Importance of trolling motors on kayaks.

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Most Kayakers will tell you that kayaking pleasure comes from paddling; however, sometimes this is just not possible. This could be due to extreme fatigue, extremely rough conditions or you may be hauling very heavy stuff for example camping gear that will not make it possible for you to paddle. A good trolling motor will also allow your hands to be free and is therefore great for those who are fishing or photography expeditions or even if you are in a situation where you get caught up in bad weather and need to get back to shore as soon as possible.

However, the reality is that most kayaks are not meant to accommodate a trolling motor. However, for those that can, you need to consider certain factors before looking for a trolling motor. These include the motor mount and the electric trolling machine. Take your time to find out which components can work well together before you start the mounting process.

 

Steps to mounting your motor.

Deciding on the position where you want to mount your motor.

The position of the trolling motor is very important when you are mounting it to your kayak. If you want to feel the most power out of it, then mounted at the stern, this is particularly good for smaller boats like kayaks, canoes, dinghies, and other small boats. While you can get some functionality out of a side mount, you achieve maximum output by putting it on the stern. Get a good mounting bracket that has stainless steel balls so that it can secure the Motor mount. This will also make it easy for you to remove it when you need to. You can also mount the motor on your bow. This will give you a lot of maneuverability and are best for larger vessels.

With the proper mount, you can easily control the direction and speed of the kayak.

Electric trolling machines.

You have the option of the type of trolling motor you want to have. And the electric motor will allow you to maximize the potential of the motor due to the incredible power it delivers. You also have longer use advantage, sometimes up to 5 hours; however, this depends on the type of battery you are using together with the trolling motor.

The battery.

You need to consider buying a 12-volt marine battery if you are going to achieve high speed due to more power and long term usage.  The other option is to buy the absorbed glass mat battery. Both will work very well because they can withstand the constant charging and recharging but you may need to be ready to spend a little bit more because they can be quite costly. The marine batteries are however slightly more economical if you’re buying a battery with a tight budget in mind.

 

Factors to consider before buying a trolling motor.

Before buying a trolling motor, make sure you know the size of your kayak. Some of the things you need to consider include;-

The thrust.

Find out what the propelling power of the motor is if you want to achieve good propulsion in the water. You measure the thrust in pounds and the bigger the size of the boat, the more propelling power you will need.

The voltage.

Your boat’s needs determine the amount of voltage it needs. This is dependent on the size of the boat and most trolling motors are available in 12 volts, 24 volts, and 36 volts. A 12-volt motor can run on a 12-volt battery, a 24-volt motor can run on two 12 volt batteries while three 12 volt batteries are sufficient to run a 36-volt motor. If you’re not someone who uses the boat for a very long time, you can consider just getting at 12-volt motor but if you know you’re going to spend long hours of the day in the water then a 36-volt motor will be the best for you.

Shaft length.

Having a good understanding of the shaft length is very critical. Longboats require long shafts while short boats require short shaft. Measure the shaft length from the water line to the stern if you are looking for a stern mount motor or from the water line to the bow if you’re looking for a bow mount motor.

Controls.

You have foot and hand control pedals in most boats. Trolling motors are either hand or remote control steered. Depending on what you are using the boat for, you can choose the hand or remote control. For instance, if you are going fishing, you would want your hands free and will, therefore, opt for the one with a foot pedal which may, however, be a bit more pricey but very comfortable to use. Hand controls are normally very compact and not too expensive.  The ones with the remote controls are very pricey but are also a good investment due to the convenience of using them.

Water conditions.

This may be a minor thing for some people but it is important that you pay attention to the kind of water you will be using the boat in. For instance, if you are going to use the boat in salt water, be careful about the type of material used because of rusting. This is not to say that those used in freshwater will not corrode, it, however, rusts faster in salt water, so make sure whichever motor you buy is over-built to give you longer usage even in salt water.

 

Additional features to consider.

Speed settings.

Trolling motors have different speeds that you can go for. You can get up to 5 forward speed and 3 reverse speeds. If you have the money, you can get more speed in the higher end boats. Just be ready to invest quite a bit of money because they are very pricey.

Battery indicators.

Make sure you have a battery indicator when you are buying a trolling motor. This will allow you to know how much charge is still in the battery and whether you need to start considering replacing them. There is nothing as inconveniencing as running out of battery juice when you in the middle of the lake and having to paddle back to shore. This would be especially inconveniencing if you have a lot of weight to haul behind you.

If you notice that the battery levels are low, make sure you charge them before you go out into the water. You will know you need to totally change your battery when their operating time starts to become less and less.

Circuit breaker.

Have a circuit breaker in your motor so that you can save yourself some money if you have to replace a damaged part due. There are some situations when you will really need the circuit breaker, for example, if you get stuck in something or get stuck in some obstructions that are not able to come out from easily. The constant revving can lead to power surges to the motor as you try to navigate the obstacles, which can lead to the motor burning out, but, if you have a circuit breaker, you significantly reduce the possibility of this happening.

Autopilot functions.

If you’re going in a straight line, you can just set the autopilot and let the boat drive itself. This is good if you want to rest, or if you want to maybe take pictures if you are on a tour.  A boat with a good autopilot will allow you to use even if the weather and wind conditions are not very good.

Propeller blades.

There’s a wide variety of propeller blades available in different types of motors and the choice of the best one is totally up to what you prefer.

Two propellers are the most common and most popular because they require very little energy to run and you do not run the risk of them tangling with other propellers. 3 blade propellers allow for smooth operation but they’re not very fast and can get tangled up in seaweed and other plants found in the water. If you want more propellers there are many models in the market that you can choose from.

Smart features.

With the growth in technology, there are new and better ways to make life easier. This is also true for trolling motors that have some smart features like GPS, fish finding technology, sonar among others. The choice to have these apps does have a cost implication and unless they are very important to you, then you may want to do without them. However, if you can afford them then they would be a great way to enjoy your kayaking.

 

How to mount a trolling motor.

When you’re mounting your trolling motor, there certain things that you need to take into consideration,  for instance, if you’re putting it at the front of the boat, then run the mounting plate horizontal to the water otherwise it will not work well. If your bow is slanted, raise the mounting plate by placing something underneath it. Maintain the horizontal positioning to the water. You can easily use an aluminum piece of wire if you need to correct the height.

Mounting on the transom.

When mounting a trolling motor on the transom or the side, open the clamps on the mounting brackets, and then slip the motor over the transom. Make sure that the top of the motor sits flush with the top of the stern. Now tighten the clamps and make sure that they’re tight enough so that they do not vibrate when the kayak is in motion. Position the motor to the center of the stern and at least 9 inches below the water so that the propeller does not break the surface of the water. If it does it will make a lot of noise and may not be a good idea if you are fishing because it will scare away the fish.

Mounting on the engine.

Mount the bracket on the engines anti-cavitation plate with the motor facing up. The anti-cavitation is a plate above the propeller which keeps the propeller from breaking the surface of the water as it pushes the boat forward when. To properly mount the trolling motor, the anti-cavitation plate should be at least 13 inches below the water surface so that the trolling motor will be at least 6 inches below the waterline when in operation.

Using the mount, drill a hole through the anti-cavitation plate and place the mounting bracket back on top, insert the bolts and tighten them.

Mounting on the bow.

Choose the appropriate place where the mortar will be attached whether while in use or when stored away. The best position should provide enough clearance if the motor uses a breakaway mount and allow for mounting screws to be used. The screws should be strong enough to be able to penetrate the deck. Using the mounting base as a template, mark the holes where the holes will be drilled into the deck. If the boat is made of fiberglass you may need to countersink the holes. When you are putting in the bolts, make sure you use a washer to keep them in position. Make sure that the base rests evenly to allow for the motor to be raised to the deck and finally secure the motor assembly. Make sure that it runs at least 5 inches below the water level and if you love to fish while standing when the motor is running, then you need to factor in at least 12 inches below the water surface.

How to maintain your trolling motor.

It is important that you keep a close watch on your trolling motor and keep a regular maintenance routine to make sure that it runs smoothly. The most critical aspect to it is making sure that you buy the right trolling motor. Be watchful and careful about what you choose to buy, do your own research, read online reviews, do price comparisons among other due diligence tips so that you have a thorough knowledge of the brand you are buying.

Some brands may be cheap but if you need to replace a part you will find that they are not available in the market. Buying a slightly expensive brand may, for example, be a better idea because you can easily get the parts and the right people to handle the work. Buy a brand that is built to last and one that is made of high-quality material so that you can avoid issues like denting, rusting, breaking among others.

Make sure that you keep your battery charged at all time, carry out inspections on the propeller; inspect it for weeds and fishing lines that may be caught on it at least after every 20 hours of active use, check for corrosion or rusting of some parts and replace the parts that may have fallen out.

Battery.

It is important that you keep the battery fully charged at all times because if a battery is fully discharged it will lose its ability to perform and shorten its lifespan. If the motor is not in use, you may consider disconnecting the battery from the motor so that it prolongs the life span. Clean the terminals with a battery wire brush and watch out for any corrosion.

Monitor the water levels in the battery because this will affect the performance of the battery.

Propellers.

Propellers encounter friction and will, therefore, need some simple maintenance techniques to keep them in top condition. Make sure you watch out for any chips that may work on the propeller because it will affect how they perform in the long run. You can repair minor damages using sandpaper and a file. Also check that the propeller does not have any weeds, or debris that will cause obstructions which will ultimately affect its performance. Try to do this after 20 hours of use so as to avoid damage to the propellers as well as internal mechanisms.

Prop shaft.

It is important that you keep the prop shaft free of weeds or any other debris, as letting this pile-up will significantly damage your mechanism. Weeds and build up are easy to clean using a sharp object like a screwdriver to remove them. Once you’re done, make sure you replace the parts well so that the motor can continue to function as it should. Leaving the dirt on the propeller will lead to the motor to stop working or break down at the most inopportune time, not that there is ever a good time for a machine to break down.

A dirty prop shaft will also make it harder for your motor to work and your battery will drain easily. If you notice any of these symptoms, then you need to find out what is wrong, disconnect your propeller then remove the prop shaft, clean it then reassemble it. Also, oil any metallic parts that may be within the propeller so that once you reassemble it you do not have to look for a way to access them again.

Mounts

These help anchor your motor to the boat. If they are loose, the motor may fall out of the boat. Check your mounts every time, especially when you want to use the boat.  Make sure the mounts are tightened before you turn on the motor.  Make sure there is no corrosion, and if there is, replace them immediately.

The exterior.

Keep the exterior of the trolling motor clean by wiping it with a piece of cloth and warm soapy water. Remove any dirt that may be trapped in the nooks and crevices so that they do not build up and obstruct the proper functioning of the machine. Cleaning will also allow you to check for any wear and tear or for anything that may need replacing. Some of the parts may also need oiling, so make sure you do this while you are doing the exterior cleaning. When everything works as it should, you will not have any problems and do not have to worry about the motor breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

Electrical wiring.

Check the wiring of the motor as well as the battery. If you see any fray or exposed wires, you may need to replace them immediately or wrap them with electrical tape. Check that there is no corrosion in the electrical components and that they are neatly hidden and securely fastened so that they do not move when the boat moves.

Dirt on the electrical parts can lead to short circuits making your motor die on you. Inspect your mortar every time before using it and see that all the connections are clean, free of debris and that the connections have been sealed properly so that water does not get in. You may want to consider disconnecting all the wires for a proper wipe down every month, but of course, all this depends on how often you use your boat.

Metal parts.

Grease or lube any metal parts so that they do not rust or become so stiff that they are unable to move as they should.

Storage.

When it comes to the trolling motor, you have the option of leaving it on the boat or removing it when you want to store it. If you have a secure storage facility, you may consider leaving it on so that you can avoid the inconvenience of always mounting it when you want to use it. Again this depends on how often you use their boat, for instance, if you use it every weekend, it would not make too much sense to keep on removing the trolling motor. If you are using a common dock area to store your boat then you may want to remove it and store it separately because it can be stolen. You also have to consider the elements, for example, the sun made them in some parts while the wind can blow debris or storms which may dent the trolling motor.

 

Frequently asked questions when buying a trolling motor for a kayak.

What does it mean when you say a motorized kayak?

This is a kayak that has a motor that allows the user to either paddle or have it run using the motor. Most are battery operated and will, therefore, keep the environment clean because there are no oil or gas drips.  They are also very quiet and will therefore not contribute to noise pollution nor will they scare the fish away if you want to use them for fishing.

What do I need to consider before buying a trolling motor?

You need to consider the material from which it is made, stainless steel aluminum is very good because it is heavy duty, very durable and will not corrode even if used in salt water.

You also need to consider the thrust power. This depends on the type of boat you have and ranges from 36 to 86 lbs. be very clear about the size of the boat and the conditions under which you’ll be using it when deciding on the thrust power for your boat.

You will also need to know the battery power you need.  Most of them operate on 12-volt batteries. Make sure you purchase one that has an indicator so that you get a warning if the juice is about to run out. Charge your battery to make sure it is always fully charged because if it fully discharges, it will affect the performance of the battery as well as shorten its life its lifespan. When choosing a battery, choose one that you can recharge so that you are able to use it over and over again.

What speeds are available in trolling motors?

There are different speed levels depending on the type of trolling motor you buy. The most common is the 8 speed which gives you 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds. However, if you want more settings you can explore the market and you will be able to get what you are looking for.

How do I determine thrust requirements for my boat?

This depends on the size of your boat and the weight. If you use the boat in an area where the elements can get a bit harsh, for example, windy or very rough water conditions, you may want to buy a motor that has high thrust so that you have enough power when you need to use it.

Where can I mount the trolling motor?

You can mount the trolling motor on the transom, the bow or the stern. This really comes down to you as an individual on the position you find is the most convenient for you.

 

Final thoughts.

Trolling motors are a great way to enjoy kayaking even if you’re not able to do the paddling for whatever reason whether fatigue or because the weather conditions are a bit too harsh. Make sure you understand your needs before you install a trolling motor so that you get maximum use out of it.

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