to top 10 table

Best Fishing Canoes Reviewed and Tested

last updated Mar 16, 2019

The canoe is an ancient design that’s stuck with us because it’s so useful. For many fishermen, the canoe provides a stealthy craft capable of getting into waterways that no boat is capable of; and opens up a variety of fishing opportunities not available to the land-based angler. While kayaks are prominent on the fishing scene these days, the canoe remains a highly versatile alternative – in many circumstances more versatile than a kayak. But what really separates canoes from kayaks is their ability to transport loads – people and their gear – to places that can’t otherwise be reached. For this reason, this list has paid particular attention to those canoes offering the best mix of fishing capability and transporting usefulness. We’ve avoided the cheapest alternatives in order to showcase real ‘working’ canoes – any of the options below will make a good fishing craft.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research

icon
Journey 156 – Mad River
99.3/100 our score
Style
100
Materials
99
Stability
99
Journey 156 – Mad River
Why is it better?

Durable construction can take abuse

Flared sides improve performance in waves and rough water

Yoke improves transport efficiency

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Journey 156 – Mad River
Test Winner: Journey 156 – Mad River
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
20
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
41
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
11
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
53
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
By :

To ensure that you have the most recent information, we regularly update our review list. In today’s update, we replaced three products that no longer meet our criteria with three that do. We also answered more questions in our FAQ sections. To make sure that you have the latest information before deciding what fishing canoe to purchase, be sure to check back regularly for updates.

Sorting Options
Style Materials Stability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.3
Style
100 %
Materials
99 %
Stability
99 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Amazon Link
$699.99
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.8
Style
98 %
Materials
98.5 %
Stability
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Cabelas
$899.99
See Deal
Amazon Link
$999.95
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
Style
96 %
Materials
95.3 %
Stability
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Amazon Link
$904.02
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.9
Style
93 %
Materials
93.6 %
Stability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Amazon Link
$904.02
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
Style
91 %
Materials
90 %
Stability
90.3 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Amazon Link
$1,390.00
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.5
Style
88 %
Materials
89 %
Stability
88.5 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Amazon Link
$699.99
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.1
Style
86 %
Materials
85.4 %
Stability
84 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Amazon Link
$539.97
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.5
Style
82 %
Materials
81.6 %
Stability
81 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Amazon Link
$579.00
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.4
Style
79 %
Materials
78.3 %
Stability
78 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Amazon Link
$999.00
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
76.5
Style
77 %
Materials
75 %
Stability
77.4 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.06.19)
Amazon Link
$1,977.00
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Journey 156 – Mad River Journey 156 – Mad River
  • Guide 147 – Old Town Guide 147 – Old Town
  •  Spirit II – Wenonah Spirit II – Wenonah
  • Saranac 160 – Old Town Saranac 160 – Old Town
  •  Origami Folding Canoe – MYCANOE Origami Folding Canoe – MYCANOE
  • Discovery 119 – Old Town Discovery 119 – Old Town
  • Sun Dolphin Mackinaw Sun Dolphin Mackinaw
  • Lifetime Kodiak Canoe Lifetime Kodiak Canoe
  •  Next – Old Town Canoes Next – Old Town Canoes
  •  Grumman 12’ 9” Solo Grumman 12’ 9” Solo
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Best Fishing Canoes

1. Journey 156 – Mad River

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.3
Journey 156 – Mad River
Amazon Link
Style
100
Materials
99
Stability
99
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$699.99
Pros:

Durable construction can take abuse

Flared sides improve performance in waves and rough water

Yoke improves transport efficiency

Cons:

Length limits capability for extended fishing trips

Heavy

The Journey 156 from Mad River is a great all-rounder: in design, construction, and affordability and that’s why it sits at the top of this list.

Read more

Versatile Design
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.

Capacity
The Journey by Mad River Canoes is a great option for a fishing canoe, 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 easy 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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.8
Guide 147 – Old Town
Amazon Link
Style
98
Materials
98.5
Stability
97
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$999.95
Cabelas
$899.99
See Deal
Pros:

Durable, stiff canoe

Chines increase secondary stability

Sharp entry lines improve paddling efficiency

Cons:

Heavy

Seat backs can be a nuisance

If you’re looking for a tough, affordable fishing canoe that you can move about in without risk of capsizing, the Old Town Guide 147 is a great choice.

Read more

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. A great, and affordable, fishing canoe.

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. Spirit II – Wenonah

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
 Spirit II – Wenonah
Amazon Link
Style
96
Materials
95.3
Stability
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$904.02
Pros:

‘All-rounder’ canoe design

Lightweight

Great for extended trips

Cons:

Expensive

More fragile construction

The Spirit II takes expedition style canoe fishing to the next level. This is an ultimate all-rounder that’ll take adventurous anglers to the furthest realms of wilderness fishing, and take all conditions in its stride.

Read more

A Feather-light Two Man Canoe
One thing that Wenonah offers is light-weight, durable canoes. The Spirit II is constructed from Flex-core with Kevlar®, a laminate of composite fibers, giving the canoe a great balance between stiffness, durability, and lightweight. For lakes and rivers, this is a perfect canoe; and anglers appreciate the weight on portages.

Bring a Friend
The Wenonah Spirit II is a fantastic canoe for the adventurous fisherman. At 17’ it’s a great option for two anglers embarking on extended journeys to secluded fishing waters.

Cost and Value
Spirit II is an expensive canoe. What you get for the price is the superior light-weight combined with the toughness of hull construction; and a well-made design that can be used on almost all waters.

4. Saranac 160 – Old Town

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.9
Saranac 160 – Old Town
Amazon Link
Style
93
Materials
93.6
Stability
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$904.02
Pros:

Includes many convenient features for anglers

Low cost two man canoe

Low profile limits impact of winds

Cons:

Flat bottom provides minimum secondary stability

Thermoformed polyethylene not as durable/tough as other Old Town models

The Saranac offers an affordable, simple fishing canoe 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.

Read more

Affordable Convenience
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.

Fishing Galore
The Old Town Saranac 160 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 160 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. Origami Folding Canoe – MYCANOE

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
 Origami Folding Canoe – MYCANOE
Amazon Link
Style
91
Materials
90
Stability
90.3
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$1,390.00
Pros:

Folds away for space saving

Polypropylene hull offers ruggedness and stiffness

Adjustable seat positions

Cons:

Has to be set up before use

Folding plastic will eventually wear out

The Origami folding canoe from MYCANOE offers a novel and innovative alternative to the regular fishing canoe. Folding down to an easily storable size, this canoe can be stashed in the car for whenever the user requires it.

Read more

A Simple Pack Canoe
The Origami folds down to a size of 37 x 8 x 25” and is easily stored. This makes it a convenient option for those with limited space. It can be fully constructed in 10 minutes.

Transport
The MYCANOE Origami folding canoe offers an innovative solution to the space required to store and transport a canoe. For inner-city fishermen or those without suitable transport for a regular fishing craft this is a good alternative. The hard plastic hull can’t be torn or damaged by a stray hook or fishing knife, either.

Cost and Value
The Origami folding canoe sits in the middle of the price range on this list. It costs less than other similar sized demountable canoe options on the market. It’s a great choice for people living in the city who don’t have storage space.

6. Discovery 119 – Old Town

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.5
Discovery 119 – Old Town
Amazon Link
Style
88
Materials
89
Stability
88.5
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$699.99
Pros:

Agile length for manoeuvrability

Rugged hull construction

Light weight

Cons:

Short length makes less efficient for open water/long distance paddling

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.

Read more

Rugged Adventure
The Discovery 119 offers a tough polypropylene canoe like the Guide and Journey series; in a pocket-sized package. This is a fantastic all-rounder craft for running rivers and streams, and will take to open water.

Solo Trip
The Old Town Discovery 119 makes a great choice for the solo angler looking to get onto the water. It’s low cost and versatile design make 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.

Cost and Value
The Discovery 119 is the most affordable solo option on this list. It’s great value for a tough river runner fishing craft.

7. Sun Dolphin Mackinaw

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.1
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw
Amazon Link
Style
86
Materials
85.4
Stability
84
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$539.97
Pros:

Cup holder at each seat

Extra storage

Protective rub-rails

Stable – not easily tipped over

Durable and strong

Cons:

Paddle must be purchased separately

Not heat resistant

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.

Read more

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.

Durable
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. Comes with a two-year warranty to give you a piece of mind.

8. Lifetime Kodiak Canoe

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.5
Lifetime Kodiak Canoe
Amazon Link
Style
82
Materials
81.6
Stability
81
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$579.00
Pros:

Design allows the motor to be installed

Five-year warranty

Paddles come with purchase

Seatbelts

Three molded seats help keep canoe stable

Cons:

Not much leg room

600lb. weight limit means you need to watch when three people on at once

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.

Read more

High-Seats
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. Next – Old Town Canoes

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.4
 Next – Old Town Canoes
Amazon Link
Style
79
Materials
78.3
Stability
78
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$999.00
Pros:

Low profile minimizes effects of wind

Minimal rocker enables straight tracking

Good design for double paddling

Cons:

May prove ‘tippy’ due to flat sides

The Next by Old Town offers a transition between a kayak and canoe and provides a handy solo fishing craft.

Read more

Balance
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.

Design
It's an interesting approach to canoe design and offers several features that make it a good fishing canoe. 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.

Cost and Value
The Old Town Next is relatively affordable for a solo fishing canoe. It offers a unique blend of features for the price.

10. Grumman 12’ 9” Solo

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
76.5
 Grumman 12’ 9” Solo
Amazon Link
Style
77
Materials
75
Stability
77.4
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$1,977.00
Pros:

Carrying handles

Comes with paddle

545lb. weight limit

Extremely lightweight

Stable and durable

Cons:

No storage options

Aluminum makes this canoe noisy

The Grumman Solo canoe provides generous carrying capacity of up to 545 pounds. Extremely lightweight of only 44 pounds means it is easy to lift and carry by one person.

Read more

Designed for Stability
This canoe provides a low profile and wide beam which results in fewer waves and wind. Also, it is very durable and requires little maintenance as it is made from aluminum alloy.

Features and Specifications
12’ 9’ in length
44lb. weight
Maximum weight capacity of 545lbs.
Made from Aluminum alloy

Cost and Value
Has an average cost for solo canoes and is meant to last years. A sturdy and durable boat that offers plenty of space. As this canoe uses benches rather than seats, it can be a little uncomfortable.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Style

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.

Materials

Many low-cost alternatives exist in the fishing canoe market, but these do not live up to expectation 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

Stability is important for all canoes, but for 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 provided 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.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
Sort criterias acording to:
Experts Opinion Editors Opinion Users Opinion By Default
Click on a to rate the most important criteria:
#1
ico Style
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
#2
ico Materials
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
#3
ico Stability
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
expert tips icon
Maintenance Tips

The people who manufacture your fishing, canoe know their story; possibly the reason why you have trusted them enough to buy one. Reading the manual helps you obtain the highest satisfaction from your fishing canoe. You also want to ensure that you are not doing things that will void your warranty.

Understand the material

The first thing you will need to do is to understand the material from which your fishing canoe is made. This is important because different types of materials should be maintained in different ways. Some of the popular materials used in making fishing canoes include wood, Royalex, fiberglass, and aluminum. All these materials, respond differently to the elements.

Store the canoe properly

It doesn’t matter whether you are storing the canoe for months or you are just putting it away to use it the next day, you will need to dry it first. It is essential to ensure that no water remains in any parts of the canoe by turning it upside down and then raising it off the ground. It’s important to make sure the canoe is never placed in direct sunlight, even when you’re storing it for just a short period of time.

Clean regularly

Always remember to wash you fishing, canoe after using it in salt water or any other water that could be polluted. Every time you use the canoe, it attracts dirt and if the dirt is left to accumulate it starts attraction moisture. Moisture is an enemy of your fishing canoe. Cleaning the canoe does not just refer to the outside; you will have to remove the dirt which accumulates inside, on the seats and any other crevices in the canoe. When washing the exterior of the canoe, use a mild soap and clean water. Ensure that the boat has dried properly before you store it away.

Other Factors to Consider

Brand

There’s no ‘best’ canoe manufacturer out there, but some names are synonymous with adventure fishing. None more so than Wenonah – the famous Minnesota canoe manufacturer that prides itself in the prevalence of its canoes found traversing lakes and portages throughout the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN, and Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. Another big name in canoes is, of course, Old Town, which has expanded to provide to a global market – both in canoes and kayaks. Old Town canoes are known for their ruggedness – they make fishermen happy worldwide. Mad River Canoes can’t be overlooked in this list. They provide similar crafts to those of Old Town and again are well regarded as rugged and trustworthy crafts. There are designs for all kinds of water conditions, and plenty of these canoes turn up on remote rivers and lakes. Some other old favorites make an appearance on this list – like Grumman canoes which got many an adventurer into wild fishing locations when motors were allowed on all North American waters. Newcomers to the scene also deserve a mention for their innovative approach to the time-proven canoe design. MYCANOE take the craft in a new direction with their folding canoe.

Bottom Line

Fishing canoes offer the ultimate stealth craft capable of getting anglers as far as they can dream of traveling. For this reason, they will always occupy their place as a valuable fishing craft. With changing attitudes towards waterways and wild places, the canoe may again increase in popularity as the chosen craft for anglers wanting to experience the quiet side of fishing and backcountry travel. Canoes offer many features that kayaks can’t accommodate, and get places that motorized boats can’t. Choosing the right type of canoe for your favorite type of fishing is likely to ensure that you find waters and fish that have seen few people before – always a bonus for landing that trophy!

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Should I buy the most expensive canoe?

a:

The simple answer is ‘no’. The most expensive canoes on this list are highly specialized crafts that offer unique advantages to wilderness fishing and expedition style trips. They are fantastic crafts to paddle and to fish from, yet less expensive crafts offer a high-quality fishing craft as well. By seriously considering the questions listed at the start of this review and the design features of canoes, it will be easier to determine whether or not to spend a lot of money on a craft or save some cash for a few more lures!

q: How important is hull design in a fishing canoe?

a:

Hull design makes the difference between an enjoyable day on the water and a constant battle. It goes without saying that, if you spend all of your time re-positioning the canoe or paddling to your destination – you aren’t going to get much fishing time in! Canoes are designed to perform best in certain situations, and choosing the right combination of features will set you up with a craft that compliments your fishing experience; not competes with it.

q: Are moulded seats more comfortable?

a:

In a lot of circumstances, the most comfortable canoe seats are webbing ones. This seat provides more give than a hard plastic one while allowing plenty of air flow to keep from getting sweaty. A symptom of molded plastic seats is prickly heat – the result of inadequate air flow and sustained pressure from sitting. Cushioned seats alleviate some pressure, but can still cause sweating in hot weather. Backrests are a personal preference, but pro paddlers commonly agree that if you’re using the backrest you’re not paddling efficiently. Backrests also tend to get in the way while portaging and add to the weight of the canoe. A benefit of molded seats is that they help center the angler in the canoe when sitting; which does make paddling more effective and make sitting more comfortable.

q: How do I maintain my canoe?

a:

In all honesty, fishing canoes are very easy to look after. There’s a minimum of moving parts or corrodible components; so very little maintenance is required. It’s important to give your canoe a wash, both inside and out, when returning from a fishing trip. This removes and grime, fish slime or blood, and any salt residue if you’ve been fishing in saltwater. Simple cleaning will ensure that your canoe continues to perform optimally. Surprisingly, of the list above, the Flex Core with Kevlar® hulls of Wenonah canoes are easiest to perform minor repairs at home. Heavy scratching; gouges and even small holes can be repaired with fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin all of which are easily obtainable for the home handyman. Polyethylene hulls are easy to repair if damaged, and an experienced plastic welder will quickly patch them up. The difficulty for the home repairer is sourcing the correct polyethylene that will suitably bond with that of the canoe. Aluminum hulls, like that of the Grumman, require specializing aluminum welding equipment to repair making it the most specialized hull to repair. However, aluminum offers great strength and abrasion resistance and should stand up to years of fishing.

q: What type of canoe repair kit should I carry for camping fishing trips?

a:

For the most common problems you may encounter, duct tape should be sufficient. If you are planning on an extended trip, a canoe repair kit with fiberglass cloth and cold-cure epoxy should fix more serious issues.

Sources