Buying a canoe with a keel.....issue???

Any thoughts are appreciated.

My dad and I love to float/fish Missouri Ozark streams such as the Upper Current, Jack’s Fork, Eleven Point, Big Piney, etc. We like to bring the camping gear in the canoe with us and camp on the river. We are now in the market for a new canoe and have pretty much settled on the Rogue River 154 Square Stern Canoe from Bass Pro, because of its size and width (also beacause I am Bass Pro employee and I get a significant discount). The problem with this canoe is that it has a 1 inch keel that comes standard. I am worried that the keel will have damage from rocks and sand bars as we float. Do you anticipate that this will be an issue? If we just be careful and walk the canoe through shallow areas will we be fine, regarding the keel?

What about keel protection? I’ve heard 3M tape might work or even rhino liner spray(if it works, I’ll do it). I am not worried about losing speed due to drag. What about actual keel strips? Where could I purchase these?

square back
Perhaps I missed it, but do you plan on putting a motor on this canoe? If not I would not get a squareback canoe and certainly not one with a keel. You will beat the keel up on rocks. Also, the keel will make it harder to turn in twisty streams. I believe BPS sells Old Town boats- look into one of those if you are going to paddle and not use a motor.

The vast majority of aluminum canoes had keels so of course you can paddle Ozark rivers with them. But for river boats, keels tend to hang up on rocks and in the shallows and are not very desirable.

I would also agree that a square stern canoe would not be the best choice unless you intend to use a motor. There are times you want to paddle a canoe backwards and have it be reasonably efficient while you do so.

They must’ve set the weight record

– Last Updated: May-10-11 10:37 PM EST –

for a canoe of that size. 118 lbs, jeez...

Another thing that I would worry about (as a paddler) is 42" beam. Canoes wider than 34"-36" are pain to paddle, so you have to row. It's shown with oar locks installed so this probably is what designers had in mind for when motor fails.

I don't see a keel, btw - that thing protruding at stern is called "a fixed skeg", something I don't recall on any other canoes (and wouldn't like to have it either).

PS: I meant wide beam is a pain to paddle solo from the center seat. 2 people, one in bow and one in stern, are in a better position. Solo, and without a motor, this boat will be a lot of workout.

Ozark streams…
I’ve paddled Ozark streams all my life, and I’m older than dirt, so I know them well. Sure, you can use the canoe you’re considering…heck, people use Coleman Scanoes all the time on those streams, and they are several orders of magnitude more difficult to handle than the canoe you’re considering. But…that Rogue River is FAR from an optimum canoe for the Ozarks (or anywhere else for that matter).

One reason is the weight. If you don’t plan to ever use inconvenient accesses, or cartop it, or load or unload it solo, or carry the thing around a log jam, fine, but if any of those things are in the picture, you’ll find that weight to be a real problem. Any decent canoe will weigh less than 90 pounds, and any good one less than 75 pounds.

Second reason is, there is a difference between fighting the canoe down the river and actually enjoying paddling it, and a good canoe is FUN to paddle, not to mention easier to handle in moving water while fishing. That canoe falls into the “fighting the canoe down the river” category.

Having said all that, if you plan to use a trolling motor a lot (something that I find more trouble than it’s worth on shallow Ozark rivers, but to each his own), and if you plan on trailering the thing, it’s a decent choice. But that keel thingy WILL be a real pain when trying to drag over shallow riffles.

In looking at the canoes available on the BPS website, I’d MUCH prefer the Old Town Expedition. It’s 85 pounds, still not as light as what I’d want, but way better than 119 pounds. And it will have enough cargo space for two anglers plus a lot of camping gear. The other canoes shown on the website are all very short. Two people in a canoe with at least one of them fishing, a canoe under 15 feet means serious danger of snagging your partner on the backcast because you are too close together, and also more inconvenience in stowing your rod or rods within the canoe when you’re going down a brushy riffle where a rod tip sticking out of the canoe often means a broken or lost rod. And those 14 footers, in order to have enough stability and cargo space for two people, have to be extremely wide. Wide equals initial stability (it feels stable) but does not mean final stability (it still is prone to flipping when you get in trouble). And wide means slow, which you won’t like when you are paddling through a long, dead pool with a wind in your face or on those occasions when you miscalculate distance and find yourself two miles from the take-out with dark approaching.

Coleman Scanoe
- Al, I wonder what makes it worse than this BP boat. Scanoe is same wide, 1ft longer, and a bit lighter. Haven’t paddled either one, though.

Thanks for all the advice!!!
After reading your comments I know will “rethink” my purchase, perhaps consider an Old Town.

We do use a small trolling motor. But it remains unused 98% of the time.

that is big
I rarely, if ever, see myself paddling this canoe solo. This purchase would be for my dad and I as a fish/float type of vessel. I really like the large size for gear, better stability, etc. But I didn’t notice that it weighed that much. That is alot. We will transport whatever canoe we purchase in the back of pickup trucks, not on top.

The problem for me is that most of the Old Towns seem small and not ideal for our fish/float adventures, with lots of gear, etc.

keel damage
If I did purchase this canoe do you anticipate that we would have keel damage, even being mindful of the keel by walking the canoe through riffles and shallow areas?

Yeah, you may be right…
there may not be much difference, now that I’ve seen the specs on both. I’ve spent time in Scanoes, and wouldn’t do it again if I didn’t have to. I do think the Rogue River would be a better boat, but more because it is apparently made of slightly better material–any craft that needs a jungle gym worth of metal bracing inside just to keep its shape can’t be good.

I myself not sure I’m right :slight_smile:

– Last Updated: May-11-11 3:55 PM EST –

about Scanoe vs this Rogue canoe. I'm on open water mostly, but for those on fast rivers a shorter hull of Rogue with a better maneuverability (I assume it's better 'cause it's normally better in shorter hulls) is a good thing. But 15.5 ft length - I'm solo, this would work for me, not sure how much elbow room is there for 2 fishermen.

The lack of lateral reinforcing elements in this Rogue doesn't necessarily mean a better material. It looks more like a cost-cutting measure to me. Some very good canoes still have ribs on the bottom or a stiffening mold of some kind. Though, with that much weight (= much material) the Rogue might get away without stiffening elements.

rouge river canoes
These are made by a different division of Johnson Outdoors, though recent ones i have examined at Gander Mountain had OTC as the first letters in the serial number indicating Old Town Canoe. Rouge River was a trade name used by Leisure Life Industries, a company bought by Johnson Outdoors that made cheap paddle boats, livery kayaks, and canoes built like lawn furniture.

You don’t see the aluminum tube frame of a coleman canoe in the Rouge River. They use a thicker plastic sheet and stiffen it with the molded rib and the seats going down against the keel. A lot of the weight is in the molded seat assemblies that connect the gunwales to the keel.

Your worries about keel wear are just. The hull can flex over objects till the contact point moves under a seat. At that point the hull cannot flex and there will be considerable pressure applied to the hull skin and serious scraping.

The real Old Town Discovery/Expedition 169 or 174 at your employee price will be a much better deal than the Rouge River and will serve you for many more years. The 169 is a three layer linear polyethylene version of the 17’2" Old Town Tripper. The 174 is modern design hull unique to the Discovery Series, though sold as a Penobscot in different retailers, and as the Expedition 174 in others. It is a good paddlling hull, slightly faster than the 169. Both have similar capacity and stability. Both would be good for your purpose. Both are what i consider heavy, but against that Y stern Rouge River you started with mentioning, they are light.


I have a wood canoe with a keel
My 17’ wood and glass Old Town OTCA, one of the Old Town’s original models, has a 1" wooden keel.

I like it. The keel helps tracking on flatwater and doesn’t interfere with turning if you heel the boat off the keel. Now, I wouldn’t want a keel on a river boat or a boat I wanted to turn a lot, as for so-called freestyle canoeing, but it’s been good to me as a lake boat.

I also wouldn’t take the OTCA in shallow or rocky waters. In fact, I extended the metal bang strip from the stems all the way along the keel to prevent abrasion on the keel.

OTC Discovery
important to remember - OTC Discovery is not a Discovery Sport. The latter has square stern, and there is no benefit in getting square stern if motor is not in plans. OTH, if gasoline motor is likely to be used more than 50% of time, square makes a lot of sense. Trolling motor is light and can be attached on the side (no matter what stern), with battery inside the boat, but heavy gasoline motor should better be on square stern. Not to start discussion on gas motors here, but they all weigh 30 lbs or more, even the smallest ones.