Square stern or Double ended

I am looking for an extremely stable canoe for river use only. I need it to be at least 16’ long so I don’t hit my fishing buddy with my casts. I occasionally encounter class I and class II rapids with sleepers so I need something tough to withstand impact of a rock. I was told to look at a square stern for maximum stability. However, I can’t seem find anything under 110 lbs and that seems awefully heavy for launching in some of the places we launch. The particular model I’ve looked at is the Old Town Discovery 17.3 square stern. It has everything I want but I’m concerned about it’s 119 lb weight. (Even the coleman scanoe weighs 120 lbs.)

I’ve looked at double ended canoes but I don’t know which is the most stable that will fit my needs. However, they seem to offer the most choices for lighter vessels. I’ve been looking at the WENONAH Kingfisher which seems to fit the bill but I know nothing about it’s stability in comparison to the stability of the square stern. It’s royalex weight of 65 lbs has caught my interest.

Any suggestions?

square sterns
Unless you are going to use a motor all the time, there is no reason to get a square stern canoe. Even if you do use a motor a lot, a square stern probably isn’t the best choice for rivers with Class I and II water…because you will be using the paddle to get through a lot of the riffles, and most square stern canoes are a real pain to paddle. They may have a little more initial stability, but the initial stability is a trade-off for ease of paddling and even maneuverability.

I always question the need for “maximum” stability in a canoe. What most people think they want is a canoe that won’t turn over and dump them and all their fishing gear in the river, and they think that the wider and flatter-bottomed the canoe is, the less likely they are to tip it over. To an extent that is true for very inexperienced paddlers, but lots of canoes that are wide and flat and have that initial stability (which means they don’t feel “tippy”) will actually flip as easily as many “tippier” canoes. Secondary stability, which is the canoe’s final resistance to actually tipping over, is a function of the design of the sides of the canoe. A lot of wide canoes have sides that are rounded, and once you get them up on that rounded side, it’s like riding a log…over you go. But a lot of narrower canoes have straight or even flared sides, which are actually much harder to tip.

Face it, NO canoe is as stable as a john boat, so if you want a pure fishing craft and aren’t concerned with ease of paddling, might as well get the johnboat. But for Class I and II rivers, a canoe that is a reasonable compromise between stability and paddling ability is the best choice. Once you get some experience in a canoe that initially feels a little tippy, you’ll probably lose your fear of flipping it, and be quite happy with the way it handles.

My advice is to look at the specs and intended usage for all the Royalex models from companies like Wenonah, Old Town, Bell, etc. and choose one that is about average in width compared to length, and you’ll be happy in the end.

Double ended then
Would you recommend the WENONAH Kingfisher?


– Last Updated: Dec-29-04 8:36 AM EST –

ok hopefully Brian won't get upset with me for linking to my own site but here it goes:

I have a friend in Florida who made a mold and produces fiberglass hulls for this design:


He only makes and sell by word of mouth right now so he does things rediculously cheap. He builds them extra tough so they wieigh about 10 pounds more than a comparable fiberglass hull.

Send me an e-mail if you'd like to be put in contact with him. If you're not near him, lots of times he'll drive it up to a couple hours. But even if you need it shipped, total cost for you would still come out cheaper than buying most fiberglass boats retail.

Try the Old Town Guide 14’.7"
I own an old town guide and it has great stability (I have never fished from it though). It is double ended and is 73 lbs. It’s made from a plastic composite and is therefore a tough boat. They also have the same boat in a 16’ model.

Thanks Jen, unfortunately, I don’t think fiberglass is going to mix well with the rocks that I encounter on the river.

Fiberglass does take a little extra care as opposed to plastic. But they bounce just as good, in fact resist impact cracking better. It’s scratches and gouges where plastic is the better.

On boats that use polyester or vinylester as theri resin, gel coats help but can be troublesome to repair where needed. Gel coats also crack.

Glass boats that use epoxy resin, those are easy to touch up.

It’s all trade offs!

Good luck in your search.


Square Stern vs Double Ended
Square Stern: I would agree with one of the previous responses regarding the square stern. My family currently owns an older SmokerCraft 17" with a square stern from which we operate a 1.5hp 2 cycle gas engine. Motoring in the only real reason I would ever advocate square sterns. A square stern will cost you tracking and manuverability - believe me, I never paddle ours (although keep a couple with me if the engine quits).

Fishing: If you plan to do a lot of fishing from a canoe I would recommend adding some outriggers or small pontoon floats to the craft. There are a number of companies that make them and a reasonable cost. I have used some that are are so stable you can actually stand in the canoe (although I still do not recommend doing so).

Material: If there is any chance of smacking rocks or dragging over them in class I or II rapids, go with a Poly boat. I have personally operated all three types (fiberglass aluminum and poly/plastic) and I still kayak frequently under the same conditions. Plastic will save you alot of headaches and in the event of a small puncture it can be easily repaired.

take a look at
coleman, I have a coleman scanoe (sq. stern) it is 15’6" long and about 48 lbs. works great with a small o/b motor up to 5 hp or an electric. Very stabil you will need some bow counter weight w/ a motor . A fun boat made for fishin. Very strong made of ramex plastic. Cost is about 500, cheaper on sale or used. Good luck.


Weight of Scanoe

– Last Updated: Jan-10-05 7:31 AM EST –

I looked at the scanoe on the internet. Everywhere I looked, the weight of the scanoe is advertised as 120lbs except on Colemans website as it lists the scanoe at 130lbs. How did you get one that weighs 48lbs?

square sterns
My buddy had a scanue but we use it most often for fishing and anchoring up a bunch.

If you plan on fishing and anchoring in any kind of fast miving water, I recommend the square back over the traditional double ended models which tend to go sideways when anchored in fast moving water.

I had one experience where I almost tipped over while anchored (with my traditional) and had to cut the anchor rope to avoid a complete disaster.

Square stern.
I purchased a esquif mallard a few monthes ago

but is only 12’.They also make a model called

the heron at 14’6" i believe at 60 lbs.Scott

canoe also makes several nice square stern models

but will run upwards 800.00 and up.

I looked at the Heron, but I wasn’t sure if it was long enough for fishing for two people. Also, I have no idea how stable it is.

Esquif canoe
I fish out of mine with the misses riding

along also but i only use it in ponds and

small streams.Mine is stable at 38" wide

i have a older model though.Look up appomatox

outfitters in virginia,they are the largest

dealer near me and friendly.

Coleman Scanoe and Radisson Square Stern
A buddy of mine gave me back a scanoe that I had originally bought and then sold to him years ago. They are real nice on the water with a motor. Plenty stable to stand in and cast. But the weight is just too much if you have to load it yourself. 20 years ago I had a heck of a time with it, but couldn’t deal with it again last year. It will put a hurtin’ on your back unless you have a trailer or one man boat loader.

At the opposite end of the spectrum in weight are the Radisson canoes. I’ve owned 2 of the “transom” models (12 footers). They are very light and easy to load solo and make good fishing boats, but their skin is a little thin. A little extra caution is needed in rocky places. I’m looking at the square stern model now - its 14’ and only weighs in at a mere 41 lbs… It would probably paddle better than the transom canoes which are more like boats in the back, since its narrowed down in the back. Worth a look -

Square Stern Models
I looked at the Radisson models, but for the rivers I fish, they are too fragile. The Old Towe Discovery Sport and Predator series look nice but their weights exceed 110lbs. The only square stern that I have seen that has a manageable weight and seems durable enough for the waters I fish is the Esquif Heron. It is made of royalex and it weighs 69lbs.