Mounting a Trolling Motor on Your Kayak

By Michael Blatt

When it comes to enhancing your kayak fishing experience, adding a bow mounted trolling motor to your Jackson Kayak can make a world of difference. Imagine the convenience of having remote control capabilities after a long day of pedaling or paddling. You can even integrate it with your fish finder to automate your track and speed. The possibilities are endless!

Bow Mount

I still remember the moment I discovered the option of mounting a trolling motor on the front of a kayak. It seemed like a dream come true. I recalled my experience on a guided fishing trip, where I enjoyed the ease of fishing on a bass boat equipped with a foot pedal-controlled trolling motor. The idea of replicating that experience on a kayak was mind-blowing.

When I was building my kayak fleet for my guide service, I stumbled upon a pre-owned Jackson Big Tuna with all the accessories I needed. It was already wired with an anchor trolley and fish finder. Talk about a great find!

Exploring Mounting Options

Adding a trolling motor to your kayak requires some planning and research. If you’re not an engineering whiz, don’t worry. Look for a kayak model that already has third-party bow mounts available. Comparing similar kayak models online can give you an idea of which mounting plates are compatible. You may need to make a few adjustments, such as adding wedges, but the end result will be worth it.


Choosing the Right Trolling Motor

Choosing the right trolling motor for your kayak is crucial. I opted for the MotorGuide Xi3 kayak, which came with a 36-inch shaft. I also invested in the quick release bracket to ensure easy transportation. However, keep in mind that basic trolling motors do not come with GPS capabilities. If you choose this option, consider having a rudder or be prepared to manually adjust your course with the remote or paddle. To fully enjoy the benefits of a bow mounted trolling motor, I added a GPS unit, which was simple to install and greatly enhanced my kayaking experience.

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Trolling Motor

Installing and Powering the Trolling Motor

Mounting a trolling motor on a kayak requires some ingenuity and a bit of DIY. You’ll need to connect the motor to your kayak securely and ensure easy stowage and deployment. Watching tutorial videos or seeking advice from experienced kayakers can be helpful. Additionally, having an anchor trolley line already installed on your kayak can make the process easier. I modified mine to connect to the release lever of the trolling motor, providing a simple solution.


Powering the trolling motor depends on your specific needs. For the MotorGuide Xi3, I used a single Renogy 12V 50Ah LiFePO4 battery, which suited my fishing trips that lasted up to eight hours. Depending on your usage and kayak load, you may need a higher capacity battery. Ensure you use the appropriate wire gauge and a suitable fuse for safety.


If you’ve opted for a Minn Kota Ulterra Riptide, like I did, you’ll need a 24V system. Connect two 12V batteries in series to achieve the required voltage. Ensure you use the correct wire gauge, a three-prong plug, and a suitable fuse. Although the weight may increase, these trolling motors offer exceptional performance.

Investing in Your Kayaking Experience

Adding a bow mounted trolling motor to your kayak is not a budget-friendly endeavor. However, the advantages it offers are well worth the investment. If financing options are available, take advantage of them. Keep in mind that when it’s time to sell your kayak, having no holes drilled into it makes it more attractive to potential buyers. You can also explore ambassador programs with smaller brands to receive discounts on these accessories.

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So why wait? Take your kayak fishing experience to the next level by mounting a trolling motor on the bow. Enjoy the freedom to stand up, cast further, and reach those elusive spots that were once out of reach. With the right motor and proper installation, your kayak will become a powerful fishing machine.

For more information on bow mounted trolling motors and other kayak accessories, visit UpStreamPaddle.