If you’ve ever thought that a trolling motor on a kayak was overkill, you’ve never paddled two miles up a river. Besides, the addition of a trolling motor conveys more benefits than just general laziness.
The only drawback is that some states, such as Florida, require you to register and title your vessel the moment it becomes “motorized.” For the most part, you don’t have to register vessels, such as canoes and kayaks, so long as the manner of propulsion is you.
Fortunately, there are enough positives to make it worth the effort. If you want to mount a trolling motor on a kayak, it’s not the most difficult thing in the world either, which makes it even more attractive.
Mounting a Trolling motor on a Kayak
A trolling motor is not something you hold onto and hang over the back of the kayak. You need to choose where you want the trolling mount to go, a compatible mount for your trolling motor of choice, and attach your trolling motor.
Choosing the right location
Choose the bow, the gunwales, or the stern, since those are the only three places trolling motor mounts are designed to go. If you choose to go with the bow or the stern, you need to pick a trolling motor that offers remote control, since they will be difficult to reach from your seated position.
The gunwales are the upper edges of the boat, and a position on either the port or starboard sides is ideal. On the gunwales, you have easy reach and control of the trolling motor from right where you are sitting.
Choose the right trolling motor mount
Mounts come in a variety of shapes, designed to install on the bow, stern, or gunwales. You can either choose the mount that’s compatible with your trolling motor or choose the trolling motor that’s compatible with your mount.
Compatibility doesn’t just end with one of the three positions mentioned above. Kayaks come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to be sure the bolts or clamps will fit in the right position.
Sit-on-top kayaks are the easiest to install mounts on, mostly because they have a large degree of flat surface areas to choose from.
Choose your trolling motor
This choice is wide open for the most part. If you choose your mount first, trolling motor manufacturers will likely have hundreds of options for you to choose. If you already have a trolling motor, skip this part entirely.
Pick the Right Battery
Batteries are the preferred method for running a trolling motor, so you need to have the right one for the job. Marine Deep Cycle Batteries (the same kind you might find in an RV) are the best choice.
Of course, these types of batteries can get extremely heavy, so you will want to do the research and find something very light, such as the Interstate Batteries Deep Cycle 12V 35Ah battery.
You’ll also want to find a good battery box to protect your deep cycle battery from the elements as best you can on a kayak. You can determine how long the battery will last based on the power needs of the trolling motor you pick out.
Just remember that a battery’s lifespan per charging cycle is based on milliamps, and a 250mAh will last between 100 and 150 hours with average current needs on trolling motors.
Installing your Trolling Motor
One of the most effective and cheapest ways to mount your trolling motor is to build your own motor mount. Whether you choose to mount a purchased trolling motor mount or make it a DIY project, mounting the trolling motor isn’t too difficult.
Whatever you decide to do, attach your motor mount in the correct position and tighten down the bolts or clamps as the instructions indicate. You’ll need a solid drill to install any screws, assuming you go with that type of mount.
A trolling motor wiring kit is necessary as well. You can wire the motor to your deep-cycle battery. You want to keep the wires out of the way. If you need to drill an extra hole or two in the mount and run your wires through it, that’s always an option. If not, use plenty of zip ties.
The wiring kits are self-explanatory, and it’s a lot easier than trying to buy everything separately.
Keep the Size Down
When making your decisions on mounts, trolling motors, and batteries, it’s important to realize that the weight is piling up as you choose. That’s not including all the extra fishing gear, first aid gear, and any other survival gear you typically carry on your kayak.
The pounds add up quickly. Kayaks are designed for streamlined stability on the water and it doesn’t take much to overwhelm that stability, depending on how much you pile onto the kayak.
Heavier trolling motors may be too much because they generally require more powerful deep-cycle batteries, which also happen to be a lot heavier. A long trolling motor shaft may sound great in principle, but you will also limit yourself to water that isn’t shallow.
Of course, you have to consider your own weight as well. Depending on your kayak, it might have a weight limitation, whether you manage to balance everything out or not. It’s dangerous to exceed the weight limitation warnings on a kayak and head out anyway.
Installing a trolling motor isn’t very difficult but it does require a thoughtful approach. There is a lot to consider, including where you want the mount and therefore the motor, how large your battery should be, where you’re going to place the battery, and what your weight limitations are.
DIY motor mounts are generally made out of PVC, which is much lighter than some of the brand mounts you will find out there. DIY mounts are pretty easy to make as well. It’s best to map everything out before you get started, so everything falls into place.
Having a trolling motor on your kayak is an entirely different feel when you navigate the water, especially if you use it primarily for fishing. The best part is you don’t have to use it and are free to break out the paddles any time you want.
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