Top 10 Fishing Canoes Reviewed and Tested
Criteria Used for Evaluation
While there are many canoes that are well-designed all-rounders; there are few quality canoes that aren’t designed for anything in particular. For this reason, the final list placed importance on those canoes best suited to particular applications – be that solo fishing; solo fishing and expedition; tandem fishing; or tandem fishing and expedition. Other notably different, but well designed; options were also included to cover the emerging pack canoe trend; as well as motor-suitable crafts.
Many low-cost alternatives exist on the market, but these do not live up to expectations in regard to durability and toughness. The least specialized hull construction in the above list is that of the Old Town Saranac, which covers the low-cost day tripper canoe. Although this craft offers many features not present in others on the list, its construction does not stand up to the quality of the others. It is still a reliable canoe but has none of the specializations of the others.
Flex Core with Kevlar® construction, as found in the Wenonah canoes on this list, is a less durable hull option than some materials, however, it’s the strength, stiffness and lightweight set it apart for expedition travel on lakes and in areas where portaging is frequent. Three-layer polyethylene hulls, as found in Old Town and Mad River canoes, is a superb material for hard work in abrasive conditions, as commonly found in rivers and streams. This hull material is a great choice where knocks and scrapes are an inevitable part of a day on the water.
Stability is important for the best canoes, but when it comes to fishing, especially it should be favored. A stable craft with good primary and secondary stability enables anglers to move about without fear of capsizing. Fishing offers a unique set of circumstances in that being able to stand in the canoe is of great advantage.
Therefore a craft that can accommodate this is fantastic. Where possible, canoes were chosen that provide a suitable degree of primary and secondary stability so that an angler can stand and move about, dealing with sudden movements and pulling forces imparted by hooked fish without the canoe suddenly and catastrophically unbalancing.
10 Best Fishing Canoes
1. Journey 156 – Mad River
The Journey 156 from Mad River is a great all-rounder: in design, construction, and affordability and that’s why it's the best canoe for fishing of this list.
At 15’ 6”, the Journey provides enough room for two and their fishing gear; and is moderately useful for extended camping trips to find fishy waters. The shallow arch hull and flared sides offer good stability and improve the canoe’s performance in waves.
The Journey by Mad River Canoes is a great option, well suited to two anglers and their fishing gear. Its design offers improved capability in rough waters through its flared sides and shallow arch hull. This canoe can still be handled relatively easily by a solo paddler.
Cost and Value
The Mad River Journey 156 is an affordable canoe. It offers great value for money in its versatility and durability.
2. Guide 147 – Old Town
If you’re looking for a tough, affordable watercraft that you can move about in without risk of capsizing, the Old Town Guide 147 is a great choice.
A Tough All-Rounder
Guide 147 is as tough as nails when it comes to construction. This is a great canoe for taking on a shallow-water fishing adventure when rocks and other obstructions pose hazards for a canoe hull. Its length makes it suitable for one or two people although it is not as responsive as a specifically designed solo craft.
Where it Can Go
Guide 147 is a great choice for fishing rivers and streams, especially where the canoe runs the risk of getting knocked around. It’s a very stable canoe, and chines improve secondary stability when dealing with rougher water. This isn’t a fast canoe, being relatively wide and short, and therefore isn’t as well suited to open water and lake fishing.
Cost and Value
The Old Town Guide 147 offers great value for money. It is one of the least expensive canoes on this list; and offers a tough and reliable fishing craft for the price.
3. Discovery 119 – Old Town
This is the first specifically solo canoe on the list. The Discovery 119 is a nifty size for the solo angler looking to cast a line into a variety of waters.
A Solo Canoe for Rugged Adventure
The Discovery 119 offers a tough polypropylene canoe like the Guide and Journey series; in a pocket-sized package. For the solo fisherman; this is a fantastic all-rounder craft for running rivers and streams, and will take to open water.
This is a great choice for those looking to get onto the water. Its versatile design makes it suitable for a variety of fishing applications. It’s best suited to river and stream fishing, and shorter fishing trips as there isn’t much room for much camping gear.
Discovery 119 is the most affordable solo option on this list. It’s great value for a tough river runner fishing craft.
4. Saranac 146 – Old Town
The Saranac offers an affordable, simple selection that is set apart by its included features – like the center storage compartment, molded fishing rod holders, and storage trays. The center storage compartment even doubles as a third seat.
The Saranac offers a lot of perks to day-tripper fishermen that aren’t included in other canoes on this list and all at an affordable price. The trade-off is weight; durability and design.
The Old Town Saranac 146 offers angler-friendly features in an affordable package. The in-molded components add considerably to the canoe’s weight and replace a yoke for efficient transport but are useful in their own right. This canoe is a good choice for those not wanting to fork out a lot of cash and those most interested in day trips on calm waters.
Cost and Value
The Saranac 146 is a low-cost alternative to many other canoes on the market. It offers several features that’ll attract anglers to this canoe. This canoe is a good choice for those not wanting to fork out a lot of cash and those most interested in day trips on calm waters.
5. Sevylor Ogden 2-Person
We simply love the inflatable canoes because the fabric tech has advanced to the point where they’re nearly indestructible and when you’re done fishing you can simply let the air out of it and pack it away in its small storage space, so no need for a roof rack. It also comes loaded with waterproof storage areas and is big enough to hold two people.
Boston Valve Air System
What this means for you is that it won’t take years to get this canoe inflated and into the water. That’s one of the biggest problems with inflatables but the Boston Valve system has a double threaded style that allows you to use a blower quickly and easily to get this one inflated.
This is a nice feature for a semi-solid canoe in that it allows you to adjust the seats for your comfort. That’s a bit uncommon in canoes of this type and we love that they’ve managed to include it on this canoe. It not only moves back and forth but can be elevated for higher seating.
Cost and Value
This canoe comes in at a nice price. It won’t break the bank and it won’t wear out or break because it’s built tough. It’s easy to inflate and it has a lot of nice features that you’re going to find coast a lot more in a number of other canoes of this type. So even though it’s pretty cheap you’re not going to compromise on quality.
6. Old Modern Handicrafts
We included this canoe on our list just in case you have the money and the inclination to take a true work of art out on the lake. This is a handcrafted wooden canoe made of Canadian Red Cedar. It’s covered in a fiberglass finish that gives it an incredible glossy shine. It’s wide enough to handle you and all your gear and it’s really well built and balanced.
Ribbed for strength
This is a really classic canoe and it comes with wooden ribs that make it strong and able to stand up to a beating. The ribs also make it that much better looking and add to its value as not only a great fishing canoe but also a moving work of art.
The fiberglass adds not only to its strength but it also protects it from scratches and minor damage. It keeps abrasion possibilities at a minimum and ensures that any damage doesn’t turn into a splinter opportunity.
Cost and Value
Far and away from the most expensive canoe on our list. But if you’re a real purist and if you want to take a true canoe out fishing than this is the boat for you. It comes with a paddle included and is well graded for speed and maneuverability. So if you’ve got the money this is an amazing canoe.
7. Sun Dolphin Mackinaw
The Mackinaw is made with a high-density polyethylene material, making it durable and sturdy. With rub rails on the haul of this canoe, it is protected from damage that may be caused by friction by an object under the water.
Plenty of Storage
Much room for storing items such as a wallet and keys. There is also a cooler compartment allowing you to store drinks or other cold items.
This one is well-designed with the ability to hold plenty of weight. This is an ideal choice for solo fishing trips or for a day on the lake with a few friends.
Cost and Value
Costlier than some of the other canoes, but it is tough and durable with plenty of space between seats. It comes with a two-year warranty to give you peace of mind.
8. Lifetime Kodiak Canoe
Made with blow-molded high-density polyethylene, the Lifetime is durable, impact-resistant and UV-protected. Features a motor mount bracket, providing you with the option to install a motor.
Three seats are molded in this canoe with quick-release seat belts. In addition to fishing, this canoe is ideal for whitewater conditions with its high seats that allow for easy bailing.
All the Good Things
This canoe is durable, comfortable, and lightweight. Provides peace of mind with the included 5-year limited warranty.
Cost and Value
Priced in the average range for canoes of this type. Durability ensures that this one will last for multiple fishing seasons.
9. Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable
This lightweight easy to inflate/deflate canoe is the perfect thing for the camper with big dreams but not so much space. This canoe deflated into its own carrying case but when it’s inflated has seats for two but room for three people and all your gear.
With an air pump, this canoe can be ready to go in about 10 minutes. And once it’s up it’s rated to Class IV whitewater. And fully inflated it’s a huge 16 feet long.
This canoe deflates easily and comes with its own carrying case that will let you stow it easily into a trunk. You can literally toss it into the back seat and be on the water in 10 minutes.
Cost and Value
This is a pretty pricey canoe but considering all the things you get with it and it’s easy portability this is ultimately a pretty good deal.
10. Next – Old Town Canoes
The Next by Old Town offers a transition between a kayak and canoe and provides a handy solo fishing craft.
Cross-over Design Features
Having characteristics of both canoes and kayaks, the Next is an interesting alternative to the regular canoe. It’s well designed for use with a double paddle, and its flat bottom provides good initial stability – a useful feature for fishing. The poor secondary stability of this craft is offset by its tumblehome sides, allowing the craft to lean further before taking on water. Its low profile makes it less prone to being pushed by the wind.
It's an interesting approach to canoe design and offers several features that make it good for fishing. Its low profile on the water liken it more to a kayak than a canoe and reduce the forces of wind upon the craft. The flat bottom also offers good initial stability for fighting fish and casting baits.
The Old Town Next is relatively affordable for a solo fishing excursion. It offers a unique blend of features for the price.
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