Transom Trolling Motors – What are the best Choices for Kayaks and Canoes?

Your fishing game steps up when you invest in a trolling motor for your kayak. It would have to be the best piece of  ‘yak fishing equipment to get to and stay tucked into my favorite spots. Of course, that’s unless you want to spend your time paddling and fighting the current instead of fishing!

This is about the choices out there. A raft of info is available to decipher, so we’ve compiled a comparison list of transom mounts. Use this guide to narrow down the one to fit within your trolling motor budget, and that will tick the other boxes for you.

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    Important:  Prices will vary depending on the specs you choose and retailers. We’ve attached links to products we found on Amazon to check out for the best prices.

    First important note is to have clarity around the trolling motor thrust, or how powerful the motor is to propel the boat. The rule of thumb is that you need at least 2lbs of thrust for every 100lbs of fully loaded boat weight. This includes you and your gear. And of course, as we’re talking transoms, they mount to the back of the boat and have tiller (or hand) control.

    Minn Kota Endura Max

    An awesome kayak trolling motor option and top pick

    The Endura Max line is built on the base Endura C2 format, with additional niceties. It also introduces features not available with the lower end motors, although that comes with a cost increase.

    *The upgrade from the Endura means you get Digital Maximizer™ and push-to-test battery technology which are worthwhile additions if you can stretch your budget.

    Recommended for: Use on smaller vessels, including kayaks and canoes. It’s also a good option for full-time fishing boats. EG 1 or 2 person crafts. Up to a maximum boat length of 13′ for the Endura Max 40.

    The larger Endura Max 55 can be paired with boats up to 16′ in length.

    All come with a 12-volt system with a push-to-test battery meter that shows your remaining charge at a glance.

    Features: To note features of the Endura Max line include

    • a lever lock bracket with 10 positions
    • a telescoping tiller
    • Minn Kota’s unique Digital Maximizer™ system. The beauty of this is that you can conserve battery life up to 5x by being able to dial in your exact speed
    • Push-to-test meter to easily check battery life remaining
    • Power Prop™ designed to give extra push power for heavy vegetation areas
    • a composite shaft with a lifetime guarantee

    Water type: Freshwater

    Shaft length:  Choice of 36″ and 42″ depending on which  40, 45, 50, 55 lb model chosen

    Motor features: Ergonomically designed, 6-inch telescoping handle, and upgrades like the Digital Maximizer™ system keep you on the water for as long as possible. The variable speed makes the battery life much better

    How heavy is Minn Kota’s Endura Max?: Starts at 23lbs and varies with thrust and model specs.

    Warranty: You can feel confident with Minn Kota’s 2 year warranty on their products.

    Battery: 12v

    Options & Upgrades: Endura Max 40, 45 and 50 models have a shaft length 36″. Endura Max 55 with a choice of shaft lengths of 36″ or 42″. 

    • If you’re fishing weedy areas it’s good to know that the Power Prop on the Endura Max 50lb and 55lb can be interchanged with the the Weedless Wedge© 2 Prop.

    Minn Kota Endura C2

    Cheap kayak trolling motor under $350

    There’s a range of power outputs with most suited for smaller boats, 12′ to 16 feet in length. This makes them a great choice for canoes and kayaks.

    The smallest in the range is the Endura C2 30, followed by the C2 40, 45, 50 and 55. Each increase signals an increase in pounds of thrust; so, for example, the C2 30 offers 30 lbs of thrust, while the 55 gives 55 lbs of thrust.

    Recommended for: Affordability in the Minn Kota range. These trolling motors are also very easy to use, and durable and suit these boat lengths: C2 30, -12′; C2 40 – 13′ and C2 55 – 16′ and on larger thrust models you can interchange prop with Weedless Wedge.

    Features: You get an ergonomic handle with a telescopic design and a strong transom bracket. Fast cooling technology with a motor that runs along quietly to avoid spooking fish. ‘Power Prop’ pushes through vegetation.

    Water type: Freshwater

    Shaft length: You have an extra option here when comparing to the Endura max. The shaft length on the C30 is 30 inches and options vary with higher capacity motors. IE the C40 and C45 have a 36″ shaft, and the C50 and C55 models offer a choice of 36″ or 42″. Shaft is guaranteed for a lifetime and made from composite materials.

    Motor features: The cool running and quiet Endura C2 series include a lever lock bracket, the telescoping tiller, 8 speeds (5 forward and 3 reverse), Power Prop™. Backed by Minn Kota’s 2 year warranty.

    How heavy is the Endura?: Weight starts at 15lbs up to 26lbs depending on thrust

    Battery: 12v

    Available upgrades: The C2 40 (40lbs of thrust), and C2 55 (55 lbs of thrust).

    • Weedless Wedge© 2 prop can be added to Endura C2 50 and 55 models to power through weedy areas to fish.

    Newport Vessels - 36' Kayak series

    At 36lb a nice, light option for a small fishing kayak

    If you like fishing from a kayak, this trolling motor was designed with you especially in mind and one to be considered.

    The beauty of kayak fishing or fishing from an inflatable boat is the agility to tuck in to those nice fishing spots in the banks and this motor allows you to do just that.

    Recommended for: Kayaks and canoes 8′ to 12′

    Features: With space being at a premium in kayaks, the extended cabling for flexible battery placement is a big plus. 6″ telescoping handle. The LED battery meter has 5 lights to indicate the charge runtime left. Durable prop with 2 blades on the 36lb and 3 blades on the 55lb.

    Warranty: 2 year limited manufacturer warranty

    Water type: Freshwater and saltwater compatible

    Shaft length: Height adjustable 24 inches

    Motor features: Nice and quiet. 8 speed electric (5 forwards/3 reverse) with a max speed of 3.5mph (based on a 7.5′ boat)

    How heavy is NV Kayak series: 18lbs for 36lb/ 55lb model 23lbs

    Battery: 12v lead-acid style deep cycle battery or marine battery.

    Available upgrades: 55lb model; 12 – 16′ boat and a est max speed of 4mph. Note: This varies with weight/conditions etc.

    Trolling Motor Mount

    Railblaza Kayak transom kit: Make it easy to mount your motor with a clip on/off release system for your trolling motor. (optional extra) 

    Our view: For the price it’s value. Great price and does the job nicely. However it might not be for you if you’re looking for speed or if you intend fishing in a weedy area. If this is the case it might be worth taking a look at a Minn Kota model that allows you to add a Weedless Wedge©.

    We wanted to add in here a nod to Newport Vessels as we’ve consistently read about their very good customer service support reported by customers.

    Newport Vessels X Series

    A good trolling motor choice for an inflatable fishing kayak

    Although it might not be as well known as the NV Series, this motor does offer a few options that might suit you better and gets some good reviews from customers. The 55 lb thrust saltwater transom electric motor is one of those.

    Recommended for: Smaller boats like inflatables, canoes, kayaks or dinghies and aluminium fishing boats. It’s not a suitable to pair with a large boat though.The X-series 40lb is suitable for a 12- 14′ boat. The 55lb can push out to a 12′ – 16′ boat.

    Point of difference: There is a camouflage color option in the 55lb thrust model which you might be looking for that’s not offered by other brands.

    Features: A 10 point LED battery meter, and 8 speed options – 5 forward and 3 reverse. 3 blade prop

    Water type: Manufactured to withstand either freshwater or saltwater use. The entire motor is designed with saltwater use in mind and is completely sealed stainless steel.

    Shaft length: 36 inches made from a fiberglass composite known for durability and corrosion resistance

    Motor features: The motor has 55lbs of thrust, as a guide, that can move a smaller boat (7.5ft) at around 4 mph, (depending on weight, size and water conditions at the time). To compare, the X series 40lb thrust,  3.5mph.

    The head can adjust up or down by 30 degrees, and is controlled by a 6″ aluminum telescoping handle.

    Warranty: 2 year limited manufacturer

    How heavy is Newport Vessels X series? 40lb model weighs 21lbs/ 55lb model weighs 23lbs

    Battery: 12v lead-acid style deep cycle or marine battery (not included)

    Available Upgrades: 40lb or 55lb camoflage

    Downgrade to 40lb X series for a 12′ boat

    Newport Vessels NV Series 36lb - 86lb thrust - saltwater/ freshwater

    Cheap, reliable trolling motors at great prices

    The Newport Vessels NV Series covers 5 different motor models and is a spin-off from the established L series. Each motor in the NV range shares similar features and capabilities, but increases in power and performance from 36 lbs of thrust all the way up to 86 lbs of thrust. (36lb, 46lb, 55lb, 62lb, 86lb). Prop size also varies.

    Recommended for: The smaller motors in this family are recommended for inflatables, kayaks, canoes, dinghy and 2-person watercraft 8′ to 12′. ‘All purpose’ trolling motors is the name of the game here.

    The largest 2 sizes are recommended for medium sized boats like Jons and row boats. The 55lb can handle 12 to 16 foot boats. The 86lb can be installed on 16+ foot boats. And those sizes in between 62lb – 14′-16′;  46lb – 14′ boat.

    Features:  As with other Newport Vessels trolling motors, the NV has 8 speeds (5 forward and 3 reverse), telescoping handle, composite shafts, and blue 5 point LED battery meters. You can tell how much battery charge you have left at a quick glance.

    Warranty: Manufacturer stands behind the quality with a 2 year manufacturer warranty

    Note: The base 36lb thrust model comes with a 2-blade prop. Upgrade to 46lb and you have 3 small blade prop. 55lb and 62lb and 86lb models have 3 large blade props.

    Water Type: Saltwater or freshwater environments. (high quality stainless steel, magnesium and zinc components)

    Shaft length: 30 inches for 36lb, 46lb, 55lbs and 36 inches for 62lb and 86lb models

    Motor features:  Smaller boats, inflatables and medium-sized boats can make use of the 36 and other smaller thrust motors. Larger boats can use the largest two motors, including the highest rated motor in the series (86 pounds).

    What does the Newport vessels NV series weigh? From 20lbs for the 36lb model, increasing to 22lb for 46lb model, 24lbs for 55 and 62lb models, and 27lbs for the 86lb.

    Batteries: Pair with 12v deep cycle or marine battery (lead-acid). Note that the 86lb motor needs 2 x 12v batteries.

    Available upgrades: The base model offers 36 lbs to 86lbs thrust. As a guide to max speed:  the 36lb and 46lb 3.5mph, 55lb 4mph; 62lb 4.5mph, 86lb 5mph (This guide is based on 7.5ft boat, continuous runtime and doesn’t take into account weight load or external wind and water conditions).

    Goplus Electric Trolling Motor

    Inflatable boat or small 1-2 person fishing boat

    Although not as well known as Minn Kota or Newport Vessels, Goplus is a manufacturer that offers reliable, solid trolling motors.

    Recommended for: Primarily small inflatables and medium sized boats, although the 86lb model can accommodate some larger Kaboat or Jon boats.

    Features: Multi-angle positioning; 6″ adjustable telescoping handle. The LED battery gauge has 10 lights so you can easily tell your charge level. Adjustable shaft length and mounting bracket tilt mechanism is worth noting for added maneuverability and comfort. 2 blade prop

    Water type: Freshwater(saltwater compatible components)

    Shaft length: 36 inches; a composite shaft that is guaranteed almost indestructible

    Motor features: 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds that you dial in by rotating the handle to find the perfect pace to suit you. You have the smooth movement offered by a 2-bladed prop. The mounting system features a reinforced nylon bracket for good strength and corrosion resistance, and the head is made from aluminum to increase its use life.

    What does it weigh? Goplus 46 lbs – 19.4lbs; 22lbs for the 55lb and 86lb models

    Available upgrades: The 45lb model is the base option. Upgrading to the 55 or the 86lb gives you a 3 blade propeller.

    Battery: Needs to be purchased separately. 12v; the 86lb model needs 24 volts

    Aquos Haswing 12 v 20 lb electric

    Small trolling motor for a kayak

    With only 20lbs of thrust, this is a small motor meant for small boats. Portability really is the big benefit here.

    Recommended for: small water craft, such as canoes and kayaks.

    Features: Transom mount that is adjustable to fit a variety of situations. This trolling motor offers both high and low speed performance. (2 forward/2 reverse positions) Move from forward to reverse with the flick of a switch.

    Water type: Freshwater or saltwater

    Shaft length: 23.6 inches (600 mm) cast aluminum

    Motor features: The best features of this trolling motor is its portability. Its small size and weight  means it’s lightweight and easy to install, or to carry with you. It features a solid mounting bracket with a quick release lever, and the bracket also has baked-in UV resistance. Prop has 2 blades; max power 200w. The motor is designed to run very cool and offers an extended lifespan. Limited 2year warranty

    Available upgrades: None

    Battery: 1 x20 AH deep cycle

    • We’ve noted that Aquos Haswing products generally are very well reviewed but there has been an occasional challenge with customer support when there is a problem.

    Cloud Mountain 8 speed

    A cheap transom trolling motor for a tight budget

    At a very cheap price point and a range of motor capacities, the Cloud Mountain 8 speed electric trolling motor is a consideration for a tight budget.

    Recommended for: There’s a power choice for virtually any type of small or medium boat, from rubber dinghies and kayaks to aluminum fishing boats. Eg. 55lbs model suits 12ft aluminum boat; 86lb – 20ft – 21ft boats. It’s affordable, and fits on the transom securely.

    Features: The reinforced nylon mounting bracket is UV resistant and easy to use using a lever lock system fitted to the shaft. A 10 point LED battery meter gives you at-a-glance assurance of your charge situation. The head is entirely made from aluminum, and the shaft is made from durable fiberglass composite with stainless steel parts. Together they add up to durability and corrosion resistance qualities.

    Water type: Suitable for freshwater or saltwater. Materials used in construction make the trolling water saltwater compatible.

    Shaft length: 28 inches (Tailor the adjustable telescoping shaft to depth.) Fiberglass composite shaft for high strength. 

    Motor features: The motor has an adjustable 6″ telescoping handle and 8 speed options (5 forward and 3 reverse) where you control the speed and fine-tune your approach to a fishing area.  2 blade prop on the 36, 40, 46 lb models. 3 blade prop on 50, 55, 60, 86lb models

    What is the weight? 36lbs thrust model is 16.1 lbs. The weights then gradually increase up to 22.3lbs for the 86 lb thrust model.

    Notes:

    • It only has a 1 year warranty
    • Check before mounting the motor that metal parts, eg bolts, are stainless steel. If they are not we recommend you replace them with stainless steel bolts.

    Battery: 12v all models except the 86lb which takes 2 x 12v. Buy batteries separately

    Available upgrades: The base model is 36lbs of thrust. Lots of options to upgrade to 40, 46, 50, 55, 60, or even 86lb of thrust.

    Thrust Boat (max recommended, including people and gear)
    36lb 12v 1,800 lbs
    40lb 12v 2,000 lbs
    46lbs 12v 2,300 lbs
    50lbs 12v 2,500 lbs
    55 lbs 12v 2,750 lbs
    60 lbs 12v 3,000 lbs
    86 lbs 24v 4,300 lbs

    Outsunny Transom 12-Volt 50 pound Thrust Electric

    The reason we’ve included this trolling motor is affordability, in case you’re not familiar with the Outsunny brand.

    Recommended for: Smaller boats, as it puts out 50lbs of thrust. That’s enough for any sort of inflatable, as well as aluminum fishing boats.

    Features: 8 speeds, 5 forward and 3 reverse, so you can adjust your approach; a multi-position mounting solution with 10 different positions to match your needs.

    Water type: Freshwater and saltwater compatible components

    Shaft length: 34.5 inches

    Motor features: While only a 12-volt system, this trolling motor offers a composite shaft for durability. It also includes an ergonomic handle that telescopes for better usability. The lock bracket allows you to adjust the motor into 10 different positions, and the head is fully formed from metal for better support. Note that there is some assembly required. Also note that the manufacturer stipulates a weight capacity of 5-7 people.

    Available upgrades: None

    Minn Kota Traxxis

    Withstands wind allowing you to spend as long as possible on the water

    Spanning a full range of models: 45lbs, 55lb, 70lb and 80lb. This is a more expensive option for small boats.

    Recommended for: More control over the hand-steer. Steering tension control can be locked in above the mount on the innovative collar allowing you to control how tight you want it to be. Tighten it when going straight; loosen off the tension to manoeuvre into tight spots. When you’re wanting to spend as long as possible on the water you should like the fact that the Traxxis has the edge in windy conditions.

    Because of the thrust rating, these motors are better for small and medium boats – no longer than about 17 feet for the Traxxis 45. Guideline from Minn Kota recommends max boat length for the Traxxis 80 is 25 ‘.

    Features: You’ll find quite a few of the standard features Minn Kota is known for like the Digital Maximizer™ system. Set power to a steady, slow speed and you can extend run time by up to 5x from the battery charge. ‘Push-to test’ function simply means check on remaining power. Drive through vegetation with the Power Prop™, extra-wide windings, and the one-hand stow system. Able to tilt 45 degrees, with a 6″ ergonomic handle.

    The depth adjusting quick-lock cam. What this means to you is you can adjust the propeller depth simply and securely in one motion instead of loosening a screw to make the adjustment.

    Water type: Freshwater

    Shaft length: 36″ and 42″ composite shaft backed by a lifetime warranty. 

    Weight: 29lbs

    2 warranty applies to all Traxxis models

    Available upgrades: Traxxis 45 and 55lb are 12v and 70lb and 80lb 24v

    (We’ve heard a rumour this model is being discontinued so you might want to get in while there are some still available)

    Q&A's

    Should I get a bigger transom motor than I need?

    Yes. When making your choice, think about where you’ll be fishing or using your trolling motor. It’s best to have some power/energy in reserve unless you’re fishing the shore-line. Conditions can change quickly on the water or you might find yourself heading further afield than you expected to chase the fish.

    How much bigger transom motor should I buy?

    Think at least 20 to 30% extra (thrust).

    How do I extend battery run time?

    Run the trolling motor at 3/4 or 1/2 throttle. Generally running at top speed results in less battery efficiency.

    What speed can I expect from the trolling motor?

    5 miles per hour is the maximum speed a trolling motor can reach. This assumes perfect conditions on the water. Better performance and quicker response times are the overall indicators that should be expected with bigger lb/thrust motors.

    What trolling motor do I need for a Pontoon boat?

    Stronger motors are needed for boats with significant above the water line surface.This applies to catamarans as well as Pontoon boats.

    Maintenance reminder

    Always thoroughly wash your trolling motor with fresh water after being in saltwater.

    Shaft length guide for transom mounts

    Centre of the motor section should be submerged at least 12″.  Measure from mounting surface of the transom to the waterline. Add 5″ if you’re fishing in rough waters to this measurement. If the shaft is too short, the prop will not be sufficiently submerged for proper operation.

    • If you choose a shaft length that is too short for the water and conditions the motor may cavitate, (meaning  create bubbles and will be noisy).
    Transom to waterline Shaft length recommended
    0 - 10" 30"
    10" to 16" 36"
    16" to 22" 42"
    22'"+ check with manufacturer

    Motor thrust for boat size guide

    Boat weight determines how much thrust is needed. At least 2lbs per 100lbs of fully loaded boat weight. (Don’t forget to include all gear and people). Factor in a bit more thrust for current and windy conditions. You won’t regret getting a motor with more thrust than you think you’ll need. Think bigger than you think.

    Boat length Boat weight Thrust level recommended (lbs) Batteries needed
    14ft 1,500 lbs or under 30 1x12 lb
    17 -18 ft 2,000 lbs 40 - 45 1 x 12v
    20 - 21 ft 2,500 lbs 50 - 55 lbs 1 x 12v
    23ft 3,000 - 3,500 70 lbs 2 x 24v
    25 ft 4,000 lbs 80 lbs 2 x 24v
    25 ft+ 4,500 lbs or more 101 - 112 lbs 3 x 36v

    Note: These are the guidelines as recommended by Minn Kota for their products.

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