Best 12V Kayak Trolling Motors
Kayak trolling motors are lightweight and compact electric trolling motors suitable for powering kayaks and similar vessels that feature limited weight, but also payload.
Depending on the required thrust, electric trolling motors are powered by 12V, 24V or 36V DC, usually supplied by the onboard batteries, rarely by the onboard power generator. Since their required thrust is usually limited to 50-60 pounds max, kayak trolling motors are almost exclusively powered by 12V DC.
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Trolling Motors Features and Specifications
When trying to find 'ideal' trolling motor for the kayak, one needs to know maximum allowed payload supported by the kayak and how much weight can be reserved for trolling motor (or motors), trolling battery and other gear if required.
Also, it is very important to know the required runtime of the trolling motor at the maximum speed, with some time added for safety.
Trolling motor power is usually given as the 'pounds of thrust', which is not the most correct expression, but it is easily understandable. Also, it is important to know the motor's voltage (12V for kayak motors, rarely 24V) and maximum current at the maximum thrust.
There are other details that may be important, but these are the most important ones when trying to figure out which kayak trolling motor to pick.
Now, let's get into some more details.
Maximum Weight: maximum allowed payload for larger kayaks range from 300 to 600 pounds (~136 - 272 kg), allowing the user to allocate perhaps 100 - 200 pounds (~45 - 90 kg) for the trolling motor, its battery, its mount, and perhaps battery power box:
- Trolling motors weight depend on their size and differ from 10 to 30 or even more pounds.
- Trolling motor mounts weigh few pounds, or they are already built-in the kayak.
- Battery power box, if used (highly recommended) is another 5-10 pounds, rarely more.
That leaves all remaining allocated weight to be used for the battery.
The size of the battery, its capacity, dictates the runtime of the trolling motor.
For example, if we want the trolling motor to operate for 15 minutes at full throttle and maximum discharge current is 40 Amps, then the 'actual' capacity of the battery must be at least 10 Ah (for 15 minutes discharge conditions).
Note: the capacity of the battery is given in Ampere-Hours and is measured when the battery is discharged for 20h. When the battery is being discharged faster, its actual capacity drops and is often much lower than the nominal capacity of the battery. This capacity loss is very noticeable in lead-acid batteries - the actual 1h capacity of the lead-acid batteries is usually just 55-65% of the nominal (20h) capacity. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries feature 'almost' the same capacity for 1h and 20h discharge conditions - this 'almost' differs from the model to model, of course.
When trying to figure out the required capacity of the trolling motor battery, consider maximum trolling motor current, runtime, and actual capacity of the battery for the given discharge conditions.
For more about this topic, feel free to check our The Best Kayak Trolling Motor Battery article.
Shaft Length: If the trolling motor shaft is too long, the prop may hit some underwater obstacle and get damaged. Also, if the shaft is too short, the prop may exit the water due to waves, limiting its effectiveness and decreasing the thrust.
Thus, most of kayak trolling motors feature shafts in the 24-36 inches (61 - 91.5 cm) range, although longer or shorter shafts may be used.
Thrust Level: for smaller kayaks, 18-30 pounds electric trolling motors is more than enough. However, larger, ocean-going fishing kayaks, one 50-60 pounds trolling motor may be required to attain the desired speed and to provide enough thrust even for emergencies (bad weather, strong currents, and similar).
Very often, larger kayaks come with two smaller trolling motors on both sides of the hull - two, for example, 40 pounds (80 pounds total thrust) trolling motors may provide enough thrust even in the most demanding conditions.
How to Mount Kayak Trolling Motor?
Kayak trolling motors may be mounted at the bow, at the stern, or on a side.
Commonly, kayak trolling motors are mounted on the sides of the kayaks, ensuring that the motor can be easily reached. Since side-mounted trolling motors create somewhat asymmetric trust, some people prefer to mount two smaller trolling motors - one on each side, ensuring symmetric trust, symmetric weight distribution, and increasing the safety in case of technical problems with one of the trolling motors.
Kayak trolling mounts are usually made by the kayak manufacturer (highly recommended for most users), but they can also be improvised (recommended only to very experienced users).
Trolling Motors for Kayaks Comparison Chart
The following chart lists some of the most popular kayak trolling motors on the market, with their most important features and specifications:
|Model||Maximum Thrust||Shaft||Voltage||Maximum Current||Circuit Breaker|
|Watersnake T18 ASP||18 pounds||24 inches||12 V||15 A||25 A|
|Watersnake T24 ASP||24 pounds||24 inches||12 V||20 A||25 A|
|Minn Kota Endura C2 30||30 pounds||30 inches||12 V||30 A||40 A|
|Watersnake Venom Swet 34 lb||34 pounds||30 inches||12 V||34 A||40 A|
|Cloud Mountain 36 lbs||36 pounds||28 inches||12 V||29.5 A||40 A|
|Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36lb||36 pounds||24 inches||12 V||29 A||40 A|
|Newport Vessels NV-Series 36lb||36 pounds||30 inches||12 V||30 A||40 A|
|Outsunny 12V Transom 36lb||36 pounds||28 inches||12 V||30 A||40 A|
|Intex 36" Trolling Motor||40 pounds||36 inches||12 V||35 A||40 A|
|Minn Kota Endura C2 40||40 pounds||36 inches||12 V||42 A||50 A|
|Newport Vessels X-Series 40lb||40 pounds||36 inches||12 V||34 A||50 A|
|Minn Kota Endura C2 45||45 pounds||36 inches||12 V||42 A||50 A|
|Minn Kota Riptide SC 45 lbs||45 pounds||36 inches||12 V||42 A||50 A|
|Newport Vessels NV-Series 46lb||46 pounds||30 inches||12 V||40 A||50 A|
|Minn Kota Endura C2 50||50 pounds||36 & 42 inches||12 V||50 A||60 A|
|Outsunny 12V Transom 50lb||50 pounds||34.5 inches||12 V||47 A||50 A|
|Minn Kota Endura C2 55||55 pounds||36 & 42 inches||12 V||50 A||60 A|
|Minn Kota Riptide 55 SP||55 pounds||42 inches||12 V||50 A||60 A|
|Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55lb||55 pounds||24 inches||12 V||52 A||60 A|
|Newport Vessels NV-Series 55lb||55 pounds||30 inches||12 V||52 A||60 A|
|Newport Vessels X-Series 55lb||55 pounds||36 inches||12 V||52 A||60 A|
|SATURN 55 Lbs Short-Shaft||55 pounds||26 inches||12 V||50 A||60 A|
|Newport Vessels L-Series 62lb||62 pounds||40 inches||12 V||58 A||60 A|
|Newport Vessels NV-Series 62lb||62 pounds||36 inches||12 V||58 A||60 A|
Note: Amazon links ('Model' column) open in the new windows, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.
The maximum thrust ranges from 18 pounds (Watersnake T18 ASP) to 62 pounds (Newport Vessels NV and L Series), with a nominal voltage of 12 volts and maximum currents ranging from 15 to 58 Amps.
If you need a stronger trolling motor for your applications, please check out Electric Trolling Motors for Small Boats article that includes trolling motors up to 36 volts and thrusts up to 160 pounds.
1. Newport Vessels Kayak Series: 36 and 55 lbs
Newport Vessels Kayak Series features two models: 36 lbs thrust model with the maximum current of 29 Amps and 55 lbs with the maximum current of 52 Amps.
Both models are powered using 12 volts batteries, and feature 24 inch long adjustable, fiberglass composite shafts.
Shafts are designed to withstand impacts with underwater obstacles - they bend, but don't break, at least not easily. This is great feature especially for shallow waters, just don't abuse this feature.
Both models feature 8 speeds - 5 forward and 3 reverse and are intended for saltwater and freshwater use.
6 inches (~15 cm) telescopic handles provide firm grip and accurate steering.
Both models feature 5-points LED battery meters providing the user with information about remaining battery charge.
Note: LED battery meters are designed to measure the voltage of lead-acid batteries and if the lithium batteries are used, their readings are not accurate, so don't rely on them whey using lithium batteries.
Newport Vessels Kayak Series comes with 2-year limited warranty.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Newport Vessels Kayak Series Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
2. Minn Kota Endura C2: 30, 40, 45, 50, and 55 lbs
Minn Kota Endura C2 is a group of several 12V trolling motors with thrust levels between 30 and 55 pounds and maximum currents between 30 and 50 Amps.
They all features telescopic handle, 8 speeds (5 forward, 3 reverse), durable composite shafts, multi-position bracket with quick-release lever lock, etc.
Shaft length varies from 30 inches to 42 inches, with some models supporting the use of 36 or 42 inch long shafts.
Most important features ad specifications of Minn Kota Endura C2 motors is given in the following chart:
|Model||Endura C2 30||Endura C2 40||Endura C2 45||Endura C2 50||Endura C2 55|
|Max. Current||30 Amps||42 Amps||42 Amps||50 Amps||50 Amps|
|Circuit Breaker||50 Amps||50 Amps||50 Amps||60 Amps||60 Amps|
|30-Inch (~76.2 cm) Shaft||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|36-Inch (~91.5 cm) Shaft||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|42-Inch (~106.7 cm) Shaft||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Speeds||5 Fw, 3 Rv||5 Fw, 3 Rv||5 Fw, 3 Rv||5 Fw, 3 Rv||5 Fw, 3 Rv|
|Amazon Link||Endura C2 30||Endura C2 40||Endura C2 45||Endura C2 50||Endura C2 55|
Note: Amazon links open in the new windows, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.
3. Newport Vessels NV-Series: 36, 46, 55, and 62 lbs
Newport Vessels NV-Series is a group of 12 volts trolling motors featuring maximum thrust of 36, 46, 55, and 62 lbs. Also, there is a 24 volts 86 lbs electric trolling motor of this series, but it is somewhat too strong for the most kayaks.
However, if you really need the unit of that strength, Newport Vessels NV-Series 86lb (Amazon link) is one of the best and most popular 24V/82lbs electric trolling motors.
Newport Vessels NV-Series are designed for saltwater use, they feature adjustable composite shaft 30 inches (36, 46, 55 lbs thrust) and 36 inches (62 and 86 lbs thrust) long, 6-inch telescopic handle, 8 speeds (5 forward, 3 reverse), 5-point LED battery meters, and 2-year limited warranty.
Practically, Newport Vessels NV-Series is very similar to Newport Vessels Kayak Series, with the most important difference being the shaft length.
Note: Just like Newport Vessels Kayak Series, Newport Vessels NV-Series is not intended to be powered by lithium batteries - their battery meters may show wrong information regarding battery charge when being powered by lithium batteries, so be very careful about remaining battery charge if lithium batteries are used.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Newport Vessels NV-Series Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
4. Watersnake T18 ASP and T24 ASP
Watersnake T18 ASP and T24 ASP are two ultra-light electric trolling motors designed for kayaks, canoes, rafts, dinghies, and similar vessels.
Watersnake T18 ASP and T24 ASP feature 18 pounds and 24 pounds maximum thrust, 15 Amps, and 20 Amps maximum currents, they are both powered by 12 volts batteries and feature 24 inches shafts.
Optionally, both models may be delivered with a mount bracket.
Controls are very basic and they include high and low speed and forward and reverse switch, combined with telescopic handle for more accurate steering.
The two-blade prop is designed to slice through vegetation, helping the users with the shallow water applications.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Watersnake T18 ASP and T24 ASP Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
5. Newport Vessels X-Series: 40 and 55 lbs
Newport Vessels X-Series features two suitable models with 40 and 55 pounds thrust and 34 and 52 Amps maximum currents.
Both models come with 36 inches long, adjustable, composite shafts, adjustable telescopic handle, 8 speeds (5 forward, 3 reverse), 10-points LED battery meter, and are both intended for saltwater use.
Note: like all other similar Newport Vessels models, LED battery meter is calibrated for lead-acid batteries and if lithium trolling batteries are used, battery meter readings are not going to be accurate.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Newport Vessels X-Series Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Long Story Short: With the kayaks becoming more and more popular leisure vessels, electric trolling motors are gaining in popularity as the kayaks means of propulsion.
When choosing the right trolling motor and trolling motor battery, always consider your own personal needs and preferences.
Also, note that not all kayaks have the same load capacity, stability, structural strength, etc.
For short, what ever you do, stay safe...