solo canoe for shallow creeks and rivers

I am looking for the best canoe that I should buy for shallow creeks and rivers. Never get above a class two but need to be able to manuever tight spots from time to time on the creeks but hold a decent line in a river for short runs for an eight mile short run. Is there something out there that will satisfy all that I want without breaking my bank or without having to buy two canoes…

Four Things
What do you weight? How tall are you? Do you prefer to sit, kneel or do both. Do you use a single or double blade paddle?

Interesting question. For conditions
where rivers get fairly evenly shallow, you’d want a shallow arch cross section, little or no rocker through most of the length, but some lift at the ends for turning. Lots of south Georgia rivers get shallow evenly.

North Georgia rivers are ledgy, and when they get shallow there is considerable variation in the bottom contours. Water may channel through narrow cuts in shallow ledges, and when a low rocker canoe goes over a ledge, it may scrape and drag. For north Georgia rivers in shallow conditions, a whitewater canoe may work better. It may have a narrow, more strongly arched cross section that fits better through slots. With more rocker, it won’t drag over ledges as much, and the rocker also helps very quick, small turns.

I usually paddle a 15 foot whitewater solo/tandem (similar to MR ME or Caption) on both north and south Georgia streams, but if conditions aren’t ledgy, I can use my Mad River Guide/Solo which has a flattish cross section and just some rocker. It’s also faster.

Consider poling when streams are shallow. Look at the Millbrook Souhegan or Coho ( which are at least faster than whitewater boats of the same length, can be paddles solo and tandem, are designed by a poling champion, and are light and sturdy.

Also look through the Wenonah solo offerings in the 14 to 15 foot class. They offer different combinations of flatness and rocker. Maybe you would find their so-called whitewater solo, the Rendezvous, to be what you need.

how shallow?
If you want to get REALLY shallow, you’ll probably want a canoe that’s steady enough to pole well. You probably should consider a smallish 14’ or 15’ tandem. Something with a flat bottom like the OT Camper can float in just a few inches. One of the sub-16’ Prospectors would work really well too.

If you’re set on a dedicated solo, there a lot of “downriver” designs that would fit the bill. You’ll need to get out test paddle because different canoes suit different body sizes, gear loads, etc. Swift Raven, Nova Craft Supernova, Mohawk Odyessy are names that pop up a whole lot in forum discussions as versatile river-running solos.

Well the Raven is a multiweek hauler

– Last Updated: Aug-08-11 4:47 PM EST –

kind of like a Mack truck.. Its not my first choice off the rack for daytrips on twisty creeks. Perhaps its the beefy 62 lbs that says...nah..pick the Wenonah Argosy for day trips and mildwater.

I have both above.. and used to have a Mohawk Solo 13.. That was a fun boat and flattish bottomed. Whether or not it would have held up to Georgia ledges I don't know.

Prospectors are pretty round bottom..which my New Brunswick friends point out...they do not float in a couple of inches of water. They are deep water haulers.

Esquif Echo
Royalex, symmetrically rockered, maneuverable, 14’ long.

Can get a Millbrook Souhegan for less
and it’s also a great poling craft.

XL13s and all other boats built for ww
hold up quite well on Georgia ledges. But I’m not sure he’s going to run north Georgia rivers. And for south Georgia, probably whitewater boats are not going to work for him. I get my ww boats to work everywhere (except big lakes) because I am very used to paddling them.

For shallow rocky Tx rivers
I looked at Wenonah Argosy and Vagagond, Bell Yellowstone Solo, Mohawk Odyssey, and Mad River Freedom Solo all in Royalex. I only got to test paddle the Argosy, Vagabond, and Yellowstone. All would probably fit your needs although the Vagabond is the least rockered and least manuverable of the lot. I ended up buying the Argosy and have been very happy with it. I paddle it both single and double bladed. I like the adjustable seat that lets me sit low in the boat for double blading on flat, open water and then raise it up when I want to kneel and single blade in class II stuff.

The Argosy is listed at 47 pounds, but mine feels lighter and is an easy shoulder carry. If you have a choice in Royalex boats between a new one and one that has been sitting on the shelf for a year, choose the old one. My new one was very soft and really got dented on my first trip. My friend bought one at the same time, but it had been in the shop for a year. He got small scratches on the same trip, but not nearly the number of dents I got.

There should be some old threads from my questions about my purchase. Search for “rocky rivers and canoes” or “Argosy” and you probably can find the discussions that helped me in picking my canoe.


That’s exactly…
the kind of water I usually float (and fish). You don’t need a whitewater design because from what you say you want to be able to paddle through stretches of slow-moving water, and it’s a real pain to do so with a whitewater design. Assuming that’s so, and you don’t plan to go over class 2, you have several good choices from Mohawk, Wenonah, and Bell. Wenonah Vagabond if you’re of average size, Wilderness if you’re a bigger person. You can handle class 2 in those boats IF it’s not “big water” class 2 with significant wave trains, because neither is a particularly dry design in waves. It surprises me when people say the Vagabond is not very maneuverable. Maybe it’s a little less maneuverable than, say, the Bell Yellowstone Solo, but it’s PLENTY maneuverable for taking down narrow, twisty creeks, and I like its tracking ability on the straightaways.

lance—it would help to know more…
As other posters have said, we don’t know your size and how you’re going to use the boat. My hubby and I paddle shallow streams and our boats perform well loaded or light. He mostly paddles a Wenonah Argosy, kneeling, single blade. I paddle a Mowhawk Odyssey14, sitting low, double blade. My boat prefers a load, but doesn’t draw much water. I’ve scraped thru 4" with a 350lb load. Better to have 6" and a good current, tho. We paddle open flat water with light chop and streams thru class 2. Generally don’t like to take much of a load thru class 2, but we can if necessary. Hope this gives you a better idea of how our tow boats work for us. There’s a lot of choices.

More Information
I am 5’10" and about 200lbs. I will primarily remain in creeks and the shallow rivers of south Georgia. I want something that I can make weekend trips in. The Flint River is not really a problem at all, very calm but the creeks can get a little shallow and present the most challenge but the most fun.

Argosy is perfect
I live next door in central SC and paddle very similiar rivers and bought a Wenonah Argosy last year and I love it. It is the one boat I will probably never sell because it is so versatile. I paddle UP class II rivers with a kayak paddle then back down again with my canoe paddle. Its very manueverable, tracks well and the tumblehome makes it a true pleasure to paddle. If find yourself anywhere near Columbia SC before you buy a boat, I would be happy to let you try mine out!