Trolling Motor on a Canoe

-- Last Updated: Jun-21-13 3:26 PM EST --

Hi All! Sorry if this is a report, read some similar thread, but didn't get my answer.
I have an Old Town Guide canoe (14ft). New paddler, looking to get out and fish on some of Maine's many ponds and lakes.
I am thinking of a trolling motor, this would be for still waters mostly, not a lot of tidal current or river flow. Just to get around the lake/pond.
Two people, 100 lbs of gear.
Am I insane to think a trolling motor is going to get me around the lake?
Which one? I get lost when we start talking about amps, thrust, etc. Please talk to me like I don't know anything about this!
Have a great summer y'all. Thanks!!


A paddler in N. Ireland uses a trolling
motor to ease the “pain” of long jaunts on ocean estuaries and inlets to visit little islands. Of course he still has to mind the weather reports and watch the skies and seas.

I think it could work for you. I can’t suggest motors, but the main issue might be how easily a particular motor mounts on your canoe. Also, how much battery can you carry?

Just don’t let that motor get you out where you can’t get back.

two ways …

– Last Updated: Jun-21-13 7:08 PM EST –

..... a small 2.5-3 h.p. gas engine , or a 12v - 45 lb. thrust electric motor .

The gas engine has more speed and power , it's tank is self contained , carry spare fuel in a 1.5-gal. can onboard . Lightest , least hassle and most bang for the buck . Always carry spare plastic prop and shear pin (and the few small hand tools to change the prop) . Your choice 4 cycle engine or 2 cycle engine . 2 cycle engines need 2 cycle oil mixed with the gas ... 4 cycle engines do not , but have their own reg. engine oil just like an auto does . 4 cycles are quieter amd smoother . 2 cycle engines are louder and have more hole shot take off .

The electric troller motor will weigh more , it needs a decent size "Marine Deep Cycle battery" (not a reg. cold crank starting batt. like in an auto , etc.) , and you'll need a charger at home to keep it maintained . A decent marine deep cycle batt. can last about 2-3 yrs. (then replace) .

Just think of Marine Deep Cycle batt. amp. hours as the amount of time/fuel you have to run on . More amp. hrs. = more run time . The higher the batts. rating , the larger and heavier the marine deep cycle batt. . I recomend a 135-150 amp. hr. marine deep cycle batt. .

As for an electric troller motor ... only one way to go in my opinion . Minnkota , 40-45 lb. thrust with "Maximizer" on a canoe . The Traxxis model or the Endura model by Minnkota ... just be certain you purchase the model that says it has "Maximizer" (the Maximizer models also will be the only ones with "Variable Speed" throtle control .

Some of Minnkota's models come in both "Maximizer" and standard . The standard models will have 5 speeds , not infinite variable speeds .

A model with "Maximizer" will get you 3-4 x's the run time compared to a standard model ... on the same batt. ... we know this to be fact , and time is where it's at when talking electric trollers .

A Marine Deep Cycle batt. charger will have what is known as "Banks" . 1 Bank is for a single batt. , 2 Banks are for 2 batts. , and 3 for 3 batts. .

The only chargers worth considering will have 10 amps per bank ... not 5 amps as many do . The reason for the 10 amp bank is so the deep cycle batt. can quickly be brought up to charging temp. , anything less recks your batteries .

A decent Marine Deep Cycle batt. charger will have 3-4 modes of charging that take place automatically and in sequence ...

Just like the little fuel can ... you can carry a smaller "back-up" batt. for reserve .

If you have a choice , get the little gas engine (just know that some lakes and reservoirs don't allow gas engines to be run in them) , and don't look back , soooo much less to deal with , both weight wise and component wise , and more power/speed .

Also , every state I know of requires a canoe to be registered (stickers and number) if motorized , either with electric troller or gas engine . If you want the power opt. , it's worth it though .

Also with just a little imagination ... you can rig up an on center stern mount for either the gas engine or the elect. motor ... as oppossed to the well known side mounting . I recommend the "on center stern mount" . Both type offer a throtle/tiller extension opt. , makes it easier with the "on center stern mounting" so you don't have to reach back so far .

The advice I've given you is golden ... go the cheaper route and well , you'll see .

Good points
I favor small gas outboards over electric for all those same reasons. A related item to consider is that by law, your battery must be enclosed within a case and firmly attached to the boat. To do that in the average canoe would take some clever modification. Then again, I haven’t been inspected by the sheriff or game warden while on the water since 1978, so breaking the rules may be pretty “safe”, and a lot of people do exactly that. Just know that if your battery isn’t properly secured, you COULD get a ticket and be ordered to stay off the water until you get it corrected.

That “maximizer” control, as I understand it, works by having some sophisticated electronics chop the battery’s full power on and off at a very rapid rate. Increasing the ratio of “off” time to “on” time in the chopping cycle results in less power being delivered to the motor, and it’s much more efficient to do it that way than to waste battery power heating up a resistor (the old-fashioned way to make an electric motor go slower). I think every major maker of trolling motors offers that feature, but of course not every model has it because the builder always wants to offer cheapest-possible alternatives alongside their best-possible ones.

Your canoe will sink
I sunk a canoe when it tipped over with the battery years ago. There is not enough floatation in the canoe to handle the typical 60 pound lead battery and trolling motor. These weigh more than water for the same volume so you will need to purchase float bags and tie them into the boat. Or you need to tie in a big enough truck inner tube to float the battery and the motor.

They Old Town Guide is a great row boat. I recommend that you try oars instead. They are lighter, cheaper, less attractive to thieves, never lose their charge and work well in the roughest water you’d want to visit with your boat.

For those conditions
Go for it. I had a 13’6" catboat(sailboat) I used a 17lb thrust electric on it. It would drive that boat(500lbs) plus me around at 3 knots. A 20-30 lb thrust will run a few hours easily on a deep cycle battery. You can install a trolling motor plug on a battery box(removable from the canoe), and simply plug in the electric. It will comfortably move you about a pond or a lake with no trouble and no noise.