Kayak Trolling Motors | Guide on how to choose the Best and DIY Set-Up

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Updated on

Paddling can be fun, but when done for an extended period, it can be tiring. If you are fishing, for instance, paddling too much can be distractive, and you might even miss the bite. Kayak trolling motor is your savior at that time when you need to cover a large area to catch more fish.

Buying a kayak that is set up for a trolling motor is an option but can be too expensive if you are a casual angler. Besides, why spend more money when you can buy a trolling engine and set up yourself following simple steps. Here you will learn how to choose the best trolling motor and DIY set up.

How to Choose the Best Kayak Trolling Motors

The best trolling motor makes kayaking effortless and fun. However, finding the best product requires research and in-depth understanding. You will have to look at all features that make it functional and affordable. Here are the considerations you should for informed decision making:

Kayak size

The size of your kayak determines the battery power and the amount of push needed in the chosen trolling motor. Due to different sizes of kayaks, the trolling motors come in three ratings; 12V, 24V, and 36V. If your kayak is 16 feet or less, then go for a trolling engine rated 12V. The 36V works for 19 feet kayaks and more. However, anything in-between the two lengths got for one rated 24V.

Mounting location

The trolling motors can be mounted on the bow or transom of the boat. Transom mount is the best for kayaks since it fits comfortably and can be operated on sitting position. Beginners might find it a little challenging at first, but with practice, everything will be all set. 

However, if your boat is medium or large, then bow mount is the ideal option. Though expensive, they have additional features such as auto-pilot and wireless control. You, therefore, need to choose the trolling motor depending on where you want to mount it.

Water type

Are you going to fish in freshwater or saltwater? If the fishing place is in seawater, then you will need a trolling motor designed to work well without corroding. The engine should be made of anti-rusting materials even without lubrication. The proper equipment will serve you for long with increased efficiency. However, if fishing in freshwater, any trolling motor putting other factors into considerations will work just fine.

Loading capacity

The amount of thrush you need depends on the loading capacity of your kayak. A kayak with a capacity of over 1500 pounds requires a trolling motor with a minimum of 30 pounds thrust. Anything larger than this, or if you are going in groups, a push of 80 pounds above is needed.

Details of thrush are indicated in the instruction guide that comes with trolling motor; you only need to know your kayak size, weight, and the loading capacity.

DIY Kayak Trolling Motor Set-up

You might be asking yourself whether it is legal to put a trolling motor on your kayak. Rest assured that it is indeed legal as long as you follow the safety laws governing kayaking. Of course, you need to buy the best trolling motor before attaching it to the kayak. Here are the simple steps to follow for DIY kayak trolling motor setup:

1. Get the necessary tools needed

There are tools and gear that you will need to attach the trolling motor to the kayak successfully. These include:

  • A kayak
  • Plastic battery box
  • Marine battery
  • Transom-mount motor
  • Waterproof circuit breaker
  • 24 wood
  • Toggle bolts

Once you get all the required gear, go to step two.

2. Assemble the trolling motor

First, setup the kayak on something about the height of your waist.  This prevents the trolling engine from hitting the ground during the trial process.

Put the battery in the battery box and place it in the storage area at the back of your kayak. Use a strap to hold the battery box firmly in place.

Take the 2×4 piece of wood and set it between the battery box and the seat with the longer side against the box. To mount the trolling motor well, let someone hold for you the wood. Mark the edges of the piece of wood to help when fixing the trolling engine in place after the trial process.Now remove the battery box to start setting up everything.

To set up the 2×4 piece of wood, drill the holes on the marked line. Now attach it to the kayak using the toggle bolts. If the bolts are sticking out, you can trim using hand hacksaws or Dremel. Trim it smoothly to avoid sharp edges that can damage the battery.

Put the battery back into the box and lift it back to storage space and secure it using the straps. Now attach the trolling motor to the 2×4 piece of wood using the toggle bolts. It will not move once attached well to the kayak.

Mount the circuit breaker on top of the battery using double-sided 3M tape to secure it in place. Do the wiring by running the black wire from the trolling motor to the negative terminal and red to the AUX pole of the circuit breaker. Direct the jumper from the circuit breaker to the positive battery terminal.   

Once through with the process, you can take it to water and see how easy it is cruising with trolling motor on. Do not leave your paddle just in case you need to use it.

Final Word

Choosing the right trolling motor and setting it up is now easy with the above guide. You will no longer experience the stress of paddling for long hours once the installation of a trolling motor is done. Of course, the battery might run out, thus taking your paddle along is essential. However, if you are kayaking for exercise, then motorization might not be a good idea. For anglers, motorization is indeed the way to go for more catch and fun-filled experience!

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