I’m getting out of kayaking and into a canoe, i hope.

I will be fishing on flat lakes for bass primarily.

I will be paddling by myself 75% of the time.

My wife and 3 yr. old will be with me the rest of the time.

I’m 6’3 and 190 lbs.

Could you all help me with some boat suggestions to try out. I was thinking of checking out the Wenonah Solo plus. I am open to any suggestions…Thanks!!!

Good for you!
I’m partial to the Nova Craft Prospector series myself - they make a nice 15 ft. one you could easily paddle solo or with the family.

an Old Town Penobscot 16.

Hemlock Eaglet
Kinda wide, but at 6’3" your shoulders may be wide enough to make it work admirably. Plus he has a used one available on his site.

But I gotta say, I really think two boats is better than one. Get a dedicated solo, and a decent used tandem to see if your family really wants to go paddling that much. A lot of the time people find their spouses aren’t actually as into the sport as they anticipated, and wind up stuck in a compromise boat.

I bit my tongue and didn’t say it

– Last Updated: May-27-09 9:41 PM EST –

but I agree that I really don't much care for boats that try to be both a tandem and a solo because, inevitably, they do both rather poorly.

Be aware that the Solo Plus doesn't have the volume or stability of a larger, dedicated tandem. This may not be an issue for two experienced paddlers who are not too large. But you aren't small and I would ask yourself how much experience you and your wife have, especially with a toddler in the boat. Three year olds, like dogs, have been known to make some sudden weight shifts. Two not terribly experienced canoe paddlers in a relatively small volume tandem could find themselves upside down in a heartbeat.

Try the Solo Plus
As a solo it is large, but so are you. your height and arm reach will handle the center width. You should find it very stable as a solo fishing platform. It will do very well for you as a flat water tandem with your family. It will be limited in rougher water because it is a low volume tandem, but on calm water it will be fine. As a solo fishing canoe it will be better than the deeper tandems suggested, the wind will not affect the solo plus nearly as much.

Be sure to try it both solo and with your family. If you need more stability as a tandem, consider an Escapade or 17’Jensen. You are tall enough to handle either as a solo.


17 foot Jensen
Now there’s an idea.

If you’re considering composite, the Bell Northstar is a narrow-ish tandem that makes a decent big person’s solo. Bells tend to have a bit of tumblehome which helps get the gunwales out of the way when paddling from the center.


In Royalex, I’ve got a Bell Morningstar that’s been a good tandem/solo boat. I’d say it’s more maneuverable and more stable than a Penobscot 16, but slower.



On downside to the Bells is that they’re asymmetric hulls, so you can’t paddle them backwards from the bow seat. You’d need to add a center seat or kneeling thwart.


A canoe has more freeboard and will drift faster in a breeze than a kayak. I found that a small drift sock(sea anchor) does a great job in minimizing wind drift when fishing if you don’t want to use a bottom anchor.

a new boat
great info everyone, keep it coming.

Mad river Explorer 14 TT
That’s what I use now. I think if I could have a do over I might have gotten the Old Town Penobscot 16, but my current boat is quite the bass killer.

The Mad river also works as a row boat if you make the carry thwart removable and set it up for oars. It makes fishing a breeze.

Combis don’t work

– Last Updated: May-28-09 9:52 AM EST –

The concept of a tandem hull that solos too is quite possible, just not for the same folks. If two paddlers are compact enough to paddle a 15 ft combi tandem, neither will be large enough to sink its footprint in the water solo, or rangy enough to paddle properly from amidships. Conversely, two of someone large enough to paddle the combi solo will overload the hull tandem.

So, we end up converting a small tandem for combi solo work. This is generally done by replacing the third thwart with a kneeling thwart or a seat as the carry yoke needs be preserved and the hull is pretty wide amidships anyway. The solo paddle is placed aft of center, but where the hull narrows, so at a vertical paddleshaft can be achieved, but that bow is a long ways forward and will not respond to draws properly. The best of the bunch for this is the Bell NorthStar, strangely called NorthWind in RX, because it is a relatively narrow tandem to start with and, with tumblehome, is narrower at the third thwart rails than any other small class tandem.

Another option is to get yourself a real solo and her a rec kayak or pack canoe. With a double paddle she'll keep up with you nicely.

Northwind RX beam?
So the NorthWind RX has the beam of the NorthStar, and not the slightly wider beam of the composite NorthWind? The only dimension listed for the RX version is length, so I had assumed that the other dimensions matched the composite version.

Before the Solo Plus
A lot of 17’Jensens got outfitted with a center seat so it could be used solo. It was the narrowest of Wenonah’s tandems and with low gunwales. Now there are the Solo Plus and Escapade at 16’6", and the Jensens got hidden in the 'racing’catalog. Too bad, they are both great hull designs.


I have had the opportunity to admire a few, as they passed my solo during downriver races.