How to Mount a Trolling Motor to a Canoe


If you spend a lot of time fishing in your canoe, or just like the idea of cruising in your canoe without having to paddle, a lightweight trolling motor can be just the thing. If you have a square ended canoe, simply clamp the trolling motor to the transom. For a regular double-ended canoe, you'll have to make a motor mount on which to hang your trolling motor. The job is not difficult and can be completed in under an hour.

Things You'll Need

  • 1heavy duty hinge, 10 inches long with mounting screws
  • 1 board, 2 by 4 inches by 3 feet long
  • 1 board, 2 by 10 by 10 inches
  • Circular saw
  • Marine deep-cycle battery
  • Drill and bits
  • 2 C clamps, 3 inch
  • Tape Measure
  • Measure the width of your canoe just ahead of the stern deck behind the seat or stern thwart. Add 12 inches to the width of the canoe and cut a two-by-four to that length.

  • Attach the two-by-four across the gunwales of your canoe just in front of the stern deck, with the extra width sticking out on the side most comfortable for you. If your strongest paddling side is left, extend the motor mount to the right, and vice versa. C-clamp the board to the gunwale on both sides.

  • Tighten the C-clamps at the gunwale until they dimple the wood, and then loosen and take the clamps off. With a paddle bit, drill out a 1/4-inch deep hole the size of the dimple with a paddle bit. This allows the end of the C-clamp to fit firmly in the hole and prevents slippage when the motor is mounted.

  • Position a 10-inch 2-by-10 on its edge along the back edge of the 2-by-4 where it hangs over the side. Mark where the upright 2-by-10 meets the 2-by-4 cross member. Set the hinge in place and mark around it on the boards. Mark and pre-drill the holes for the mounting screws for the hinge. Screw the hinge in place so that the 2-by-10 mounting block folds forward. This allows the motor to kick up if it hits something. The forward thrust of the propeller will hold the motor upright.

  • Clamp the trolling motor to the hinged mount with the motor mounting brackets. Drill two holes through the cross member 2-by-4 close to the near gunwale and large enough to push the power cord through one and the cord for the speed control pedal through the other. Hook the power cord and speed pedal to the motor.

  • Set the battery toward the bow of the canoe and attach it with a strap to a thwart so it won't shift around. Use a marine deep-cycle battery. A backup battery is a good idea, but will limit how many people and how much gear you can load.

Tips & Warnings

  • If using a trolling motor, a canoe under sixteen feet should be operated solo. An eighteen footer or longer is best if you are loading two passengers and gear in a canoe with a trolling motor mounted.
  • If you tip the canoe and the battery is not attached it can sink and take the trolling motor with it. A marine battery is heavy and may be extremely difficult to rescue.
  • If you use a backup battery, hook up a switch between the two batteries so you don't have to remove and switch cables on the water. That way you can switch over to the backup safely.
  • Mount the trolling motor as close to the stern as possible.
  • In some states, if you install a trolling motor or any sort of motor on your canoe, you'll have to register your boat with the state. If you operate at night, you'll have to add a red and green light according to local laws.

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  • Photo Credit canoe,kayak,boat image by Greg Pickens from
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