How to Make a Trolling Motor Mount for a Kayak
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Kayaking is a sport that attracts all sorts of people.
You could be an adrenaline-powered kayaker who loves to cut through big and strong waves. On the flip side, you could also be a laid-back kayaker who prefers to maneuver the water while fishing on the side.
If you fall towards the adventurous side of the spectrum, you’ll likely want to paddle your way through the water. However, if your interests lie towards the other end, you must have considered mounting a trolling motor to your kayak at some point.
Since you’re reading this article, we will assume that you want to add a trolling motor to your kayak.
However, the big question is, do you want to buy a trolling motor mount or make one yourself?
Our recommendation falls towards making your own trolling motor mount. This is because most good kayaks aren’t compatible with pre-built trolling motor mounts anyway.
On top of that, building your own trolling motor mount is cost-effective and can also be a fun DIY project. So, in this article, we will explain how you can go about making a trolling motor mount for a kayak.
First Things First – Where Do You Want the Mount to Be?
Before you start thinking of building your own trolling motor mount, you need to know where you want it. After all, how can you start modeling without a specific position in mind?
There are a few crucial things you need to keep in mind while choosing the correct spot.
● Motor style
Do you need to hang the trolling motor on the side or at the bow? The motors that are meant to be hung on the side are usually larger and more powerful than those you can hang at the bow. As a result, it is essential to know this before you start building a mount.
● Dominant hand
The trolling motor will likely be your primary tool for navigation while you’re on the kayak. Therefore, always place the motor at your dominant side so that you can steer adequately.
The motor’s handle should have an efficient arrangement so that you can grab it in a secure position. It would be best if you didn’t have to bend backward on your seat or twist your hand at an uncomfortable angle.
A trolling motor doesn’t come with the motor alone. Instead, it is a union of the motor and its running battery. So while you will be making space for the motor, you will also need to put it close to its battery.
A side-hanging trolling motor comes at a certain depth, and as you move the handle, the propeller moves as well, changing directions. As a result, you will have to place the motor at a spot where it has enough space to move around without hindering the kayak.
What Will The Trolling Motor Mount Look Like?
Almost every kayaker has a different idea of building their trolling motor mount.
Even with the basic structure in mind, every kayaker tends to want to build a specialized model for themselves. After all, a bit of personalization does not hurt anyone, does it?
Assuming that you’re willing to build a trolling motor mount for a side-hanging motor, we’ll explain a standard structure that you can follow for your mount.
First of all, you’ll want to build a platform for a wooden plank to hang from one side to another. The dominant hand side will have some part of the plank sticking out, where the trolling motor can rest. However, you can increase this mount’s functionality by making space for some fishing rods as well.
You’ll also insert two PVC pipes in each of the drilled mounting holes at the back of the kayak’s seat. Then, using some other tools and supplies, you’ll be able to build the trolling motor mount of your dreams.
Getting Started: Choose The Right Materials And Supplies
If you’re undertaking a DIY project, you will need some materials beforehand. At this point, you have the option of either using PVC or metal supplies.
We recommend going with the former because PVC fittings won’t drastically increase your kayak’s weight. Moreover, they are easier to cut and work with at home, aside from being cost-effective. After all, the point of making a trolling motor mount at home is to get a simple and affordable product over a pre-made expensive one.
If you want your trolling motor mount to have some space to hold fishing rods as well, you will need the following supplies:
- A PVC pipe of 1.25 inches
- A 2 x 4 inches wooden plank that is thick and strong enough to face harsh weather elements
- Four PVC 4-way tees of 1.25 inches
- Two PVC tees of 1.25 inches
- Two 1.25-inch to 1.75-inch PVC adaptors
- Two 6- to 8-inch hex bolts in 3/8-inch
- Four compatible washers
- Two compatible nuts
- A marker
- Super adhesive glue
- A measuring tape
- A PVC pipe cutting tool – a hacksaw or backsaw
- A drill
If you want to make changes to the standard design, or if you wish to work in a different method, you can utilize additional tools and supplies.
Once you have the equipment at hand, the next step is making a trolling motor mount for your kayak.
Building Your Trolling Motor Mount
By now, you have all the tools and supplies you’ll need at hand. You also have an idea of the design you need to build an efficient trolling motor mount. So, what are you waiting for?
Let’s get all your tools, supplies, and enthusiasm in place and start building a trolling motor mount right away.
Step 1: Drilling The Mounting Holes
The first thing you need to do for a well-fitting trolling motor is to have a designated space where the mount can stand.
Whether or not you will have to make the extra effort for your kayak depends on its design.
Some recreational and professional kayaks, such as inflatable fishing kayaks, come with pre-drilled mounting holes. These are present right behind the seat or at the stern of your kayak.
However, if your kayak doesn’t come with these pre-made mounting holes, there’s no need to worry!
Here are the steps you can follow to drill a hole in your kayak:
- Choose the right location: Since you get to choose, make sure you place the holes in a position that makes your trolling motor’s handles accessible.
- Choose the right drill size: Most pre-drilled kayaks have about 1.25 inches of smaller drill holes. Therefore, make sure to get one with an appropriate size so that your PVC pipe fits snuggly.
- Mark the spot: Once you’ve chosen the right point on one side, take your marker and mark the spot. Then, measure a straight line from that point to find the perfect drilling spot on the other side, and mark that point as well.
- Drill away: In this step, you simply need to take your drill machine, wear your safety helmet, and drill a hole of the appropriate size.
Step 2: Determining The PVC Stand Length
Once you’re done measuring your kayak’s depth, you can move on to do the same with your trolling motor. Again, this is because it is essential to know how long you need the stand for the mount to be.
You can follow the given steps to get an idea of the appropriate length of your stand:
- Measure your kayak: Stick your measuring tape inside the kayak’s drill holes at a sloping angle. This will give you an estimate regarding the depth of your kayak. In general, most fishing kayaks are 9-inch deep under the drill holes.
- Repeat the measurement: Although both sides of your kayak will be of the same depth, it is always better to be safe. Therefore, use the measuring tape on the other side’s drill hole as well.
- Measure your trolling motor: The motor will maneuver under the water’s surface and can either hit the kayak directly or, at times, with pressure. Moreover, it would help if you have the handle in a place that is easy for you to reach.
- Finalize the length: The final length you need for your trolling motor mount stand should depend on the depth you want your motor to be at. In most cases, if your kayak is about 9-inch deep, you should go for a 15-inch-long stand, 9 out of which will go inside the kayak.
Step 3: Cutting And Fitting The PVC
For the next step, you can follow the directions given below to cut and fit the stand in your kayak:
- Mark the spots: Use your measuring tape to get an idea of the length you want. Suppose you want the stand to be 15-inch tall. In this case, you’ll need to measure 15-inches on the pipe and mark both sides.
- Cut the right length: Take your saw or any other cutting tool you have decided on and snip two PVC pieces of an appropriate size.
- Try to fit the pipe: Now that you have the right size, you can try to fit the tube into the holes. However, it most likely won’t work because of the similar width. Don’t worry; this is for the best!
- Adjust the drill hole if the pipe fits: The aim is to make the pipe fit so snuggly that you won’t have to use adhesives. Therefore, if the pipe can enter the drill hole without extra effort, you will have to fill the gap or readjust it with some tools and putty.
- Cut slits on the PVC: Once your pipe doesn’t fit in the drill hole anymore, you’ll know you’re on the right track. Now, you need to mark a straight line up to the kayak’s depth and cut slits into the PVC pipe. That will make the pipe squeeze inwards and fit tightly into the hole.
- Final fitting: If the pipe still does not fit, you might have to make another slit to make a small ridge in the pipe. However, once the pipe is inside, give it a hard push to make sure it doesn’t come out easily. Then, repeat the same on the other side, and your frame’s length will be ready!
Step 4: Fix The Tees
Now that the frame is of an appropriate length, let’s start working on giving it some limbs!
- Fix two 4-ways: On the exposed end of your PVC lengths, fix a 4-way fitting with the help of an Ensure that the flat side of the 4-way is at a 90o angle from the main PVC pipe.
- Measure the sides of the 4-ways and the tees: Take your measuring tape and see how long your tee and 4-ways legs are. For better understanding, we will assume that both have 1-inch-long legs.
- Cut out more PVC: As per our assumption, you will need to cut two small PVC pieces to attach the tees from the 4-ways. Therefore, if each leg is 1-inch, you should cut out 2.5-inch-long PVC pipes for both sides.
- Add the adaptors to the tees: One side of your tees will fix into the 4-ways while the other two will be exposed. You need to fix the adapter on a side opposite to the others. Do this for both the tees.
- Fix the tees: The tees play a crucial role in helping to fix the wooden mount on the frame. Stick the 2.5-inch PVC pipe into the tee and then push it inside the 4-way. Make sure that the side with the adaptor faces the kayak’s bow.
- Final fix: Once you’ve attached the 4-way fitting, pipe, and tees, it is best to check if any of the parts are wobbly. If you see any such movement, you can use an adhesive to fix it.
Step 5: Finish The Frame
The good thing about using 4-ways is that they help you create the rod holders. However, the bad part is that they increase your work significantly and might cost more than the alternatives. Regardless, here’s how you can go about finishing the frame:
- Measure the distance between the 4-ways: Measure the horizontal distance from one side’s 4-way to the other. Here, we will assume that the space is about 22 inches.
- Measure your 4-ways: You’ll understand the purpose of this step later. However, for now, measure the distance in the 4-way where the horizontal pipe cannot enter even if inserted on both ends. Let’s suppose that this distance is about half an inch.
- Cut the PVC pipe: Based on the above assumptions, you’ll need to cut out a 21-inch-long piece of PVC. That is because you have to divide this pipe into three parts to add the remaining 4-ways to the horizontal frame. Since each 4-ways’s unreachable distance is 0.5-inch and the overall length is 22 inches, a 21-inch PVC pipe should work just fine.
- Cut into smaller pieces: Now, you should cut the long PVC pipe into three equal parts. Based on our supposed measurements, you will need three 7-inch pieces of the pipe.
- Adjust everything together: In the next step, you have to attach the two 4-ways into the horizontal space with the help of the PVC pipe. This is similar to how you attached the tees to the 4-ways. However, make sure that the sides of all the 4-ways are at the same angle as the ones previously attached.
- Final Check: This construction should look like a proper frame now. Before moving on to the next step, make sure all the parts fit snugly into one another.
If you don’t want rod holders, you can fix a long PVC pipe between the two 4-ways as an alternative.
Step 6: Measure And Mark The Wooden Plank
Now that your PVC frame is ready, it’s time for you to create the mount with a wooden plank.
This plank will run parallel to the frame and attach it to the tees on both sides. But, first, let’s see how you can fix the wooden plank on the frame.
- Measure the frame’s horizontal length: Use a measuring tape to estimate the horizontal frame length.
- Measure the trolling motor’s width: Next, measure the attachment that is supposed to go over your trolling motor mount. This will help you estimate how wide the mount needs to be.
- Measure your wooden plank: Your wooden plank should be at least two inches longer than the combined size of the trolling motor’s width and the horizontal frame. Moreover, it is necessary to keep the motor as far away from the kayak as possible.
- Mark the non-dominant side: Place one end of the plank over the adaptor of your non-dominant side. Push your marker through the tee and mark the general area where the plank needs fixing.
- Mark the dominant side: You can measure the distance between the tees and mark accordingly. Alternatively, you can try to hold the plank and mark in the same way as the other side.
Step 7: Drill And Fix
This is the step where your trolling motor mount will finally be ready. Just a few simple things left to do, and then you’re done!
- Drill holes: Since you have marked the spots, take your drill and create tiny holes in the plank. These should be of an appropriate size that will allow your bolts to go in.
- Fix the arrangement: Take a washer, add it to the hex bolts, and make them go through the plank. Next, place the plank over a tee and allow the bolt to come out of the adaptor’s end. Then place another washer and screw them together with a nut. Repeat the process on the other side.
- Final Check: Ensure that the entire arrangement is fixed correctly and the position of the trolling motor mount is appropriate.
Step 8: Decoration and Registration
The final step is optional, so you can skip this if aesthetics aren’t your thing. However, if you want to add some character to your kayak, you can pull out the entire mount from the drill holes and paint it according to your liking.
With a motor on your kayak, the only thing you need fishing paddles for is to steer at times when the motor might not do the trick. Otherwise, you will go a lot faster, allowing your fishing game to become more productive and fruitful.
Building your own kayak trolling motor mount is undoubtedly an extensive and time-consuming process. However, the result you get is satisfactory to the point that you’ll be glad you didn’t settle for one of the premade ones.