Canoe fishing has the potential to be one of the most enjoyable fishing activities. However, to ensure such fun can take place, it is essential that you purchase the best canoes for fishing.
Three questions you should consider before purchasing a canoe are:
- What surface of the water will you be fishing on? A lake, a river or surf fishing?
- How long do you intend to fish for on a trip?
- What will the conditions of the water be like? Flat, slow-moving or choppy?
Before suggesting some YouTube videos and identifying five canoes that are currently the best for fishing, the buying guide below discusses various characteristics of canoes that should be considered before you purchase.
Quick Top 5 Canoes for Fishing
*Keep reading for the fulling buying guide or jump straight to the reviews!
Choosing the Best Canoe for Fishing
Canoes come in many varieties. Therefore, your choice of the canoe should be determined by the conditions in which you will use it.
Types of Canoes
River canoes are ideal for navigating rapids or paddling through fast-moving streams and rivers. Other the other hand, recreational canoes operate most effectively on flat water. They are particularly stable and are perfect for a relaxed fishing experience on lakes or ponds.
Generic stereotypes are river canoes that have greater maneuverability and an increased resistance level to impact.
Multi-purpose canoes provide the best of both worlds. They are remarkably versatile in coping with the demands of flat and rough waters. Multi-purpose canoes are generally larger in size, therefore offering increased comfort and space for the fisher.
Materials and Shape of the Hull
The material and shape of the hull fundamentally affect the weight of the canoe.
It is therefore vital that you consider the type of material of the canoe you‘re looking to purchase.
For example, if you are specifically looking for a canoe that is lightweight, it is recommended you choose a canoe that is constructed with a durable, lightweight hull material.
Hull materials tend to increase in price as the material becomes more durable.
Therefore, you will need balance-out relative durability vs. value-for-money before purchasing a canoe.
The shape of the hull is also important to consider. There are four main ‘bottoms’ to consider:
- Flat-bottomed canoes are very stable in the water but are considerably more difficult to maneuver when in the water.
- Rounded bottoms are famous for being fast. They are less common on canoes more generally, as they are normally a design specification for professional canoers.
- Shallow-arch bottoms also provide stability on the water as well as being more efficient when paddling.
- V-bottom hulls go beyond shallow-arch bottoms in terms of stability and efficiency on the water.
Size matters. Although it is very much dependent on how you plan to use the canoe. Most canoe fishers will consider the length, width, and depth of the canoe before purchasing.
The most popular fishing canoes tend to measure between 16 to 17 feet long.
Longer canoes are able to hold more fishing gear whereas shorter canoes are maneuverable in narrow parts in the water.
The width of a canoe affects the stability in the water. Therefore, some fishers prefer a wider canoe to ensure they can easily fish whilst navigating narrow sections of the water.
The depth is also significant in affecting the balance and stability of a canoe.
Although taller sides to your canoe will be more helpful in keeping water out, they are more vulnerable to a change in winds.
Shallower canoes provide less protection on water entering the canoe but are much less affected by winds.
The seating situation is crucial to enhancing your canoe fishing experience. It is completely a personal preference as to how many seats you want in your canoe.
You have to consider whether you will be mainly fishing alone or do you want to bring along your family for a fishing adventure?
Arguably more important, however, is the material of the seat. Solid seats tend to be much more durable, whereas woven seats allow you to be protected from the water as it can be drained from the seat.
In terms of ergonomics and comfort, flat benches are much less comfortable compared to molded seats. Therefore if you are fishing for longer periods, you may want to save your bum from numbness.
Stability is important for canoeing more generally, but it is particularly crucial for canoe fishing. A securely-crafted canoe with sufficient primary and secondary stability enables fishers to be flexible and movable in the water without fear of capsizing.
Unlike regular canoeing, canoe fishing is unique in there being an advantage in standing up in the boat. This is, therefore, a really important consideration before purchasing your canoe.
Is it stable enough to hold your standing weight in the water?
As a fisher, you will have to deal with plenty of sudden movements and forces that pull you in different directions. Therefore, a canoe that can provide this degree of stability will radically enhance your canoe fishing experience as well as giving you the confidence to be more ambitious and courageous in the water.
It is important to be aware of how the material of the boat can affect your fishing experience.
For example, aluminum-constructed canoes can often be noisy in the water, particularly when hitting the sides of the boat with your paddle. This can negatively impact the quantity of fish available to catch.
Furthermore, other composite construction materials can lose heat through energy transfer from the boat to the water.
It is worthwhile consulting an expert on how the material of the canoe can impact your fishing experience from a practical perspective.
Tips for Maintaining your Fishing Canoe
It is one step to purchase a canoe. It is another step to look after it and ensure it can prove a worthwhile investment. Whilst most who purchase a canoe may be familiar with maintenance, and it is necessary to provide some tips so that your canoe can be enjoyed for a long period of time.
Thankfully, canoes are quite straightforward to maintain. You will need to think about the following aspects to ensure your canoe is maintained to a good standard.
Read the owner’s manual
The manufacturer whether good or bad will know the capabilities of their own design. Therefore, reading the manual provided will give you some guidance as to maintenance and your expectations for the canoe.
It will also be worthwhile reading to ensure that you do not violate the warranty agreement if there are any issues down the line.
Understand the material
It is crucial that you understand what type of material the canoe is made from and the relative strengths and weaknesses of those materials because the maintenance varies depending on the material.
Common materials used to make fishing canoes include wood, Royalex, fiberglass, and aluminum. Each responds differently to water conditions.
For example, canoes made from wood are more impacted by water conditions compared to plastic and aluminum. Wooden canoes need to have a layer of protection provided by varnish or paint that is a water-resistant material.
Fiberglass and aluminum boats do not need varnish as they have a much harder exterior. If there are issues on the outer layer, it may need to be repaired by qualified personnel to ensure no lasting damage.
Store the canoe properly
Whether you are storing your canoe to use the next day or storing it throughout the winter months, it is crucial that you dry it first. To ensure no water lingers in any part of the interior, you should turn the canoe upside down and leave it raised above the ground.
Another key tip is that on no account should you place your canoe in direct sunlight, even for a short period of time. This can lead to discoloration of the exterior.
For those who wish to store their canoe for a long period of time, it is crucial that you buy a cover and that you ideally store your canoe in a garage. No matter how you store the canoe, there should be a decent air circulation to prevent the risk of mold growing on your canoe.
Mold does not look nice and is extra effort to remove.
Canoes are sensitive in storage. Therefore, try to ensure that the canoe is balanced while in storage because if unbalanced, the canoe can easily misshape when stored for long periods. Furthermore, if even you are pressed for space, do not store any items on top of your canoe as this can also impact the shape of your craft.
Treat your canoe like you would your hands. If they've been in dirty places, they will need a rinse under some water. Whenever a canoe has been used in salt or polluted water, it should be cleaned. If left uncleaned, the dirt on the canoe attracts unwanted moisture which is an enemy of canoe fishing.
Cleaning means both inside and outside the canoe. Therefore, don’t be lazy if you want to have satisfying canoe fishing experiences over a long period of time. Dirt can land on the seats and corners of the boat which should all be cleaned regularly.
For washing the exterior of the canoe, it is recommended that you use a mild soap and clean water. Make sure the boat has sufficiently dried before storing it away.
Transporting the canoe
If you do not safely and securely transport your canoe, it could damage the hull and leave it with holes. No matter what the means of transportation are (boat, car, trailer, etc), you should plan the transportation in advance.
The most stress-free way to transport a canoe is by a big van where it can be placed securely at the back of the vehicle. For smaller cars, you can fix roof racks to carry the canoe but these can be temperamental so do make sure you consult the user manual of your car.
For those who wish to transport more than one fishing canoe at a time, a trailer may be the most suitable option. The biggest advantage of a trailer is that you can also use them as storage facilities for your canoes at home. Custom-made trailers are also available; therefore, it is worth speaking with the trailer manufacturer to see if they are willing to make a trailer perfectly suited to your canoe(s).
For really short distances, a trolley can be used that is pulled by a bicycle.
Check for hull damage
Crucial to your canoe fishing experience is maintaining the integrity of the hull. Although damage varies depending on the material, you may well discover that long-term storage leads to hull damage.
Thankfully, an indented hull can return to its original shape through applying heat. In this instance, sunlight can be your canoe's friend. Placing the canoe in direct sunlight often returns the canoe to its original shape.
The Best Canoes for Fishing
The 119 Solo canoe is rare in bringing a lightweight design to solo canoeing which is largely why it's the best canoes for fishing.
Using a three-layer roto-molded polyethylene construction, the 119 promises a highly durable solo canoe that performs well in rivers up to class 2.
The lightweight design ensures that a solo canoe fisher can carry and load the boat by themselves, which is a pretty essential feature for those wishing to go solo.
If you prioritize speed over stability, perhaps the 119 is the most suitable canoe for you. It is often a trade-off between the two, and although the 119 will not be winning in canoe marathons, the shallow-bottom hull is designed for a speedier experience as opposed to guaranteeing fisher stability on the water.
Nonetheless, the 119 certainly has more positive reviews than negative, with the majority of purchasers satisfied by the lightweight feel and durability, in addition to the decent handling on the water.
Constructed from Rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex polyethylene hull, the Mackinaw SS by Sun Dolphin is a good value for money canoe that can fit two people and even a small family.
The polythene construction ensures a high level of durability and a wonderful gliding experience in the water. The Mackinaw SS can withstand strong river currents and can even be fitted with a motor (sold separately) if you needed assistance in strong waters.
A big advantage of the Mackinaw SS is the large storage facilities. There is a built-in cooler and storage facility into the middle of the three seats. Perfect if you want to take some extra gear out onto the water.
The Mackinaw SS also caters well for fishing enthusiasts by having fishing rod holders included with the canoe. Sundolphin has clearly considered the fisher at the forefront of their product design.
Ever wanted a high-quality canoe that is easy to transport? This 2.5 from MyCanoe goes beyond that remit and breaks new ground with their foldable canoe.
Constructed from polypropylene with a 15-year UV treatment, this 14-feet canoe can be assembled from its casing in only 10 minutes. The canoe is perfect for family and friends taking a trip onto the water.
The overwhelming positive customer reviews suggest that MyCanoe is not just a gimmick in the market but does indeed provide satisfying canoeing experiences. There are sufficient storage facilities as well as eight adjustable seat locations.
The 2.5 is also capable of handling different conditions of water with some experiencing whitewater rapids.
If you are a committed canoe fisher, you may be deterred at the price of the MyCanoe 2.5. It is true, the added cost of the technology may not add sufficiently to the on-the-water experience. However, if you have storage and transportation issues, the 2.5 is the immediate solution.
The Sport 15 recreational canoe contains many of the positive features of the solo 119. Designed more for a family canoe fishing experience, the Sport 15 has space for up to 4 people and can carry up to 1650 lbs.
One of the main advantages of the Sport 15 are the high side walls to the boat. This protects fishers from high changing winds and ensures a much more stable experience on the water.
The Sport 15 is perfect for medium-sized lakes and rivers. It is not the speediest of canoes, but certainly provides secure fishing experience in a variety of water conditions.
An issue some have faced with the Sport 15 is the storage and transportation. As a sizeable canoe, it is essential that any purchasers have the knowledge or the correct facilities to transport and store the canoe. Failure to have these facilities in place will lead to problems.
The Mackinaw differs from the Mackinaw SS by not being square-backed and is available at a cheaper price.
Whilst the SS is perhaps more catered specifically for fishers with the addition of fishing handles, the Mackinaw contains the majority of the same features of the SS, including storage facilities under the middle seat and drink holders on each seat.
Available in a variety of colors, the Mackinaw and Mackinaw SS both provide secure canoe fishing experiences in a variety of water conditions.
The huge value of fishing canoes is their ability to allow a fishing enthusiast to travel and explore whilst doing their passion as well as opening up new fishing opportunities that are simply not available to a land-based fisher.
For this reason, they will always maintain a large degree of significance and value amongst the fishing communities. With ever-changing policies and practices on waterways, fishers may increasingly be encouraged back onto canoes to explore less contentious waters.
Whilst kayaks are considerably quicker in the water, canoes can offer much more to a fishing experience that a kayak simply cannot offer. Whether that be increased storage facilities for you and your family on board, or the ability to stand up and have a better view of the fishing environment, there are clear advantages, with the canoe appearing to be much more versatile than the kayak for fishing.
The buying and maintenance guides have hopefully made you aware of the different aspects you must consider before purchasing a canoe. As the maintenance section discusses, it is crucial that after you have bought a canoe, that you make your investment worthwhile by looking after it properly.
You should treat your canoe like something that is very precious to you. You don't want your friends and family to visit and see a moldy and dilapidated canoe, therefore follow the simple steps outlined in the maintenance guide and you will not go wrong.
Most importantly, before purchasing the best canoes for fishing you will need to do a self-assessment of what type of waters you will be fishing in and how regularly you will be fishing. These considerations will be a huge help to you before starting your research on the most suitable fishing canoe.