I need your assistance.

Hi Guys (and Gals):

I live in southeast Michigan. I’m 48 years old and 250 pounds and an avid fly fisherman. I also have a 7 year old son, who likes to fish.

Most of my fishing is for trout and pan fish. Before my son, I would head up to northern Michigan and wade in one of the state’s 200+ trout streams, or fish from shore, near my home for pan fish.

My son seems hooked on bass fishing (and I don’t know how that happened).

So I figured to get a canoe to use both for fishing on rivers and lakes.

I’ve tried to research this myself. My assumptions are as follows: I want a light, stable canoe, that can support 2 people and fishing gear, be able to be transported on my cartop, and once the “kid” grows up can be handled by a fat, old, gray haired guy (read–me) as a solo boat.

My search has lead me to Sportspal canoes. From what I have been able to find out, they are very, very stable. They have 3 sizes. The smallest is 11’7" (48 pounds) and the middle size is just shy of 13 feet (58 pounds).

I’m leaning to the smallest model because of its weight. It is rated for 500 pounds. The next model is rated for 650 pounds.

I want to learn from your collective experience. The sole purpose of this canoe is to permit my son and I greater opportunity to fish. No whitewater stuff, no scenic treehugging river floats. Just a simple plain “get-up and go” fishing boat for rivers, and near-shore use on lakes.

My undereducated advice would be…
get the bigger one.

You + growing boy + ice chest + tackle box + tackle = one very crowded boat.

In a few years, when he’s ready, get two SOT Kayaks.

By the time you’re old you’ll only have to deal with your yak.

Start saving now and get a trailer for your canoe or kayak and loading/off-loading becomes a breeze.

Buy used boats if possible. Take good care of them. Sell and recoup 90% of your investment later. Use that toward your next boat(s).

Dissenting opinions will follow…

Get at least a 15 foot canoe. A tandem shorter than that will be slow and hard to paddle. Plus the longer the canoe the less likely you are to catch one another’s faces. Trust me on that one. My normal fishing tandem is a 16.5 foot wenonah. It is large enough to be stable and carry lots of gear but small enough to paddle solo. If you are going to fish in lakes go for a 16 to 17 footer. Wenonah makes a few canoes that fit this description. Look at the Spirit2 and The Kingfisher. Also the Adirondac and Aruora. The shorter canoes are the Heron and Fisherman.

Definately get a bigger canoe, anything under 15’ for two people and gear is too small in my opinion. I fished with my Dad out of a 15’ Mansfield canoe for many years until I was around 18yrs old. Everytime we took a smaller canoe, we ended up uncomfortable or we dumped.

I’ll have to show this thread to my wife. Seems that even men beilieve that bigger is…


two schools of thought here…
On one hand, for most canoes in the 33-36" wide range, the longer canoes add stability and speed. On the other, sport canoes can be as wide as 40", and less than 14 feet. The sport canoe will be much more stable, but it will paddle like a pig. Personally I think that a 16 foot by 35" wide canoe is a good trade off between speed and stability.

I’d suggest you try a few first, and if you try a sport canoe, make sure you try it with a load, thats where they get hard to paddle. I’m sure that most of us on this board have started out paddling a lesser boat before we upgraded, I think it makes a better paddler. Good luck.

Keep the advise coming…
Thank’s for the feed back, but I still need advise.

Let me explain how my thinking evolved. I wanted to buy a pontoon style fly fishing float boat. What this is, is two inflatable tubes tied together with an alloy seat assembly. A two seater is about 14 feet long, costs about $1,200 and weighs about 150 to 400 pounds. Very little room for a cooler or anything else. You move it by breaking it down–which is a pain to do.

I know that from a canoe person’s point of view, the Sportspal canoes are both ugly and a true pig. But I will only need to paddle it about 300 to 3000 feet and back.

When compared to a pontoon float boat, a 11’7’’ Sportspal looks great–in terms of space, weight, and cost.

In time, I want to buy other canoes, and maybe a SOT yak, but for this purchase, what I need what amounts to a small but wide raft. But I have no experience with canoes as a fishing platform.

So what I guess I need is advice about solo canoes, where I can handle a single passenger, and where stability is the primary concern.

In my opinion, I wouldn’t spend the money for the sportspal - my friend has one and it has lasted a while but it doesn’t have a lot of uses.

Here are some good options for around $500.

Old Town Guide 147 - short stable - I’ve fly fished out of one. A little heavy.

Mad River Explorer 14TT - a good multi-use canoe can even be paddled solo but a little heavy

Pelican/Coleman - they have a couple that would fit the bill but they are pigs

Get a used 15 - 16’ royalex - they can be had for around $500.

or you can add stabilizers/pontoons to any canoe.

look at their setup:


The bottom line
is that whatever kind of canoe you get it has to be one that you can lift by yourself and throw on top of your car.I have one that I picked up at sports authority for three and change and it holds two people well. I t weighs about 75 pounds and it is a byatch to get up on top of the car.Doable but tough.Anything heavier and you’re asking for trouble.Pontoon boats are terrible at maneuvering.I fished with a friend who had one.I was in my kayak and I had been up and down the river in the time it took him to turn around.The best canoes are the ones made out of kevlar.A fifteen footer might weigh an unbelievable thirty pounds but they are mucho dineros.

16 plus
You need something at least 16 feet long. My son and I do lot of fishing together when he is home from college. Anything less then 16 feet puts us to close together to feel safe when casting for bass. I weigh about what you do and am 55. I have no trouble handling the canoe (Wenonah Adirondac) alone when getting it off the vehicle (actually, I find it easier to load and unload alone then with a second person - I get it on my shoulders ala portage style and slide it on the rack from the side) and it is very easy to solo sitting backward in the front with about 35 pounds (a dumbbell) in the back. Plenty of room for gear. Neither of stand in the canoe when fishing. If that is you goal when fly casting alone you might want something else. I do fly fish from the canoe when alone, but do so seated.

Stability and Portability
Personally, I think the choice of canoes that will fit your needs is a long one. The stability issue is not as important, in my opinion, as most newcomers think. I think it would be great if you could get some experience, maybe by renting a basic tandem canoe, to see what you think about stability before plunking down your money. Most general-purpose canoes are a lot harder to tip over than most non-canoers think, as long as you stay seated and keep your weight centered when climbing in and out.

Portability sounds like a big issue here, and one of the best things you can do is use a roof-rack with some kind of loading aid. The simplest loading aid is an extension bar that sticks out sideways from one of the cross bars on your roof rack. Lift one end of the boat onto the extension, then walk to the other end, which is still resting on the ground, and swing that end up onto the roof rack (the boat is now sitting diagonally above your car). Now go back and slide the first end of the boat sideways from the extension bar onto the main rack. This way, you never have to lift the entire weight of the boat above your head.

Sport Canoe
Thank’s for the continued feedback. One of the posts mentioned the phrase “sport canoe.” I guess that is what I’m looking for. I didn’t know that there is a class of canoe with a beam of 35+ inches.

What I want is specific recommendations for a canoe that will be used ONLY for fishing. So stability is as important as weight.

Where I live, the only canoe’s that dealers have are Sportspal, Old Town, and Coleman: with Old Town as the king, by far.

look at Mohawk…
I’m not sure where you are located, but Mohawk makes some boats in the sporting catagory as well as old town.

fatboy is what you need

I have 2 of these I use commercially. They are a little heavy and slightly slow, but awesome for fishing. I walk around in mine like a jonboat. They are rated for three people and I can stand 2 at a time if there is light current or wind. 42 inches wide!!! Those 16s are nice but are hard to turn on a dime and that extra 2 feet of boat just gets in the way on a river. It’s the perfect boat for kids. Trust me!!

Old Town Penobscot 16
This is what I have and is a model of all-around use types. I hung a center seat in it and use it solo. At 58 pounds, this 47 year old 210 pounder lifts it easily. My 260 pound friend and I use it and it carries us and cargo admirably. It’s fast, well-mannered and tough. When I solo it I sit in the center and stand up for fly fishing. Stability is excellent from the center for my personal balance ability. Capacity is rated at 800 or 850 pounds too.

I built a trolling motor mount as well and use it occasionally too. 36 pound thrust Minn Kota.

When not a fishing boat it’s a sailboat and a paddler.

Great boat. You can get a new one for a little less than a thousand.

Good luck and enjoy these years with your son! Mine turned 20 recently… seems about 3 weeks since his 7th birthday! (grin)

Old Town Guide 147

I fishing from an Old Town Guide 147. I got this canoe for some of the same reasons you are looking to buy one. Over the last 6 years of fishing and also camping from this canoe I have gotten my money worth. I have a friend that goes along alot but then there are time I go solo and have a had time paddling by myself. Now I’m looking to go bigger for the same reasons other are posting to go bigger. I would like more room, easyer paddling and believe it or not a little lighter for the same materials. I’m going Saturday to test paddle 2 or 3 different canoes 16 to 17 footers. I will post to let you know what canoe I’m going to next.

more from me
If I were going to buy a tandem canoe strictly for fishing from with no regard to speed it would be the WENONAH Kingfisher hands down. I think I could dance in one they are so wide. At 16 feet long they allow you to stay out of eachother’s way as well. Get one in reyalex ant it will be lighter than the pontoon by a whole lot and not too expensive.

sportspal canoe
There is nothing like a Sportspal canoe. I would suggest searching out and finding a good used canoe from the eighties. They sure don’t make 'em like they used to. I have found two 14 footers, both in MI, one of those in the UP. One of these was a very light model from 1973 very wide rounded bottom without a keel. A super fishing/camping/hunting boat with an electric motor. This thing is super light, but does not “paddle” well. The other one is from the eighties, weighs about half again as much, but with a keel. This boat is an excellent paddler, and fishing platform. I’ll continue my thought …

alternative to canoe
This is making a total turn from your canoe plans but I’d check out the Hurricane Santee Tandem kayak. It’s only 50 lbs and can be paddled as a solo. I got into kayaking via the canoe fishing route and like the ease of moving around on the water and the lighter weight of a kayak. Well not totally correct for everyone since some SOT’s are getting into the 60-70 lb range and that’s too heavy for me to car top solo. The Santee Tandem is only 14 ft and like others have said that is the shortest you should go for tandem fishing. I paddled one at Sun and Snow in Ann Arbor and should have bought it then since after that I looked all over for one to buy. I could lift it solo easily! Really stable and turned nicely with just a few strokes. They ain’t cheap at $1000 but a lot of people are finding Roylex canoes have crept up to this price and are darn heavy.