Tandem canoe that can paddle solo

Hi, I am new to the forum and happy to be here for all the great advice. I need help from you experts in selecting a canoe. I will need a tandem so that my wife or daughter can accompany me on short fishing trips or just afternoon trips but will mostly use it as a solo. I will use it for fly fishing and prefer standing as much as possible. I will be fishing on large lakes but mainly the coves of the lakes as well as ponds and a few slow moving streams. I will use it to float weeklong camping trips with just me and my gear and prefer it to be light as possible. All this for under $100 LOL.

I would like to get a canoe for under $2000 if possible. I can also have it shipped to Mississippi.

Thanks for all the help,


Consider the Novacraft Pal
in Royalex. Very nice light tandem and paddles easily reversed for solo. Versatile all-around canoe.


No association with the company aside from having bought several boats from them.

Here are a few
You are looking for light weight and even for a small tandem that would indicate a composite boat which would also be the best choice for your intended usage. But you probably won’t find a new high-quality composite tandem for $2000 or less so I think your best bet would to be shop around for a good used boat.

Some models which have been favorites for tandem day trips and solo touring are the Bell Northstar: http://www.bellcanoe.com/products/default.asp?page=product&id=588&catid=199

Mad River Canoe Malecite: http://www.madrivercanoe.com/product/index/products/touring/malecite_series/malecite/

the Starfire, currently made by Colden Canoe, previously made by Bell Canoe and Placid Boatworks: http://www.coldencanoe.com/starfire.html

and the Wenonah Solo Plus: http://www.wenonah.com/products/template/product_detail.php?IID=39&SID=2e984e5d9ccf0065c0c7d4abd9011890

You are very unlikely to find a Colden Starfire used, but might be lucky enough to find a used Bell Starfire. You might have better chances crossing paths with a used Malecite or Solo Plus.

Another option would be a 15-16’ Prospector model canoe made by Wenonah, Bell, and other makers, or perhaps a Nova Craft Bob Special: http://www.novacraft.com/canoe_bob.htm

These boats are a bit too wide to be ideal for solo paddling but you could fit a kneeling thwart a couple of feet behind the center yoke and paddle them solo as many have.

If you come across a small tandem that lacks a center seat it is a pretty easy job to fit a kneeling thwart just aft of center for solo use. If you buy a solo/tandem boat with three seats, or two seats and a kneeling thwart, and you plan to use it for solo tripping, you might want to consider buying a couple of wooden thwarts at the same time. If you trim these thwarts so that you can remove the bow and stern seats, and replace them with a pair of thwarts using the sets of holes nearest the center of the canoe, you will have much more space available to load gear. Once you have the thwarts cut and drilled, removing the tandem seats and mounting the thwarts only takes about 15 min or so.

Pretty good suggestions, add…
Old Town Penobscot 16 a very versatile canoe both tandem and solo.

Considering your $2000 budget, you might contact Mohawk canoes and be able to get both a tandem and a solo.

Bell Morningstar
and Swift Otter. I just sold the latter.

The former is in the classifieds here in Tennessee for under a grand. If you don’t grab it I might… or not

Wide Ride
MorningStar was stripped up using the NorthWoods/ NorthWind cross sections, so is pretty wide to solo, even if swapping out the third thwart for a kneeling thwart at the same position.

Thanks for the replies
I’m gonna research and get back. i may need to increase my budget.

The Mohawk…
The Mohawk Nova 16 is a pretty sweet canoe that’s often overlooked by the high performance canoe crowd but would probably serve your purpose all by itself, and it would give you enough money left over that you could also buy a Mohawk Solo 14 and still be under budget.

Note, however, that if standing in the canoe is one of your most important criteria, not many canoes are inherently stable enough to stand in comfortably while fly casting. To find such a canoe, you’d have to go with one of the short, extra wide “sport” canoes. A good one would be the Old Town Guide 147 or the Wenonah Fisherman. You can stand in them pretty easily, but they won’t get you where you want to go very fast.

Do yourself a favor
Buy a used tendem to paddle with your wife/daughter, and for the fishing trips where you want to stand for fly fishing. Then buy yourself a dedicated solo to paddle alone. With your budget you can have both (and still take your family on a vacation - or at least out to dinner). If you are like me, you’ll spend a lot more time paddling alone. I think you’ll enjoy it a lot more in a dedicated solo boat.

I like the idea of having two canoes. 90% of the time I will be alone. So having made that decision, what solo fishing canoes under $2000 should I look at? I have considered a kayak but I do not like the fact that I will get much wetter, especially in cool weather. However, the Nucanoe Frontier is an interesting looking rig. I know I will be standing to fish so stability is a priority.

If your interested in NuCanoe there is a
Dealer on the coast


I can also tell you your chances of finding anything mentioned above on Craigslist south of Hattiesburg is almost non existant


if you really want to stand up and fly fish out of a canoe, you should probably have a set of sponsons/outriggers/stabilizer floats look at this website (spring creek outfitters) and you can find a video of a trip on the chicago river using them with a motor - you can raise the floats out of the water for paddling, then lower them for fishing

I agree with the idea of buying a solo boat since you would be going solo most of the time - paddling a tandem solo in the wind is always a chore; better to buy a second canoe used/tandem, or even just rent one for very occasional use

I don’t fish
but most fishermen that I see are in kayaks or tandem canoes.

I don’t agree. Those stabilizers are
a considerable inconvenience.

I recall a fly fisherman who published an article in C&K. He had a 17 foot Mad River Horizon, a rather tippy canoe for the length, and he was standing up whenever he wanted to.

If you have good balance and your core body strength condition is good, you CAN stand in lots of canoes. It’s just that with most of them it will never be as comfortable to do it all day as standing in a johnboat. Also, you have to keep in mind that standing to fish in a canoe means that you have to have a pretty long paddle to propel yourself while standing, or else sit down every time you want to make a decent paddle stroke. I know a guy who used to guide in a Coleman Scanoe, in which he used a long double bladed paddle while standing, holding it like a single blade with his top hand on the “top” end of the blade that was out of the water.

As a very avid solo canoe angler, I can tell you that a dedicated solo is definitely better than using any solo tandem in everything BUT being able to stand in the canoe while fishing. But I question whether you really need to stand as much as you think you do. Use a boat cushion type floatation device to make yourself sit up a couple inches higher than you would on the ordinary seat, make sure there’s nothing in front of you that your fly line will get snagged on all the time, and get used to sitting while casting. In the end, it’s much more efficient once you get used to it. If you’ve ever done much wading while fly fishing, the height you are while sitting in the canoe is about the same as standing in water about halfway between your knees and crotch, which shouldn’t really cause you any problems fly casting. And you’re more comfortable and much more in control of the boat, being able to make one handed course and positioning strokes without setting down your rod.

Not my first choice
for a canoe to stand in. I owned a Morningstar that I used as a solo for a couple of years. In spite of being wide, it does not have as much initial stability as I would like for standing and fishing.


Ditto that!

I second the idea of getting 2 boats. A cheap tandem and a better solo. Even a less expensive,less capible solo is a lot nicer to paddle solo than a tandem,and you don’t seem to need a high performance ezpensive tandem. If you do want just one boat,I really like my royalite Pal. I use it for “big solo” work or as a solo loaner for biggies and as a tandem with company for casual paddling. It’s 34" beam is a big plus. Even new I think a royalite one is app 1200$?.


Common Request
The request for a canoe that will haul wife, child and camp gear but also paddle well solo is pretty common. It is wishful thinking.

To have enough volume to haul two adults with a self mobile third entity in the boat requires something like 16’ length X 35-36" beam; our basic tandem tripper.

We can solo that tripper by replacing the third thwart with a kneeling thwart. This places the solo paddler well aft, limiting control of the bow with draws, etc, and excess hull width compromises presenting an efficient vertical paddleshaft and accessibility of cross strokes/ maneuvers. These negative factors improve somewhat if the tandem has tumblehome.

The other solo option is Canadian Style solo paddling; the paddler kneeling in one chine to dramatically alter hull’s in water shape. Less surface area is presented and the paddler has fine reach across the low rail, but all cross strokes and maneuvers are lost across the high, offside, rail. Further, the heeled boat wants to carve offside, so significant effort needs be dedicated to corrective stroke components.

All in all, you’ll be happier with two boats and learning to cast from your knees or sitting.

Fly Fishing
I’ve fly fished from a canoe for more than 50 years and never had a problem castng from a sitting position. A longer rod helps keep the backcast off the water. I like a 9 to 9 1/2 for 5 wt. rod for most of my fishing for trout and a bit heavier rod for bass.