Customizing my canoe - good idea or no?

Hi all,

I recently purchased my first canoe - a Wenonah Fusion 13’. in Royalex I bought it primarily as a platform for fly fishing, and it is doing a fine job of it. I also find the boat a ton of fun to paddle and am already looking to add another canoe soon (a tandem or another solo boat more capable of running class II rivers). Anyway, my question concerns to Fusion.

I’m thinking about customizing this boat. The first thing I would do is add anchor trolley’s on both sides so I can really dial in my ability to use an anchor or a drift sock. This would involve screwing or riveting the fasteners and pulleys to the boat. This makes me cringe a bit, but I’m not certain why.

Is there any reason I shouldn’t add the trolleys? If I do, does anyone have a recommendation for a kit that works well on canoes?

Thanks, happy to be a member here!

If you’re simply aiming at anchoring in a pond/bog…(just my experience)…I’ve used just a single anchor, dropped over one side …the end tied onto a thwart near you…has been good enough. If you’re using a flyrod and one anchor isn’t enough to hold when in the wind…I used to call it a day/night as that’s just too windy for any fun with the flyrod… You definitely don’t want an anchor to be fastened any distance away from you, making you the heaviest part of the canoe and the farthest part of the canoe from the anchored. You’ll be the part that’ll be swung around when the wind shifts, as it often does, when a breeze comes across a pond.

A couple things occur to me.

First, do you use a double-blade paddle? If you do, a trolley probably won’t be seriously in the way of your paddling. If you are a single-blader, I think you might regret having such clutter alongside the hull.

As to the need for a trolley, I tend to think that’s a complex solution to a very simple problem. Like BigSpencer, I usually find it perfectly adequate to drop an anchor over the side and tie it off either to the thwart in front of me, the thwart behind me, or even the seat frame, depending on how I want my boat to “hang” in the wind or current. If I really needed the anchor to attach to one end of the boat or the other, it would be fairly simple to rig a line that’s long enough to reach from the end of the boat to where you are seated that has a metal loop or carabiner on the end, plus a length of additional line (or continuation of the main line) that you can tie off near you to keep it within reach. This way you could tie off your anchor line to that metal loop and toss the whole works overboard, and then your anchor line is effectively attached to the end of the boat. When you need to pull the anchor in again or change the length of the anchor line, you just grab that extra length of line that’s nearby and pull the metal loop or carabiner right to your lap and make whatever adjustment, connection or disconnection of the main anchor line that is needed. It will be less noisy than a set of pulleys, and can be removed or re-installed as fast as you can untie or tie two knots.

For a canoe, I use very small-diameter anchor line, about 1/4-inch, which makes tying knots a breeze. Cleats would be even easier, but if you do tie knots, simply make the knot “on a bight” rather than using the actual free end of the rope, as that’s just about as fast as using a cleat.

Another trick is to cut a piece of very light plywood for wrapping your anchor line onto. I cut a piece that’s about 12 to 14 inches long, 4 to 6 inches wide, with a wide “U”-shaped notch cut in each end. Wind the rope onto it by hand. This is handier and quicker for winding up or winding out anchor rope than any fancy crank system you can buy and attach to your boat.

Some of this is more than you asked for, but appropriate to go along with my other thoughts on anchoring.

I attach a carabiner to the bow painter line, or to a carry handle. I then run the 1/4" anchor line thru the biner and tie it off to a thwart using a NiteEaze carabiner that has a locking section that bites into the line. That way the anchor rope always pulls at the bow and can easily be reeled in or out. I use a cheap Lowes or HD extension cord wrapperto keep the lines safely stowed. This has worked great. I’ve tried different anchors, mushroom, wrapped up chains, bur the best is a round 5# weight from a scale, about the size of a baseball.

On a pond…anchor thru the bow? You have any idea of what’ll happen with just a little breeze? What you’re describing is the Last position you want to be in. Do you have any idea how much pull on an anchor a steady wind exerts? An x-large coffee can filled with kwikrete with eyed-screw is the way to go…at the top end…tied to one of your seat’s bars… When you’re bringing in fish to net…one anchor line is ALL you want…then you won’t have the biggest fish of the day, in the fading light of evening, possibly winding its way around your anchor line…

Adam, Sounds like you have a number of options presented here. I am curious, though, as to how you like paddling the Fusion. When I test paddled one (without the optional rudder) I had a very hard time keeping it on track in even the slightest breeze. I also noticed incredible nose wag with each dip of the double paddle, and assumed that is why they added the optional rudder. I did like the hung seat, though, a rarity in today’s sit-on-the-floor hybrids.

@BigSpencer said:
On a pond…anchor thru the bow? You have any idea of what’ll happen with just a little breeze? What you’re describing is the Last position you want to be in. Do you have any idea how much pull on an anchor a steady wind exerts? An x-large coffee can filled with kwikrete with eyed-screw is the way to go…

That coffee can filled with concrete will weigh about 16 or 18 pounds (it will weigh a lot more than that if “extra-large” is bigger than the cans of coffee most people buy). Do you really need that much anchor in a canoe, just because the breeze is “steady”? Exaggeration is okay sometimes, but this is pretty far out. My usual canoe anchor is the steel head of an old three-pound hammer, and quite honestly it has never slipped, even in wind that I’d rather not even be fishing in. Admittedly, the waters I fish by canoe usually have a soft bottom so a slight angle on the line results in far more resistance to drift than just the anchor’s weight, but even in a strong wind, just how hard do you need to pull the line to hold your boat’s position or even move it upwind in the direction of the anchor? It isn’t much. You could do it with one finger if you chose to (try it). I often tuck the line under one knee and pin it to the boat’s bottom, and it never slips. The tension simply isn’t that great! Also consider that the actual paddling force you generate while underway is only about four pounds, and that’s enough to counteract the wind (if it weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to make headway). That’s why I’d say that a 16-pound anchor is overkill for a canoe. Anchors of that weight are what you typically see on much larger power boats. As an example, when fishing from a small motorboat but much bigger than a canoe and with much more windage), I typically use an eight-pound mushroom anchor. That’s quite a bit smaller and a whole lot lighter than your can of concrete, yet even on this larger boat this anchor will only rarely slip, and only if the bottom of the waterway is hard and smooth, the wind is very strong, and the waves are also big. Remove any of those three factors and the anchor will never slip.

Related to this topic, steel has a density that is nearly three times that of concrete, so any concrete anchor is automatically three-times as bulky as it needs to be, but overall weight and bulk can be reduced even more. Any anchor that has a gripping shape holds the bottom much better than one that’s a simple roundish object. So with a steel anchor that’s made for the purpose, the amount of weight and bulk for a given effectiveness is much reduced compared to a simple can of concrete. Someone with a spacious boat and who never needs to carry their gear very far might be happy with a big can of concrete, but a person in a little boat who has to carry their stuff and wants less excess weight and bulk to mess around with can do far better.

My rig is similar to the one Cannonball suggested and has served well for a couple of decades. One advantage is that you are not really modifying the boat and if you do not like the outfit then just remove it. There are a couple of differences. I use double anchors, one in the bow and one in the stern. This keeps the boat from swinging in the wind. Both ropes are controlled from the middle of the boat so I do not need to leave my seat to raise or lower the anchors. The anchors just hang against the outside of the canoe when they are raised so then are easy to lift when you want to move. Constantly covering new water is key to fly fishing. The second difference is that I use a heavy nylon sack with 8 lbs of gravel for an anchor. The sack prevents the anchor from scratching the hull. I also think that the soft landing on the bottom might scare the fish less. The anchor would never hold in extreme conditions but then I would not be flyfishing in that much wind.

I think in canoes I used a quart size fabric softener bottle with handle filled with sand for an anchor. Fine if you find a bream hole but not needed if you are cruising a bank, trees, or docks. The need to cover ground outweighs stationary fishing. However what you suggest is a common thing with a lot of “equipment” centered fishermen. Go ahead and do it. If you don’t like it take it off. That is the beauty of the sport. It is not regulated that close.

Fishing the tidal flats I use a piece of 1/2" pvc with some 550 cord attached to one end. The pipe sticks in the silty mud. The sideways pull of the line works against the mud and the kayak stays put. Similar to a "stick it " anchor. That way I can ambush reds during falling tide at creek mouths. I attach it near the cockpit. Sure it sits odd. But I’m not going to sleep there.

My guess as to GBG’s success is due largely to the efficiency of the curved nail-retract side of a hammer, which is terrific! …like the dedicated anchors sold…which are indeed great, but I just mentioned my large coffee can cause the coldwater pond I used to fish dropped off for about 40% of the pond…to about 10’ and its bottom was a mix of thick, stringy weeds of the bulky kind…with springholes and some sand/rock in places. Would be a heck of a time to get unstuck with a normal anchor’s shape. One of the pond’s large springholes was indeed in less than 6’ of water…so something small would work in there, but if your pond has some expansiveness, like in Maine, where wind can build up and easily push you from end to end and off any dropoff ledge where you don’t want any anchor-drag. Royalex is terrific in canoes of that size, but their density also adds the weight that can drag a light anchor lacking the efficient “hooking onto bottom” quality. It’s your call as you know the bottom best…