Kayak Motor Buyers Guide

Kayak Motor Buyers Guide

Kayak motors have become extremely popular in the past couple of years. There are now multiple companies out there offering a wide variety of styles, configurations and propulsion types to fit pretty much any anglers needs. I’m going to try and simplify the options that exist, go over some broad technical specs and give my thoughts and opinions on each. Whether you want a motor for speed, long distance traveling or you want spot lock to hold you on a key piece of offshore structure, there is a motor out there to fit your needs. I personally employ a motor to cover longer distances from point A to point B. I fish a lot of tournaments, some allow motors others do not. I have found in the ones that do not allow them, that they can be great tools to use in pre fishing to help eliminate water. So, for me speed and long distance are the most important.

Bow VS Stern

Bow mounted motors are typically your more standard trolling motor design, such as what you would see on a bass boat. This is typically what you would select if you are wanting a motor that is more geared toward the spot lock feature. These style of motors tend to be slower than stern mounted, but have the advantage of spot lock. If you aren’t familiar with spot lock, it is a feature that at the press of a button will hold you in that exact position no matter the wind or current, assuming you are in conditions that the motor is capable of keeping up with. This feature is a big advantage to those anglers who fish offshore and want to hold on a very specific waypoint or piece of structure. The bow mounted motors will typically be a bit heavier and most are deployed and stored on the front of the kayak. Consideration has to be given to the weight of the motor and which side of the kayak the motor will be stored on.

Stern mounted motors are as a whole faster and in my opinion better suited for kayak anglers that want to get from point A to point B and cover water. Most kayak anglers opt for this style of motor. They are typically lighter and having the motor on the stern provides a more balanced ride as far as weight distribution. It also keeps your deck space and the front of the kayak clear and open for casting, fighting and landing fish. There’s also more options and brands available for this style of motor. Stern mounted motors tend to be more efficient compared to bow mounted because they are pushing from the center of the kayak instead of pulling from either the left or right side. Although some motors can be bow mounted on the nose of the kayak, this isn’t always possible depending on the design of your kayak. Weight balancing with loads on the front vs the back of the kayak also have to be taken into account when talking about efficiency.

Popular Models

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Torqeedo 403:

Torqeedo is one of the most popular brands of stern mounted motors. It comes in two configurations the 403A and the 403AC. The only difference between the two is the size of the included battery. The A model has a 320Wh battery while the AC model comes with a 915Wh battery. Obviously the larger battery comes with a bit more price but provides more than double the capacity which allows the user to travel quite a bit further distance. Torqeedo claims at half throttle the 403A can travel 3.7MPH for 4 hours and cover about 15 miles. The AC model with the higher capacity battery at half throttle can travel at 3.7MPH for 11.5 hours and cover 44 miles. One con of this motor is that it’s one of the more pricier motors out there.

Torqeedo 1103AC:

This is a supersize motor and one of the newer models produced by Torqeedo. It boasts an 1100 watt motor and operates using the same 915Wh battery as the AC model. It’s quite a bit heavier and costs $400 more compared to the 403Ac model. It claims a half throttle speed of 6.7MPH covering 9.8 miles with a run time of 1.28 hours. The power of this motor is eye popping and the speeds are impressive. However, one con of this motor is the amount of run time, since it uses a 915Wh battery you have to manage your power usage wisely.

Newport Vessels NK-180S:

Newport Vessel’s NK-180S is one of the newer motors on the market, very similar to the torqeedo except it comes in a 600 Watt motor size, which falls in between the 403 and 1103. One of the nice aspects of the NK-180S is the price as well as the option to add your own battery. The motor requires a 24-volt battery. You can either wire two 12volt batteries in a series to gain 24 volts or you can get a dedicated 24 volt battery. One con that also doubles as the pro is that while the motor is cheaper you still have to provide a power supply which can raise the cost substantially depending on the size battery you opt for. For this reason I won’t provide a range because it greatly depends on the battery you select.

Bixpy J-2 PowerShroud:

Bixpy has been around for a while, there are various models but their latest is the J-2 Power Shroud, modeled after dam turbines and is more related to a jet turbine than a traditional prop style motor. They are very lightweight and can be mounted in numerous ways depending on the model of kayak. It’s a little underwhelming on power compared to the Torqeedo and Newport providing only 33lbs of thrust. However, it is a very economical option. It doesn’t come with the battery and is priced at $649, however you can get a 378Wh battery pack that they claim will run for 80 minutes at top speed and as long as 12 hours at slower speeds. They do sell a motor/battery kit for $1,199.

Texas Power Paddle Manta (PA-14):

Texas Power Paddle Manta is specifically designed for the Hobie PA-14 kayak so I thought this would be a good model to highlight. It has an interesting mounting location, as it fits in the Hobie Guardian plate where the transducer would normally go. This is a neat feature however, it begs the question where do you put your transducer? They claim it provides up to 6 hours of propulsion equivalent to moderate pedaling, a little vague on the runtime. Installation is very quick and simple with no additional hardware and the entire system is very light compared to the other motors. Coming in at $1,949 I feel like there are better options out there for the value.

Minn Kota PowerDrive:

Minn Kota’s PowerDrive is a bow mounted motor that comes in various sizes, the 45lb thrust comes with a 48″ shaft, spot lock and is on a 12 volt system. It does not come with a battery but is priced affordably at $649.99. Range and speeds will be determined by the size of battery and physical characteristics of your kayak as well as on water conditions.

MotorGuide Xi5:

MotorGuide’s Xi5 is a very nice and feature rich bow mounted motor. Its rated for 55lbs of thrust on a 48″ shaft, built in transducer and also comes with a GPS remote which controls steering as well as PinPoint (motorguide’s version of SpotLock). It does not come with a battery but does operate on a 12 volt system. Retail price is $1,579.99.

Editor’s Choice

Newport Vessels NK-180S

My #1 choice for a kayak motor is the stern mounted Newport Vessels NK-180S. Its a great blend of power, cost, weight and battery options. At 600 Watts it falls between the Torqeedo 403A and the 1103AC, coming in at $999 it s a great value compared to similar motors. It falls right in between the average weight of the 403 and 1103 at 14.3lbs. Granted one negative that in my view is also a positive is that it doesn’t come with its own battery. However, I spin this as a positive, yes you have to purchase an additional item however you get to choose the amount of battery that is right for you.

I opted for the Bioenno Power 24 volt 50Ah battery. This battery will run my NK-180S at approximately 5.0MPH on a fully loaded Hobie PA-14 for nearly 50 miles at full throttle. I probably went a little overkill with the 50Ah but I wanted as much power as I could possibly have. A 40Ah 24 volt would have probably been plenty, providing around 40 miles of travel at 5mph and full throttle. You can save 15% off a new battery from Bioenno Power by using promo code: JAYWALLENFISHING at checkout!

I hope you found this guide helpful and informative when trying to decide which motor is right for you! Please feel free to share and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube @JayWallenFishing