Anglers, sailors, and other boat owners can all benefit from the clean, quiet propelling power of an electric trolling motor.
These eco-friendly and intuitive motors — often called trolling motors — may be small, but they have many applications. Electric trolling motors can be attached to dinghy boats, kayaks, canoes, sailboats, pontoons, inflatable boats, and other water vessels. Many water recreation enthusiasts with larger boats choose to attach a trolling motor in addition to their heavy-duty fuel-powered motors.
With so many electric outboard motors on the market, it can be tough to narrow it down and find the best engine for your vessel. How can you find the best electric outboard motor? What should you know when shopping for a trolling motor?
Here’s a list of seven of the best electric kayak motors you can buy right now:
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1. Newport Vessels NV-Series 36lb Thrust Saltwater Transom Mounted Trolling Electric Trolling MotorPros:
- The motor has excellent ratings and reviews
- The engine is built with super durable, saltwater-resistant materials for a long lifetime
- 2-Year Warranty
- The motor does not come with a battery.
- The head and handle should not be submerged or sprayed directly in water.
- The battery cable is only four feet long, which may be inconvenient.
This 36lb thrust trolling motor is made by one of America’s top water sports brands, Newport Vessels. The company offers high-performing, easy-to-use trolling motors with very basic upkeep.
With a sleek, simple, no-nonsense design, this NV-Series motor will look good on any water-faring vessel. It has a bright LED battery meter to let you know when it’s time to charge and runs quietly so you can enjoy a peaceful time trolling on the water.
The 36lb thrust model has eight speeds (five forward and three reverse) and can run for several hours, depending on the speed and battery used. Since the speed control system allows you to adjust the speed at subtle increments, boaters can have a smooth ride without scaring the fish away.
This motor has an adjustable 30-inch fiberglass composite shaft and a two-blade fiberglass reinforced nylon propeller (8.9-inches in diameter). The anti-corrosive hardware allows for use in fresh or saltwater.
While this motor is designed to mount on the boat’s stern, it can also spin around for bow mounting. Boaters who buy this motor will need a lead-acid, AGM, or gel 12-volt deep cycle or marine battery.
Beyond this 36lb thrust model, the Newport Vessels NV-Series comes in four different models ranging from 46-86 pounds. The 86-pound model is suited for boats 16 feet or more. All NV-Series models are under $400, making them an excellent value for the price.
2. AQUOS Haswing CaymanB 12V 55LBS 48inch Bow Mount Electric Trolling MotorPros:
- Comes With Remote Control
- The motor has a cruise control feature for maintaining a steady speed
- The motor is built with an ergonomic handle for easy carrying
- Fancy features of this model make it a bit of a splurge
- Best for boaters who want a bow mount trolling motor
- No 'reverse'; you can still go in reverse by turning the motor 180 degrees
The AQUOS Haswing CaymanB trolling motor looks small but can power a boat up to 18-foot with a max load of 2,750 pounds. It’s admittedly spendy compared to most electric outboard motors on this list, but it’s flush with convenient features.
For example, beyond the wireless remote control, this motor also comes with a wired foot control with a 14.7-foot cable. These options ensure that water recreation enthusiasts can focus on their sport without having to devote one hand to control the motor constantly. The motor also has a quick-release bracket, which allows you to easily attach and detach the motor for use and storage.
The outboard motor is complete with a 3-blade prop (9 inches in diameter), a 38.4-inch aluminum alloy shaft with an adjustable depth collar for dialing in the length as depths change, and variable speed control for a smooth ride. The motor requires one 105AH deep cycle battery, which must be purchased separately. It offers high efficiency and runs quietly.
This AQUOS trolling motor comes in black or white and has several options, including varying shaft lengths, remote control choices, and bracket options.
3. Watersnake ASP 18lb Thrust 12V Saltwater Trolling Motor, Transom, or Kayak MountPros:
- Features an innovative three-axle bracket design for maximum range of motion
- Weighs only 4.85 pounds (2.2kg), making it easy to transport
- Two-bladed propeller is designed to avoid getting tangled in the weeds
- Not as sleek as some of the other outboard motor models on the list
- Motor's small size is best suited for small watercraft, like kayaks and canoes, not larger boats
- Motor only runs at two basic speeds; high and low
Watersnake is an Australian-based company founded by anglers with the goal of making better electric outboard motors.
The Watersnake ASP trolling motor has an intuitive design with two simple switches to control speed and direction. The thick, retractable handle has an ergonomic design for comfortable operation. This motor is easy to attach and has a 24-inch adjustable shaft to adapt to the depth of the water you’re fishing.
This motor requires a 12-volt deep cycle battery or a 35AH marine battery. As with other models in this list, batteries are sold separately. At low speed, the motor can run for five hours or three and a half hours at high speed.
This Watersnake brand trolling motor model is ideal for kayakers who want an electric motor without adding a lot of weight. When purchasing this motor, boaters can choose from two mounting styles, a kayak bracket mount or a transom mount. There is also a 24lb thrust model for those who need a little more power. Either way, this motor can handle both salt and freshwater.
Priced under $200, this highly rated, no-frills trolling motor is a great value for kayakers on a budget who don’t want to compromise on quality.
4. Watersnake Tracer Transom Mount Trolling Freshwater MotorPros:
- Several speed options, including five forward and two reverse speeds
- Weedless propeller makes hitting a patch of seaweed a lot less stressful
- Offers a relatively long battery life
- Built for fresh water and not suitable for saltwater recreation
- Does not have a battery meter to let you know when your battery is getting low
- Models with more thrust offer shorter battery life than those with less
Although this motor is from the same Watersnake brand as number three in the list, this model has more complex features, a sleeker design, and more power.
This 30lb thrust motor in the Watersnake Tracer series can run for two hours at high speed and up to nearly nine hours on low speed. Anglers will need to purchase a 12-volt deep cycle battery or a 60AH marine battery separately.
It has a 30-inch telescopic chrome-plated steel shaft with an extendable handle. The motor can be attached to a variety of small watercraft with a transom mounting bracket.
While the ASP model comes only in white, this Tracer model comes only in black. The Tracer series is relatively more expensive due to its more robust features. Watersnake’s Tracer motors come in three models, ranging from 30-54 pound thrust and 30-42 inch shafts. Some have a two-blade propeller, while others have a three-blade.
Depending on the model, these motors can propel 10 to 16-foot boats, including small fishing boats, kayaks, and canoes. All models are under $300 in price.
5. U-BCOO 8 Speed Saltwater Transom Electric Trolling MotorPros:
- 4-inch telescopic handle, allowing you to easily adjust the speed by twisting the handle
- Uses all copper enameled wire for durability, low noise, and efficiency
- motorhead has a ten-level battery display for detailed knowledge of your remaining battery life
- The motor has less information available about its specifications than some other models.
- Does not have remote control options
- Brand is not as well-known as some other electric outboard motor brands like Newport Vessels and Watersnake
This U-BCOO trolling motor is fit for saltwater and freshwater recreation with stainless steel hardware and other anti-corrosive features. It can tilt from 0-90 degrees and has an adjustable 28.5-inch composite glass fiber shaft. The motor uses a transom mount with a high-strength nylon bracket.
This motor is well-suited for inflatable boats, pontoons, rubber boats, and other small watercraft. It’s powerful enough to fuel the fun of fishing or for commercial applications like aquaculture.
The U-BCOO outboard electric motor has eight speeds, including five forward and three reverse speeds. Despite the relatively minimal information provided in the listing of this motor, it has high ratings. There are four different motor options ranging from 46-86 pound thrust. The pricing of U-BCOO trolling motors is relatively consistent with that of Newport Vessels NV-Series for similar models.
6. LEADALLWAY Electric Trolling Motor TransomPros:
- Noise output of this motor is just 50 dB (about the same as a friendly conversation)
- Large propeller with three blades, while most comparable models have just two blades
- 2-Year Warranty
- More expensive than comparable models from other brands
- Only comes in one color option
- Control box does not have a battery life indicator
This LEADALLWAY trolling motor is both quiet and cool, allowing for a relaxed day on the water. The six-inch extendable handle allows for easy speed control and steering. Plus, its ergonomic design adds comfort to the ride. This motor has seven speeds — five forward and two reverse speeds — controlled by twisting the handle.
Great for rowboats, kayaks, small fiberglass boats, inflatable sporting boats, and other small watercraft, the LEADALLWAY electric outboard motor offers a lot of power in a compact package. The motor has an efficient design, made to save battery consumption. It can run on maximum power for about three hours. The manufacturer recommends using a 12V 120A safe storage battery, which is, of course, sold separately.
The motor’s control box is waterproof, so you won’t have to worry about splashing waves or getting caught in the rain. Additionally, the materials are anti-corrosive, making them fit for both saltwater and freshwater boating. However, as with the Newport Vessel models, this motor’s battery cable is only four feet long.
This transom-mounting trolling motor is available in three models, ranging from 45lb thrust to 65lb thrust. All models are priced between $250 and $300, making them a bit pricier than some other motors on the market.
7. Minn Kota Riptide PowerDrive Bow-Mount Trolling MotorPros:
- Comes with a handheld GPS trolling system
- Motor can be switched into autopilot mode for automatic navigation
- Motor digitally optimizes to conserve energy and prolong battery life
- Luxury features of this model come at a luxury price
- Motor is not built with materials graded for saltwater use
- Design and features are geared toward anglers, so this may not be the most practical choice for people focussing on other water sports
While this is the last on the list, it’s by no means the least. The Minn Kota brand has a strong reputation as one of the world’s premier electric outboard motor companies. Their Riptide PowerDrive model is a prime example of their high-end trolling motor quality.
With its advanced autopilot function, you simply point the motor in the direction you want to go and hit the autopilot. Then, you can keep fishing as the motor takes you to your destination, all the while compensating for the pull of the wind and current. The included i-Pilot GPS Trolling System lets you record your favorite fishing paths and helps automatically control boat steering, speed, and position. It can even lock to hold you in place over a great fishing hole.
Beyond that, this motor is built with a two-blade weedless prop to muscle through weeds without draining the battery. Plus, it has a two-year limited manufacturer warranty.
This Minn Kota series has two models, both of which have a 54-inch shaft. The first model has a 55lb thrust, and the other has a 70lb thrust.
If the AQUOS trolling motors are a splurge, this Minn Kota model is a double splurge.
If you’re ready to invest in a top-notch electric outboard motor with all the bells and whistles, consider a Minn Kota motor, but be prepared to spend well over a thousand dollars.
Why Buy a Trolling Motor
Electric outboard motors allow anglers and other water sports lovers to glide through the water without the disruption of a combustion engine’s noise and fumes. Trolling motors improve outdoor adventuring by creating a more peaceful atmosphere. They can turn even a basic kayak into a motorized fishing machine for a fraction of the price of buying a full-blown fishing boat.
Tips For Buying an Outboard Motor
Since there are so many electric outboard motor options on the market, how can you decide on the best trolling motor for you?
Before you commit to a specific brand or model, it’s essential to consider your particular needs and budget. Setting priorities and a price point will help you in your search for a suitable motor.
Factors to Consider When Buying an Outboard Motor
Here are several factors to think about when choosing a trolling motor:
- Sound - While electric outboard motors are significantly more quiet than fuel-powered motors, they still vary in sound from model to model. If minimizing sound is high on your priority list, search for one with the lowest decibel level.
- Efficiency - Some trolling motors optimize battery life to run for longer. Even the design of the propeller can conserve battery life. For each model you consider, check how long it can run at high and low speed and see if it’s long enough to fit your sporting plans.
- Weight - If you have a super small watercraft, like a one-person canoe or pontoon, you’ll want to find a relatively low-profile trolling motor so it doesn’t weigh you down excessively.
- Water type - Since not all motors can be used in saltwater, it’s important to find a motor that can handle the type of water you plan to fish or recreate in, whether salt or fresh.
- Boat size - The type of electric outboard motor you need depends largely on your watercraft's size. If you have a small canoe, you can buy a small, lightweight trolling motor with relatively low thrust. If you need to power a 16-foot bass boat full of you, your buddies, your cooler, and your dog, you’ll definitely need a more powerful motor.
- Mounting location - Some motors are specifically designed for mounting on the bow, the stern, or even the middle of the boat. Determine where you plan to mount the trolling motor and shop accordingly. In some cases, you may need to purchase extra hardware or brackets for mounting.
- Batteries - Almost all trolling motors require a separate battery purchase. Remember, the battery will increase the overall price of the motor and add weight to your watercraft. When buying a battery, it’s best to go with whatever the motor manufacturer recommends for that make and model. Be sure to charge your battery after each use to promote long battery life.
- Price - Since trolling motors vary significantly in price, it’s good to set your budget beforehand and shop within those parameters. Try to find the motor that offers the best value at your target price point.
Types of Electric Outboard Motors
Some electric outboard motors are designed with a specific recreational sport in mind. For example, some trolling motors cater to anglers with larger boats, while others are made for kayakers looking to motorize their watercraft.
Electric trolling motors also vary widely in power. With trolling motors, power is typically measured in pounds of thrust. Minn Kota recommends having two pounds of thrust for every 100 pounds of fully-loaded boat weight.
Another main differentiator in outboard motors is the materials with which they are made. Trolling motors made with specific non-corrosive materials, like stainless steel, can be used in saltwater. Motors made using materials like aluminum, while lightweight, are not well-suited for seawater and are limited to freshwater applications. However, many brands offer electric outboard motors that can be used in both fresh and saltwater.
Price Range For Outboard Motors
As with most products, electric outboard motors sell at various price points, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury. In many cases, you get what you pay for. Investing in a higher-priced motor may result in higher performance. Even so, several trolling motor brands produce relatively high-quality motors for under $200. Typically, outboard motors range in cost from about $150 to over a thousand dollars.
Buying Electric Outboard Motors Online
Buying an electric outboard motor online can be a challenge. Depending on the product listing photos, it’s sometimes difficult to visualize whether it will incorporate well with your boat.
Before you buy a trolling motor:
- Try to read the reviews and check the ratings.
- Look for reviews from people who have a watercraft similar to yours. You can always ask a question or contact the manufacturer for more details.
- Don’t forget to check on the warranty and return policy.
- Check shipping prices and policies since boat motors are physically large and awkward to ship. Thankfully, many trolling motors qualify for free shipping.
As long as you ensure the features, size, power, and price of the motor are up to your specs, you’ll likely be satisfied with your trolling motor of choice.
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