Solo canoe for fishing

I’m looking for advice on a solo canoe for fishing. I’m 6’3" and 250 lbs. Speed of boat is of little concern. My primary interest is with stability as I will on large lakes with wind and chop. Will also need to consider weight as I will take on trips requiring portaging some rough terrains.

I’d suggest another post
If you post this question on the Advice/Suggestions forum, you’ll get a lot of input. Not many people look at the fishing forum, and the qualities you are looking for in a solo canoe are not unique to those who fish.

Also, realize that some of your boat-use criteria will not be compatible, meaning they won’t all be optimized on one particular boat. In general, you’ll be looking at some of the larger solo models, preferably built from lightweight materials. All boats are always a compromise, and where you choose to compromise will affect how you decide what’s the best choice.

Look at inflatables
Dear Michigan Man,

I know this is a canoeing and kayaking forum, but if fishing is your primary goal I’d suggest an inflatable craft like a pontoon or inflatable kayak.

If you are starting from scratch they are cheaper than a new canoe that will comfortably handle your mass. I know because I am a big old dude too, and I solo a 17 Prospector at 6’5" and 350 pounds, and it’s a royal pain in the ass to transport and handle compared to any inflatable.

It is far easier to mount rod holders, net holders, depth finders, and all the other accessories that you might want to carry while fishing when you use an inflatable.

With a pontoon you can use oar power to travel greater distances, and fin power to hang around a weed bed or structure. With a canoe, you are on the paddle or on the rod, you can never do both.

You’ll have far more stability in a pontoon too. I have float tubes for quick fishing trips. But I use a Creek Company Voyager for long days of fishing. It handles all my gear, a depth finder, a couple of rods, and a cooler full of food and drinks.

If your heart is set on a canoe I’d suggest you look for a used Old Town Osprey. They are 14 1/2 feet long and come with a center seat and oarlocks. It will handle your weight and give you room to stow gear.

If you can’t find one I’d suggest you look for a cheap used tandem Royalex canoe of 15 or 16 feet of length. You can drill the gunnels and put in a new seat more in the center of the boat so it balances well. Then pull the old seats and replace them with thwarts to keep the structural integrity of the boat.

Good luck in your search.


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs

Adding to Goobs’ Remarks
I can’t comment on what goobs says about inflatables in general, though I wonder about them in wind (see below). One thing I do know about is rowing. Based on the expectation that this canoe (if a canoe is what you get) will perform well in wind and chop, getting a canoe that can be rowed would be a great idea. It takes a good long time to learn to solo-paddle a canoe well, and longer to learn to do it well in the wind, but no matter how good you get at it, paddling a canoe in wind is never easy and it’s not fun. Rowing makes you an invincible monster in wind.

For a rowing canoe, make sure you can stretch your legs out in front of you and that you can reach forward with your hands for the power stroke. Also, makes sure that there’s room enough to do your recovery stroke without your legs getting in the way of your hands. Having no thwarts immediately in front of your body takes care of the first problem, and mounting the seat lower than normal takes care of the second. Alternatively, you can find a way to raise the oarlocks higher, but lowering the seat is better. A canoe that’s supposedly set up for rowing may or may not address these issues as it comes from the factory.

As to using inflatables in wind, I believe most perform poorly that way. Some folks on this board report that there are a few very good inflatable kayaks that aren’t as bad in wind as one might expect, but all the inflatable boats of any style that I’ve actually seen in windy conditions were out of control and pretty much at the mercy of the wind. I’ve seen that several times and it always looked really bad.

While you’re right that the issues aren’t unique to fishing, what I have seen is that the Advice section completely ignores statements like “speed isn’t important” and consider the needs for high initial stability for hooksets, and cargo space for tackle. You will ALWAYS get recommendations for very light weight, very fast, non-durable, things along with recommendations like “I can dip the gunwale in the water and still maintain control…” over on the other forums.

Those are great canoes, but they aren’t well suited to the rigors of fishing (especially in karst rivers), and trying to convince anyone on that forum that initial stability is more important than secondary stability, and that speed and good glide are actually detriments to lure and fly presentation is near impossible.

  • Big D

Second that.
I much prefer to row my canoes when fishing.

  • Big D

Good thought.
I will research that more. Are you able to troll while rowing backwards?

I’m sure you can
Dear Michigan Man,

But you can do that in a pontoon while using you feet.

The truth is that rowboats blow, otherwise we wouldn’t have outboard engines. If you want to fish a craft that can be propelled by your feet trumps anything that requires oars or paddles. You can’t fish and row or paddle at the same time, it’s science. :wink:


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs

You certainly can
People have been row-trolling for a hundred years, and much longer than that if you don’t include sport fishing with rod and reel.

Rowing is actually a much better way to troll than paddling, partly because since you are facing rearward, you can watch your lines trail out behind you. Just as would be the case when paddling a canoe or kayak, it would be best to place your rods in rod holders. These should at least be located where the oars won’t bump into them during any normal stroke, and better still if located where the oars can’t bump into them no matter what. How best to do that will depend on your own ability, or lack thereof, to reach to the chosen rod-holder locations.

I row forwards.
I fish in rivers and find it convenient to be able to see downstream so that I don’t hit a rock or a wader or something like that.

So I row forwards the way that people do in drift boats or rafts do. I can go backwards, when necessary, but generally don’t.

Not really the same as drift boats

– Last Updated: Apr-08-15 1:36 PM EST –

The people who row drift boats and rafts DO row in the normal direction, which in this case you are calling "backwards". It's just that they are rowing against the current (with the bow of the boat leading the way) at a speed that's slower than the current. The result is that their boat moves in same direction as the current, which is the direction they are facing. That's not at all the same as rowing in the direction they are facing. Maybe that's what you intended to say, but the actual wording suggests otherwise.

That said, for traveling short distances in tight quarters, I sometimes row backward to make the boat travel the same direction as I'm facing too (rowing has no advantage over paddling in that case, and is actually a much worse method). I've also used the drift-boat technique when going downstream in swift, shallow water, but again, the bow of the boat (leading the way through the water) is behind the rower in that situation, but there's an overall drift in the opposite direction.

Rowboats blow?
I’ve managed to stay on the lake in my canoe when pontoon boats were blown off. OTOH - on another lake where they are allowed to use trolling motors on their pontoons, they had it easier than I. But it might have been different if I had a motor too.

Pontoons and float tubes are great if you plan to hang in one area and aren’t going to need to get anywhere the wind or water don’t carry you. Canoes, kayaks, and guide boats are more efficient over the water - that’s a fact.

You can fish from any of them, but if you have to use your hands for propulsion, you do have to adapt your fishing method to suit. I don’t see any of the above as being superior to all for all occasions. None of them will help you win a bass tournament, but they can all be enjoyable to fish from.

The Osprey with solo seat or soloized tandem is a good suggestion for such a large guy. Another model I would look out for is the Wenonah Heron.

I agree completely
While I can see that in any boat that requires oars or paddles you can’t cast while under power, I don’t see how that automatically makes foot-powered pontoon boats better. Is there any craft that’s more ungainly, slow, and handicapped by wind than a pedal-powered pontoon boat? And what about the portability/car-topping issue? I’ll take all the advantages and versatility of paddle and oar-powered boats any day, even if it means I have to set my fishing rod down while on the go.

Yes they do
Dear Steve,

I know who I am talking to here so bear with me.

If your main goal is to fish, you need your hands, right? I realize that if you need to propel yourself that paddles or oars are more efficient than your feet but the difference is marginal in actual fishing experience.

An inflatable pontoon gives you the option to do both should you wish to do that. I use oars to get home fast if the weather gets snotty but otherwise foot power works fine for me on lakes from 3 to 3000 acres in size.

Yes, a canoe or a kayak will allow you to venture further from the launch point than a foot powered craft, but in most case so too will 20 more minutes in the car.

I own a power boat too. If I want to fish the far side of a lake I drive to a launch that is closer to where I want to fish. The idea that more horsepower makes the whole lake your ocean is lunacy.

Learn to fish and fish where you are. You might be surprised by what you turn up. If you want to launch and paddle across a lake that you don’t need to cross by paddle power that is your business, but time spent paddling can’t be spent fishing.

I’m a fisherman first and foremost, and a boat of any type is nothing but a tool to me, like a reel or a rod.


Tim Murphy