Paddles are essential kayaking equipment as they are what you will use to power your way through the water. But there are situations when you may need some help paddling. It could be that you are bored with paddling or that your arms have turned to jelly after paddling for some time. This is where kayak trolling motors come in as they allow you to sit back and take a break from paddling.
While a trolling motor allows you to cover long distances with ease, what people actually like about them is that it keeps kayakers hands-free. If you are a photographer, you’ll have your hands free to take beautiful pictures of the scenery around you.
Fishing enthusiasts will also love trolling motors as they can help maintain your kayak in one spot as you set out your fishing gear to catch fish. Also, you’ll have a higher chance of catching fish since you are not paddling. Paddling tends to spook fish and chase them away in contrast to trolling motors that are quiet and disturb the water or scare fish away.
Choosing a trolling motor can turn out to be a difficult task as there are many options in the market and they all seem to be the same. But all kayak trolling motors are not made equal. Because of this, it is important to know all there is to know about kayak trolling motors in order to be able to make an informed decision when buying one. As a result, I’ll be taking you through an extensive buying guide to help you simplify the decision-making process.
What Battery to Use With a Trolling Motor?
This is an important decision you have to make for your trolling motor as it needs a battery to function. Kayak trolling motors do not come with batteries. However, they are designed to use marine batteries or deep-cycle batteries. Your budget, the amount of space on your vessel, and your personal preferences are major determinants of the type of battery you’ll buy.
You will have to consider the weight of the battery and any other gear you’ll be carrying to make sure that you are not exceeding the maximum weight capacity of your kayak. Some kayak models may have dedicated space for trolling motor batteries. If your yak doesn’t have a battery dedicated storage area, you need to look in other places in the vessel where you can store the battery safely.
The battery’s voltage is another factor to consider. Ideally, it is the voltage of the kayak trolling motor that will determine the voltage of the battery you’ll buy. For example, you should buy a 12v battery for a 12v motor.
You can read our complete guide to trolling motor batteries.
How to Mount a Trolling Motor on a Kayak?
The mounting system of a trolling motor is another thing you have to consider. There are two types of mounting systems for yak trolling motors namely transom mounting system and bow mounting system.
Transom mounting systems are the most popular and are installed at the rear of your yak. They are also adjustable making them compatible with a wide range of kayaks. Bow mounts on the other hand are installed at the front of your kayak.
They may at times adversely affect your kayak’s handling so always try to go for a transom mounting system.
What Thrust Power do You Need?
How much thrust power your kayak needs will depend on the size of your kayak. And since kayaks are usually lighter than other types of boats, you won’t be needing a lot of thrust power. You should note that a bigger motor doesn’t necessarily equal faster speed but the motor will be able to maintain top speed especially when you are traveling against the currents.
A motor with thrust power between 30-60 pounds is enough to propel your kayak. In fact, 30 pounds is enough and anything after that is just a bonus. Again, higher thrust power doesn’t mean faster speed. But the higher the thrust power of a motor, the better it will be able to handle heavier boats, such as tandem kayaks. Also, a motor with high thrust power will be able to handle moving water better.
So you have to consider the size of your kayak and the conditions where you’ll be kayaking when buying a trolling motor.
How to Choose Your Trolling Motor
This varies from kayak to kayak. Kayak trolling motors usually come in 12, 24, and 34 volts and you have to buy the proper battery for each model.
Power consumption varies from boat to boat. Trolling motors can be purchased in 12, 24, and 36 volts, with their respective batteries. How quickly your battery drains will depend on the speed you are traveling.
Trolling motors have varying levels of speed which not only let you control how fast you move on the water but also how fast your battery drains. There are some energy-efficient batteries that help reduce the rate of power consumption when batteries are in use or idle.
This is yet another feature you should look out for in trolling motors as the shaft length affects how quietly motors can operate. If the shaft length of your motor is too short, then it’ll create noises that may scare fish away.
Also, the propeller will not be fully submerged in water which will prevent the motor from reaching top speed as the propeller will be moving more against air than water. Ideally, you should go for a trolling motor that will keep your propeller 12 inches below the surface of the water.
The shaft length of the motors on this list ranges from 24-30 inches while also being adjustable. That combined with the fact that they are made of durable and sturdy materials means you have nothing to worry about them.
Corrosion / Saltwater Resistance
A trolling motor designed for saltwater can be used for both saltwater and freshwater. However, a motor designed for freshwater must be used exclusively on freshwater bodies. If you’ll be kayaking only on freshwater, then you can go for models designed for that purpose.
Saltwater is corrosive and will wear off the body of motors that are not resistant to corrosion. That’s why corrosion-resistant metals like aluminum, stainless steel, and magnesium are used to manufacture saltwater motors. Sometimes a layer of corrosion-resistant material is coated on the part of the motor exposed to saltwater.
Many manufacturers now manufacture their trolling motors to be corrosion resistant thereby offering you more versatility as you can use them on both saltwater and freshwater conditions.
Speed Control & Settings, Remote Control
It’s becoming common to see trolling motors having different speed control. This allows you to control the rate at which you travel on water and also reduces the rate at which your battery drains by traveling at lower speeds.
Some trolling motors are also remote-controlled, allowing you to be completely hands-free as you don’t have to do any steering, not in the traditional sense at least. But these motors also turn out to be more expensive.
With this extensive motor buying guide, I hope you now have a better idea of what to look out for in a kayak motor. This should make your decision-making process a lot easier as you choose a trolling motor that is compatible with your vessel and the type of water you’ll kayak on.
A trolling motor will provide you with a brand new experience and perspective on kayaking. Get one now to see this new perspective for yourself.