Motorizing Your Fishing Kayak: Exploring the Pros and Cons

Are you an avid angler who loves kayak fishing? If so, you might have considered adding an electric motor to your kayak to enhance your fishing experience. In this article, we will dive into the world of motorized fishing kayaks and hear from three experienced anglers who have firsthand knowledge of the benefits and drawbacks of using a motor on their kayaks.

man in a fishing kayak with motor taking a photo
Photo courtesy of Matt Trucks

The Evolution of the Fishing Kayak

According to Matt Trucks, a seasoned angler, fishing kayaks have undergone significant changes over the years. In the past, anglers had to rely solely on paddling, rigging recreational kayaks with aftermarket rod holders and storage solutions. However, with the rise of specialized kayak fishing accessories, many of these DIY methods have been replaced.

The early fishing kayaks focused on paddling performance, with narrow, fast-tracking designs. But as the demand for stability and weight capacity increased, fishing kayaks evolved into wide, flat platforms that could support heavier loads. The introduction of pedal kayaks addressed the challenges of paddling against strong currents and winds, but they still had their flaws.

In Matt Trucks’ opinion, electric motors offer a better alternative. Anglers can now opt for a paddling-style kayak and equip it with an electric motor. This versatility allows for both efficient paddling and the convenience of using the motor when needed. Plus, when you consider the overall costs, it becomes evident that the price of an electric motor-equipped kayak is comparable to that of a high-end pedal kayak.

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man standing in a fishing kayak fishing
Photo courtesy of JR Rowlands

Benefits of Fishing with a Motorized Kayak

Matt Gibson highlights that using a motor enables him to cover water more efficiently and find optimal fishing spots, regardless of the conditions. Adding to that, JR Rowlands emphasizes that using a motor saves physical energy, allowing anglers to travel greater distances without fatigue. Additionally, the convenience of pinpoint GPS technology empowers anglers to hold their position in windy conditions, maximizing fishing time.

For Matt Trucks, the key benefit is the ability to fish hands-free. With an electric outboard and a foot brace steering system, he can focus on fishing without having to constantly paddle. This setup allows him to keep his hands on the fishing rod, tie on a new lure, grab a snack, or take photos. For saltwater fishing, where constant monitoring and trolling are essential, an electric outboard motor proves to be the most efficient option.

Drawbacks of Fishing with a Motorized Kayak

While there are many advantages to using a motorized kayak, there are also some drawbacks to consider. The cost is the first hurdle, with motors ranging from a few hundred dollars for a bow-mounted trolling motor to over a thousand dollars for an outboard electric motor. Additionally, the batteries required to power these motors can add to the overall expenses.

Another downside is the additional weight that the motor and battery contribute to the kayak. Although many kayaks now come with motor mounts, the extra weight can impact maneuverability and require some adjustment in paddling technique. Setup and breakdown also take longer, as quick-release connections need to be secured before and after each trip.

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fishing kayak rigged out, including bow motor
Photo courtesy of JR Rowlands

Matt Trucks points out that shallow water can be a concern, as the motor needs to be tilted up to avoid obstructions such as trees or stumps. Navigating in such conditions requires caution and constant awareness of the surroundings. Additionally, monitoring the battery’s life is crucial, as it can make or break a fishing trip. Mechanical failures can occur, so it’s essential to be prepared to paddle back to shore if needed.

Why You Still Need a Quality Paddle

Despite the benefits of using a motor, all three anglers emphasize the importance of having a quality paddle. A paddle is still an essential tool for launching, maneuvering in shallow water, pushing off banks, and retrieving fishing lines tangled on objects out of reach. In situations where vegetation or shallow water prevents the use of a motor, a good paddle becomes invaluable.

Recommendations for Motors and Kayaks

Matt Gibson and JR Rowlands both prefer the NuCanoe Unlimited as their primary fishing kayak. This kayak’s design makes it easy to mount either a bow-mounted or transom-mounted motor. Matt Gibson uses the Motorguide Xi3 trolling motor, which offers quick installation and pinpoint GPS for precise positioning. For covering long distances, the Newport motor is a popular choice.

On the other hand, Matt Trucks favors electric outboards like the Torqeedo Ultralight, as they provide a hands-free fishing experience combined with efficient maneuverability. JR Rowlands opts for the Motorguide Xi3 kayak version, which simplifies kayak rigging. However, he assures readers that with some effort, it is possible to make several motor models work on different kayak brands.

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When choosing a kayak and motor combination, it’s crucial to consider weight restrictions and battery options. Ensure your kayak can handle the additional weight and account for any limitations. It’s always better to choose a kayak specifically designed to accommodate a motor, as it guarantees a safer and easier installation process.

A special thanks to Matt Trucks, Matt Gibson, and JR Rowlands for sharing their valuable insights and recommendations!

Do you have paddle questions? Our friendly Customer Service Team can assist you today. Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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