Top 10 Best Trolling Motors for Kayaks: Honest Reviews From a Kayak Angler

Last Updated on May 2, 2022

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I’ve been in your shoes multiple times before.

Confused by all the kayak trolling motor options and not knowing which to get.

They all claim to be the best, but which one is best for you? In this article, I take my years of experience kayak fishing with a trolling motor and honestly review what I believe to be the top 10 best trolling motors for kayaks available on the market today.

If you’re in a hurry on your lunch break, then trust me when I say the overall best kayak trolling motor is the Motorguide xi3. Pick this up and you won’t regret it.

If you’ve got some time, stick around and keep reading to discover who I rated highly and why others barely make the cut!

Comparison Table – Best Kayak Trolling Motors

ImageProductRatingPrice
Best Electric Kayak Trolling Motor
Motorguide xi3
Motorguide xi3
  • 55lb thrust
  • 36" shaft
  • Bow Mount
  • 12 volt
9
Check Price
Best Kayak Trolling Motor For Saltwater
Newport Vessels Kayak Series
Newport Vessels Kayak Series
  • 24" fiberglass shaft
  • Tiller handle
  • 36lb or 55lb thrust with 12-volts
  • Five forward / three reverse speeds
8
Check Price
Fastest Trolling Motor For Kayak
Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC
Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC
  • 3HP equivalent
  • 20" shaft length
  • Integrated kayak steering
  • Stepless forward and reverse
8
Check Price
Haswing Cayman GPSHaswing Cayman GPS
  • 12-volts
  • Bow mount
  • 48" shaft
  • 55lb thrust
7
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Best Value Kayak Trolling Motor
Watersnake T18 ASP
Watersnake T18 ASP
  • 12-volt
  • 18lb or 24lb thrust
  • 24" stainless steel shaft that's corrosion-resistant
7
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Minn Kota Endura C2Minn Kota Endura C2
  • 12-volts
  • Transom mount
  • 45, 50, and 55 lb thrust options
  • 36" and 42" shaft lengths
7
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Newport Vessels Kayak Motor NK180Newport Vessels Kayak Motor NK180
  • 24-volts
  • 1.8 HP equivalent of an outboard motor
  • 19.7" shaft length
  • Transom mount
  • Rudder steering
7
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Watersnake TracerWatersnake Tracer
  • 30 lb, 44 lb, and 54 lb thrust options
  • 30", 36", and 42" shaft lengths
  • 12-volts
  • Tiller handle
  • Transom mount
5
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Minn Kota TraxxisMinn Kota Traxxis
  • 12-volts
  • 36" shaft
  • 55 lbs of thrust
  • Tiller handle/ transom mount
7
Check Price
Haswing OsapianHaswing Osapian
  • 12-volts
  • 24" shaft length
  • 55lb thrust
  • Tiller handle transom mount
7
Check Price

Reviews Of Our Favorite Trolling Motors for Kayaks

Motorguide xi3

Motorguide xi3

BEST ELECTRIC KAYAK TROLLING MOTOR

Specs

  • 55lb thrust
  • 36″ shaft
  • Bow Mount
  • 12 volt

Pros

  • Designed specifically for kayaks
  • Wireless remote control steering / Compatible with wireless foot pedal (not recommended for a kayak)
  • Major sonar brand compatible
  • Quiet
  • Powerful and efficient

Cons

  • Not saltwater compatible
  • Only mounts to the bow of the kayak
  • Not a brushless motor
  • Expensive

Why We Chose It

The Motorguide xi3 is the top-of-the-line standard for bow mount kayak trolling motors. That’s why I rated it a 9/10. The xi3 is what I want on the front of my fishing kayak because of the anchor mode, short shaft, and wireless remote.

Even though it only runs off of a 12-volt battery, it’s still powerful enough to propel a kayak faster than anyone can paddle for an extended time. Yet, it’s quiet enough to move and GPS anchor at a spot without spooking fish.

The xi3 has a saltwater option; however, it does not have the short 36″ shaft designed for kayaks. The shortest shaft available for the Motorguide xi3 saltwater trolling motor is 48″. Other than the longer shaft, the saltwater version of the xi3 has all the same features as the freshwater version.

The most significant drawbacks to the xi3 are the lack of versatility (only a bow mount), and it’s not a brushless motor. The xi3 was introduced well before brushless motors were used for trolling motors, so it’s about time for Motorguide to update the xi3 with a brushless motor for better performance and further reduce the noise.

I recommend the Motorguide xi3 to any serious kayak angler. It’s not the trolling motor I began kayak angling with; however, it’s the one I now trust on the front of my fishing kayak.

Newport Vessels Kayak Series

Newport Vessels Kayak Series

BEST KAYAK TROLLING MOTOR FOR SALTWATER

Specs

  • 24″ fiberglass shaft
  • Tiller handle
  • 36lb or 55lb thrust with 12-volts
  • Five forward / three reverse speeds

Pros

  • Saltwater and freshwater capabilities
  • Great customer service
  • Designed for kayaks
  • Multiple mounting options
  • Telescoping handle
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Tiller handle operation only
  • No GPS anchoring

Why We Chose It

Newport Vessels designed the kayak series to have a shorter shaft and be used in saltwater or freshwater. The MSRP is only $249, and the quality of the Kayak Series is why I rated this trolling motor 8/10. The lack of GPS anchoring is the biggest downside to this trolling motor.

However, I wouldn’t hesitate to put this trolling motor on the transom of my kayak if I was looking for a saltwater trolling motor.

The extendable handle and multiple mounting options mean you can find the location of operation that’s most comfortable for you. The wide range of speeds is great because, as anglers, we need to have the speed to get to our spot quickly and then slow down once we arrive.

As I mentioned earlier, the lack of GPS anchoring is the biggest drawback because you will have to constantly adjust the direction and speed of the motor while fighting the wind and current.

The fact that you can use the trolling motor in saltwater or freshwater and mount it in different locations on your kayak means this saltwater trolling motor is exceptionally versatile.

I recommend the Newport Kayak Series trolling motor to anyone looking for an inexpensive saltwater electric trolling motor for their kayak.

If you want to dive deeper, check out my Newport Vessels Trolling Motor Review.

Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC

Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC

FASTEST TROLLING MOTOR FOR A KAYAK

Specs

  • 3HP equivalent
  • 20″ shaft length
  • Integrated kayak steering
  • Stepless forward and reverse

Pros

  • 6.5 MPH +
  • Integrated battery
  • Lightweight
  • Impact protection
  • It comes with everything you need to get on the water.

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Quickly runs out of batter at full throttle
  • Must use the Torqeedo battery

Why We Chose It

The Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC is fast. If you need to be the first kayak angler at your fishing spot, this electric kayak motor is your best option. However, it is costly (that’s why I gave it an 8/10), but the $2,899 MSRP includes a bundle of everything you need to get on the water.

Such as the battery, battery charger, remote throttle, on-board computer, GPS-based range calculation, and emergency magnetic kill switch.

The Ultralight 1103 AC was designed to mount on the transom of most fishing kayaks. Even though the shaft is short, there’s still a chance of running into submerged objects, and that’s where the quality of materials and impact protection keeps the angler from destroying the trolling motor at full throttle.

While the 1103 AC has GPS tracking, it does not offer GPS anchoring. Since it has its own battery, you won’t have to worry about running your sonar battery down while on the water. You can also separately purchase a solar panel charger for the 1103 AC.

I recommend the Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC for the speed demon kayak anglers. The 1103 AC has a top speed of over 6.5 MPH so that you can beat every other kayak angler to your best spots. It’s also an excellent trolling motor for an ocean fishing kayak because it can be used in saltwater and freshwater.

Haswing Cayman GPS

Haswing Cayman GPS

Specs

  • 12-volts
  • Bow mount
  • 48″ shaft
  • 55lb thrust

Pros

  • GPS Anchor mode through Helmsman App on your phone
  • Wireless remote control included
  • Saltwater and freshwater capable
  • Cruise control
  • Save and record routes

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only compatible with the Helmsman app
  • Large for a kayak

Why We Chose It

The Haswing Cayman GPS offers kayak anglers another option for GPS anchoring less expensive than its competitors. It still has a few minor bugs that need to be worked out before I consider it a replacement for the xi3, but it does offer similar benefits at a lower cost, so I rated it at a 7/10.

Since it’s mounted on the bow and has a longer shaft, it will get in your way more than the xi3, but you still can use the wireless remote control to steer the trolling motor to help keep it out of the way of your hookset.

You can mark a waypoint and record routes to mark precisely where you are catching fish so you can go back later and land more! There’s a safety feature that allows you to shut off the power to the trolling motor that’s great for emergencies like the motor getting bound up or needing to reset it quickly.

I recommend the Haswing Cayman GPS to any kayak angler wanting GPS anchoring and a wireless trolling motor but not spending a fortune on the top-of-the-line trolling motors.

If you’re still not sure if this is right for you, give my Haswing Trolling Motor review a read to learn more about them.

Watersnake T18 ASP

Watersnake T18 ASP

Best Value Kayak Trolling Motor

Specs

  • 12-volt
  • 18lb or 24lb thrust
  • 24″ stainless steel shaft that’s corrosion-resistant

Pros

  • Designed for kayaks and canoes
  • Inexpensive saltwater trolling motor
  • Forward and reverse
  • Extendable handle

Cons

  • The bracket is of poor quality.
  • Only two-speed settings
  • Not powerful

Why We Chose It

The Watersnake T18 ASP is a cheap kayak trolling motor, yet it’s not low quality. It was designed for kayak anglers looking to keep their setup lightweight and straightforward without breaking the bank. I rated it a 7/10 because it lacks helpful features, but it’s very inexpensive.

The low price means there are not many features of which to speak. There’s a switch for forward and reverse and a high and low-speed button. The handle extends so you can find a comfortable position for operation.

However, the bracket the trolling motor mounts to have problems coming loose while on the water, which is highly frustrating.

I recommend the Watersnake T18 ASP to any beginner kayak angler not interested in spending a large sum of money on a small kayak trolling motor.

Minn Kota Endura C2

Minn Kota Endura C2 30

Specs

  • 12-volts
  • Transom mount
  • 45, 50, and 55 lb thrust options
  • 36″ and 42″ shaft lengths

Pros

  • Telescoping ergonomic handle
  • Indestructible composite shaft
  • Five speeds forward and three speeds reverse

Cons

  • The depth adjusting collar can slide even when fully tightened
  • Difficult to find neutral

Why We Chose It

Minn Kota has been a staple in the trolling motor arena for decades, and the Endura series is partly to thank. The Endura C2 will mount onto most fishing kayaks via the lever lock bracket. With multiple shaft lengths and thrust options, you are sure to find an excellent match for your kayak.

It does what it promises, but it’s a little more expensive than other electric trolling motors on the list, so I rated it a 7/10.

You can adjust the tilt and depth of the trolling motor quickly, so if you run into something or it gets shallow on you, you can soon get back to fishing. The shorter 36″ shaft is helpful to keep the motor out of the way, and the bracket makes removing the motor quick and easy for transportation.

I recommend the Minn Kota Endura C2 to the dedicated kayak angler looking to upgrade from a Watersnake or Haswing but not quite willing to spend big money on a GPS trolling motor.

Newport Vessels Kayak Motor NK180

Newport Vessels Kayak Motor NK180

Specs

  • 24-volts
  • 1.8 HP equivalent of an outboard motor
  • 19.7″ shaft length
  • Transom mount
  • Rudder steering

Pros

  • 5MPH
  • Quiet brushless motor
  • Designed for kayak anglers
  • Works with lithium or AGM batteries
  • Freshwater and saltwater

Cons

  • Need Two 12-volt batteries or one 24-volt battery
  • Price
  • Short run time at full throttle

Why We Chose It

Newport Vessels truly delivered a 7/10 with the Kayak Motor NK180! They are competing with the Torqeedo 1103 AC for high-quality kayak electric motors. While it’s not as fast, only a mile an hour slower, it’s half the price.

However, it doesn’t come with a battery or battery charger, but it doesn’t need a particular battery to operate correctly.

The larger or extra battery needed for the 24-volts adds a lot of weight to your kayak and takes up more space, which is already limited in a kayak. The kit comes with everything you need to get moving other than the 24-volt battery.

It has forward and reverse with a step-less speed selector. You can steer it with the rudder or motor to steer using the provided cables. With multiple steering setup options, you can pick the one that works best for you.

I recommend the NK180 kayak electric trolling motor to anyone considering spending twice as much on a Torqeedo only to get one more mile per hour.

Watersnake Tracer

Watersnake Tracer

Specs

  • 30 lb, 44 lb, and 54 lb thrust options
  • 30″, 36″, and 42″ shaft lengths
  • 12-volts
  • Tiller handle
  • Transom mount

Pros

  • Multiple thrust and shaft length options
  • five forward and two reverse speeds\
  • Good customer service

Cons

  • Cheap prop
  • Problems with the switch to change “gears” going bad

Why We Chose It

The Watersnake Tracer is inexpensive and gives kayak anglers a few options for shaft length and the amount of power they want. While the Tracer has a decent price point, many reviews said they wish they would have gone with a Minn Kota; that’s why I rated it a 5/10.

With that said, there were many other reviews happy with their purchase because of the excellent customer service and the fact that the trolling motor performed up to the standards it says it will perform.

I would recommend the Watersnake Tracer to a kayak angler who doesn’t get to get on the water as much as they’d like and doesn’t want to spend the extra money that a Minn Kota will cost.

Minn Kota Traxxis

Minn Kota Traxxis

Specs

  • 12-volts
  • 36″ shaft
  • 55 lbs of thrust
  • Tiller handle/ transom mount

Pros

  • Fully adjustable tiller handle
  • Longer runtime with Digital Maximizer
  • Indestructible composite shaft
  • Variable speed

Cons

  • Slight shaft wobble at high speeds
  • Poor customer service

Why We Chose It

The Minn Kota Traxxis offers kayak anglers the needed versatility to make operating a kayak trolling motor comfortable and efficient with a handle that extends and tilts.

The bracket securely mounts to the transom of most fishing kayaks. Some reviewers complained of poor customer service and receiving a broken product, while others said they loved the Traxxis. The mixed reviews are why I only rated the Traxxis a 7/10.

It is a little more expensive than some transom mount trolling motors; however, it has a couple of features they do not have, so it’s an understandable price increase.

I recommend the Minn Kota Traxxis to anyone skeptical of new kayak trolling motor brands.

Haswing Osapian

Haswing Osapian

Specs

  • 12-volts
  • 24″ shaft length
  • 55lb thrust
  • Tiller handle transom mount

Pros

  • Extendable handle
  • Five forward speeds and three reverse
  • Designed for kayaks and small boats
  • Freshwater and saltwater use

Cons

  • Noisier than Minn Kota

Why We Chose It

The Haswing Osapian is a high-quality trolling motor at a low price. The Osapian delivers as promised so that you can trust it while on the water fishing.

The features available on the Osapian are comparable to those on more expensive name-brand trolling motors. Like the extendable handle, tilting head, and LED power indicator. While it doesn’t have the GPS capabilities like the best kayak trolling motors, it will undoubtedly get you to your spot and add to your fishing experience.

I recommend the Haswing Osapian to anyone on a tight budget who wants the features of a mid-range electric kayak motor.

Buying Guide: Factors to Consider Before Purchasing A Kayak Trolling Motor

After kayak fishing with a trolling motor for several years, these are the elements that I look for when I go to purchase a new kayak trolling motor:

  • Weight
  • Thrust
  • Length of shaft
  • Power options
  • and standard features.

Weight

Watching the weight is extremely important in a kayak since each kayak has a different weight capacity. Most fishing kayaks can handle several hundred pounds of weight. However, they become less stable as they reach the weight limit.

The more weight you add to the kayak, the harder it is to paddle (yes, you still need to paddle at times), and the harder the trolling motor has to work, which drains your batteries quicker.

Thrust

I always look for the highest thrust I can get using 12-volts, usually around 55lbs. However, there isn’t a standard used across the industry to measure thrust, so just know the number on the box is only getting you in the ballpark in prime conditions.

The more thrust you have, the faster the trolling motor will propel your kayak. The downside is it will also drain your battery quicker, so finding a happy medium is a must.

Shaft Length

Kayaks are much closer to the water than bass boats or other fishing boats. Therefore, they don’t need trolling motors with long shafts. A long shaft will only get in the way of your cast, hookset, or retrieve, OR it will be more prone to hit bottom and submerged structures like rocks and stumps.

Stick with short shafts for kayak trolling motors, ideally 24″ – 36″.

Power Options

While a trolling motor capable of handling 24-volts will have more thrust, it will also add more weight. That’s why I stick with 12-volt trolling motors for my kayak. Yes, I’m limited to about 55lbs of thrust, but that’s plenty to push a large fishing kayak across the lake, even in windy conditions.

If you choose a 24-volt trolling motor, you will need to purchase multiple 12-volt batteries or the larger 24-volt battery, which is heavier and both will take up more of the precious space on your kayak.

Standard Trolling Motor Features

Kayak trolling motors don’t have all the bells and whistles that the big boat trolling motors have, but they still offer very beneficial features to anglers. I’ve used the most basic trolling motors, and it’s made me appreciate fishing with trolling motors that have GPS anchoring, integrated sonar, and remote-control steering.

Don’t forget, more features mean a higher price. I hope to see all the features offered by the high-end trolling motors like the Lowrance Ghost or the Garmin Force in a kayak trolling motor soon!

Check out our Lowrance Ghost review to see the incredible features it offers!

For mind-blowing futuristic features, don’t miss the Garmin Force review!

What Size Trolling Motor is Best for a Kayak?

The best size trolling motor for a kayak is going to have a 24-36 inch shaft with 55lbs of thrust on a 12v battery. At least that’s my personal opinion. The answer will vary slightly depending on the length, weight, and height of your kayak.

If you own a small 10′ kayak, you can go with less thrust and a shorter shaft than someone who owns a larger 12′ fishing kayak.

You’ll Also Need

Not only do you need to buy a trolling motor, but some accessories are necessary or significantly increase your comfort level. The following list is several items I use with my kayak trolling motor.

  • Deep cycle kayak trolling motor battery
  • Tiller Handle extension
  • GPS compatible sonar (if the trolling motor is GPS compatible)
  • Heavy-duty wires (Depending on where you place your battery, you might need to extend the cables)

You can find a list of kayak fishing essentials in our kayak fishing tips article.

Final Thoughts

Adding a trolling motor to your kayak will make your kayak fishing experience more enjoyable. You will have more control and be less tired from paddling! Most kayak trolling motors offer similar features at similar prices, but the quality does vary slightly so many offer a multiple-year warranty.

I highly recommend the Motorguide xi3 for any serious kayak angler and the Watersnake T18 ASP for any kayak angler on a budget.

If you’re an angler looking for a saltwater kayak trolling motor check out the Newport Vessels Kayak Series.

Lastly, if speed is your primary concern, spend the money on the Torqeedo 1103 AC. It’s the fastest electric motor for kayaks.

If I missed your favorite motor, let me know your top 10 best trolling motors for kayaks in the comment below!