Choosing the Best Trolling Motor for Kayaks
I had just landed a very nice slot-size redfish from a shoreline at Grand Isle, Louisiana. It was hot, I was tired, and I was dreading the long distance paddle back to the launch site where my buddy Tim Perkins and I had put in several hours earlier. As Tim approached me, he slowed down, tossed me rope and said, “Hang on, I’ll tow you back.” Now Tim is a friend and an experienced and recognized kayak fisherman, but paddling two kayaks at once is more than friendship should require. But Tim had a secret. Securely attached and rigged to the stern of his kayak was a Torqueedo electric motor, possibly the best trolling motor for kayaks.
In just a few moments, I was sitting back, enjoying the ride home and thinking about how good that fat redfish was going to taste later when it was cooked on the grill.
That electric powered motor was zipping both kayaks along at a good rate of speed and we didn’t have to lift a paddle. I had used electric motors on kayaks before, but I was strongly reminded on this trip back just how effective and efficient these little electric marvels can be for tired kayak anglers.
Advantages Kayak Anglers Gain from Using a Motor
The biggest advantage kayak anglers gain from attaching an electric motor is increased range for their fishing. By using a motor, kayakers can put themselves in many more good fishing spots in a short period of time.
Another advantage gained by motor use on kayaks is that anglers who are not strong paddlers can spend a long day on the water fishing and not end up totally worn out and exhausted from the work of paddling. This is especially an advantage for anglers who use their kayaks on big, wind-affected waters like big lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.
Electric motors are wonderful aids for fishing from a kayak, but they are not perfect fits for every single kayak.
Is Mounting a Standard Trolling Motor to a Kayak an Option?
It is very possible to rig and use a standard trolling motor on most kayaks. I’ve done this a number of times on various kayaks. It’s not difficult to rig a simple metal mounting bracket to the stern of most kayaks, and this will provide a secure location to attach the trolling motor. When it comes to rigging a kayak for motor use, the flatter the stern of the kayak is, the easier it will be to rig a trolling motor and its mounting gear. There will be some holes to be drilled in the kayak upper deck and some sealant to insure leaks don’t occur, but it’s certainly not rocket science to rig a kayak trolling motor mount.
Of course, the motor is not the only consideration when it comes to rigging a kayak for power. The battery, which is quite heavy for most electric motor systems, must be located and secured in a location where it won’t be a problem for the angler. A 12-volt battery is not a light weight item, and its location in a kayak can greatly affect the balance of the boat. Anglers who choose to rig and use a trolling motor on their kayaks will need to experiment to find the best location for the battery in any particular kayak.
Another possible disadvantage of using a traditional trolling motor on a kayak is that steering the kayak with a standard “clamp-on” trolling motor can involve some awkward twisting and turning of the angler to control the motor. Trolling motor handle extensions can help overcome this difficulty, but in most cases, trolling motors not specifically designed for kayak use will require some twisting and turning on the part of the angler to make the system work.
In fact, steering a trolling motor-powered kayak is the biggest consideration to be overcome when rigging a kayak for use with a motor.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Trolling Motors for Kayaks
One of the premier designed specifically for kayak use electric motor systems is the wide range of motors made by Torqueedo. These are truly amazing motors with steering, mounting, and battery systems all made for easy installation and reliable use. And this system is extremely lightweight. A charged Torqueedo battery will propel a kayak and angler all day with no loss of power.
Here are some specifics about the Torqueedo kayak electric motor. First, it weighs 16 lbs., including the battery. It has up to a 25 mile range on a charge. And finally, the battery can be solar charged anywhere, even on the water when it’s being used.
We’ve seen the Torqueedo motor in use, and it is a truly amazing product.
Perkins prefers the Torqueedo system over all of the others.
“The German technology, especially the battery, and the weight factor are just superior,” Perkins added.
The downside? It’s not cheap. A kayak angler can expect to pay as much for a Torqueedo system as the kayak itself costs. But for kayak anglers who fish a lot on big water, it’s a system well worth looking at.
“I use the Torqueedo system every time I go fishing, and I go fishing 75 to 100 times a year. I fish a lot,” Perkins said.
Is a Motor Right for You?
Kayak anglers who rig their “yaks” for motor use need to be aware that according to most states, once a kayak is powered by any sort of motor, it must be registered and licensed just like any other watercraft. This is not a big deal, but it is a complication that needs to be kept in mind.
Also, if an angler uses the kayak in streams and rivers where the current is strong and does most of the actual moving of the boat, a motor may be a complication that is not really an advantage. Trolling motors can and will hang up on brush and logs and rocks, and this can present some problems if the kayak is floating strongly down a stream and the motor grabs something below the surface.
The cost involved with setting up a kayak for use with an electric motor can be prohibitive. A simple trolling motor with a 12 volt auto battery won’t run much more than a couple of hundred dollars. But a complete designed for kayak use system can cost as much, or more, than the kayak itself cost.
Still, many kayak anglers are coming to see an electric motor of some kind as a very good fit for their particular brand of kayak fishing. In general, the farther a kayak angler wants to go on fishing trips and the bigger the water being floated, the more beneficial and effective a motor is.
And when a long day of fishing is done and the kayak angler is still a few miles from the launch and take-out spot, pushing that “go” button and steering the kayak home without lifting a paddle can be worth a whole lot of money.
Important Contact Information
Jeff Little, Sales Manager-OEM
This article first appeared in the March 2020 print issue of Great Days Outdoors Magazine. For more great hunting and fishing content for the deep South, subscribe to Great Days Outdoors print and digital editions or click the image to download this issue.