How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor


Kayak trolling motors are one of the most popular pieces of kayak fishing gear on the market today. Despite their popularity among experienced kayak fishermen, many beginning level kayak fishing enthusiasts are unaware that such a kayak fishing accessory exists. Let’s learn how to use a Kayak Trolling Motor!

For those who are new to or unfamiliar with this exciting fishing kayak enhancement, we suggest you visit the Kayak Trolling Motor Ultimate Guide, where you can learn about the kayak trolling motor in one, convenient guide. You may also be interested in learning about the best of the best in our review of The 5 Best Kayak Trolling Motors!

In the last several months, many KFC readers have written in requesting that KFC write a user friendly guide about How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor, and this KFC article is the result!

How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor


How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor

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In this post, KFC covers some of the key components of the kayak trolling motor set-up (which are covered in more detailed in this Kayak Trolling Motor Basics post), and then we move into some instruction regarding kayak trolling motor use and technique. We hope you find this How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor article to be a useful resource when working to develop your own kayak trolling motor skill set!

In this article, we have been certain to include all of the important details to consider when learning how to use a kayak trolling motor. We have organized this post into a number of different categories, including the basics, what features you’ll want to look for in a kayak trolling motor, our favorite tips and tricks for proper and safe use of a kayak trolling motor, and even a section covering our own experience when we were first learning how to use a kayak trolling motor. Finally, located close to the conclusion of this post, we’ve added a link to one of our favorite models of kayak trolling motor.

Parts of a Kayak Trolling Motor

Parts of a Kayak Trolling Motor


How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. An affiliate link means that we may earn advertising/referral fees if you make a purchase through our links. 

Shortcut to Kayak Trolling Motor Review

  • Attach the kayak motor to your fishing kayak with a trolling motor mount and the included mounting hardware.
  • Position the trolling motor throttle near the rear of the kayak. We like locating it near our dominant arm, that way we have easy access to control our speed.
  • Safely connect the trolling motor to the trolling motor battery.
  • Make sure to keep the wires and any cables stowed in an out of the way position. We like to run ours underneath the hull of the kayak.
  • Once in the water, gently twist the throttle, thus causing for the propeller to turn.
  • Ensure that the propeller is capable of forward and reverse movement.
  • Check to ensure that the kayak trolling motor mount isn’t twisting or sliding as the propeller is placed under power.
  • Check to ensure that the shaft of the trolling motor isn’t bending when power is supplied, and make sure the shaft isn’t extended deeper than the depth of the waters that you intend to kayak fish.
  • Once on the water, be mindful of the battery power gauge on your power supply.
  • Be sure to leave yourself with plenty of charge to make it all the way back to land after you’ve enjoyed your kayak fishing outing!
How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor

Remember, Wikipedia has defined trolling motor as “a self-contained unit that includes an electric motor, propeller and controls, and is affixed to an angler’s boat, either at the bow or stern” and “a gasoline-powered outboard used in trolling, if it is not the vessel’s primary source of propulsion, may also be referred to as a trolling motor”. A basic understanding of the proper definition of a trolling motor is critical to form a solid base from which to start learning on this How to Use  Kayak Trolling Motor post.

Important Components 

How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor

Before you can be capable of safely using your trolling motor, you need to understand that this kayak fishing accessory is basically a package deal with three primary and distinct parts:

  1. The first piece is the kayak motor itself. This is the most obvious component as it is the one that is most apparent to the unaided eye. All kayak trolling motors have a motor connected to a propeller. The motor, when under power, causes the propeller to turn. The turning propeller creates thrust, which then drives the fishing kayak forward along the water.
  2. The second component is the kayak motor mount. This piece is essentially a fixed point which is attached to a fishing kayak and upon which a trolling motor can be safely mounted – just like the name implies! It is important to select a top quality kayak trolling motor mount as only a high quality model will ensure that the kayak motor only raises out of the water when you intend for it to. Otherwise, if the kayak trolling motor mount fails, you could be dodging a flying propeller!
  3. The third and final piece of the kayak trolling motor set up is the power source for the kayak motor itself. Many kayak trolling motors on the market are powered by gas, while many others, perhaps even the majority, are powered by battery.
  4. Kayak trolling motor batteries have come a long way in terms of their efficiency and design in the last five to seven years. Many are now built with  thick rubber padding on the bottom to prevent the battery from moving around on the bottom of the fishing kayak while you are traveling rough waters. Trust us, you do not want a loose battery in your fishing kayak!

Certain recent models even come with a direct USB connection and accessory port so that you can bring along and power your favorite electronic devices and even charge your cell phone!

Tips and Tricks for How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor

How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor

Once you’ve decided which kayak trolling motor best suits your kayak fishing style, have determined how you are going to attach it to your fishing kayak, and are certain of the source of power you’d like to use, its time to learn how to use your kayak motor to catch some fish! So, how do you use a trolling motor?

Remember, KFC always suggests that you mount your kayak trolling motor near the rear of your fishing kayak. Why? Because not only is this a safer position, it is also the position you are most likely to assume when maneuvering the fishing kayak along the water. As you’ve seen in the images above, the kayak motor’s handle is pretty short, and locating the motor near the rear of the fishing kayak makes for a more comfortable reach.

Next, after setting the desired speed for your kayak motor, or becoming familiar with the throttle on your motor if you will be manually powering the unit, you will want to grab ahold of the throttle and gently twist. This will act as an accelerator for the propeller, and your fishing kayak will gently respond in the direction in which you are aiming the propeller.

Use your trolling motor on low speed settings when you are at a fishing destination of your selection, as this will turn the propeller slower, creating less subsurface water disturbance, both in terms of engine noise and water displacement from the turning of the propeller.

How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor

When you are done fishing a particular area, you can gently increase the power you are providing the kayak trolling motor, and use its energy to efficiently transport yourself to the next fishing location or back to the shoreline. This will save you and your muscles from having to manually paddle your fishing kayak such long distances!

When you are done kayak fishing, make sure to store your trolling motor in a reasonably stable climate and location. Kayak trolling motors are built to withstand the elements, but keeping them out of the wind, sun, rain, heat, and cold will preserve their lifespan for many kayak fishing seasons to come! I should know, I have had my own kayak motor for five seasons now, and it still runs great!

Buy the Best Trolling Motor 

(Commissions Earned)

Engineered for Kayak Fishing!

In the “How to Use” and “Tips and Tricks” sections above,  we’ve highlighted a number of what we think are the best features and important specifications that are “must have” features in any trolling motor that could claim to be the best kayak motor on the market.

Remember, the 12-volt freshwater transom-mounted design supports the 55 lbs of thrust delivered by this trolling motor. This amount of thrust is ideal for allowing you to get from location to location before your competitors do! The 30 inch long shaft is the perfect size to ensure that the propeller is lowered deep enough into the water to provide ample thrust, yet short enough to prevent your propeller from hitting the bottom when you are fishing shallower depths.

This trolling motor, unlike many (if not most) currently on the market, is designed with ergonomics in mind. The ergonomics are particularly apparent in the nicely padded, rubberized and smartly shaped throttle grip. Finally, with 5 forward speeds and 3 backward speeds, you’ll have unmatched versatility in terms of navigating your fishing kayak into the highest of passageways without fear that you’ll be trapped in too narrow of a location to turn around. Simply reverse!

My Experience

I thought that I had solved all of my kayak fishing woes when I finally bought my son, Sparrow, his own fishing rod and reel. While not technically a true “rod and reel” set up, it was his own fishing device, and it was one that saved me from any more errant hooks to the skin! Ouch! The device was the Rocket Fishing Rod (check out our brief write up at the included link).

Unfortunately, the Rocket Fishing Rod wasn’t very helpful in terms of encouraging my son to help paddle across the lake. Instead, I was the one using my kayak paddles to move the two of us across the water. We didn’t move very quickly, and by the time we were able to move from Point A to Point B, I would be quite fatigued. Worse, I was hesitant to paddle to locations where I knew that the fishing would be better, merely because I didn’t want to tire too quickly!

As you might have guessed, unsuccessful fishing outings and slow goings across the water were a combination to turn my son into less avid of a kayak fishing companion. Not good! The kayak motor, however, changed the game for us. It allowed us to navigate quickly and with ease. Believe it or not, kayak trolling motors are so easy to use that my son was able to maneuver us around by the end of the first day! Under my supervision of course!


Quality – 4.2/5

Kayak trolling motors are one piece of kayak fishing gear where you can truly find qualities running the full spectrum. It would appear that some trolling motors are essentially designed to last about one season. KFC would urge you to stay away from these lower end models. Others, however, like the kayak trolling motor that we’ve linked to above, are built with the quality required to last you many seasons (even with heavy use). Make sure to buy a trolling motor with quality framing (metal and heavy duty plastic casing) as well as quality internal electronics. If you skip on quality on either of these fronts, you’ll be setting  yourself up for disappointment.

Performance – 4.25/5

We’ve been very pleased with the performance of the kayak trolling motor that we’ve linked to above. We love that it can easily be controlled with just one hand and that it allows for forward and backward motion with ease. Its performance has directly impacted our kayak fishing success because it allows to us navigate into more difficult to reach areas (like fingers or channels of the lake that have logs, rocks, low hanging limbs, or other obstacles that we need to navigate around).

Price – 4/5

Price is one area where kayak trolling motors can be a bit difficult. You can find trolling motors for between $150 and $450. The price range depends on where you make your purchase (online, marine equipment store, general big box retailer, or elsewhere) and also depends on the size (horsepower) that you buy. While KFC does not want you to spend a fortune on your kayak fishing set up, we do think that a nice trolling motor package is one area where your money is well spent. After all, a trolling motor will be relied upon to make you a better kayak fisherman, as well as to get you out of some sticky situations (like when you are getting too close to the docks or jagged rocks).

Durability – 4.6/5

If you’ve properly secured your trolling motor to its motor mount (and assuming that you’ve safely secured the trolling motor mount to the hull of the kayak itself) you should have great luck in terms of the durability of this particular trolling motor. Remember, trolling motors are under constant strain when they are bouncing along with the movement of the water and waves. We’ve been very pleased with how well our trolling motor has held up over time. We rely upon its durability season after season and it performs just as well today as it did when we first bought it!

Overall – 4.26/5

Coming in at just over 4.25 out of a possible 5, KFC scores this kayak motor highly. You’ve read each of its scores in the various categories and have learned of our opinion on each. Our final tip is that you pair this kayak motor with a high quality trolling motor battery, battery box and trolling motor mount. The battery, box and mount are all equally important in ensuring that you achieve the performance that you are seeking when using a trolling motor in the first place. A kayak motor is a great asset for kayak fishermen of any level of skill or experience (just be sure to supervise any youngsters while they are getting the hang of it)!


I hope this article has helped you learn about how to use a trolling motor. Kayak trolling motors are fantastic pieces of kayak fishing gear! These devices easily allow a kayak fisherman to fish numerous locations in just one trip. Remember, to use a trolling motor, you’ll want to buy the kayak motor itself, the kayak motor mount, and the kayak trolling motor battery. This is a multi piece package!

While there are tons of different kayak trolling motor products other than those depicted in this article, has heavily researched the ones listed above. We have determined that they are top quality kayak fishing products, and have come to that conclusion 100% free from bias!

If you are interested in buying a kayak motor set up, we would suggest that you put serious consideration into these particular makes and models – they’ve worked for us! Oh, and by the way, are you looking for an easy way to transport your trolling motor and related gear? See if this Standard Kayak Trolley will fit your needs! If you have any questions about how to use a kayak motor, please comment at the end of this article, we’d love to help out!

Now that you’ve learned how to use this kind of motor, if you are inspired to learn about other pieces of kayak fishing gear, we suggest that you spend some time learning about how to use kayak outriggers. Kayak outriggers are one of our favorite pieces of kayak fishing gear on the market right now! Learn some helpful tips and tricks to help you safely navigate while on the water!

So you’ve mastered this subject matter and you’re ready to compete? Check this calendar to see if there is a kayak fishing tournament that you might be interested in!


Do you have any questions about how to use a kayak trolling motor? What about kayak fishing in general? Please share with the rest of the KayakFishingCorner community by posting in the Comments section below.

4 Replies to “How to Use a Kayak Trolling Motor”

  1. Thank you for this guide! I’ve wanted a trolling motor but I wasn’t sure it would be a good fit with my kayak (a 12 footer)

    1. We are glad that you found it to be helpful, Paul!

      Yes, kayak trolling motors are designed to fit smaller kayaks (~10 feet) and larger kayaks (~18 feet). You’ll want to be sure to use a Kayak Motor Mount, and to locate the mount approximately 2/3rds of the way towards the back of the kayak. This is the correct placement and will keep the trolling motor throttle right next to your arm so that you can power and navigate with ease!

      Good luck on the water!

  2. Thanks for the guide!! I am new to kayak fishing and this definitely helped me learn how to use my trolling motor. Otherwise I would have been totally lost!

    1. Hi Buck –

      Glad you found our checklist to be helpful. Its always easier for me to learn from someone else who has “done it” too. We have another good instructional checklist on our How to Use Kayak Outriggers article. A trolling motor and outrigger combination will make you a very formidable kayak fishing opponent! Good luck out there!

      – DS

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