Do you wish to make your kayak riding experience easier and more enjoyable? If so, then we bring the perfect solution for you – a motorized kayak. It is common knowledge that people spend a lot of energy on paddling their kayaks. This also means that they are not able to get the complete feel of their surroundings, maybe catch some fishes, take pictures or do whatever else one would want to while sitting on or inside a kayak. While having paddles with you at all times is safe, it is a good idea to install a trolling motor on your kayak for the full experience. If you’re new to the concept of a motorized kayak, read ahead to find out all the information you need on installing a trolling motor on your kayak!
Tools You Need
- Kayak Trolling Motor
- Trolling motor mount
- Marine battery
How To Mount a Trolling Motor on a Kayak
- Evaluate whether your kayak can withstand the weight of a trolling motor.
- Decide whether you want to invest in a professional mount kit or make one by yourself. A professional mount kit might require drilling holes. It comes with an instruction manual that is easy enough for you to follow.
- Once you have secured the trolling motor and the motor mount, it is finally time to mount it according to your personal preference. For your ease, we have covered the different types of mounting ahead.
- Now that the mount is secured, it is relatively simple to attach the motor using appropriate bolts.
- The last step is attaching the appropriate wires of a marine battery to the trolling motor.
Checking the kayak’s weight limit is essential. Some kayaks cannot withstand a lot of weight, and even the smallest of motors or batteries will prove to be too much for them. If your kayak is rated at 200 pounds and you weigh the same approximately, then an easy mounting application on the kayak is of no use to you. You can’t mount a trolling motor on it or use it. What you need to do is get a bigger kayak.
Choosing the Location
Where you want to mount your motor on your kayak is a decision you need to make before purchasing the trolling motor along with the equipment required. Kayak trolling motors can be installed on the bow, stern, or the gunwales of the kayak.
Mounting the motor on the gunwale is beneficial because it becomes easily accessible to you from your seat on the kayak.
If you choose to mount the motor to the stern or the bow, you need to purchase a motor that comes with a remote control or with the option to connect to your kayak’s foot braces so that you can easily navigate the waters through the motor.
However, a drawback of mounting the motor to the side is that it makes movement in water a bit difficult. There is more thrust on one side of the kayak than the other. So, you will need a lot of practice to get the hang of the navigation issues and make the kayak go in your preferred direction.
Finding a Motor Mount
The motor mount is the equipment that is secured on the kayak and then fixed to the trolling motor, so you must get the perfect motor mount – one that’s compatible with your trolling motor.
There is an assortment of motor mounts available on the market. The key feature you need to look out for in a motor mount is its compatibility with your trolling motor. Some motor mounts attach to the stern or the bow of the kayak, while others help you attach your trolling motor to the side of the kayak.
If your preference is to attach the motor to the side, you should be careful of the measurements of your kayak and get a motor mount equal to the width of the kayak. On the other hand, if you go for a motor mount that attaches to the stern or the bow of a kayak, you will need to check whether the mounting clamps or bolts match the design of the stern or bow of your kayak.
For kayaks that allow people to sit inside, there’s rarely a solid handle or edge of the kayak at the bow or stern. Ultimately, this means you will need a motor mount to attach your motor to the side of the kayak.
For some kayaks that have a sit-on-top seating arrangement, you will either have to select a motor mount for the bow, stern, or gunwale. These types of kayak tend to give more flexibility in terms of mounting your motor to different places on the kayak.
Assembling the Motor
The majority of trolling motors do not come with a propeller. This is because of safety reasons as well as to avoid the propeller being damaged during shipment to the required location.
In case your trolling motor comes with its compatible propeller, it shouldn’t be too hard to attach it. Reading and following the instruction manual that came with the motor thoroughly will help you attach the propeller easily.
If your motor doesn’t come with a propeller, you will need to purchase a propeller compatible with your motor from the market. We recommend you always keep a backup propeller on the kayak in case you get stuck on the ground in shallow waters, damaging your existing propeller.
The perfect propeller will not make your kayak go faster but will increase the overall thrust, making overall movement better and smoother.
Securing the Mount
There can be multiple ways to go about with the mounting:
If the chosen motor mount comes with clamps, then you should attach these clamps to the gunwales of the kayak so that the mount is fixed in its place.
If the chosen motor mount attaches to the bow or the stern of the kayak, clamps can still be used to fasten it to the molded-in handle of the kayak. However, in this case, you will most probably need to drill holes to attach the mount to the kayak. After this, bolts and nuts can be used to fix the mount to the stern or the bow. You will need to use some type of rubber gasket or a liquid sealant to make the drilled holes waterproof.
Attaching the Motor
The motor can be easily attached using bolts and nuts. Before putting the motor down to use it, it needs a pin to stay fixed to its position. You will need to make sure you have this pin before you float the kayak or use the motor.
Sometimes the motor might need to be raised while you’re afloat. This can be a safety hazard if the waters are deep, so it’s a great idea to attach a floating buoy or attachment to the pin to avoid losing it.
Building Steering Linkage to Motor
If you chose the gunwale mounting location, then you don’t need to worry about attaching a steering linkage. You can use your hands to steer your motor. This step is only for those people who choose the bow or the stern mounting location.
If you’re the kind of person who wants to keep their hands free while on a kayak, then you should go for a bow or stern attachment, but this will require you to build yourself a steering linkage.
Steering linkages help you navigate your kayak trolling motor in the waters using the foot pedals of the kayak. This, in turn, means that it is only suitable for sit-inside kayaks that already have foot pedals installed to be used along with a skeg or a rudder.
In case your kayak does not have a skeg at the stern, the process of building or installing a steering linkage for the kayak becomes much more difficult and complicated. This is why we recommend that you go for a gunwale mounting location if your kayak is not made for skeg or rudder navigation.
Moving forward, kayaks with a pre-existing skeg or rudder at the stern make it possible for you to replace the existing skeg with a kayak trolling motor. The initial step in this process would be for you to determine the locations where the steering linkages enter the kayak at the stern.
Make sure each end of these linkages already consists of some sort of fitting that attaches them to the rudder on the back of your kayak. You need to detach all these fittings carefully from your existing skeg before removing it from the kayak.
Once the motor is attached, you can use two metal eye bolts to connect to the shaft at the height of the steering linkages. The length of the eye bolts is dependent upon the location from where the linkages enter the shaft.
The linkages should only have a little movement about them once they are attached to the eye bolts. If you make the attachment too tight, it will restrict the movement of the motor shaft too much and decrease the overall effectiveness.
If the linkages aren’t long enough to provide the optimum amount of movement after they are attached to the eye bolts running from the shaft of the motor, we have a solution for that, too. You can use a small extension cable for each linkage to make the attachment less tight and the movement smoother and more effective.
Before moving on to the next step, test your motor to make sure it is rotating smoothly, as per your expectations. In case you are confused as to how to go about the testing, a great way to do it on land is by putting your kayak on a pair of portable kayak stands.
Wiring the Motor
The last step of installing a trolling motor is hooking it to a deep-cycle marine battery and testing it before finally going out in the water. Lucky for you, the wiring isn’t difficult.
Let us break down the steps for you for a better understanding:
- Remove the cap (also referred to as the “head”) on the top of the motor to uncover the wiring as well as other electrical components. The coloring of the wires varies depending upon the type of motor you opt for.
- Refer to the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer and locate the two wires that need to be attached to the marine battery. The two wires are ground and hot lead. Commonly, the ground wire is always black while the hot lead wire is red. However, we stress on you to be careful as incorrect wiring can lead to electrical hazards. Also, make sure you read the manufacturer-provided instruction manual thoroughly before taking any steps.
- If you still have any confusion regarding the recognition of the wires after reading the manufacturer-provided instruction manual, YouTube is a great way to educate yourself! Search for a detailed wiring video specific to the model of the motor you purchased. A visual aid will make the wiring installation process a lot easier and clearer!
- Once you have connected the appropriate wires, tested them, and verified all the functions of the trolling motor are working as expected, you need to make sure that everything is waterproof to avoid safety hazards. Most trolling motors are covered in a waterproof coating, and if you have purchased a good-quality marine battery, the manufacturer will have made sure to provide built-in protective measures for the battery against the potentially harmful effects of water.
An important thing to take into notice is that all marine batteries provide different functionalities and applications according to the water transport you go for. Make sure to do your research before you select a battery that is compatible with your trolling motor!
Finally, we have some safety tips before we see you off:
- Once your motorized kayak is ready, make sure no children or unaccountable people operate the electric outboard motor. Also, make sure that the kayak is only accessible to you.
- Make sure to keep the compatibility of the motor with other accessories under consideration so that the motor does not malfunction or cause you or your loved ones any injuries.
- Make sure not to put the whole motor underwater. In case of a kayak capsizing, disconnect the battery and leave it in the air to dry.
- The range of temperature from -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 113 degrees Fahrenheit is optimum to prolong the longevity and durability of your motor.
- Anyone operating the motorized kayak should make sure to carry safety equipment such as personal floatation devices (PFDs) and life jackets for their protection.
When it comes to installing a trolling motor on the kayak, remember that the process requires time, effort, and dedication, but it is definitely worthy of all the exploring you and your new motorized kayak can get up to. Just make sure you are extremely careful throughout the process, and you’ll be good to go!