Paddle from front or back seat?

I am new to canoeing. Someone gave me an old aluminum canoe. I would like to fish the bays around Panama City from the canoe. Some of the time I will be fishing by myself. I purchased a set of the Spring Creek stabilizers to try to help with my stability. I have read that a lot of people suggest paddling from the front seat facing the center of the boat to move the weight more to the center. I can not do this because there is a bar right behind the front seat. My question is would I be better off paddling from the front seat or from the back seat? I know that in my old jon boat the trolling motor worked better from the from but I didn’t know if the same principle would apply paddling from the front of a canoe. Any and all advice would be appreciated. I could also use some advice on paddles.



It is refreshing to see someone who gets
his Spring Creek stabilizers first thing. Maybe you should check out one of their add-in seats and see whether it can be placed near enough to the center of the boat that you can control it when the wind gets up over the inlets. I think a couple of Cannon paddles, each about 58", would suffice for moving you along. Or, you could use a cheap Cannon double blade, or even a Spring Creek rowing rig.

My alternative advice is to check out the contest and win one of those sit-on-top fishing kayaks.

My .02

– Last Updated: Mar-06-04 10:28 PM EST –

I have one of those old beasts in my collection. Wouldn't trade it for the world but I understand your problem. I would suggest either getting a seat that hooks to the gunwales, can get them from many canoe companies, or try using a cooler to sit on, a milk crate or a 5 gal bucket. The problem is the bar that you mentioned. I have thought about taking the one out on the bow seat so I could do just what you mentioned but I don't really want to mess around with drilling new holes and riviting in the bar in a different local.

The first suggestion is probably the best choice but the others are cheap alternatives and will give you an idea of where you want it positioned for your paddling needs. I would choose the 5 gal bucket as a last resort as they sit rather high and will put your body weight up higher then need be even though these tin cans are a firm platform due to their width. Wear your PFD while you get aquainted with your boat. Those ol' tin cans are a lot of weight to heft around in case of a dunk.

Have fun!

Kneel on a PFD
Rest your heine on the center thwart and paddle while kneeling. You will be surprised how much more control of the boat you have.

Not needed
The thwart that’s in your way is not needed as the seat ties everything together in that area and my suggestion would be to drill out the rivets holding it in and take it out altogether.


Or you could BOLT it in a different…
…location, using lock washers. And don’t forget to wear a PFD.

back seat
sounds like you have a problem. NO you don’t want to try and paddle from the front of the canoe as the back will lift up to high and give you fits. You can put some weight in the front to trim it out or move further forward from the rear seat with your knees on the bottom will give you great stability. I also enjoyed polling from my canoe. A couple of poles that you can plant into the bottom and tie off to the side of the canoe in shallows works great for stabilizing the boat also. Try and get Bill Masons excellent video on paddling (the path of the paddle good luck and have fun!

solo strap
I would remove the offending thwart and install a kneeling thwart in the correct position. Even the bow seat isn’t perfect to paddle a canoe solo. You need to be 8-12" behind the center thwart for correct balance. If you don’t want to do that look at:

Spring Creek also has a clip on center seat as do other suppliers.

If you try a 5 gal bucket instead of sitting on it turn it on it’s side and kneel over it like riding a horse. It is just the right height for kneeling.

have you tried`
your trolling motor in your canoe yet? They move canoes along very nicely.

For occasional
Solo fishing use, here’s what I would recommend.

Remove the offending thwart, sit on the bow seat facing backwards, something that’s been done for many years.

I’m sure that you’ll have some gear with you if you’re fishing. Place that in front of you, which would add more weight in the desired location and bring the stern down some. I don’t know if you practice catch & release or not, but if you enjoy a fish dinner and keep some fish I’ve found that a five gallon bucket with a couple of gallons of water in it works great as a live well of sorts.

It’s rough trying to paddle with one of those wire fish baskets hanging over the side.

If you do keep some of your catch and use a bucket or cooler to store it, place that on the other side of the centre thwart from you, towards the stern, which will add even more weight where you want it. I prefer the five gallon bucket with some water in it as it’s easy just to toss your fish in there from where you’re sitting.

As far as paddles are concerned, I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot until you find out if you’ll be doing this very much, but I would stay away from laminated wood paddles as they have a tendency to split. If given the choice between those or the plastic Carlisle & Mohawk paddles I would go with the plastic.

If you eventually decide that you like canoeing, and you’ll be traveling farther when out on the water then by all means invest in some good solid all-wood paddles. You’ll be glad you did.


front or back ??
another option is to use a folding “beach chair” the low ones like a lawn chair. take some old rubber garden hose , split it and attach to the bottom of your chair and put fwd or aft in the canoe as desired it works great and gives you back support !!!