures that you get more out of your battery, making things more efficient.

So, yeah, I’d say that checking how many speed settings the trolling motor has is something you want to consider.

Most will come with eight speed settings total – five forward speeds and three for reverse. That said, some models feature a more straightforward configuration, meaning less control over the motor’s speed.

Fewer speed settings won’t necessarily be a deal-breaker, but if your budget allows it, I’d highly recommend going with a motor that offers more control in that regard. 

11.5 Mph on a KAYAK! Stable High speed Electric Kayak Motor! LAKE TEST fail and SUCCESS!

Battery: Where Does The Trolling Motor Battery Go On A Kayak?

Kayak motors run on batteries, opposed to a gas motor used on larger watercraft such as bass boats, making this the second most important purchase decision you’ll have to make if you want to switch to motor-powered kayaking.

Voltage-wise, you generally want to match the battery to the motor. So, for instance, if the unit is rated for 24V, you obviously shouldn’t use a 12V battery to power it. The good news is that most trolling motors require a single 12V deep-cycle or marine battery to operate, so there’s not much confusion there.  

Kayak Trolling Motor Battery - Lithium vs Lead

When it comes to batteries for an electric motor, a lithium battery is king. They’ve got a lot of advantages over the older nickel metal hydride and sealed lead acid batteries;

  • Lithium batteries are the lightest and smallest of all the power options. This is a major advantage when it comes to weight restrictions in a watercraft.
  • They have more energy density than other batteries, which means they can store more energy for the same weight and volume – they also have an extended battery life
  • The environmental consequences of lithium battery production are much less severe than those for any other type of battery. 
  • When the lithium battery has reached its end of life, it can be recycled. 

And where does the trolling motor’s battery go on a kayak, exactly? 

Well, since you’re asking, you may want to take a look at your ‘yak and see what type of storage space you have available, along with the kayak’s maximum capacity. Ensure that you’ll have room for a newly purchased battery – especially if your ‘yak doesn’t have a dedicated molded-in recess for it.

Oh, and one more thing:

A built-in battery indicator is always a welcome feature on an electric trolling motor. I mean, who wants to spend time guessing if the battery’s getting low? 

Propeller Blades

Minn Kota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor

Some kayak trolling motors have more propeller blades than others – making them more robust, smoother to operate without too much noise, and better at navigating through waters with lots of grass and seaweed.

More often than not, you’re looking at two or three blades.

Two-blade propellers are the standard and will work great for general purposes. However, three blades will typically make the propeller more efficient and create less noise, which is why they’re preferred for fishing kayaks.

Either way, make sure the propeller’s durable – and, preferably, protected by the manufacturer’s warranty. 

Shaft Length

Watersnake - Shadow Bow Mount Foot Control Motor Trolling Motor

It may not seem like it, but: 

The length of the shaft will affect the motor’s performance and thrust level. You need to make sure that it’s long enough to position the propeller at the right depth:

Too short, and it won’t be fully submerged, causing it to create a lot of noise. Too long, and you risk hitting rocks and other underwater features found in certain areas.

When choosing the correct shaft length, measure the distance from the motor mount to the waterline. Generally speaking, the kayak’s motor should be at least 12 inches under the water level. 

Here are some rough guidelines:  

  • If the distance is 10 inches or less, go with a shaft length of roughly 30 inches
  • If the distance is between 10 and 16 inches, go with a shaft length of roughly 36 inches
  • If the distance is 16 to 20 inches, go with a shaft length of roughly 42 inches

Ideally, you want a shaft that can be adjusted to ensure proper depth placement in various water conditions. 

Motor-Powered Kayaks & The Law: Is It Legal To Put A Trolling Motor On A Kayak?

Judge and gabble

The short answer would be:

Yes, putting a trolling motor on a kayak is legal – and quite popular these days, too.

But as you might’ve expected, there’s a catch. 

You see, in most states – not only in the US but around the world, too – motor-powered kayaks are subject to a different set of laws than “regular,” paddle-propelled vessels. It will classify as a motorized vessel, meaning it will more than likely require registration and licensing.

You have to ensure that your kayak is compliant with state and federal laws – and that includes having it registered in its state of principal use. And no, failing to do so isn’t something you’ll get away with if you get caught in public waters.

It’s best to check with local authorities, though. More often than not, it’s the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Department of Natural Resources that handle kayak registrations.

Best Kayak Trolling Motors: Reviews & Recommendations

1. Minn Kota Endura C2 

Minn Kota Endura C2
  • Best Trolling Motor For Freshwater Use
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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The first one up is Endura C2 by Minn Kota. It’s among the most budget-friendly kayak motors I’ve had the chance to test but still promises intuitive operation and longer motor life.

It generates 30 pounds of thrust, features a 30-inch shaft, has an ergonomic telescoping tiller, and a 10-position bracket, complete with a quick-release lever lock bracket. You’ll be able to dial in your speed – forward and reverse – thanks to the eight available speed settings, too.

Not too shabby for a low-priced trolling motor, huh?

Keep in mind that Minn Kota’s Endura C2 is only rated for use in freshwater environments, and as such, lacks the flexibility of other models on my list.

Granted, that won’t be a deal-breaker for everyone – but if you plan on taking your kayak to the sea, this isn’t the trolling motor for you.

Pros

  • An ergonomic telescoping tiller for intuitive operation
  • Handy 10-position bracket with a quick-release lever lock
  • It has five forward and three reverse speed settings
  • The bearing system reduces friction and minimizes noise
  • Offers great performance at a low price

Cons

  • The motor’s only suitable for use in freshwater environments
  • It doesn’t feature any type of battery indicator
  • The mounting could be more secure

If you want a simple, reasonably priced electric trolling motor for your kayak and plan to stick to freshwater environments, Minn Kota’s Endura C2 is a safe bet. 

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2. Watersnake – ASP Saltwater Trolling Motor

Watersnake – ASP Saltwater Trolling Motor
  • Best Lightweight Trolling Motor
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Watersnake’s ASP Saltwater Trolling Motor takes the cake when it comes to simple design and portability. Seriously, the whole thing weighs a mere 4.8 pounds!

It features a 24-inch shaft, a two-blade propeller, adjustable mount fitting, an anti-impact clip system, and uses a tiller with an extendable handle. So far, so good, right?

But it’s far from the most robust kayak trolling motor, though.

Watersnake’s ASP trolling motor has the lowest thrust rating out of the bunch, clocking in at 18 pounds. That doesn’t have to be a downside – especially if you’ll be powering a lighter ‘yak – but it’s certainly a limiting factor to keep in mind.

One thing I don’t like is the lack of control speed-wise. The motor comes with rather basic, Hi-Lo speed settings – and that’s it. Plus, it doesn’t have a battery indicator, making it impossible to keep track of the remaining power.

Technical Specs

  • Saltwater and freshwater use
  • 18-pound thrust
  • 12V battery
  • 24-inch shaft
  • Hi-Lo speed settings

Pros

  • The lightest, most portable electric trolling motor on the list
  • Features an extendable handle
  • It has a separate Forward/Reverse switch
  • Remains relatively quiet
  • Suitable for use in saltwater environments

Cons

  • The speed settings are basic and limited to Hi-Lo
  • Has the lowest thrust rating on the list, limited to 18 pounds
  • It doesn’t feature a built-in battery indicator

Praised among kayakers for simple, intuitive operation, ultra-lightweight design, and a relatively low price, the Watersnake’s ASP Saltwater Trolling Motor is one of the go-to choices for lighter kayaks. 

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3. Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55lb Thrust Transom Electric Trolling Motor

Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55lb Thrust Transom Electric Trolling Motor
  • Overall Best Kayak Trolling Motor
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Newport Vessels’ kayak series of electric trolling motors are designed explicitly with kayakers in mind – and this shows in every aspect of their design and performance

Despite being the smaller cousin of the Newport Vessels NV series; the all-aluminum motor still generates an impressive 55 pounds of thrust, complete with a three-blade propeller and a 24-inch fiberglass shaft that makes it possible to achieve different depth placements according to water conditions. You also get to control the speed through the 6-inch telescoping handle and choose from five forward and three reverse speeds.

Given its durable construction, sealed drive system and corrosion-resistant hardware, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s rated for use in saltwater environments, too.

Even more so, it features a 5-point LED battery meter, which will give you readings of the 12V battery’s life. Plus, the 5.5 feet of included wiring will make the setup a lot more flexible in terms of where you can keep the battery.

All in all, it’s hard to find any reason to complain about this motor’s performance – but keep in mind that it weighs 23 pounds.

Technical Specs

  • Saltwater and freshwater use
  • 55-pound thrust
  • 12V battery
  • 24-inch shaft
  • 8-speed settings

Pros

  • All-aluminum motor head and corrosion-resistant hardware rated for saltwater use
  • Equipped with a three-blade propeller
  • It generates up to 55 pounds of thrust
  • The shaft allows for variable depth placement
  • Eight different speed settings
  • Extra-long wiring for versatile battery placement and a five-point LED battery indicator

Cons

  • It weighs 23 pounds, making it the heaviest trolling motor on this list
  • The battery indicator seems unreliable at times

Offering high adjustability, optimal performance, and a reasonable price point, Newport Vessels’ electric trolling motor is, hands down, the best option for most kayakers.

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4. GoPlus Electric Trolling Motor

GoPlus Electric Trolling Motor
  • Best Budget-Friendly Trolling Motor
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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GoPlus’s electric trolling motor is available in several configurations, letting you choose 46, 55, or 86 pounds of thrust, depending on what you need. Either way, it’s safe to say that it packs a lot of power – and in a reasonably priced unit, too.

The motor features a 36-inch shaft and a two-blade propeller and offers eight different settings for forward and reverse speed adjustments. Speaking of adjustability, it also has a telescoping handle, a tilting mechanism for the mounting bracket, and an adjustable shaft for proper depth placement.

Also, it features a 10-point LED battery indicator.

It weighs 18 pounds, though – and that’s without factoring in the 12V marine-grade battery you’ll need to power the motor. Consider this if you’re nearing the kayak’s load limit.

Technical Specs

  • Saltwater and freshwater use
  • 46/55/86-pound thrust
  • 12V battery
  • 36-inch shaft
  • 8-speed settings

Pros

  • Telescoping handle with an eight-speed dial built-in
  • Tilting mounting bracket and depth-adjustable shaft
  • It has a 10-point LED battery indicator
  • Features a three-blade propeller
  • Doesn’t have any trouble handling saltwater

Cons

  • It’s relatively heavy, clocking in at 18 pounds
  • The throttle detents wear down faster than expected
  • The handle’s design could be more ergonomic

If you’re looking for an electric kayak motor that can rival the Newport Vessels series at a fantastic price, this GoPlus Electric Trolling Motor is the one to pick. 

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5. AQUOS Haswing 12V 20LBS Bow Mount Trolling Motor

AQUOS Haswing 12V 20LBS Bow Mount Trolling Motor
  • Best Bow-Mount Trolling Motor
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Next up is AQUOS Haswing, and I have to say, right off the bat, that there’s nothing spectacular about this model. It’s a middle-of-the-pack type of motor that doesn’t boast any industry-leading specs and features:

It produces a maximum thrust of 20 pounds, utilizes a two-blade propeller, and has four settings for speed – two forward and two reverse – operated via large buttons.

It’s effective for smaller boats but doesn’t pack enough power for large, heavy kayaks – so might not be ideal for kayak fishing. Before purchasing, consider the weight of your fishing kayak, yourself and gear, and decide if that’s a big enough thrust motor for your needs.

The motor runs on a 12V battery, but unfortunately, the wiring is a bit short and may require an extension, depending on where on the ‘yak you store the battery.

On the plus side, the motor is light, weighing only 7.9 pounds. The Tilt Twist Tiller is collapsible, which further adds to the compactness and portability.

Technical Specs

  • Saltwater and freshwater use
  • 20-pound thrust
  • 12V battery
  • 23.6-inch shaft
  • 4-speed settings

Pros

  • Lightweight design with a collapsible handle for portability
  • Excellent choice for smaller inflatable kayaks
  • The bracket features a quick-release lever lock
  • Ergonomic Tilt Twist Tiller for comfort and responsiveness
  • Among the least expensive trolling motors

Cons

  • Not powerful enough to be used on larger kayaks
  • It only has four speed settings
  • The wiring for the battery is short and may require an extension

AQUOS Haswing might not be ground-breaking in any way, but it performs reasonably well and doesn’t cost a fortune. If you need a budget-friendly bow-mount electric trolling motor, this could be it. 

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6. Watersnake Venom Swet 12V Electric Trolling Motor

Watersnake Venom Swet 12V Electric Trolling Motor
  • Best Flexible Electric Trolling Motor
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Efficient and stylish, Watersnake’s Venom electric trolling motor gets a spot on my list thanks to its durable construction and the great deal of flexibility it offers.

The Venom, powered by a 12V battery, produces 34 pounds of thrust and comes with eight-speed capability – five forward and three reverse speeds. You’ll be able to fine-tune things to your liking using the tiller handle throttle.

Furthermore, it boasts a 30-inch, extra-tough composite propeller shaft rated for use in saltwater marine environments and a two-blade propeller.

Another great addition is the digital voltage meter display integrated into the motor’s head, making it easy to keep track of the battery.

One potential downside is that the Venom weighs almost 20 pounds – 19.7, to be precise. It’s also not the cheapest option, but it’s worth every penny.

Technical Specs

  • Saltwater and freshwater use
  • 34-pound thrust
  • 12V battery
  • 30-inch shaft
  • 8-speed settings

Pros

  • A multi-tilt positioning bracket for versatile transom mounting
  • It has eight settings for speed adjustable through the tiller handle throttle
  • The tiller handle has a telescopic design
  • The 30-inch extra-tough shaft is rated for saltwater use
  • Features a digital voltage meter display on the motor’s head

Cons

  • This trolling motor is far from lightweight, weighing nearly 20 pounds
  • Not the most budget-friendly unit you’ll find on the market

If you want a highly adjustable trolling motor that can be fine-tuned to your exact needs – speed and mounting-wise – Watersnake’s Venom is worth considering.

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7. Cloud Mountain 50LBS Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor

Cloud Mountain 50LBS Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor
  • Best Trolling Motor For Smaller Fishing Kayaks
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Rating: ★★★★
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Another rugged and dependable electric trolling motor that deserves mention is this one made by Cloud Mountain:

It features a high-strength, ablation-resistant reinforced nylon bracket, an all-aluminum head, and a corrosion-resistant fiberglass composite shaft, along with stainless steel hardware. And yes, it’s rated for saltwater use.

Design-wise, it looks almost exactly like the GoPlus I showed you earlier. But performance-wise, Cloud Mountain’s motor can generate 50 pounds of thrust, has eight speeds, and has a 10-point LED indicator to keep an eye on battery status.

It weighs 19.2 pounds, so it’s not exactly lightweight. Some aspects of its design still feel wonky and lack quality – mainly the mounting bracket and telescoping handle that feels too “plasticky” – which is a real shame.  

Technical Specs  

  • Saltwater and freshwater use
  • 50-pound thrust
  • 12V battery
  • 28-inch shaft
  • 8-speed settings

Pros

  • Generates up to 50 pounds of thrust
  • It has a 10-point LED battery status indicator
  • Features a 6-inch telescoping handle with built-in speed control
  • It has eight different speed settings
  • Rated for saltwater use

Cons

  • It weighs slightly over 19 pounds, so it’s far from lightweight
  • The telescoping handle and mounting bracket are “plasticky” and lower-quality

Sure, Cloud Mountain has a few rough edges, but if that doesn’t bother you, you’re in for a high-quality trolling motor that delivers a smooth riding experience.

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8. Newport Vessels Mossy Oak Camouflage Electric Trolling Motor

Newport Vessels Mossy Oak Camouflage Electric Trolling Motor
  • Best Trolling Motor For Fishing & Hunting Kayaks
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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The eighth and final trolling motor I’d like to introduce you to today also comes from Newport – and is the perfect choice for fishing and duck hunting kayaks.

When it comes to specs, it performs just as well as any other top-of-the-line unit you saw in my round-up and boasts many of the same features, too:

It delivers 55 pounds of thrust, has a 36-inch shaft, eight different speed settings – five forward and three reverse speeds – a three-blade propeller, and relies on a 12V battery for power. And the result is smooth, noise-free operation.

Even more so, all the hardware is made of stainless steel, zinc, and magnesium, making this a saltwater-friendly unit.

What makes this unit stand out as a great fit for anglers and hunters is the Mossy Oak camouflage design. If you’re hoping to blend in, this is the trolling motor for you.

Unfortunately, it seems that the 10-point battery indicator isn’t accurate, which defeats the point of having one.

Technical Specs

  • Saltwater and freshwater use
  • 55-pound thrust
  • 12V battery
  • 36-inch shaft
  • 8-speed settings

Pros

  • Extendable handle with 30-degree tilting control head
  • A 10-point LED battery indicator
  • Eight different speed settings
  • Generates a lot of power but remains quiet
  • The Mossy Oak camouflage pattern for duck hunting
  • The hardware’s rated for saltwater use

Cons

  • The tilt function isn’t as convenient as I expected
  • The battery indicator seems to be inaccurate
  • It’s one of the most expensive motors on this list

If you plan on going duck hunting and want a motor that blends in, Newport Vessels’ Mossy Oak camouflage design makes this one of the best trolling motors for you. 

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Final Verdict: What Is The Best Trolling Motor For A Kayak?

After having a chance to go over the buying guide and reviews, you should – hopefully – have a much better understanding of what to look for in the best kayak trolling motor. Obviously, your choice depends on several factors, including the type of kayak and the environment you plan to use it in, but remember:

The best trolling motor for kayaks will be one that offers the best performance. As in, generates enough thrust, has variable speed settings, and can operate in different environments – all while being reasonably easy on the wallet.

And that brings me back to Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55lb Thrust Transom Electric Trolling Motor as my top pick for today. It ticks all those boxes – and then some!