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Best Fishing Canoes Reviewed and Tested

last updated Oct 07, 2019

Sure pier fishing is fun. Sitting on the edge of the dock casting for dinner and watching the sunset over the water is the definition of good living for any angler. But sometimes sitting on the bank watching the water loses its allure and you want to be able to be on the water or even better move from place to find that perfect spot where you know the trout are running and dinner is just one castaway. But to get there you’re going to need a boat. And if you’re a bit strapped for cash well a boat may be about as likely as a money tree. That’s where a fishing canoe might come in handy. While some of the top-end models will set you back, some of our models will have you out on the water fishing for dinner in no time.

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:
Kevin Enochs
By Kevin Enochs:

In today’s update, we replaced three products that no longer meet our criteria with three that do. Namely: the Sevylor Ogden 2-Person canoe, the Old Modern Handicrafts beautiful handmade canoe, and the Sea Eagle Inflatable. We just wanted 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 (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$999.00
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.7
Style
98 %
Materials
98.5 %
Stability
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$839.89
Cabelas
$899.99
See Deal
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
Style
96 %
Materials
95.3 %
Stability
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$899.99
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.7
Style
93 %
Materials
93.6 %
Stability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$649.99
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.3
Style
91 %
Materials
90 %
Stability
90.3 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$234.47
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.3
Style
88 %
Materials
89 %
Stability
88.5 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$4,261.57
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
Style
86 %
Materials
85.4 %
Stability
84 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$1,094.40
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.3
Style
82 %
Materials
81.6 %
Stability
81 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$599.00
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.3
Style
79 %
Materials
78.3 %
Stability
78 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$1,899.00
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
76.3
Style
77 %
Materials
75 %
Stability
77.4 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.12.19)
Amazon Link
$999.00

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
Journey 156 – Mad River
Amazon Link
Style
100
Materials
99
Stability
99
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$999.00
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.

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, 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.
97.7
Guide 147 – Old Town
Guide 147 – Old Town
Guide 147 – Old Town
Amazon Link
Style
98
Materials
98.5
Stability
97
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$839.89
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 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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
Old Town Discovery 119
Old Town Discovery 119
Old Town Discovery 119
Amazon Link
Style
96
Materials
95.3
Stability
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$899.99
Pros:

Agile length for maneuverability

Rugged hull construction

Lightweight

Cons:

The 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.

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.

Versatile
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.

Cost&Value
The 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 rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.7
Saranac 146 – Old Town
Saranac 146 – Old Town
Saranac 146 – Old Town
Amazon Link
Style
93
Materials
93.6
Stability
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$649.99
Pros:

Includes many convenient features for anglers

Low cost two man canoe

Low profile limits the 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 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.

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 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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.3
Sevylor Ogden 2-Person
Sevylor Ogden 2-Person
Sevylor Ogden 2-Person
Amazon Link
Style
91
Materials
90
Stability
90.3
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$234.47
Pros:

Easily inflating

Multiple Air Chambers

Strong PVS Construction

Polyester Cover for Even More Protection

Cons:

Hard to Paddle With One 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.

Adjustable Seats
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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.3
Old Modern Handicrafts
Old Modern Handicrafts
Old Modern Handicrafts
Amazon Link
Style
88
Materials
89
Stability
88.5
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$4,261.57
Pros:

Made of Red Cedar

Coated with Fiberglass

Paddle Included

Wooden Ribs add Strength

Cons:

Expensive

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.

Fiberglass Coating
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 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 rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw
Amazon Link
Style
86
Materials
85.4
Stability
84
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$1,094.40
Pros:

Cup holder at each seat

Extra storage

Protective rub-rails

Stable – not easily tipped over

Durable and strong

Cons:

The 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.

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. It comes with a two-year warranty to give you peace 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.
81.3
Lifetime Kodiak Canoe
Lifetime Kodiak Canoe
Lifetime Kodiak Canoe
Amazon Link
Style
82
Materials
81.6
Stability
81
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$599.00
Pros:

The design allows the motor to be installed

Five-year warranty

Paddles come with the purchase

Seatbelts

Three molded seats help keep canoe stable

Cons:

Not much legroom

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.

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. Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.3
Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable
Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable
Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable
Amazon Link
Style
79
Materials
78.3
Stability
78
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$1,899.00
Pros:

Easily Inflatable

Seats 3

Rated Class IV Whitewater

Fits in the trunk of the car

Cons:

Expensive

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.

Inflates Easily
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.

Travels Easily
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 rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
76.3
Next – Old Town Canoes
Grumman 12’ 9” Solo
Amazon Link
Style
77
Materials
75
Stability
77.4
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.

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.

Features
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.

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

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 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

Stability is important for all 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.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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#1
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#3
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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 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 your canoe is made from. This is important because different types of materials should be maintained in different ways. Some of the popular materials used 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.

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.

Value

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?

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 airflow to keep from getting sweaty. A symptom of molded plastic seats is prickly heat – the result of inadequate airflow 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 makes sitting more comfortable.

q: How do I maintain my canoe?

a:

In all honesty, these 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