best electric trolling motor for canoe and kayak

The Best Electric Trolling Motor For Your Canoe, Kayak Or Other Small Boat

I think you’d agree with me when I say that paddling your canoe while trolling for miles and miles can not only be exhausting, but technically challenging as well.  So you decide that you’re going to buy an electric trolling motor.  The only problem is, your not sure you can put an electric trolling motor on your canoe.

Well I’m telling you that it’s possible to use an electric trolling motor with your canoe.  Even if your canoe does not have a flat transom designed for mounting a motor, it’s still an option to use one

In this post, I’m not only going to show you step by step how you can easily mount an electric trolling motor to your canoe, but I’m going to share with you the best electric trolling motors for your canoe as well.


Why I Started Looking For A Trolling Motor For My Canoe

Some of you know from other posts that I spend quite a bit of time in my canoe. As a matter of fact, my son and I spend 4 days every year canoeing and fishing down the Willamette River in Oregon.  

As beautiful and awesome as this canoe trip is, there always comes a time where I wish I had an electric trolling motor on my canoe.  Ok, more than once.  Probably more like a dozen times.  

It’s not because I don’t like paddling my canoe, it’s because the Willamette River has many slow spots in it.  There are stretches of miles where the water is like a pond, and if we’re lucky, there’s a nice headwind to paddle against as and added treat.

In addition to some of these slow spots along the way, we also like to do a lot of exploring and trolling in the sloughs and marshes. There is a great spot along a different river near our house I enjoy taking the kids after work. It’s about a mile downstream from where we put in. It’s a large deep still water section of the river that holds monster trout, bass, steelhead and salmon.  And we have great success trolling for these monsters.


Fish More. Paddle Less

As the sole person paddling, it’s not very often I get a chance to fish for them myself as I’m pretty preoccupied maintaining the canoe, and the kids’ fishing lines.  

But with an electric trolling motor, it’s a different story.  I actually get to focus more on doing some of my own fishing, in addition to enjoying the whole outing just a little bit more.  Plus, I have enough energy reserved for that 1 mile paddle back up stream to the truck.


Can You Use A Trolling Motor On A Canoe

Regardless of what you might have been told, or what you might have thought, the answer is yes! You can use an electric trolling motor on your canoe.  You can use a trolling motor on your canoe even if it doesn’t have a standard motor mount on the back.  

My canoe does not have a place to mount a trolling motor either, so here’s what I did. I found this great article on that showed step by step how to install a temporary trolling motor mount onto your canoe.  Keep reading to see directions on how to do this same thing to your canoe.


Best Freshwater Electric Trolling Motors For Your Canoe or Kayak

Minn Kota Endura C2 30 Freshwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor

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Minn Kota are the pioneers in electric trolling motors and are the most trusted brand. The Endura C2 trolling motor is the legendary electric trolling motor that’s known for its excellent performance.  According to Minn Kota, the Endura C2 electric trolling motor is built to explore and built to last and is the trolling motor trusted by more anglers than any motor in history.  Minn Kota backs up their claims with a 2 year warranty.

The Minn Kota Endura C2 telescoping handle makes steering your boat comfortable and easy by extending 6 inches.

The 10 position lever-lock bracket on the C2 is built with a quick release lever lock and reinforced composite material that is designed to resist flexing, warping as well as UV damage.

With 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds, and 30 lbs of thrust, you can easily choose the exact speed you need for perfect control of your boat.

The Endura C2 features a power prop that delivers extra power to help push your boat even through heavy vegetation.

The indestructible composite shaft on the Endura C2 is stronger than steel. The shaft is designed to flex on impact without breaking, kinking or corrosion. Minn Kota backs the strength of this shaft with a lifetime guarantee.

Minn Kota trolling motors are known for being the quietest motors available because of their unique bearing system that reduces friction and fish spooking noise. And less friction equates to longer lasting, extended battery life for your trolling motor.

Features Of The Minn Kota Endura C2 30

  • Telescoping handle
  • Indestructible composite
  • 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds
  • 12volt 30 amp draw
  • 30” shaft
  • 30 lbs of thrust


Minn Kota Endura C2 50 Transom Mounted Trolling Motor

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Much like the C2 30, the C2 50 is built to last and help you explore hard to reach areas. Except this time, Minn Kota has stepped up their game by designing an even more powerful trolling motor.  With 50lbs of thrust, the improved design offers comfortable, more precise hand control as well as a more powerful shaft and propeller.

The result from these improvements is more time on the water, less time fighting weeds and overall improved comfort, which makes for a better fishing experience.

The Minn Kota C2 series of trolling motors comes with a 6 inch telescoping handle making boat control easier and more comfortable.

The 10 position lever-lock bracket on the C2 is built with a quick release lever lock and reinforced composite material that is designed to resist flexing, warping as well as UV damage.

The ultra strong lever lock bracket is a solid mount that’s much stronger than conventional brackets.

The C2 50 has a 42 inch adjustable shaft that is made out of a composit material that does not flex, warp or fade due to UV damage.

The C2 50 is simple to dismount and take down when the fishing day is done.


Features Of The Minn Kota C2 50 Electric Trolling Motor

  • 42 inch adjustable shaft
  • 50lbs of thrust
  • 5 forward speed and 3 reverse speeds
  • 2 blade propeller
  • 6 inch telescoping handle
  • 12 volt 50 amp draw

Best Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor For Canoes And Kayaks


Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36 lb Saltwater Transom Mounted Trolling Motor

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Newport Vessels is no stranger to the electric trolling motor market. They’ve taken designs that have worked in the past and made them even better.  According to Newport Vessels, their 36lb saltwater electric trolling motor is their first kayak specific design. Newport Vessels has taken the popular features from their popular NV series of trolling motors and developed this trolling motor which delivers optimal performance for all kayaks and canoes.

The 24 inch adjustable shaft on this motor allows for precise depth placement on any kayak or canoe.

The 36lb saltwater kayak trolling motor is powered by a 12v deep cycle or marine battery. The battery cabling on this saltwater kayak and canoe trolling motor is extended to provide flexible battery placement, as extra space in a canoe or kayak can be very scarce.

This trolling motor features 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds to ensure a smooth and efficient ride at the exact speed you need.

Near the handle is a bright blue, 5 LED battery indicator which ensures you know exactly how much power is left in you battery.

The 2 blade propeller is designed to minimize drag and balance efficiency and thrust for peak performance.


Features Of The Newport Vessels 36lb Saltwater Trolling Motor

  • 24 inch adjustable fiberglass shaft
  • 36lbs of thrust
  • 5 forward speed and 3 reverse speeds
  • 2 blade, 8.9 inch diameter propeller
  • 5.5ft long battery cables
  • 5 LED battery charge indicator
  • 6 inch telescoping handle


Newport Vessels 55lb 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor

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Newport Vessels has a great lineup of electric trolling motors for both freshwater and saltwater. The Newport Vessels 55lb trolling motor is a versatile all around use trolling motor. It’s constructed with high quality materials and versatile design concepts. The best part about this electric trolling motor is that it is saltwater resistant.

The Newport Vessels 55 lb 8 speed trolling motor has a 30 inch adjustable shaft length and will work with any canoe, kayak or other small boat.

The 55 lbs of thrust on this trolling motor is powered by a 12 volt deep cycle or marine battery and features a total of 8 speeds you can choose from, including 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds.

The Newport Vessels 55 lb electric trolling motor head is designed and built to be indestructible.  The all aluminum fully encapsulated motor head can withstand heavy, hardcore boating.

The 5 point LED battery meter takes the guesswork out of battery life. One glance and you’ll know exactly how much power you have left.


Features Of The Newport Vessels 55 lb 8 Speed Trolling Motor

  • 55lbs of thrust
  • Adjustable 30 inch shaft
  • Saltwater resistant
  • 8 total speeds. 5 forward and 3 reverse
  • 5 LED battery meter
  • 12 volt


Ultimate Guide To Electric Trolling Motors

What Are Electric Trolling Motors

Electric trolling motors, if you’ve never seen one, are essentially a self contained unit that includes:

  • An electric motor
  • Propeller
  • Controls


The Motor

The trolling motor is mounted to the boat either in the back, or in the front. Modern electric trolling motors are designed around a 12v, 24v or 36 v brushed DC electric motor in order to take advantage of the 12v deep cycle batteries which are designed specifically for marine use.

The actual electric motor is sealed inside a waterproof compartment at the end of the shaft. The motor is submerged when in use which keeps the motor from overheating.  

The Propeller

The trolling motor propeller is attached directly onto the props haft, which is turned by the motor.

Trolling Motor Controlls

There are three types of controls for trolling motors.  These three types of controls are:

  • Hand controls
  • Foot controls
  • Wireless controls

There are pros and cons to using an electric trolling motor with any three of these controls, and you have to find out for yourself which kind of control fits your needs the best. But here are some of the more common pros and cons to each type.


Hand Controls


  • Easy to use.
  • Attach directly to the boat with a clamp
  • Least expensive


  • Requires the use of one hand to operate

Foot Controls


  • Both hands are free


  • Can be difficult to coordinate steering and speed
  • Requires a specialized bracket to attach to the boat


Wireless Controls


  • No wires between the control and the motor
  • Both hands are free


  • Can be difficult to use
  • Generally more expensive than other models of trolling motors


Why You Should Consider Buying An Electric Trolling Motor For Your Canoe

There is an entire list of reasons I could give you as to why you should buy a trolling motor for you canoe, or ever your kayak. If you enjoy fishing from your small boat, using a trolling motor can open up a whole new world of possibilities you wouldn’t ordinarily have.

#1. You’re going to be able to fish a lot more area with a trolling motor than you would just by paddling.

#2. Your hand will be free using a trolling motor.  Paddling and fishing at the same time can be done, as you already know, but it requires work and a lot of coordination.  With a trolling motor on your canoe or kayak, you can easily move across the water and even hold your fishing rod in one hand.

#3. Maintain Optimum Trolling Speed.  If you’re like me, trying to keep the same speed while paddling and trolling can be a chore. I go to fast, and my lure is skipping across the surface of the water.  I paddle to slow, and the lure drops to the bottom looking for a submerged branch to snag up on.   An electric trolling motor helps solve that problem.  Set the speed and maintain that speed as long as you want.  


Additional Uses For An Electric Trolling Motor

  • Used as a backup in case you’re unable to paddle
  • Quietly move your canoe or kayak a short distance to fish another area
  • Allow you to fish while moving along the bank or other fishable structure
  • Hold your canoe or kayaks position over a fishable area


Things To Consider When Selecting A Trolling Motor For Your Canoe Or Kayak

These are some of the main things you want to keep in mind when deciding which trolling motor to buy for your canoe or your kayak.

  • Size Of The Canoe
  • What kind of water will you be in (saltwater, freshwater or both)
  • The Shaft or Tube Length
  • Voltage
  • Power or Pounds of Thrust
  • Mounting location of the trolling motor


Size Of Your Canoe or Kayak

As you can imagine, the size of your boat should play a major role in selecting the right trolling motor.  Boats come in all different sizes, so it’s obviously not a one size fits all kind of purchase.  The larger your boat is, the larger the trolling motor will need to be.


Trolling Motors For Saltwater vs Freshwater

People have asked if its ok to use their freshwater trolling motors in saltwater.  I always recommend not doing this.  There are several reasons why this is not a good practice.

  • Voiding Warrantees:  Read the fine print.  Unless your trolling motor is manufactured for and designed to be used in saltwater, you will most likely void any kind of warranty you have on it if you use it in saltwater.
  • Corrosion: Trolling motors built for saltwater use are made with stainless steel parts and sealed electrical connections to prevent and minimize corrosion.  Saltwater will eat at a freshwater trolling motor in no time, rendering it useless.


Shaft Or Tube Length

The shaft on the trolling motor needs to be long enough to extend far enough that the motor and propeller are fully submerged in the water. The ideal depth for the trolling motor is approximately one foot under the surface of the water.

Too long of a shaft and you could run into other problem. Too long of a shaft can end up in hitting the bottom in shallow water.  It can also be difficult to properly store a trolling motor with an extra long shaft, as it can interfere with the fishing rod storage and other equipment in the boat.



Most trolling motors designed for fishing come in 12v and 24v models. Some are 36v but are less common.  The higher the voltage, the more power the motor you can use.

The downside to using a 24v or 36v trolling battery is that you will need to carry additional batteries with you.  So for the purpose of canoes and kayaks, I recommend using a 12v electric trolling motor.


Power Or Pounds Of Thrust

The power of electric trolling motors is measured in pounds of thrust as opposed to horsepower.  Pounds of thrust is the amount of power you get out of your trolling motor to push or pull your boat through the water.

As you can imagine, the weight of the boat, wind and water current directly affect the overall thrust, and should all be considered when buying a trolling motor.

The other thing to remember is that the pounds of thrust is directly related to the amount of voltage you have available. 12v trolling motors will typically max out at 55 lbs of thrust while 24v systems max out around 80 lbs and the 36v trolling motors go up to about 105 lbs of thrust.

When it comes to canoes and kayaks, a 12v trolling motor with 55lbs of thrust is typically more than enough.


Where To Mount The Trolling Motor

The trolling motor can be mounted in the back (the stern) or the front of the boat (the bow).

Stern mounted trolling motors are typically the best option when the trolling motor is your primary source of propulsion. For canoes and kayaks, our main source of getting around on the water is by paddling.  But since trolling motors are our primary source of motorized propulsion, these are generally best kind of trolling motors for canoes and kayaks. These are easy to use as they operate just like outboard motors.

Bow mounted trolling motors are more efficient for moving around on the water, as it’s easier for the motor to pull the boat as opposed to push it. However, in the case of canoes and kayaks, I believe a stern mounted trolling motor would be a better option. But to be completely transparent, i’ve never tried to operate a canoe with a bow mounted trolling motor.  If I do, I will report the experience back here.

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