The game of kayak fishing has changed of late. No longer are fishing kayaks limited to human-powered propulsion. Today, some of the biggest brands are designing their kayaks for trolling motors.
Kayaks with trolling motors give anglers the opportunity to not only more easily reach tucked away, less pressured fishing holes, but to work an area efficiently. Instead of tangling paddle and fishing line while trying to move from one spot to the next, a trolling motor allows kayak anglers to motor along a stretch sighting casts or trolling a bait rig with unencumbered hands.
There are even trolling motors available with the ability to maintain your GPS position, providing kayak anglers an amazing ability to fish to their heart’s content in an onshore wind.
As the sport of kayak fishing continues to grow and evolve, kayak producers are taking note that the market for trolling motors is as well. Sifting through all the offerings out there means making a decision about not only which kayak you’ll buy, but which engine you’ll be able to run.
Read on for specific information and guidance on finding the best fishing kayaks with trolling motors.
Our picks: Best fishing kayaks with trolling motors for 2022
Find our top picks for the best fishing kayaks with trolling motors this year. Compare models to find your perfect boat.
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Shop fishing kayaks with trolling motors
The Paddling Buyer’s Guide is your complete resource for every fishing kayak with a built-in trolling motor. In the buyer’s guide, you’ll find every model of fishing kayak available, as well as specifications, reviews, prices and where to buy each.
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Brooklyn Kayak Company fishing kayaks with trolling motor
Jackson fishing kayaks with trolling motor
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NuCanoe fishing kayaks with trolling motor
Old Town fishing kayaks with trolling motor
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Vibe fishing kayaks with trolling motor
Wilderness Systems kayaks with trolling motor
Shopping for a used fishing kayak with a trolling motor?
Buying a used fishing kayak with a trolling motor can be a great way to find a deal on what can be an expensive vessel. Trolling motors open up opportunities to better fish more areas with less effort, but when scanning used fishing kayaks with trolling motors on Craigslist or elsewhere, you’ll want to check a few things out before shaking hands on the deal.
Is the trolling motor ready for saltwater?
Corrosion is the big word here, and the top concern when it comes to saltwater and motors. Saltwater-ready trolling motors include stainless steel components, sealed electronics, advanced painting techniques, and even a zinc anode to draw corrosion away from other metal parts.
This, of course, is only an issue if you plan on fishing the ocean, but the other way to look at this is whether you have all the info on the motor being sold with the kayak. If it is an integrated trolling motor that’s direct from the kayak manufacturer the details should be available through online documentation. If it is an aftermarket, third-party motor you’ll want to do some research before driving over to check out the kayak.
Also ask the seller how they used the motor, which may give hints to its capability and condition. Reach out to fellow kayak anglers to see if they’ve had experience with this motor as well.
Condition of motor and propeller
Check the motor for damage or corrosion. Look for debris tangled around the propeller and any damage to the propeller blade itself. Since these integrated motors are designed to fit inside certain models of kayaks they are a specialty piece of equipment and may be costly or difficult to replace.
Check mounting and connections
For a fishing kayak with a directly integrated motor, make sure any latches and wiring harness is in good working order. If the motor is disengaged when you arrive, elevate the kayak and engage the motor to the active use position and be sure it locks in place properly. Also disengage the motor and lift from operating position, being sure it does so without hangups.
Be wary of homemade motor mounts
Not all fishing kayaks have an integrated trolling motor or even a dedicated mounting area on the kayak. This doesn’t stop a kayak angler from juicing up their ride by adding a homemade mount for their trolling motor.
A homemade setup may make for an especially good deal, but you should inspect the mount with a careful eye.
Be sure the trolling motor runs properly
This may go without saying, but before you buy a used fishing kayak with a trolling motor, start it up and make sure it runs well. Use your senses of sight, smell and hearing for any signs of rough operation, odors or vibration.
Take it for a test ride.
Bring your PFD and a backup paddle when you are shopping for a used fishing kayak with built-in trolling motor. Set up a spot to meet the seller at a boat launch and take the kayak for a demo run before purchasing. The only real way to know whether a trolling motor will function correctly and how the boat handles is to get them out on the water.
For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used fishing kayak, read our article How To Buy A Used Fishing Kayak.
Fishing kayaks with trolling motors buying guide
When it comes to buying a fishing kayak with a trolling motor, you have two options.
One option is to buy a fishing kayak with a directly integrated trolling motor. This may either be a stock motorized kayak model, or an aftermarket add-on from the manufacturer which mounts directly inside the central console area of the kayak where a pedal drive would go through the kayak.
The other option is buying an aftermarket trolling motor and mounting it to your kayak.
Built-in trolling motors
There are currently few stock fishing kayaks with built-in trolling motors. As mentioned, some companies sell an aftermarket trolling motor for direct integration with their models. These motors are specialty items with very limited compatibility across models.
The biggest bonus to a directly integrated trolling motor is ‘plug and play’ ease. The trolling motor pops right into place. You latch it down, and zoom, you’re off to the races.
The downside to an integrated trolling motor is usually the cost. These motors are designed for specific kayak models, so they are limited in sales as a specialty product. Another downside to these kayak models is the cockpit space taken up by a protruding motor and battery pack within the central area.
Aftermarket trolling motors
The other type of trolling motor set-up is an aftermarket motor mounted to the bow or stern of the kayak.
There are manufacturers that sell their own brackets for a motor mount. There are also brands that sell their own exterior trolling motors as well, which would fit with their specific kayak models.
If your kayak brand does not have these sorts of items for your kayak, there are more universal mounting brackets offered by fishing kayak accessory brands. The other possibility is creating your own DIY setup.
The downside to adding a trolling motor aftermarket are the steps involved in installation, and the loss of some features specific brands may have for their integrated setups.
If taking on a DIY project, you’ll want to be cautious in how you mount the motor and store your battery. It’s a good idea to speak with a fellow angler who has taken on these projects before.
Don’t forget when buying any type of fishing kayak with a trolling motor, batteries are generally sold separately. Fishing kayaks with integrated motors tend to have a battery box, usually stored under the seat, whereas an aftermarket motor will require you to figure out battery storage and wiring. These trolling motors generally use a deep-cycle lead-acid or lithium-ion marine battery.
Some trolling motors for fishing kayaks include advanced features such as remote steering and GPS functionality.
One of the ways GPS is utilized with kayak trolling motors is when it is used to lock your position. This is a game changer. Once you’ve found your fishing hole you can throw down your metaphoric anchor and let the trolling motor maintain your position. Say goodbye to the days of clawing your way back into a headwind for another cast.
One thing to keep in mind when buying a fishing kayak with a trolling motor is your set of local boating regulations. Motorizing your kayak may mean you will be required to register your kayak and follow other boating laws. Read up on the waterways you plan to fish before deciding on a purchase.
Where to find out more
Your local kayak shop is another great resource to learn more about the best fishing kayaks for trolling motors. They’ll be able to walk you through different options available as well as share info about your local waterways, and offer an opportunity to demo various models. The best way to know if a fishing kayak is for you is to take it for a test drive.
Here are some of the most common questions kayak anglers have about fishing kayaks with trolling motors.
What kayak has a trolling motor?
There are only a few brands of fishing kayaks with stock models already equipped with a trolling motor, for example, Old Town and Brooklyn Kayak Company. Other brands such as Wilderness Systems, Hobie, NuCanoe and Feelfree sell trolling motors separately which can be integrated to kayak models by replacing the pedal drive or mounting to the bow or stern.
How fast will a kayak go with a trolling motor?
Fishing kayaks with directly integrated trolling motors travel at speeds of up to around 5 mph.
Best motorized fishing kayak reviews
Looking for an in-depth look at the specific models of fishing kayaks with trolling motors? Find our expert reviews below. Our reviews include everything from on-water performance to background on the brand. We also include specifications, popular modifications, prices and places where each kayak is available for purchase.
- Fishing Kayak Review: NuCanoe Unlimited
- Fishing Kayak Review: Wilderness Systems Recon 120 HD
- Fishing Kayak Review: Vibe Shearwater 125
- Fishing Kayak Review: Old Town Sportsman 106 Minn Kota