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Kayak & Canoe With Motor: Outboard Buying Guide

Canoe With Motor

Canoe With Motor

Updated on 10/22/2023
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail 👋 Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
Learn More about Abigail Scott

Canoe motors appeal to anyone who has paddled out to their favorite fishing spot in a canoe. If you were to glide out to a fishing hole, paddle the last few feet into the exact location you want, and use your energy to catch fish!

Why spend time in the wrong places when you can pay it in the best spots? 

If you use a motor, you'll be able to reach your favorite fishing spot much faster than if you paddled. Even though you can paddle traditional and square stern canoes, it's nice to get to your favorite site without paddling.  

We've got you covered with our handy primer if you're unsure how to choose the best motor for your canoe.

Use the Table of Contents below to jump directly to the most exciting review and see our picks for the best canoe motors.

Canoe Motor Types

There are a few different ways to put a motor on a canoe. Most anglers use attachable motors for canoes.

Outboard motor with a two or four-stroke engine

Outboard motors can power canoes with two or four strokes but can be bulky. Most powerboats have these engines on the back, usually powered by gas or gas oil, to move fast. Battery-operated motors are quieter, however. 

Unless you have an extra-large canoe, a 4-stroke outboard motor may be too large for a canoe. Some square-back canoes can be equipped with 2-stroke outboard engines, but they are difficult to attach to traditional canoes. 

Ensure that the outboard motor you get for your canoe is a small 2-stroke or 4-stroke. The engine you get shouldn't be too powerful or heavy for your boat. 

Kayak Trolling motor powered by batteries

Canoes and kayaks don't need much power, making electric motors perfect for them. Since canoes are so light, they don't require much ability to move. Most Kayak trolling motors are battery-powered and come in a 12 or 24-volt model. An electric motor under 16 feet provides enough power for boats powered by 12 volts.

Electric trolling motors are much quieter than gas ones since they run on batteries. Electric trolling motors are ideal for moving through the water without scaring the fish. 

Trolling motor powered by gas

A gasoline-powered motor works similarly to a battery-operated motor, requiring gasoline. Your boat will weigh more with an inboard engine and an outboard motor. 

Gas-powered motors can be more practical for larger boats but won't provide the same power as an outboard motor. You probably won't need the power of an outboard board if you're attaching it to a canoe or kayak.

Trolling motor types for canoes

Different sizes and designs of trolling motors are available to meet different needs. It would help to learn a little about your boat before determining which engine is right for you.

  • What is the length of your boat?
  • Where does the bow of your ship meet the water?
  • How far does the stern of your boat extend into the water?
  • How much weight will your boat usually need to carry?
  • Does it have a square stern or a traditional canoe?

Knowing all this before you choose a suitable motor for your canoe will save you a lot of time. Spend your time fishing instead of learning.

Motors are mounted on the transom.

The transom motor attaches to the back of the boat (like a traditional boat motor). A trolling motor can easily be attached to a square stern canoe back canoe. 

You'll need a kayak trolling motor mount to attach a trolling motor to your boat. One can be bought from a fishing/boating store, or one can be made from scratch. YouTube offers a lot of tutorials on how to make a canoe motor mount. 

Motors for bow-trolling

Bow motors are installed at the front of boats, as the name implies. They typically require a canoe trolling motor mount to attach the trolling motor to the ship. It doesn't matter whether you have a traditional canoe or a square-back canoe if you buy a bow motor. 

Bow motors are better for larger boats because they pull the boat through the water instead of pushing it, as is the case with traditional stern engines. This allows you to maneuver a larger boat into otherwise tricky places.

Motors for saltwater trolling

There are a lot of anticorrosion measures built into a saltwater trolling motor. Saltwater corrodes metal and wires much faster than usual, causing severe damage. If you paddle your canoe or kayak in saltwater, plan on buying a saltwater motor. 

Canoes and kayaks can be used in both saltwater and freshwater. Using saltwater trolling motors in freshwater is possible, but not vice versa. 

Motors for freshwater trolling

The freshwater trolling motor is specifically designed to be used in freshwater, and they typically have the same features as saltwater motors, EXCEPT they don't have anti-corrosion materials. You can seriously damage your freshwater motor if you use it in saltwater. 

Features of standard trolling motors

Power and Battery

A canoe can travel at 4-6mph with an electric trolling motor, and a canoe cannot handle anything faster. Combining your motor's power and the battery you use will determine how fast and how long your canoe will travel.

An electric canoe motor's battery life depends on its amperage, and Higher-amperage batteries last longer than batteries with lower amperages. If you want to stay out, buy one that allows you to do so as long as you like.

For more information about how to calculate the battery's life:

  • Divide your battery's amp rating by the draw rating to calculate its runtime. If your battery has 100 amp hours and your motor draws 25 amps per hour, your run time is 4 hours. 
  • You can calculate the amps that your trolling motor uses if you'd like by referring to the information that it comes with. 

If math isn't your strong suit, ensure you know the battery life of the motor you get, but don't be too picky. Typically, a 55lb motor will be sufficient to propel a canoe at 4-6mph when used with the recommended battery.


Even joking aside, choosing the suitable motor for your canoe depends on the shaft length.

A motor shouldn't come out of the water while underway, but it shouldn't be so long that it hits rocks and debris. If you plan on boating in waves or rough waters, you should get a slightly longer shaft so that it won't break off when you rock the boat. 

To ensure you get a suitable motor for your boat, you must measure it. Measuring the length from the rear gunwale to the water is essential for square back canoes. Use a traditional canoe to measure the distance between the mount of the trolling motor and the water.

To get an accurate reading, you should take these measurements when calm. Also, weigh your boat as it would typically be if you took measures. To that measurement, add 12 inches.

Buying a motor that is a little longer than the number you come up with is a good idea since you want the top of the engine to be at least 12 inches below the water's surface. Make sure the shaft is long enough for your canoe when in doubt.


Two main ways to control trolling motors are hand and foot. Many can even be held by a remote, but they are usually more expensive. 

Using a hand-controlled motor gives you better control over steering, but it cannot be easy to fish and steer simultaneously. This type of motor is nearly impossible to operate without using your hands.

If you're busy reeling in a fish, your hands won't be available for the motor. Perhaps you should consider foot-controlled trolling motors if you're new to fishing. 

You can focus on fishing and steer with your feet using foot-controlled motors. Even though they are less responsive than hand-controlled motors, they still work. Trolling motors controlled by foot can be inconvenient if multiple people are on the boat with you. You should be okay if you're the only one on the ship.

Saltwater Trolling Motors For Kayaks & Canoes: top 3

Now that you know all the basics about what you need from a canoe motor, let's talk about which engines to buy! It's important to note that what's best for one canoe may not suit another. Plenty of top-rated trolling motors are out there, but you should dig a little deeper to find the best one for you. 

Saltwater electric trolling motor for Newport Vessel L Series

Benefits and features

  • 62 or 86 lb of thrust options are available. Hence, it provides plenty of power for smaller and larger canoes. 
  • Fish won't be scared away by the motor's quietness. 
  • 6" telescopic handle - allows the handle to be positioned comfortably for the driver. 
  • There are three reverse gears and eight speeds to choose from.
  • Despite being intended as a transom motor, it can also be used as a bow motor. It is versatile!


  • Waterproof motor, but not handle or shaft. In the case of a downpour, this could cause problems. 
  • Small boats may find this motor too powerful. You might not want to use this motor if you have a small canoe or kayak. 

Saltwater Transom Mounted Electric Trolling Motor Newport Vessel NV Series

Benefits and features

  • You can choose from 36lb, 46lb, 55lb, 62lb, and 86lb thrust. A model with the correct thrust should be available for your boat.
  • The shaft is adjustable up to 30 inches. If your canoe isn't particularly tall, you should be able to adjust the shaft depth to fit your boat.
  • The six telescopic handle lets you adjust the handle to the driver's comfort level.
  • There are eight speeds, including three reverse speeds.
  • The battery meter is very bright, so you can quickly see how much life is left in your battery. 
  • Although it is designed as a transom motor, it can also be used as a bow motor. The possibilities are endless!


  • Although the motor itself is waterproof, the handle and shaft are not. In a downpour, you might have problems. 
  • Heavy boats won't work well with the 55lb thrust model. You will need a larger motor if you bring many people or gear. 

Minn Kota Riptide Power Drive

Benefits and features

  • Easy entry and exit from the water thanks to a deploy-assist lever. 
  • GPS trolling system included. The GPS will do all the work for you if you know where you want to go! Plug the coordinates into the GPS and let it work for you! 
  • There are multiple speeds available.  
  • Choose between 48" or 54" shafts. 
  • When the motor strikes something underwater, it can be flexible due to the shaft's extremely durable composite. Minn Kota's lifetime warranty backs the shaft's durability. 


  • Some boats may find the shaft too long.
  • It is easily damaged.

Trolling motors for freshwater canoes: 3 best options

Minn Kota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor

Benefits and Features

  • Telescoping handle - enables the driver to set the handle length to their comfort.
  • Includes three reverse speeds.
  • The motor's shaft is made of a flexible composite material if it strikes something underwater. The shaft durability of Minn Kota's products is guaranteed for life.
  • People find it has a long battery life when loaded with people or gear, even when the boat is weighed down.


  • The battery doesn't work well with large or heavy boats. 
  • Durability is questionable

Minn Kota Edge Freshwater Bow Mount Trolling Motor


Benefits and features

  • If the motor strikes something underwater, the shaft is flexible because it is made from a highly durable composite. With a lifetime warranty, Minn Kota guarantees the shaft's durability.
  • Foot control is available on this model. You can use your feet to control the motor to keep your hands busy while fishing. 
  • Fits most canoes with a 45-inch shaft.
  • Choose from 45lb or 55lb thrust. This motor should provide enough power no matter what size canoe you have. 


  • It is easy for propeller blades to get tangled in weeds if the seller does not provide the correct edges. Ensure the Weedless Wedge 2 propeller blades are included in the sale. 
  • The foot control can be problematic if you plan to have more than one person on your boat. You should be fine if just one or two people are on the ship. 

MotorGuide R5 Transom-Mount Freshwater Trolling Motor

Benefits and features

  • Include 70lb or 80lb thrust options. The power would be sufficient for a canoe.
  • Digital Power Management monitors multiple outputs for longer-lasting battery life and allows you to adjust the output speed accordingly.
  • The whisper-quiet motor lets you get closer to the fish!
  • It is a great value pick that offers many options at a reasonable price.


  • Questionable durability