Electric Trolling Motor

I would like to add an electric trolling motor to my canoe. There are many different sizes, measured in ft. lb. of thrust. My wife and I are birders and sometimes need to traverse a mile or two of open water to get to the good spots. Any suggestions as to size of motor and size of battery? Placement of mount? Placement of battery? Other issues I may have not thought of? Thanks.


– Last Updated: Apr-17-06 7:43 PM EST –

I made a homemade bracket for my old town 158, and put a 35lb thrust motor on it, the bracket was a piece of 1.5" x 1.5" aluminum square tube, that spanned the gunnels just behind the rear seat, it stuck out the right side about 8", with another 6" piece bolted to the bottom of the right end (provides enough room to accept the motor mount pinch bolts). I used a 1.5" x .25" aluminum flat bar to go under the gunnels, and bolts/wing nuts to pinch the gunnels between the flat bar and tubing. (wanna pic ?) It would move along a bit too fast at full throttle (no gear but 2 passengers). The bracket hung off to the right side (reversible) and I had the battery in a battery box under the back seat. I could easily counterweight the engine by sitting to the left of the seat. It steered quite well, even in modest current, but I never checked to see how far I could go. I'd imagine that a standard deep cycle battery would last quite awhile at low speeds.

BTW...I can fab the bracket for ya if need be, cost of materials and shipping being the only cost. I'd need the measurement inside hull to inside hull just under the gunnels at the point where you want the mount to be.

Forgot to mention…
I bought 2 “D” ring patches to glue to the inside of the hull floor to use as tie-down points for the battery box.

Good point about the battery
In Wisconsin, the battery must be anchored to the boat, and also covered so the terminals are not exposed. Wisconsin boating regulations are just a copy of the Coast Guard regs, and I think most other states do the same, so be sure to tie down that battery.

Here’s another thought. Make sure your canoe has enough floatation to support the battery and the trolling motor. Some canoes have pretty minimal floatation (this is the norm if the hull material floats, in which case there is no floatation foam or air chambers), and in that case, the extra weight attached to your boat will probably take it right to the bottom if it tips over or gets swamped.

15 lbs not enuf
Somebody gave me a 15# thrust motor and I ran my Tripper with it. It’s pathetic, more trouble than its worth, and I never use it. Get at least 30# thrust. I have seen them on OT Discovery 169 and they do okay.

The guy with the Disco got a motor mount from LL Bean, I think. It is removable and effective.

I made a motor mount for the Tripper, but after I realized how little force 15lbs was, I quit using it. I just mount the motor right to the side of the canoe with a piece of wood under the pressure points to help distribut the load a bit. But like I said, to me, the whole deal is more trouble than its worth, and I have not re-registered the canoe (a requirement in Maryland for motorized craft). Want my motor?

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

Depends how fast you want to go

– Last Updated: Apr-18-06 12:55 PM EST –

Whether 15 pounds of thrust is enough depends on whether you want really high speed or not. I have an ancient electric motor on my fishing boat which is rated at only 12 pounds of thrust. The boat probably weighs in excess of 600 pounds with me and all the gear, and even with the outboard not tilted up, that little motor will make it cruise right along at near the speed that the average person would go in a canoe. It works well with an extra person on board too (can hardly tell the difference). For that boat, which is a behemoth compared to any canoe, 12 pounds of thrust works just fine. Maybe your 15-pound electric motor isn't in the best of health if it's really that underpowered?

I’m not a techie, but could it be an…
…issue of the propellor pitch?

Check into this.
Once you put a motor ( even a trolling motor) on a canoe you are then considered a motor craft and must comply with a different set of regs. In Illinois that means having a fire extinguisher, full running lights and a bunch of other stuff.

Just a reminder.

As well as the full registration fees
for a motor boat. If mounting a motor;, you may want to mount it in front of you instead of behind to pull rather than push the canoe, bass boat style. Easier to work the tiller and control the boat. The reason for at least a 30 lb thrust motor isn’t just speed, but control in a wind. The more thrust, the better you can control the canoe in the wind.

Response To All

Thanks for the responses. All are helpful. I had not thought about the additional flotation needed nor about the motor changing the legal status. I enjoy working in wood, so the mounting bracket should be no problem. I assumed I would have to experiment on placement to keep the motor controls accessible but out of the way.

Truthfully, the whole idea of putting a motor on the canoe is a little repulsive - but I’m 64 years old and the thought of paddling two miles across open water with the wind blowing…well, you know.

I’ll look over the motors again, look for a minimum of 15# thrust, factor in weight, and make a decision. I’ll try to let you know how it turns out.

Thanks again,


Variable speed

– Last Updated: Apr-21-06 11:06 AM EST –

Get at least a 30# thrust and try to find one with a variable speed control instead of the 5 set speeds. They will run a lot longer at lower speed settings then the set speed motors. A 30# at low speed will move the boat better than a 15# at high speed and use less power. The battery should be in a battery box and should be a deep cycle. A 24 series would be a minimum and the lightest. A 27 would be better but heavier. Remember your are going to be lifting that battery unless you transport on a trailer. If lifting the battery is a problem, get 2 smaller batteries instead of 1 larger one. The battery case must be fastened down. Move it around to find the correct trim before you make any permanent attachments. You can easily extend the motors power leads. Get a deep cycle charger as they charge at lower rates over a longer period.

A Few Thoughts
Its been years since I used small trolling motors on small fishing boats and canoes, so my experience is dated and the memory fades. I finally quit them because it wasn’t worth the hassle – for me. I hear you though on the desire to ease your lake crossing.

Jerlfletcher is right on his comments that you probable have to register your boat and comply with different laws with a motor on it. In Texas (at least you used to) have to have the big registration numbers and decal. Also, I agree on the location of the motor at the bow to pull the boat rather than push. I always had better results with that set up.

I know they make short shaft motors and that is worth checking out. I’d agree with going with a higher thrust motor too. You want some reserve power if the wind gets up.

Someone else may have mentioned this already, but Murphy’s law dogs boat motors with particular zeal. Consider what you’ll need to do if you get across a lake and the wind gets really nasty, or the motor conks out. Be sure to test your set up thoroughly befor venturing too far. Go out in some chop where you are near shore and the wind will blow you back to shore. Ask the motor dealer if there are any spare parts you ought to carry, like props, pins, fuses, wiring parts, etc. and make up a little kit.

Have fun and enjoy the birds. My family loves that too.

Sounds like you know batteries…
…so here’s a question I’ve never found an answer to: Is there any reason a person couldn’t use one of the smaller deep-cycle batteries, as used in wheelchairs, etc., in order to save weight? I understand their running time is probably briefer, but pushing a canoe doesn’t take that much power. And, if one used two small batteries, for longer running time and easier carrying, would you connect them pos-pos and neg-neg or the rererse? Thanks. I could probably ask my 12-year-old grandson, but I don’t want to embarass myself.

The new motor’s variable speed
The variable speed control on many (all?) of the newer motors is very good for extending battery life. The old motors used resisters to decrease the voltage and thereby provide a slower speed. But those resisters robbed a lot of power. The new motors use sophisticated electonics to “chop” the power into descrete, high-frequency on/off cycles, all at full voltage. Lower speeds are obtained by increasing the amount of “off” time relative to “on” time within these cycles. There is no lost or wasted power with this method. You might want to consult product literature to see if you are gettin this type of speed control. It’s worth it, from all that I’ve heard.

If the batteries are 12v connect them in parallel (++ and --)if the motor is 12v.

If the batteries are 6v, connect them in series(+ -+ -).

2 6v batteries in series will give you 12v.

2 12v batteries in parallel will give you 12v.

My experience
One of my boats is a aluminum 15’ Grumman that i use for mostly fishing. I have a 28# Minkota electric trolling motor on a side mount. With the correct deep cycle battery and a full charge i can fish all day with no notable change in speed. I have more than enough speed for this size of canoe. Remember the larger you go size wise in motor the more weight is offset to the mount side of boat. The 28# is perfect.

My opinion.

Minn Kota Maxxum
Bass Pro has it for $270. 40 lb thrust,variable speed, 36" shaft.

Thanks-you should be a teacher…
…(maybe you are). So, if I discover that two 6V batteries are cheaper and/or lighter than a small 12V one, I can get the same effect by connecting them in series?

I’ve a 12 lb thrust and 30 lb thrust
trolling motor. The 12 lb just was never enough in the wind. The 30 lb thrust did the job. Of course, I was using them for fishing as well as general propulsion and the bigger motor was much better at holding in the wind than the light motor. A 30 lb thrust motor won’t overwhelm a canoe and most are better made than the smaller motors.

It doesn’t have variable speeds, but
does have 30 lbs of thrust and is fairly inexpensive:


There may not be an Academy in your neck of the woods and they don’t mail order, but look for the motor where you live. Minn Kota’s are great trolling motors. Motor Guide has a transom mount of about 20 bucks more, MG motors in the larger size used on bass boats are very good, don’t know about the smaller ones.