Top 5 Best Electric Trolling Motors for Small Craft

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trolling motor, electric motor, fishing, boating

Rowing a rowboat or paddling a kayak all day can get exhausting — especially when you’re trying to make the most of your day on the water and have no time to lose. An electric trolling motor is a really simple and affordable way to give your small craft a serious boost without the hassle of complicated motor installations or bringing fuel on board.

The thrust, battery life, noise output and overall dependability of modern trolling motors has become quite impressive. There’s motors compatible with just about every type of small craft — even kayakers have begun incorporating simple motor mounts onto their boats. For fishing, the added benefits of not powering your boat manually go on and on — it’s a big game changer for both covering more water and keeping your hands free. The versatility and portability of electric trolling motors are another awesome factor to consider — switching them between boats is a piece of cake.

Trolling motors #1 — #3 on this list are great options for pairing with a rowboat or dinghy. Motor #1 is the unit I have owned for about ten years now and swear by. Motor #2 is designed to be suitable for both fresh and saltwater use. Motor #3 has some pretty serious thrust for moving a larger sized boat.

Trolling motors #4 and #5 are more geared towards smaller, lighter water craft like kayaks and canoes. Motor #4 has an ideal shaft length for easy kayak mounting and an appropriate amount of thrust. Motor #5 is a super interesting and unique drill-powered unit that can be used to power virtually any small sized boat or tube.

Whether you’re a fishermen, hunter or just a lover of the great outdoors, owning a trolling motor can be a lot of fun. Catch more fish, shoot more game and enjoy the beauty of nature with some extra boost for your boating experience this season.


1. Best Value Trolling Motor: Minn Kota Endura 30 Pound Thrust Freshwater Trolling Motor

minn kota, trolling motor, rowboat, kayak, electric motor

Minn Kota

I have owned a Minn Kota Endura for about 10 years now, and mine is still going strong. My father and I have mounted an older model of the Endura to the transom of our 10 foot jon boat for years and we’ve never found a reason to upgrade — we LOVE this motor. After about a decade the performance is equal with the day we purchased it! The newer model by Minn Kota looks seriously awesome — this 12-volt unit has 30 pounds of thrust and a 30 inch shaft. It’s great for smaller sized rowboats, jon boats, dinghies or sail boats. This motor runs seriously quiet, so it’s an excellent choice for fishing purposes. You’ll need a 12-volt battery to power this bad boy and a ton of fishermen reviews rave about further pairing their battery with the Minn Kota Trolling Motor Power Center. There’s five forward speeds and three reverse speeds giving you pretty excellent control for finding that perfect trolling speed. There’s a two year warranty on the motor and a lifetime warranty on the “indestructible” shaft so Minn Kota has you covered. For just $100 this motor is an AWESOME value. If you like the Endura but need a bit more thrust, then check out Minn Kota’s 55 pound thrust version of this model for some better boost. I got my money’s worth out of mine about eight years ago and the thing just won’t quit! For zipping around your favorite lakes and ponds, this is no doubt the go-to unit.

Price: $99.99 & Free Shipping (6 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Minn Kota Endura 30 Pound Thrust Freshwater Trolling Motor here.


Pros:

  • Very reasonable price — for $100 this motor is a steal!
  • Minn Kota offers a warranty on both the motor and hardware
  • Five forward speeds and three reverse speeds gives you some great precision for your speed control
  • The mount is an absolute breeze for mounting to a rowboat transom

Cons:

  • You’ll need to get creative if you want to mount this motor to a kayak or canoe
  • With 30 pounds of thrust this won’t get a 12 foot or larger boat moving too quickly — plenty of fishermen still pair this with 14 foot rowboats, just don’t expect to rip too fast if your boat is that large!

Find more Minn Kota Endura 30 Pound Thrust Freshwater Trolling Motor information and reviews here.



2. Best Trolling Motor For Saltwater Use: Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 Pound Thrust Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor

newport vessels, trolling motor, electric motor, saltwater trolling motor

Newport Vessels

Here’s a great little motor for saltwater use. This model by Newport Vessels is equipped with stainless steel hardware and a nylon mount for maximum resilience to the corrosive effects of saltwater. This is an eight speed motor (five forward and three revers speeds) that will definitely get your dinghy or small sailboat moving. If you need something for zipping out to your larger boat or want a motor for cruising around the lake, this unit will perform great in both contexts. There’s a five-point LED battery meter on this model so you know when your charge is running low. The Newport Vessels Smart Battery Box Power Center is an awesome item to pair with this motor — it’s a versatile and practical piece of gear that fishermen and boaters alike absolutely love! The shaft is 30 inches and the mounting system couldn’t be any simpler — just twist the washers tight to the transom of your craft. This is another excellent 12-volt motor at an excellent cost, if you want just a touch more power than the previous motor listed (Minn Kota Endura) this is the most economic option to get a few more pounds of thrust without breaking the bank.

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Price: $129.00 & Free Shipping (13 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb. Thrust Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor here.


Pros:

  • Great value! This motor is very reasonably priced and provides some solid thrust
  • LED display on the motor head tells you when your battery is running low
  • Stainless Steel hardware makes this a great choice for saltwater use
  • Eight speeds for precision trolling!

Cons:

  • Newport Vessels doesn’t list a warranty for this product
  • Some customer complaints that water can leak into the motor head and damage it in a heavy rain or due to wave splash

Find more Newport Vessels NV-Series 36 lb. Thrust Saltwater Electric Trolling Motor information and reviews here.



3. Best Trolling Motor For Larger Rowboats: Newport Vessels 55 Pound Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor

newport vessels, trolling motor, electric trolling motor

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Newport Vessels

Here’s another great value trolling motor by Newport Vessels. This 55 pound thrust model will really get you moving. If you have a larger vessel that could use a little more oomph than a 30 pound thrust motor provides than this is the unit for you. The power of this motor is definitely enough to move larger rowboats and jon boats upwards of 14 feet and would power a small sail boat just fine as well. I really like the prop design on this unit — it’s simple but effective. Like the previous motor by Newport Vessels listed this is compatible for saltwater use due to the corrosion resistant stainless steel, zinc, and magnesium hardware employed in the design. There’s an LED display on the motor head showing battery life as well as a telescoping handle for some added convenience when at the helm. For $200 this motor is a pretty dam good value. A lot of other trolling motors with comparable thrust are much more expensive — the 55 pound thrust Minn Kota Endura for example is around $360, still a great value considering Minn Kota provides a solid warranty but a good bit more expensive than this comparable unit none the less.

Price: $199.00 & Free Shipping

Buy the Newport Vessels 55 Pound Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor here.



Pros:

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  • Hardware is built to endure both fresh and salt water
  • Excellent price for such a high powered trolling motor
  • LED display on the motor head showing battery life
  • Eight speeds on this motor provides great trolling control

Cons:

  • Newport Vessels doesn’t list a warranty for this product
  • This motor although tough is not built to last like some other comparable motors (the Minn Kota Endura for example)…. you get what you pay for with this one

Find more Newport Vessels 55 Pound Thrust 8 Speed Electric Trolling Motor information and reviews here.



4. Best Trolling Motor For Pairing With a Kayak: Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36lb Thrust Trolling Motor

newport vessels, trolling motor, kayak motor, electric motor

Newport Vessels

Here’s an interesting model motor also by Newport Vessels for pairing with a kayak. This 12-volt 36 pound thrust motor is designed particularly to be mounted onto a fishing kayak. The short, 24 inch shaft coupled with extra long battery cables (5.5 feet) makes this motor a great companion for any larger sized kayak. The extra cable length enables you to place your 12-volt battery wherever you need to onboard so the weight displacement doesn’t get thrown off. Here’s a link to a really neat kayak mount by Brocraft for effectively securing this motor — it even has a few attached rod holders! For mounting this motor to a canoe check out this easy to install side saddle mount by Old Town. Like most other models by Newport Vessels this unit has an LED display of battery life and is built with corrosive resistant hardware. This motor runs super quiet so you can sneak right into your favorite fishing spots without spooking any fish. Although this motor is super compact and scaled down for kayak use, it’s still an eight speed motor with some pretty decent thrust — don’t rule this one out for use on smaller rowboats. Additionally, there is a 55 pound thrust version of this motor if your kayak is particularly heavy once fully geared up.

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Price: $139.00 & Free Shipping

Buy the Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36lb Thrust Trolling Motor here.



Pros:

  • All the features of a regular trolling motor scaled down for kayak use
  • extra long battery cables and a short, 24 inch shaft for ideal pairing with kayaks
  • There is also a 55 pound thrust model available for particularly heavy kayaks/canoes
  • Newport Vessels offers a one year warranty on this product

Cons:

Find more Newport Vessels Kayak Series 36lb Thrust Trolling Motor information and reviews here.


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5. Best Low Power Motor For Kayak and Float Tube Use: Ideaz Drill Paddle

ideaz, kayak motor, drill motor, trolling motor, canoe motor

Ideaz

Here’s an innovative and highly unique motor great for pairing with a kayak or even a float tube. This motor operates incredibly easily and doesn’t even mount to anything — you hold it yourself! The unit is only one and a half pounds and mounts to any 3/8 or larger cordless drill. This unit is not going to send you ripping across the lake by any means, but it’s a pretty awesome alternative to paddling when you want to move a little quicker in your kayak or just give your arms a break. I would love to have one of these bad boys on board for heading back to the landing after a long day of paddling. The thrust isn’t specified but a few users claim this unit moves their boat better than their 30 pound thrust motor — so it’s got some decent power. The lithium-ion batteries won’t run for more than 45 minutes on full power, so this motor isn’t in it for the long run. I find this unit to be super cool and really practical for a lot of purposes. You unfortunately don’t have your hands free with this motor so you’ll need a rod holder in order to troll with it — but for some relief from rowing/paddling this thing is sweet! For less than $50 impress your friends and be the envy of everyone on the water with this radical little motor.

Price: $44.99

Buy the Ideaz Drill Paddle here.



Pros:

  • Super affordable!
  • Compatible with any watercraft because it’s handheld!
  • Decent power for such a compact unit — this motor can even move larger boats
  • No purchase of a 12-volt battery required

Cons:

  • Short battery life at around 45 minutes on full power
  • Keeps your hands engaged — I suppose you could build a mount easy enough to resolve this issue
  • Does not come with a drill included

Find more Ideaz Drill Paddle information and reviews here.



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