Seeking canoe comparison info

Hello. I’m usually a lurker on this page because I don’t measure up knowledge wise of paddling with much of the advice given here. I usually participate in P-net forums over in the melee that is B&B.

I am needing to replace my ancient Scanoe (squareback Coleman ABS canoe about the size of a small aircraft carrier) that I have converted to a rowing craft (ah-ooooooooooga). I use it for fishing in mild rivers. I converted it to row so that I can handle it easily solo, and would intent to do the same thing with a replacement. I paddle when going tandem. I intend to use the replacement squareback with either trolling motor or 3hp gas for “out and back” fishing trips in addition to the oars.

The areas I fish are large, mid-Atlantic karst rivers with moderate current and no rapids over class 2 and those that exist are straightforward shoals. Nothing technical. Nothing scary. I intend to take my children out with me from time to time - both young and wiggly.

The boats that I’ve identified as fitting the profile and are in my price range are:

Old Town Predator SS150, and

Esquif Cargo.

OT is 15’, has three benches, and is pretty flat. It has some extra features for fishing that I’d be unlikely to use. For instance, I’m not a big fan of anchor trollies on canoes in current. I would replace the anchor trolley with something more suited to use in current.

Esquif is 17’, has four benches, and has 3.5" rocker front and back. I would add oarlock sockets and an anchor mechanism (but not anchor trolley).

Otherwise, materials are similar (OT’s Polylink 3 vs. Esquif’s Royalex) and width to length APPEAR similar. I would add oarlock sockets to the Esquif for rowing. The Predator comes with oarlock sockets installed.

I have checked and read the reviews section.

Main purposes are fishing (I stand and flyfish so appreciate high initial stability) and family outings (wiggly kids - ditto on the high initial stability). If I’m relying on secondary stability in either of these paddling experiences, I’ve made a mistake. High secondary stability is of low concern.

I would like to solicit reviews and comments from those who have used these boats - but especially the Esquif Cargo as that product is completely sight unseen, barring web site photos.

I will buy from a reputable dealer who carries both lines and from whom I’ve had positive buying experiences before, so no difference there. I already have a trailer, so no worries about cartopping. On-the-water weight is just not a big deal as the boats are only 15lbs different (the bigger boat is lighter because Royalex is lighter than Polylink 3).

  • Big D

You’ve done a good job thinking
out your needs. Problem is, few of us would-be experts have experience with the two boats you’re looking at, or with similar craft.

I’d be inclined toward the Esquif, because it is longer and lighter, and because it may reflect fresher thinking on canoe design. Almost every canoe Esquif has marketed has shown original and sound thinking. This is not to say that the OT isn’t a decent boat for what you want. (Though I’ve never liked polylink.)

Not sure you need a canoe…
I am not sure you are looking at the right type of craft.

I am thinking a row boat might be better for what you are doing, or perhaps some type of pulling craft.

Kinda sounds like a drift boat?
Granted it’s probably more money, but what you’re describing sounds to me a lot like a drift boat.

I had the same thought, but
the OP is thinking canoe…I am thinking how much fun a drift boat is for what he wants to do…and how elegant they are!

But have you seen a light one?

definately not light
Not light in weight or on the wallet. But light on the water, indeed.

OP says he has a trailer and uses motors, so I figure maybe weight of 2-300 lbs can be overlooked lol. Might be worth the trade-off if it gets him into a craft more suitable to his purposes.

Been using a canoe for this for years
I’ve been in and around canoes for decades. I have been using the particular canoe I’m replacing for about five years.

Drift boats are nice, and cool, and would be really, really great, but requires shuttling (I’ve never seen a drift boat with a motor - thus the “drift” part), and is out of my price range. They also generally require deeper water than a large canoe and the areas I fish are frequently shallow. Guide services here generally use rafts with frames because of that. There is only one guide service in this area that I can recall using a drift boat, and even he uses a raft during summer lows. I can’t afford a raft either.

  • Big D

Well, I did consider a jon boat
I just don’t like the banging noise they make on the rocks. :slight_smile:

  • Big D

forget canoes

Get an Adirondack guide boat!!!

Cajun Pirogue
Take a peek at the Uncle John’s Pirogue web site. With a Pirogue you can pole, paddle, row, sail or motor.

That’s a canoe — with oars
Exactly what I’m talking about. Except I’m not trying to make a statement of beauty. I want to catch fish. Cool boats, but it’s really a completely different purposed kind of canoe from what I described as needing. It’s designed for good secondary stability, speed, deep water, and to handle big waves while carrying heavy cargo over long distances.

  • Big D

OK. Clearly I didn’t make my point.
Thanks all for trying.

  • Big D

Esquif Cargo
Hello Big_D,

I have an Esquif Cargo and use a 2HP Honda on the upper Potomac. I bought it last year and haven’t got to use it as much as I would like since I have a one year old. That being said, I like the canoe a lot. It’s very stable, appears well made, and works well for the intended usage; a stable fishing-hunting platform with kids and dogs. it is heavy compared to my other canoes, and it is difficult for one person to put it on top of a tall vehicle, but it is built for a completely different purpose. I will probably get a canoe trailer in the future to deal with the loading difficulty. You are welcome to borrow the canoe for a few days if you would like to give it a test go. I live in Poolesville, Maryland.

Take care


Thanks Dan!
I will send you an e-mail. I surely don’t need it for a couple of days, but a couple hour test paddle in the upper Potomac would be excellent! I live in Leesburg, very convenient to Poolesville. Perhaps we could meet at White’s Ferry next weekend for a short run.

In any case, thank you for the review. I am leaning towards Esquif because of the added size.

I’ll send you an e-mail with my cell phone number.

I think you just asked
the wrong group of folks…

Clearly we are not experts in everything.

Its funny down in Arkansas lots of people were using long skinny johnboats that could be paddled as well as motored upstream…and some of the motors had several depth settings. The boats were maybe 18 feet long and three and a half feet wide or so with little depth.

I don’t see much of anything except OT Trippers (XL) and drift boats at home…maybe its water depth.

If you’re familiar with Arkansas, from the descriptions I’ve heard of it, the Buffalo is a lot like the water I’m used to. I can’t say for sure because I’ve never been on the Buffalo and have only seen it once and then from a vista when hiking. But going from descriptions of people who’ve been on it, it sounds a lot like the kinds of rivers I float. Good canoe and kayak water. Lots of people use rafts for float trips downriver. I’m not aware of anyone who’s mounted a motor strong enough to push a balloon (raft) against current and wind, but I suppose it could be done by some ingenious soul.

Canoes work well here. The plastic handles the rocks and ledges well. Their shallow draft handles the small depths. Their stable enough for the current, and they’re light enough to cartop when necessary for put-ins too rough or parking areas too small to allow a trailer.

  • Big D

Sometimes a question is too good
You seem to know exactly what you need and have identified the best choices available. Unless someone here happens to have both the Esquif and the Old Town (not likely since most of the posters are paddlers, not primarily fisherman, and don’t use motors), then you will probably only get random answers, for the most part.

To which I’m going to add.

I was on the Current River a year ago (similar to the Buffalo), and the boats of choice for fishing were aluminum jon boats. I assume you don’t want them because of the noise of the aluminum–but they certainly could handle a lot more motor than a canoe (not that that’s necessarily a good thing, in my opinion). Fortunately (?) you could hear them coming for miles so you had time to get out of the way and avoid being swamped.

I just did 60 miles on the Buffalo

– Last Updated: Nov-03-08 12:45 PM EST –

last week and thats where I saw the john boats..downriver of Rush.. The river is pretty low at this time of year and they used their motors till they got to a gravel bar and the prop banged..then went to the higher motor setting..if the prop banged again they pulled out the paddles. If the boat bottomed out, they tried to pole..and last resort jumped in to unweight the boat. All the motors I noticed were 9.9 hp.

The boats were pretty manueverable and all preconceptions I had about fishermen being lazy went out the have to be alert and very nimble to paddle pole motor and walk in the space of a few seconds.

While this is definitely not the direction you wanted the coversation to illustrates the need for outstanding primary stability and perhaps secondary stability should you misstep in the boat.

I have never seen rafts on the Buffalo..but then again I have only been there in off season(four trips paddling) impression is that there are far too many pokey sweepers to make a raft a great idea in fast water.

The LLBean Retail Store has both boats you are considering in front of the store. I would suggest you call them at the 800 number and ask for product support. They wont ask you to buy anything.

I had a jon boat.
They’re nice, but they’re not as flexible in how they can be used as a canoe. The big advantage to a jon boat is that it’s easy to stand in them and sight cast. I’ve been using canoes for a few decades and am quite comfortable standing and casting from a canoe with relatively high initial stability.

There’s a fair number of jon boats used in this area, but I prefer a canoe.

You’re right in that I was hoping to find someone who had paddled (maybe no own, but paddled) both of these boats or similar boats.

  • Big D

Trolling motor no squareback
A trolling motor works fine on my Old Town 16 foot canoe even though it is not a square back. It is actually easier to reach because it it mounted right their on the side. Steering well takes a little practice and you shouldn’t make any sudden corrections at full power, but other than that you can open your list to all canoes that are good for rowing. Old town makes many models that are 36 to 41 inches wide.