Adding a trolling motor to your kayak will allow you to cruise along with style. There are different ways you can power your kayak. Some prefer to use a sailing kit and use the kayak as a sailboat to cruise along the water.
Some prefer foot pedal, while others prefer the traditional method of paddling. Nevertheless, using a trolling motor to navigate the kayak is by far the easiest method.
It’s easy to put a trolling motor on a kayak. Let me show you how. Before I get into that, let me answer a common question.
Why Put A Trolling Motor On My Kayak?
Kayak fishing is a great way to enjoy the sport of angling. Quietly maneuvering a solo watercraft to search out your prey can be an enjoyable experience.
However, there are times when one can spend more time paddling and much less time casting a line due to the distance traveled between the launch and the most productive sites.
Enter the electric trolling motor. These marvelous tools have been around for a very long time but only recently have become popular additions for kayaks.
They are reasonably lightweight and extremely efficient at propelling the small craft. I found a myriad of mounting concepts on the internet and countless videos here on YouTube, but none seemed to grab my attention enough to pursue.
That is until I saw an outrigger design posted by SMD fishing. It looked very affordable, easy to install with little risk to the boat itself. I appreciated the simplicity very much.
Soon after utilizing the design, I discovered several issues. First, the boat would lean or list in the direction of the motor as it hung off the side of the boat.
Secondly, the side mount design was very inefficient as the steering was hampered, which in turn created additional stress and resistance, consuming additional valuable battery power.
- Things I Modified
First, my design had to be modular for easy installation and removal because I don’t always want to use the trolling motor each time I go fishing. In some of the smaller lakes and some of the sections of rivers I fish, the motor and battery would be a hindrance rather than an asset.
Installing A Kayak Trolling Motor Mount
Here is how I made a simple yet effective design and installed a modular trolling motor mount to power my kayak.
First, I added two six-inch gear tracks from Yak Attack then crafted a T-bar mount assembled from a short piece of five quarter by six-inch decking, a double thickness of two by four the same width as the decking board, and the cross piece is a one by four pressure-treated lumber.
I used all stainless steel and brass fittings to assemble the mount. I used the same five-sixteen-inch T-bull and thumbwheels that I had with the outrigger mount ad they work perfectly here as well.
The mount is a bit longer than you may think it should be, but I wanted to be sure that the nose cone of the trolling motor would not bump into the transom of the kayak.
Once the T-bar is mounted, clamping on the trolling motor is done in the usual manner. I then connected two steering lines suing S-Biners + Carabiners and pass the pulley paracord line used to raise and lower the motor in the shallow water.
I’ve also used a watertight Lexan storage box for the PWM assembly and mount the switches. I opted for a 50-amp three-way toggle switch with a sealed rubber cover and lieu of the included plastic rocker switch to go from off, forward, or reverse.
This is done this way because drilling a round hole instead of cutting the square hole for the rocker switch seemed easier and more secure. The PWM has a rotating dial knob to adjust the speed as well.
I’ve also used waterproof wire glands for the 10-gauge SAE leads for the power in and out of the box. I also added a kill switch that has a lanyard connected to my PFD to kill the trolling motor should I’ve become separated from the kayak.
And that’s all there is to it. Let’s talk about the star of this trolling kit. The star of the trolling motor kit has to be the battery itself. It’s a 12V 30AMP/Hour lithium iron phosphate battery that weighs only seven pounds.
Don’t go overboard with the battery. Also, don’t let the small size and modest rating fool you. I have used this battery extensively for all-day trips, and it hasn’t let me down yet.
Although it was very expensive compared to the other gear, worth every penny considering the weight savings, the design, of course, is subject to further review and modifications as needed.
However, I would like to thank all the DIYers out there that I borrowed ideas from. Nothing in my design is an original concept, and it was all inspired by others, and I’m that shared their ideas.
How Fast Can I Go With A Trolling Motor?
Depending on the motor and thrust, you might be able to go at a top speed of five miles per hour. This is the maximum speed allowed for a kayak. However, when you are thinking about motors, speed doesn’t come first.
The first thing you will have to think about is the thrust. Amongst all the common trolling motors out there, the 55-pound and the 30-pound thrust motor are very common. Even then, these motors are only designed to go at a max speed of 5 mph. Now, let me explain why thrust matters and not speed.
A motor with more thrust can push a big kayak loaded with a lot of gear. Even if you reduce the weight, you won’t be able to increase the speed. To move a bigger kayak at five mph, you will need to install a motor with more thrust.
If you have a lightweight kayak, a 30-pound thrust motor will be enough to move your boat at five mph. Hopefully, now you understand the relation between motor thrust and speed. For kayak fishing, you will need to maintain a steady and safe speed, and that’s why you don’t torque down the throttle.
Is It Safe To Install A Trolling Motor To A Kayak?
By design, kayaks are safe even with a trolling motor installed. There are certain types of kayaks that have a dedicated space to add a trolling motor and battery. If you are a fan of kayak fishing and want to attach a trolling motor to your kayak, I would suggest you use a flat bottom kayak.
You don’t have to use a V-shaped or a rounded kayak for fishing because you should prefer stability more than speed. The motor itself will be sufficient for your fishing kayak. With a flat bottom kayak, you can easily fight bigger fishes on the line without having to worry about falling off from the kayak.
And that’s all there is to it. Kayak fishing has become so popular lately that most newer kayaks are now coming with a trolling motor as an add-on. As the popularity of kayak fishing is rising people are also becoming conscious about the danger of kayak fishing, required safety equipment, and kayak fishing accessories.
With that said, make sure you safely attach a motor and if you don’t feel confident, contact your local kayak store to do this installation for you.
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