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Trolling in a kayak or canoe can really wear your arms out! If you’ve ever spent a significant amount of time paddling, you likely already know how exhausting it is.
Sure, paddling is a great workout. However, if you’re trying to navigate upstream or maneuver your fishing gear, it’s going to be a major struggle the entire time you’re out on the water.
Regardless of how fit or ambitious you are, a good trolling motor for your canoe or kayak can really be a lifesaver.
It will let you rest your arms, cover more distance – and most importantly, catch more fish.
The Best Trolling Motor for Canoe or Kayak
Here we have listed the best trolling motors for canoe, kayak, and small boats on the market today.
Last update on 2022-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Why You Need a Trolling Motor
A trolling motor will serve several benefits when you attach it to your canoe or kayak.
Not only will the best trolling motor for canoes or kayaks increase the amount of distance you can cover, but it will also eliminate fatigue to your back and arms.
This can save you time out on the water. You won’t need to take frequent breaks to rest, and you’ll be able to set the motor to a specific speed so that you can troll more efficiently.
A good trolling motor is easy to set up and use, too. All you need to do is maintain your trolling speed, set up your rod and reel, drop a line in the water, and start fishing.
Another benefit of using a trolling motor is that you won’t need to have a hand – or both hands – committed to paddling at all times.
Instead, you can maintain a consistent speed while you’re catching fish.
This is not only more convenient but also safer. No more veering into dangerous rocks or currents while you’re trying to catch a fish!
A trolling motor can also help you keep your lure at the proper depth while trolling, maintaining consistent speed and movement as you do so.
Despite what you may have heard from naysayers, most trolling motors are quiet and stealthy, letting you approach fish without spooking them.
They also tend to be lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to use.
A trolling motor will help you keep your boat in place in a strong current, and it’s ideal for small watercraft like a kayak or canoe. In many cases, a trolling motor can also be used as a backup motor on a larger boat, too.
Even if you enjoy the thrill of paddling while you are fishing, having a trolling motor on your canoe or kayak is a smart choice.
To cover larger distances in the ocean and saltwater, you can add a trolling motor to your ocean fishing kayak.
It’s a great backup in case you accidentally lose or drop your paddle!
What to Look for in a Trolling Motor for your Canoe or Kayak
A trolling motor is essentially a motor designed for the specific fishing technique for fishing.
In this technique, you’ll draw your line through the water by a moving boat, moving at a specific speed as determined by the preferences of the fish.
These motors are highly efficient and can work all day long, offering unique controls that let you change the direction and speed of your boat.
Many are also designed to be lightweight and secure, too.
Here are some of the most important features you need to look for on your next shopping trip.
You can buy three major types of controls for your motor.
The first type is a hand-controlled motor. Easy to use and the least expensive of all motors, it can be mounted directly to the boat.
The biggest disadvantage of a hand-controlled motor is that, of course, you will need to have a hand free to operate it.
Another option that is slightly more expensive is a foot-controlled motor. With this kind of motor, you’ll operate all speed and power controls with your feet.
They require special mounting brackets.
The final option is a wireless remote-controlled motor. The most expensive type of motor, it can be controlled with a foot pedal or remote control.
No matter what kind of controls you select, make sure you pick a unit that has an ergonomic design. Many come with telescoping handles that are adjustable based on your height and position.
Most trolling motors come with eight speeds – five forward and three reverse. However, this can vary.
A propeller is a key feature of a trolling motor. It will be attached directly to the prop shaft, improving your control, noise levels, and efficiency.
You can find motors with all kinds of propellers. Most have three blades, but some have less or more, depending on the brand and design.
Saltwater vs. Freshwater
Before you can make any major decisions about what kind of trolling motor you want for your kayak or canoe, you need to decide where you will be using it.
A freshwater motor is not designed to be used in saltwater.
It does not have protections against the corrosion that is caused by saltwater, and in fact, using a freshwater motor in saltwater often voids the warranty.
If you plan on doing most of your fishing in saltwater, invest in a motor that is designed with stainless steel hardware, corrosion-resistant paint, and sealed electrical connections.
Canoe or Kayak Size
This is one of the most important features to consider when you are shopping for the best trolling motor for your canoe or kayak. How big is your boat?
Most canoes only need a motor with a 55-lb thrust. This will give you enough power to haul you, your boat, and all your gear across a lake.
In some cases, you may be able to get by with a smaller motor, too. Don’t feel obligated to buy the biggest possible motor you can find and afford.
Remember that this will not only be cumbersome and unnecessary, but it will also require more frequent recharging of the battery, too.
The shaft length tells you how far below the water the propeller will ride.
The best shaft length will allow for about a foot of clearance beneath the water, providing enough propulsion without risking you hitting the bottom.
Most trolling motors are designed to be mounted either in the stern or bow of a boat.
In a small kayak or canoe, you will want to find a trolling motor that is mounted in the stern so you will have better control over the boat.
This will also allow you to steer while facing forward, a major benefit if you’re trying to fish at the same time.
While mounting a trolling motor is relatively straightforward – you will usually get everything you need for mounting included when you buy the motor – some motors require a bit more work.
Worst-case scenario, if the motor of your dreams doesn’t come with good or easy-to-use mounting gear, you can always buy specialized mounting brackets for your kayak or canoe.
These are easy to pack up and go, and make it possible for you to mount and dismount the motor at a moment’s notice.
Thrust and Voltage
When you’re looking at an electric trolling motor for your kayak or canoe, keep in mind that it will be rated not in horsepower, but in pounds of thrust.
Knowing how much power you will need is going to depend on the size of your boat as well as any wind conditions.
In most cases, you will need at least a pound of thrust for every 50 lbs of boat weight.
Trolling motors for kayaks and canoes come in several voltages, too, with the most common being 36, 24, and 12 volts.
On a smaller boat, you can get away with a lower voltage – you’ll have plenty of power without zipping your battery instantly.
While every trolling motor will require some level of maintenance, your goal should be to find a motor that requires as little upkeep as possible – unless you enjoy spending hours working on your motor, that is.
There are some other simple steps you can take to extend the longevity of your motor.
For example, make sure it’s rinsed after each use (especially if you use it in saltwater!) and that any line, weeds, or other debris is cleared from the propeller.
You can also apply marine-friendly lubricant spray to resist corrosion and recharge your battery after you use it, both of which will extend the life of your trolling motor.
Top 7 Best Trolling Motors for Canoes, Kayaks, and Small Boats
Here are the top trolling motors on the market today
Newport Vessels NV-Series 55lb (Best Overall)
The best saltwater trolling motor on our list is the Newport Vessels NV-Series 55lb trolling motor.
This motor allows for all-day fishing without having to worry about any kind of corrosion, overheating, or damage.
It has a fiberglass shaft and corrosion-resistant hardware. You won’t have to worry about saltwater damaging the fragile components of your motor.
This motor is perfect for small- and medium-sized boats. It has a good balance of power and efficiency and has a nylon transom mount that is durable and easy to adjust. The shaft is 30 inches long.
The composite fiberglass shaft is not only durable, but it allows for proper depth placement, making it reliable in all settings.
It has a telescoping handle with eight separate speeds and is six inches long, giving you all the support you need to feel comfortable and in control.
- Comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Charge level is given by bright battery indicator light
- Has eight different speeds
- Variable speed switch isn’t always reliable
MotorGuide X3 (Best Foot Control Trolling Motor)
A dynamic foot-control trolling motor, the MotorGuide X3 is one of the newest offerings by this manufacturer. It offers exceptional durability and performance at a good value.
With a dual cable steering system, you won’t have to worry about slack. There’s also variable-ratio technology to provide more responsive steering.
The mount is made out of rigid aircraft-grade aluminum and has stainless steel bushings and an outer shaft. The composite shaft comes with a lifetime guarantee, too.
This trolling motor is quiet on the water and easy to control. It’s totally hands-free and is controlled with your feet instead of your hands.
More time to focus on fishing – and better control? Yes, please!
- Stainless steel bushings are located in key wear points
- Motor height is easy to adjust
- Easy to dismount and mount
- Some people report that the foot pedal is too fast
Minn Kota Endura C2 55 (Best Freshwater Trolling Motor)
If you’re planning on doing most of your fishing in freshwater, the Minn Kota Endura C2 55 is the best trolling motor for you.
It is designed specifically for kayaks but can be used on other types of vessels, too.
Although it’s designed for freshwater, it can also be used in saltwater with several advanced features.
It’s offered at a reasonable price, too, making it a good value considering its phenomenal performance.
This trolling motor is remarkably quiet, moving through the water almost silently. It also generates minimal heat, running cool at all times.
The Minn Kota has a long battery life and moves through weeds with ease. It comes with a durable composite shaft that is backed by a lifetime guarantee.
According to the manufacturer, this shaft is stronger than steel! It also won’t corrode, kink, or break upon impact.
The prop is part of a two-prop system and can handle all kinds of difficult underwater terrain without draining your battery.
It features flared blades that are swept-back. There are several thrust models, including 45, 40, and 35. All come with a hand-control system with a six-inch ergonomic telescoping handle.
Even mounting this trolling motor is easy. All you need to do is use the lever lock bracket which is durable and reliable.
The motor also comes with special materials to improve flex resistance and reduce UV damage.
- Lightweight and portable
- Does not snag on weeds
- Comes with an aluminum shaft for height adjustment
- Shaft top is not sealed
Newport Vessels L-Series 86 lb (Best Electric Trolling Motor)
This transom-mounted electric trolling motor might be lightweight, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it lacks power.
This motor is one of the most powerful on the market, and one of the best trolling motors for canoes or kayaks.
With a balanced weight to power ratio, this motor has a remarkable 86 lb thrust capacity.
It’s universal so you can attach it to any type of watercraft, including those that are small to medium-sized as well as those that are large.
It has a corrosion-resistant design and is one of the best for using in adverse weather conditions.
It has a composite fiberglass shaft that’s three feet long, offering exceptional strength and good depth adjustment.
The Newport Vessels L-Series 86 lb trolling motor has telescoping handles and eight distinct speeds. It’s energy-efficient and has an ergonomic handle that fully extends.
With corrosion-resistant stainless steel hardware, the motor of this unit can handle both freshwater and saltwater conditions.
- Backed by a two-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Good shaft strength and depth placement
- Can be used in both saltwater and freshwater
- Somewhat loud
MinnKota Traxxis 55SC (Best Transom Mount Trolling Motor)
The MinnKota Traxxis 55SC is the best transom mount trolling motor for a kayak or canoe.
It is designed with high-quality features and is available in two separate shaft sizes- 42 and 36 inches.
It has a freshwater-friendly transom-mount trolling motor complete with 55 pounds of thrust and a 12-volt system.
Though simple to operate, it is reliable and durable. It has a one-hand stow mechanism so you can pull it out and put it into the water with ease.
This is a nice feature to have when you’re trying to fish at the same time!
The battery comes with a digital battery indicator light for easy reading, while it’s also equipped with Digital Maximizer technology that improves your battery life.
- Good speed adjustment ability
- Easy to mount and dismount
- Tiller handle can move up to 45 degrees
- Some customers complain about the coverage in the manufacturer’s warranty
Saturn 55 Lbs Short-Shaft Electric Trolling Motor (Best Compact Trolling Motor)
The Saturn 55-lbs Short-Shaft Electric Trolling Motor is a good compact option for people who want effective transportation, yet don’t want to spend all their time messing around with a heavy, bulky motor.
This short-shaft motor is great for small canoes and kayaks. It is top-notch and can even be used on inflatable boats!
With an adjustable handle and an adjustable shaft, it offers 55 lbs of power thrust with just 17 lbs of weight. It also has 12 volts of power.
Set your desired angle easily with the adjustable handle or change the motor depth with the adjustable collar.
It comes with five speeds forward and three for reverse. It also has a battery indicator that displays battery level clearly.
It’s flexible, strong and features a compact design that’s perfect for lighter boats.
- Lightweight and compact
- Made out of composite materials for increased durability
- 26” custom-cut short shaft
- Can’t be used on larger boats
Goplus Trolling Motor (Best Weedless Operation)
Without a doubt, the Goplus trolling motor is one of the best trolling motors for canoe and kayak situations where you will be moving in weedy, clogged waters.
A world-class trolling motor, it is perfect for a small or medium-sized boat. It is designed for freshwater use and has an ergonomic handle.
This handle is telescopic and adjustable, allowing you to control the motor easily.
What’s even better is that the Goplus comes with a three-blade propeller that has a weedless design. You’ll enjoy smooth, efficient operation even in murky waters.
The motor has an eight- to ten-hour battery life. If you charge it up all night the day before you head out on the water, you’ll be able to cruise at speeds of up to four miles per hour without worrying about it dying on you.
When you buy this trolling motor, you’ll get eight speeds, including five forward-speed and three reverse-speed gears.
You’ll enjoy a three-foot shaft length on a three-foot propeller and a 24-volt motor that weighs just 22 lbs.
- The battery comes with ten-points indicator and LED lights
- Has a six-inch telescopic, ergonomic handle
- Moves swiftly and without tangling in weeds
- Poor customer service
Choosing the Best Trolling Motor for Canoes or Kayaks
Just as buying a boat is not a one-size-fits-all endeavors, neither is selecting the best trolling motor. You need to put some thought into what you want to get out of your motor first!
First, consider where you will be fishing. Is the motor going to be used in saltwater or freshwater? What size is your boat? All of these will play a huge role in the type of motor you select.
Once you know which items are non-negotiable (after all, you can’t exactly change the size or shape of your boat!) you will be able to narrow down your list.
Then, you can look for other features that you want instead of those that you need – such as speed, power, and ease of use.
Our top overall choice is the Newport NV-Series
Owning the best trolling motor for your canoe or kayak can make a huge difference in how successful you are out there on the water.
Buying one is a no-brainer – and hopefully, this guide will give you a good idea of what to look for the next time you shop!