Finest Fishing Canoes of 2022

Printed Jul 29, 2022 1:00 PM

I’ll admit I didn’t develop up round canoes. By no means did any fishing from canoes. My Pop by no means had one, “Too tippy,” he at all times stated. In order my father’s son, I by no means spent any time round them. Small boats, sure; canoes, no.

However in 1982, I left dwelling for Ohio College in Athens, Ohio, which simply so occurred to be located alongside the banks of the Hocking River, among the best all-round fisheries—and considered one of THE greatest smallmouth streams—in The Midwest. Alas, although, no boat…till a instructing colleague of my Aunt Kay observed my dismay and supplied up his canoe. And, pardon the cliché, the doorways had been thus opened. Because of Pat’s light-weight Outdated City (the mannequin escapes me now) I spent hours on the Hocking in the hunt for smallmouth, rock bass, channel cats, and sauger. True, I ought to have been finding out accounting and philosophy, however a younger man has to have his priorities straight, eh?

Since then, canoes have come and gone in my life, however one factor has at all times been the identical, whatever the boat specifics. Light-weight, moveable, agile, and in a position to be launched virtually wherever, canoes have opened up fishing alternatives that, to me, would in any other case have been not possible had I been restricted to a trailered skiff. Actually, these small watercraft bear with them a studying curve when it comes to the precise and unsuitable solution to propel and maneuver them. There’s limitations. We’re not working with the deck area of the usS. Missouri right here, now are we? Nevertheless, and to these conversant in fishing canoes, the advantages of paddling, spinning rod or fly deal with in hand, a quiet flowage aboard a easy 60-pound skiff…nicely, it’s simply flat good.

This week, Subject & Stream takes a have a look at a number of the greatest fishing canoes available on the market, and discusses in-depth why you ought to noticeably contemplate making room in your storage for one.

Issues to Contemplate When Shopping for a Fishing Canoe 

Myself, I’d contemplate shopping for a fishing canoe a considerable buy, not a lot that they’re all costly—They’re not!—however reasonably there are fairly just a few elements that go into matching your explicit wants with the kind of vessel you buy. Variables equivalent to: 

Value level 

Like virtually any client product, the most effective fishing canoes CAN be costly; nevertheless, they needn’t be. Keep in mind, although, you’re getting what you pay for, and do you actually wish to be afloat on River ‘X’ with all your gear within the least expensive discount basement canoe on the planet? Me? In all probability not. Fortuitously, there’s a variety of value factors on more-than-acceptable fishing canoes, greenback quantities stretching from $300 to greater than $2,000. All is dependent upon your price range.


Fishing canoes sometimes run from 14 to virtually 18 ft in size. Size interprets elementally into three elements: Efficiency, how maneuverable and/or agile a canoe is; weight capability, how a lot weight, together with passengers and kit, it may well safely carry; and stability. Are you fishing alone, or will you’ve gotten somebody with you? Are you able to pack mild, or, like me, do you are taking all the pieces you personal aboard? Will you fish sitting down, or are you a fly angler and like a steady platform so you possibly can stand? All good questions; all a part of the choice.

Building materials  

After all, you’ve gotten conventional picket canoes, however wooden requires fairly a bit extra work than different supplies. Nonetheless, wooden seems actually cool! Alternate options to wooden would come with aluminum (light-weight), roto-molded plastics (cheap), fiberglass (steady), and high-techs like Kevlar (cheap however robust). Ask your self right here: The place will I be fishing? Will I be carrying the canoe and/or packing it into the truck or onto a roof-rack on my own? 

Capability score

The quantity of weight a fishing canoe can safely carry (SAFELY) or its capability is predicated on elements equivalent to size, width, depth, and development materials. By rule of thumb, a 14’-foot canoe can maintain roughly 700 kilos of individuals and kit; up that size to 17’, and now you’re speaking between 1,100 and 1,200 kilos. My 12-foot Outdated City Discovery 119? That quantity drops considerably to 300 kilos, 200 of which (UGH!) is me, in order that doesn’t depart a lot room for stuff. That every one stated, it’s vital that you just consider each ‘what’ and ‘who’ you’ll be carrying in your new canoe. 


Seats. Paddles. Private flotation? Par for the course, however what else are you going to need aboard, and the way simple will or not it’s to include these gadgets into the general design? Anchor and line? Perhaps a light-weight trolling motor? Don’t neglect the battery. How about electronics, e.g. a fish-finder? How simple is it going to be to route a cable and mount a transducer for that gear? And rod holders? Can’t neglect the rod holders.

Finest General

Why It Made the Reduce: 

I completely love my S119, each for fishing and for duck searching. It does all of it, with out a lot in the way in which of gingerbread…and I like easy.

Key Options

  • Rugged 3-layer polyethylene hull development
  • Simple to decorate
  • Secure and maneuverable
  • Snug well-padded adjustable seat
  • Recessed monitor mounting system for equipment
  • Built-in rod holders (4)
  • Foot braces
  • Weight – 56-pounds; Capability – 298-pounds
  • Size – 11-foor, 9-inch; Width – 32.5-inch


  • Simple to load/unload solo
  • Takes a goodly quantity of abuse and doesn’t cringe
  • Loads of easy-to-access storage inside
  • Handy rod holder design
  • Three shade choices, together with a marsh camouflage
  • Tracks nicely; simple to paddle
  • She’s $900, if you happen to look AND can choose her up on-site


  • Actually? I’ve but to search out any, aside from the LONG title

My private S119—Shortened it!—pulls double responsibility as each a waterfowling and fishing canoe, and I’ve been fairly darn impressed along with her efficiency in each arenas. As an angling platform, I’ve fished all the pieces from tiny launch-from-the-road Coast Vary ponds for rainbows to the near-shore waters of the Columbia River for Fall silver salmon…even catching a forty five.5” white sturgeon in 2021 from her seat. Now THAT was an expertise.

The S119 is a hybrid, per se; the kid of a technological match between a conventional canoe and a kayak. Although by appearances, she’s a canoe. She’s a easy craft, with few bells and whistles. However, the S119 does sport, with built-in rod holders above and beneath the seat, cup holder, foot braces, accent tracks. To me, these simply make her extra user-friendly with out complicating issues. There’s loads of room on the inside for a small cooler, bait bucket, and deal with field, all of which may, if positioned accurately, be inside simple attain. And the seat! My decrease again hurts simply serious about sitting in a canoe for half a day. Nevertheless, the S119’s curved and properly padded seat takes loads—not all, however loads—of the ache out of remaining seated for lengthy stretches.

Value? Store round, and you could find the S119 for underneath $1,000, however you’re seemingly going to offer $1,100 or a bit extra, relying on the place you discover one. Discover one, although, and also you’ll be joyful you probably did.

Finest inflatable

Why It Made the Reduce: 

As a result of I can strap it on high of my pack, not discover it’s there, after which fly-fish any of 1,000 small hard-to-get-to lakes within the Pacific Northwest. Or wherever for that matter.

Key Options

  • Made to order in the usA.
  • 210D nylon hull; 840D ballistic nylon flooring
  • Weight – 7.3-pounds (Open design with cargo fly)
  • Accommodates paddlers as much as 6-foot, 8-inches and 250-pounds
  • Capability – 500-pounds
  • Inflatable seat and backrest 


  • A number of construct choices/configurations
  • Potential to decorate
  • Simple to restore within the subject, if mandatory
  • Inflates in 3-4 minutes, with observe
  • You may launch the Mule rattling close to wherever
  • Zippered cargo fly turns the raft into a large dry bag


  • It’s robust, however it’s nonetheless a rubber canoe full of air
  • Some would possibly contemplate $1,000 for a mushy canoe a little bit spendy

Yeah, I’ve seen what these coastal Washington rivers and streams can do to a tough boat, not to mention an inflatable canoe. Nevertheless, the curiously named Alpacka Raft would possibly simply be the exception to the rule on this one.

Like my Outdated City S119, the Alpacka Raft Mule, or easy Mule, pulls her weight as each a fishing canoe and a small water duck boat. She’s fabricated from nylon/ballistic nylon, and as such, is remarkably robust; not indestructible, however extra sturdy than one would consider a “rubber” raft. The Mule contains a one-way air valve system and a separate air bag that threads onto the valve. Compressing the bag fills the chambers, and inflates the boat in mere minutes. It’s an extremely easy and environment friendly system. Inflate the seat and the backrest, drop the Mule within the water, and also you’re able to go.

Let’s say you’re occurring an in a single day fishing journey. Outfitted with the optionally available cargo fly, the Mule may be internally filled with gear—tent, sleeping bag, blanket, pillow, single burner butane range, cooking equipment, meals, further clothes—leaving the hull area free for you, rod/reel/deal with, and cooler. The bow bag (optionally available) incorporates your digital camera, licenses, and something meant to remain dry. Carried out. 

Finest on a price range

Why It Made the Reduce:

So she’s a little bit heavy; nonetheless, the Dakota gives a non-tippy platform that my spouse and I can fish from with confidence, figuring out we’re going to remain dry.

Key Options

  • Three-person canoe 
  • 800-pound capability
  • Size – 15-feet, 5-inches; Width – 37.5-inches
  • Weight, empty – 81-pounds
  • RAM-X development/polyethylene
  • Three molded bench fashion seats
  • Integral rod holders
  • Carry handles


  • Value level – $425 – is hard to beat
  • Polyethylene construct is rugged
  • Excessive capability score
  • Tracks nicely as a consequence of full-length aluminum-reinforced keel
  • Third seat is a plus


  • Just a little on the heavy facet, particularly for one individual

Whereas I hesitate to make use of the phrases “price range” and “canoe” in the identical sentence (Positive, we didn’t thoughts as children, however as now smart adults?) the Dakota from Pelican Sports activities hits an excellent stride by combining cost-savings with a top quality product designed for each the newcomer and the skilled paddler alike.

Okay, so she’s a bit on the beefy facet at 81-pounds, and that’s some weight and awkwardness, if you happen to’re attempting to load/unload or launch solo. Resolution? Discover a pal, and get them to assist. Downside solved. The polyethylene (RAM-X, per Pelican) hull is extremely robust; you’re not going to have to fret (a lot) about rocks and different boat-breakers. The one factor a few poly-boat is the solar, as extended publicity may cause the fabric to warp. The Dakota is, because the sticker would possibly counsel, fairly naked bones: Three molded bench seats; flush-mounted rod holders; cup holder; carry handles fore/aft…and that’s her. However the RAM-X materials is simple to work with, so including aftermarkets, e.g. fish-finder, transducer, padded seating, or tie-downs is easy with a screw gun or, higher but, a pop-rivet gun.

Streams, rivers, lakes, or off-the-beaten path. Day-trip, or week-long fishing journey. Pelican’s Dakota will do it, and do it nicely, with out beating up your pockets.

Finest Sq. Stern

Why It Made the Reduce:

Fish, hunt, entice, canoe-camp, or simply discover, and all with the facet good thing about that little 2HP internal-tank outboard clamped onto the strict.

Key Options

  • T-Formex (ABS plastic laminate) development
  • Weight – 56-pounds
  • Size – 12-feet; Width – 36-inches
  • Sq. stern
  • Horsepower score – 2HP or electrical equal
  • 600-pound capability
  • Webbed bow/stern seats, with central yoke seat (additionally webbed)
  • Vinyl gunwale, with wooden gunwale as an possibility
  • Strengthened bow deal with


  • Gentle and straightforward to load/unload/portage
  • ABS construct is hard and proof against dings
  • Accessible in both forest inexperienced or camouflage
  • Double responsibility as fishing and/or searching skiff


  • Could also be a tad spendy for some at $1,800
  • Worldwide transport (Made in Quebec, Canada) is dear

I’m a HUGE fan of issues that serve a couple of goal, like, as an example, a ship that works each as a crappie fishing platform in April and a duck decoy hauler in November. Enter The Mallard by Esquif. Manufactured in Quebec, Canada, the Mallard is the quintessential all-purpose canoe, with conventional strains and all the precise stuff, with out going overboard on the bells and whistles.

The Mallard is constructed of an Esquif creation referred to as T-Formex. In layman’s phrases, it’s a layered  abrasion/dent resistant plastic materials that requires little upkeep and, with a little bit of pre-work prep, within reason simple to decorate and customise. She is available in both a pleasing forest inexperienced, or, for you anglers/’fowlers, Mossy Oak camouflage. Weighing solely 56 kilos, the Mallard lends itself nicely to the solo angler, whether or not off-loading the skiff, negotiating one’s approach downstream on quick-water between swimming pools, or for post-adventure storage.

Together with her 36-inch beam, the Mallard is a steady fishing platform, a ‘plus’ for the fly angler who would possibly favor to face and solid reasonably than sit. There’s loads of room inside, thanks once more to that 36-inch beam and a 13.5-inch depth, together with seating for 3 … or two and a cooler … or, for you anti-social anglers, one and TWO coolers. The Mallard is rated for a 2HP outboard; a barely longer/wider model, the Mallard XL, can also be accessible.

Finest Two-Individual

Why It Made the Reduce: 

Capability, capability, and extra capability, together with simply sufficient creature comforts to make for a nice day on the water.

Key Options

  • RAM-X/polyethylene development
  • Weight – 90-pounds
  • Size – 14-feet, 11-inches; Width – 38-inches; Top – 19-inches
  • Capability – 3 individuals/800-pounds
  • Two folding seat, plus a ‘cooler’ seat (built-in cooler)
  • Integral vertical rod holders/drink holders
  • Bow and stern carry handles


  • Extremely steady fishing platform, because of beam/peak
  • Excessive weight/gear capability
  • The built-in cooler is a pleasant addition, and saves inside room
  • Value level – $600 – makes it an reasonably priced two-person rig
  • RAM-X materials holds up nicely underneath tough use


  • At 90-pounds, she’s terrible heavy

If what you’re on the lookout for is a steady canoe that’s not too massive and never too small, and can truly fish two folks—perhaps three, if the third one seated within the center isn’t liable to fidgeting—fairly nicely, your search could also be over, because of the Explorer 14.6 DLX from Pelican Sport. I’m unsure, honestly, the place the 14.6 originated as she’s virtually 12-feet lengthy; nevertheless, I’m assuming that’s an inside measurement. As for the DLX (Deluxe), there’s actually nothing deluxe in regards to the Explorer. Actually, she’s fairly Spartan, which is ok for a easy fishing canoe. We’re not speaking a $500,000 yacht right here. There are two variations of the Explorer: one with molded bench fashion seats (3) and no cooler, and one other with folding seats fore and aft, and the aforementioned mid-length integral cooler.

Aside from being heavy and thus a contact awkward to deal with, particularly for one individual, the Explorer does a nice job of taking people from dry floor to the place the fish reside. That’s, in any case, what is likely to be anticipated of a canoe. The RAM-X/polyethylene materials is certainly sturdy; nevertheless, extended publicity to daylight is usually a bug-a-boo, inflicting the plastic to shape-shift barely, albeit a brief change. It’s simple to work with, so customizing the Explorer—suppose including horizontal rod holders or electronics—is an easy matter.

For the cash, it’s exhausting to go unsuitable with Pelican’s Explorer 14.6

Methodology – How I Picked ’Em

I’ve been paddling Old Town’s Sportsman Discovery Solo 119 since November, aka Duck Season, of 2020, and thus right here, I’ve based mostly fairly just a few of my selections and/or standards on my experiences with that specific skiff. As a waterfowler, I’m tough on my gear, together with my boats. That’s to not say I don’t deal with and preserve them (I do) however reasonably they obtain their justifiable share of abuse throughout Washington’s 107-day duck season. The opposite 258 days, or the higher a part of them, my a fishing canoe, and it’s used and abused in a lot the identical method, i.e. rocks, logs, pilings, improvised launch websites, unintended droppings, and such. So what was I on the lookout for once I put collectively this record?

  • Moderately light-weight, so I can load, unload, and launch the canoe on my own
  • Secure, as I generally fly-fish and like to take action standing up
  • Holds minimal 100-pounds of drugs, although I seldom if ever carry weight like that
  • Good service after the sale in case I’ve a remark – good or not-so-good
  • Sturdiness as a result of fishing isn’t at all times like dealing with nice china 
  • Value starting from (roughly) $500 to $1,200
  • I would like to have the ability to simply add equipment, e.g. electronics


Q: Which is best for fishing, a canoe or a kayak?

This actually comes all the way down to the kind of fishing you primarily do, in addition to private choice. I favor a canoe, as I don’t enterprise far off-shore and neither need nor have to exit onto the ocean in one thing smaller than a U.S. Navy destroyer. I just like the brief single-bladed paddle used with a canoe reasonably than the longer double-bladed kayak paddle. And I like the truth that most canoes weigh much less empty than do many kayaks. Lastly, the canoe’s conventional look places it above kayaks in my ledger. This all stated, it in the end comes all the way down to what YOU need. (As such, we’ve additionally reviewed the market’s best fishing kayaks)

Q: What size of canoe is greatest?

A 12-foot canoe like my Outdated City Solo 119 is mild, maneuverable, and many massive for one; nevertheless, you’re not going to hold a lot aboard, particularly if you happen to’re planning a multiple-day journey. A 17-foot skiff, whereas having a a lot greater weight capability, might show awkward, each on and off the water, significantly do you have to load/unload and even launch the canoe by your lonesome. A 14-foot canoe is a nice middle-of-the-road, for my part. It gives area and agility, with out being overly weighty.

Q: What’s the most secure canoe?

This one’s easy. It’s the one you don’t fall out of, injuring your self, or worse. Massive boat. Small boat. Canoe. Kayak. It actually doesn’t matter; all should be operated with an excellent dose of frequent sense. For fishing functions, a shorter (14-foot) and wider (35-40-inch) canoe with taller sides goes to offer essentially the most steady platform. However once more, security is dependent upon you, the skipper, and using frequent sense. And at all times…at all times…at all times put on your PFD.

Remaining Ideas

Canoes particularly designed for the trials of the outside—and right here we’re speaking fishing—have the power to open up an virtually infinite realm of angling alternatives, because of such traits as weight, ease of operation, affordability, draft, portability, and security. Immediately, increasingly anglers, and extra households, are having fun with the Nice Open air by way of canoe and our nation’s waterways. It doesn’t take a lot: a little bit time, a little bit effort, a little bit of analysis, and the motivation to take that first step. Oh, and a light-action spinning outfit, too.

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