Selecting the best place to put a trolling motor battery on your kayak is one you need to get right. I recommend putting it somewhere accessible for when you inevitably get flipped over.
The mounting location on the kayak is a matter of preference once you’ve checked off the accessibility box. Here’s a quick snapshot of what this article will run you through:
At a Glance:
1️⃣ Marine lead-acid batteries are heavy; hence placement on a kayak needs to consider weight distribution. Lithium batteries, being lighter, offer a lesser challenge in this respect.
2️⃣ Common locations for battery placement, such as the bow or stern hatches, are not advisable due to the risk of the kayak flipping. Accessibility is a key factor to consider when choosing a location.
3️⃣ An exposed stern mounting for the battery due to its compatibility with Power-Pole-ready kayaks, preservation of space and paddling area, and easier cable management is optimum.
🛶 Choosing the Right Battery Location on a Kayak
Marine lead-acid batteries are heavy items to place on your kayak. So a lot of installations you see will try and counterbalance the weight distribution.
Lithium batteries are lighter and will somewhat lessen the burden of figuring out the best ballast situation.
Two common scenarios are for the battery to be mounted in either the bow or stern hatches. I’m here to tell you NOT to do that. Why is that?
Well, at some stage, you will flip. Trust me; it will happen! And if you have a heavy lead-acid battery stowed inside a hatch, trying to right your kayak is going to be a nightmare.
So, I always recommend mounting the battery somewhere that’s easily accessible. Preferably with a quick-release system so that you can flip the kayak back over.
Sure, you may lose the battery if you’re in deep water. But being able to flip back over and get to shore by paddling is better than swimming back and losing your whole rig.
Personally, I prefer an exposed stern mounting, and here’s why:
Stern Mounting Pros
This option works best for kayaks that are Power-Pole ready, as they have compatible mounts for the trolling motor battery.
By positioning the battery at the stern, I can not only save space but also keep the battery away from my paddling area. This ensures that it does not interfere with my movement or the kayak’s overall balance.
One downside of this option is that I have to deal with part of the cables not being tucked away like they would inside a hatch. To avoid any issues, I make sure to secure and manage these cables properly.
⚠️ Important Factors to Consider
Considering weight distribution is crucial when installing a trolling motor battery on my kayak. Adding a battery and motor to my setup can affect the kayak’s balance and overall performance.
You may have a different preference from me, so it’s essential to carefully balance the weight to ensure smooth paddling and maneuvering on the water.
Test the battery placement before drilling any holes, and experiment with adding weight to the bow and stern to find the ideal spot for stability.
Safety and Accessibility
Safety should always be a priority when installing a trolling motor battery. That begins with planning for the inevitable but rare occasions when you get wet.
Wiring should be neat and organized, and if possible, run as much of the cables through the inside of the kayak.
Waterproofing the connections using heat shrink tubing is crucial to prevent water damage or short circuits.
Accessibility is also important; you should be able to reach the battery and motor controls easily while seated. Ensuring that adjustments to the motor’s speed and direction (without compromising safety) can be done easily.
Battery Power and Connection
Lastly, which battery you choose is an important factor when deciding where to put it. I’m a fan of lithium batteries for kayaks, although other cheaper options are available. But I prefer the lighter weight over the cost.
The required voltage (V) and storage capacity (mAh) of the motor battery will affect the overall performance. So something energy dense like lithium makes a lot of sense for a kayak.
If you do take my recommendation and mount your battery ‘on deck,’ then I need to stress just how important your wiring job is. And by that, I mean make sure you are using a watertight case and that your connections are secure.
🎯 Selecting the Right Kayak Trolling Motor and Battery
Trolling Motor Size and Thrust
Choosing the right trolling motor size and thrust ultimately depends on factors like the kayak’s weight, length, and paddling preferences.
Smaller kayaks typically require less thrust, whereas larger, heavier kayaks need a stronger motor to propel them efficiently. For instance, the Minn Kota Endura C2 30lb Thrust Trolling Motor is suitable for smaller kayaks, providing a max speed of 4mph.
When it comes to choosing the right size battery, I want to ensure I have enough power for my kayak outings without weighing down the vessel.
Lithium-ion batteries are the best choice for kayak trolling motors as they last longer, weigh less, and are more environmentally friendly than lead-acid batteries.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether lithium trolling motor batteries are worth the investment for your needs.
Speed and Control Options
My personal preference is to use a tiller-controlled motor, as it’s more affordable and can also be mounted on the side of the kayak.
Alternatively, other anglers might opt for a foot pedal system, which leaves your hands free for maneuvering and fishing.
Trolling motors aren’t designed for speed, and most have a maximum speed of around 5mph, which is more than enough.
But if you do fancy the extra little bit of speed, look at something like the NK180, which can reach up to 5.4mph under the right conditions.
🕹️ Mounting the Trolling Motor
Motor Mount Options
Now that you know where to put the trolling motor battery on your kayak, you might want to understand where to mount the trolling motor itself.
I personally prefer stern and side mounts for a kayak, but bow mounting is also an option for you. Each location has its own benefits and drawbacks, but at the very least, consider factors like safety, stability, and ease of access before you drill any holes.
For the stern (or transom mount), I’ve opted to use a tiller-controlled motor with a transom clamp and a 36-inch shaft. I like this option because it is economical and allows me to easily control the motor from the back of the kayak.
🧰 Hardware and Installation Tips
There are some no-drilling trolling motors and battery mounts that you can buy if you don’t want to drill holes. But if you want to secure either to the hull, then these are the steps I used.
- It starts by getting a high-quality motor or battery mount made of durable material which can withstand harsh marine environments.
- Measure and mark the exact location on the kayak where you plan to install the mount. This is crucial for maintaining balance and stability when using the trolling motor.
- Gather all necessary tools and hardware, such as a drill, screws, and brackets.
- Install gear tracks if needed, which allow for easy adjustment of the motor mount position.
- Mount the hardware securely to the desired location on my kayak, ensuring that all screws and bolts are tightened firmly, holes are sealed for water ingress, and the motor is positioned correctly.
🔑 Key Takeaways
To wrap up, I’d like to add another few safety suggestions. I always take a paddle and a spare paddle as a backup propulsion system in case the trolling motor fails.
I also make sure to take necessary safety precautions such as wearing a life jacket, carrying a whistle, and if I’m heading offshore, then marine flares come with me.
1️⃣Choosing the right trolling motor and battery for your kayak depends on various factors, including the kayak’s weight, length, and your paddling preferences.
2️⃣Personal preference and fishing conditions dictate the choice of control system, speed, and motor mount location.
3️⃣Proper installation involves selecting a durable motor or battery mount, careful location marking to maintain balance and stability, gathering the necessary tools and hardware, and ensuring secure mounting with sealed holes to prevent water ingress.