kayak motor

Kayak Motor | Should I Add a Motor to My Fishing Kayak?

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer

I’ve been fishing out of a kayak for a few months or so now and absolutely love it. What’s interesting about my personal experience though is that while I decided to get into kayak fishing to fish more remote locations, I’ve found I’m actually fishing a lot of the same lakes and even tournaments that I used to frequent in a bass boat, just without a kayak motor to help me get from point A to point B. 

I’ve spent the majority of the last few months paddling around in a borrowed Bonafide SS127. It has been a great boat and a huge upgrade from TeaCup, the Sun Dolphin Journey 12 SS I bought for $300 at Tractor Supply

While competing in tournaments against bass boats from the Bonafide, I honestly haven’t felt like I was at that much of a disadvantage. In my three attempts, I actually won one and finished second in another, but bombed in one on Lake Martin. The outcome of that worst tournament I believe was largely due to the one area I do feel at a strong disadvantage: propulsion.

Kayak Motor | Why Propulsion Seems Important

On some lakes like Yates where I finished first and second, you can fish within a few miles of the ramp and have just as good of a chance as anyone. But on Martin, I feel like I need to cover a lot more water and even skip some. With only a paddle and two biceps, that’s hard to do in a timely fashion. Even in my last tournament on Yates when I finished second, I ended up paddling 6.8-miles. 

So the question I pose to you the reader: What should I do? Suck it up? Try a pedal drive? Add a motor? 

Sucking it up is fine for the time being but I don’t think that’s going to be the answer if I want to stay in this for the long haul. I’m afraid the wear and tear on my body would run me off the water sooner rather than later. A little paddling is good for me and will be inherent to some degree when fishing from a kayak whether I use a pedal drive or add a motor. 

There are just some places those two can’t operate where I will still have to pick up a paddle. But after paddling about 5-miles, both my wrists start to pop with each stroke and that’s something I can’t ignore and will have to address before it causes serious issues. 

I’ve considered the pedal drive and may still explore that option further. But then I fear the frequent and long term use of that form of propulsion would inevitably just lead to knee issues over the years.

Kayak Motor | Does a Motor Take Away From the Experience?

I’ve also considered jumping straight to a motor on the back of the Bonafide. But I’ve had some paddling purest say that adding a motor basically takes you out of a kayak. That I might as well just buy a johnboat. That being said, I’ve also seen the undeniable difference adding a motor to a kayak makes in the KBF tournament trail results. And there’s no doubt the addition of a motor would make me more efficient on the water with less pain and risk of joint damage over time. 

So what’s your opinion? 

Please leave it in a comment below or feel free to message me on my Instagram. I’m just getting into kayak fishing and would really like to know. Thanks in advance!

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Shaye Baker


Shaye Baker started fishing with his dad in Alabama as soon as they could find a life jacket small enough to fit him. Competing with his father in local tournaments, Shaye quickly found a hunger for competitive bass fishing. He furthered his fishing career at Auburn University helping to establish the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club. While at Auburn, Shaye served as the President of the club and qualified to fish on the traveling team amassing six Top 5 finishes including two 3rd place finishes in consecutive FLW College Fishing National Championships. While beginning to dabble in the world of outdoor journalism, Shaye continued to fish semi-pro events finishing in the Top 5 in the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Costa Series and BFLs. Finding himself at a crossroads, Shaye chose to put down the rod and pick up the pen and camera to focus on his career in outdoor journalism. Shaye has had work featured in Bassmaster Magazine, FLW Outdoors Magazine, B.A.S.S.Times and the Japanese bass fishing magazine Basser. Shaye has also had work featured on ESPN and Wired2Fish.com, FLWfishing.com and Bassmaster.com. While working with B.A.S.S., Shaye initiated and spearheaded their GoPro division which brought more video coverage to the fans than had ever been done before in competitive fishing. After his tenure with some of the best companies in the business, Shaye identified a need for competitive fishing where participation didn’t cost a fortune. By founding UPLOADED, the Online Fishing Series, Shaye established a free tournament series where anglers could film their fish catches and upload their videos to compete against other anglers for prizes.

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2 replies
  1. Scott
    Scott says:

    I too have considered a motor for my large kayak. If I’m fishing the ocean it certainly would help in a swell. It can get very tiresome after fishing all day and fishing currents. I am 56 and not getting any younger so a propulsion option seems logical.

  2. Lamar
    Lamar says:

    It’s your kayak do what you want. If you want to up the difficulty then be a paddle purist. If not get a paddle drive or a motor. At the end of the day the whole point is to get out on the water and fish, how you do it is completely up to you and how much you’re willing to pay.


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