A Canoe With a Motor? (Epic Results!)

I can confidently say there’s no better feeling than gliding across the water in a canoe, the only sounds being the soft splash of your paddle and the beautiful dawn chorus rising.

But have you ever wondered if you could add a bit more speed to your journey without losing that sense of peacefulness?

Of course you can. Here’s how: Put a motor on it!

Get a motor for the canoe if you want to go faster, because motors are better than paddles for traveling long distances. Motor power beats arm power every day of the week.

For many, the idea of a motorized canoe may seem like a contradiction. After all, isn’t the tranquil rhythm of paddling the whole point of a canoe trip?

In reality, using a motor with your canoe allows you to travel farther faster (with way less effort).

“But is it right for me?” you’re asking yourself.

Read on to find out.

The Benefits of a Canoe With a Motor 

Can you actually mount a motor on a canoe? Yes, you can, and if you have any desire to go faster in your kayak then you absolutely should.

I’ve been using them for years and I can assure you that with the right gear and guidance, installing a mounted canoe motor will save you lots of time (by cutting paddle strokes) and is relatively easy to accomplish.

You will need to make sure motor is mounted correctly (see below), typically on either one side of the canoe or on the stern. And you should choose the best motor you can afford–this is not something you want to skimp on.


With a motor, you can reach your desired fishing spot much quicker than with traditional paddling. We’ve all had days where the fish seem to be biting everywhere but where we are. A motor can save you a lot of time in those situations.


Paddling can be strenuous, especially if you’re out on the water for an extended period or battling against a strong current. You can cover way more ground with a motor.

And the silence of the journey doesn’t have to be sacrificed–electric motors are much quieter than gas ones!

Electric Trolling Motor For a Canoe

Electric trolling motors are known for their quiet operation. This makes them great for fishing, which is how I use them.

Electric motors are generally the better choice for freshwater bodies.

Trolling motors are powered by batteries that can be recharged. This is an added expense, but trolling motor batteries don’t cost an arm and a leg.

The power output of electric motors is measured in pounds of thrust, not horsepower. So when you’re selecting a trolling motor for your electric canoe, you’ll need to consider the weight of your canoe, the weight of your gear, and the water conditions you plan to navigate.

Gas Trolling Motor (Gas Powered Motor For Your Canoe)

Sometimes we need to explore larger bodies of water and we want a bit more oomph, and for this we turn to a gas powered trolling motor.

They provide more power than their electric counterparts, and although they might be noisier and less environmentally friendly than electric motors, gas motors have a longer range, provided you have enough fuel.

Just remember: this motor WILL require fuel.

When selecting an outboard gas motor, the size of the canoe is extremely important. You wouldn’t want to mount a motor that’s too powerful for your canoe–remember, safety first!

The size and weight of your boat motor should be in line with the size of the canoe. Strike a balance between power, weight, and stability.

Saltwater Trolling Motor Vs Freshwater Trolling Motor 

It’s time: let’s touch on the differences between saltwater and freshwater trolling motors.

Saltwater motors are built with materials that resist corrosion from the salt.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use a freshwater trolling motor in saltwater. But doing so will significantly reduce its lifespan.

For those planning to spend time in the ocean, investing in a saltwater electric trolling motor is the smart choice.

Trolling Motor Mount Options and Where to Put a Motor

Mounting a motor to a canoe is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Every motor comes with different requirements, and mounts are not universally compatible, so you need to make sure you get the right parts.

Canoe Motor Mount and Trolling Motor Mount

These devices generally attach to the stern (the rear end) or the transom (the flat surface forming the stern of a boat) of the canoe.

The kind of mount you opt for depends on the design of your canoe and the motor you have chosen. If you’re using a square back canoe, you’ll find it easier to attach a motor since the stern is designed to accommodate an outboard motor.

The motor mounting bracket is holds the motor securely to the mount and, by extension, to the canoe.

There are many designs available, from basic clamping mechanisms to more complex systems that allow for greater motor control and positioning. Whatever you choose, make sure that the mount and bracket are sturdy enough to support the weight of your motor.

Where to Put the Motor

Let’s talk about where exactly to mount your motor–typically, motors are mounted on the stern of the canoe. This is probably the easiest option and best for beginners. But it’s not your only option.

Bow mounts, which attach the trolling motor to the front (or bow) of the canoe, work great. They may require a bit more expertise to navigate, but they offer improved maneuverability, especially in heavy wind.

Bow motor mounts are more common on fishing boats where the improved control is necessary for tracking fish.

And the trolling motor for the canoe can be mounted to the transom. Transom-mounted motor shafts provide easy steering because they follow the direction of the vessel’s stern.

Choosing the Right Canoe Motor

Don’t skip this part! You might sour on canoe motors forever if you choose the wrong model, and we don’t want that to happen.

The size of the canoe will determine the type of motor you need.

Your intended use is another essential factor to consider. If you’re using the canoe for fishing in calm freshwater, a smaller, quieter electric trolling motor might be ideal.

Power options for motors are range from quieter electric motors to powerful gas-powered motors.

The main motor you choose will greatly influence your canoeing experience. An electric outboard motor, for instance, is generally much quieter than gas motors, which can be advantageous when you’re trying to sneak up on fish or enjoy the tranquility of nature.

Canoe vs. Kayak Motors

These are similar in concept with some very notable differences. Kayaks don’t are smaller and don’t need as much power.

Kayak motors typically are mounted on the stern or the side, while a canoe motor can be mounted on the bow, stern, or one side of the canoe.

(For more information on kayak motors, see our recent article “How to Mount a Trolling Motor On a Kayak (Tips and Tricks)”.)

The unique requirements of a canoe motor become apparent when you consider the boat’s dimensions and purpose. If you’re a fisherman looking to cast a wide net, you may require a canoe trolling motor that runs quietly and smoothly without disturbing the water much.

In my experience, it’s not just about the type of motor but also understanding the specific demands of your boat. The trick is to match your motor with the boat and the activities you have planned.

Finding the best canoe motor is sometimes as easy as looking through the catalogs of all the major suppliers.

Stick with a motor by Minn Kota, Newport Vessels, or Watersnake. (Not sponsored content–just my opinion, based on years of experience.)

The Minn Kota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor is considered one of the best trolling motors for canoes. This trolling motor is powered by a 12-volt battery and is quieter than gas-powered motors.

Another model that consistently receives high ratings is the Newport Vessels NV-Series Saltwater Trolling Motor. This motor works well in both salt and freshwater conditions.

Canoe Trolling Motor Laws

Expert tip: pay attention to the boating laws in your state!

In Florida, any vessel with a motor, including canoes fitted with trolling motors, must be registered. In California, the law stipulates that all vessels propelled by machinery, regardless of size, must be registered.

And in New York, “If you use a motor (electric or fuel-driven), no matter how small the craft or the motor, you must register your boat with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).”

The rules vary from state to state. It’s best to research this!


The ability to mount a motor onto a canoe adds a new level of versatility and speed–I love mine, and I think you’d enjoy using one, too.

Motors allow for longer journeys, less fatigue, and more fun. And if you want to go back to paddling, you always can!

But always remember: wear a PFD and follow your local regulations.


Can I put a trolling motor on a canoe?

Yes, definitely. It’s a great thing to do. 

How do I mount a motor on my canoe?

To mount a trolling motor on your canoe, you will need a canoe trolling motor mount. This mount is designed to attach the motor securely to the transom or bow.

Can I use an outboard motor for a canoe?

This is not recommended. Outboard motors are larger and heavier than trolling motors, which can damage the canoe.

Can I put a gas motor on a canoe?

Of course! But should you? Electrics might be less powerful, but they don’t have the fuel consumption and noise levels associated with gas-powered trolling motors.

Can I use a saltwater electric trolling motor on a canoe?

Sure, and you should if you’re going to spend any time in the ocean. These motors can withstand the corrosive effects of saltwater.

What’s the best method to mount trolling motor on your canoe, and do I need a larger motor?

The best method of canoe mounting involves placing a bow mount trolling motor on either end of your canoe. Different types of trolling motors are available, and the choice depends on your boat’s size and the power of an outboard motor on your list. Remember, a larger motor gives more thrust, but a canoe with an overpowered motor might capsize.

Are electric trolling motors quieter than gas trolling motors?

Yep! Electric motors are generally much quieter than gas trolling motors. 

Can I choose between mounting a trolling motor on the transom or bow of the canoe?

Sure, this all depends on your personal preference and boating style.

What type of batteries does a trolling motor use?

Deep cycle marine batteries. These provide a steady and consistent source of power for extended periods of time.

Image Credits
Photo 1 by Beeblebrox
Photo 2 by NJR ZA
Photo 3 by John Knox

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