Which Canoe?

am looking for my first canoe for mostly lake fishing… was pretty much set on the Old Town Guide 147 (at REI for $639)… came across a local shop who has the Bell Canoe Works Angler on sale for $920… don’t like the notion of the oil canning effect I hear about with the 3-layer poly Guide 147… so, is the extra $280 worth it for a Royalex canoe… any thoughts on Bell canoes vs. Old Town canoes… your thoughts appreciated… thanks.

My opinion - go with the Bell
I have had both Old Town and Bell canoes. Both are good boats, however, the Bell Angler in Royalex weighs in at 58#s while the Guide 147 weighs 74#s. Believe me, 16 pounds can make a very big difference when it comes to loading and carrying a canoe. My experience is that Bell has good quality (however, I have not owned a Bell since it was sold about 4 years ago) and the weigh difference alone I believe would be worth the price difference.

Go With the Bell
I have had a Bell Angler since last year and have used it solo and tandem, and one adult with two kids once. Also used it as a “Loaner” boat. Everyone likes it. Paddles well for a short, wide canoe. I rigged it so my motor mount bolts on, but my trolling motor bit the dust when I was going to try it with motor. Here’s a couple pics of mine. WW




More choices
I would skip past the guide too, if I had the money.

The Bell Angler looks good, Old Town makes the 14’ Osprey Angler, which is similar in design - but with a more rounded bottom, I think - to my Wenonah Fisherman (which I know can be solo’d okay and also weighs in at ~57lbs). Either of those or the Bell Angler would be my choice before the Guide - mainly based on weight.

Be warned though - you may see oil-canning with the royalex boats as well (probably more so in the Fisherman), since they are actually “Royalite”. I wouldn’t worry about it - and yes, the lighter weight, and the easy repairability are worth the extra bucks.

Let me throw another one into the mix…
what about the Old Town Osprey 14 as another option… I think I’m sold on a Royalex canoe, so was wondering how the Old Town Osprey 14 compares to the Bell Angler - is one better quality over the other… any feedback appreciated… thanks.

Fishing Canoe
Old Town, Bell, Mad River and others all make excellent Royalex canoes, and stand behind their products. Royalex with synthetic or aluminum trim would be pretty much maintenance free and last for years. Mad River has a new gunwale/accessory attachment system called IQ that shows promise. Decide on a style, solo or tandem, then shop for features. For fishing, a general purpose canoe, or one designed with fishing in mind would be better than one designed to move through the water with the least amount of effort.

If saving some bucks is an issue, there are lots of good used boats out there, check with your local dealers and the classifieds, but don’t buy on price if a particular canoe does not have the features you need. And stay away from canoes which show signs of a hard life.

When I was looking…
I started out thinking the same thing you are and I was fortunately steered to a Novacraft Bob Special. As the paddle shop owner said, you’ll eventually want to paddle rivers too. He was right. The Bob Special is a very versatile boat.

If it were me…
I’d go with Old Town. But that’s just me. I have the Guide 147, and it’s a super nice, very comfortable fishing boat for 2 people. The guide is poly. I also have a royalex Pack…great single person boat. As far as “oil canning”, I really cant see the difference between poly and royalex. I’d say go with the Guide and spend tha savings on some nice paddles, rod holders, etc!

OT Guide
I own a Guide 147. Does what it says it does. Stable durable fishing canoe. Wife and I fished a fair bit, however I had to move the front seat back 5 inches ONLY to give her more comfortable leg room.

Oil canned or flexed in middle a wee bit with no cargo in middle. One milk crate holding sonar, tackle and fish tools and a small cooler of munchies n drinks (serves as keeper fish icechest) fixed that easily. Either container kept the bottom sturdy.

Will be ataching a 30# minnkota this year to make solo fishing a little easier ause the Guide is not known for its solo paddling. Solo is doable and done lots but sometimes I just wanna fish.

We are talking small fishing canoes here, pure utility, get the cheaper one.

My OT Pack
I’m sure that a Bell is wonderful (and very pleasing to the eye, I must admit).

All I can say personally is that my Old Town Pack is wonderful (Royolex) I wish I could post a pick, but can’t see a button for it -

anyway - it bounces off rocks, bends but doesn’t break, cleans up great and mine - almost 8 years old now…could tell stories of countless trips from Gulf redfishing to rocky mountain 4 mile portages over 10,00 feet (only 33 pounds) to my favorite - small streams all over.

There are fancier boats - prob. better at many things…but the Pack (guide is close) is way up there in about every category.

the good news? whatever you decide - you get to paddle - and that’s the best reward there is! :slight_smile:


No comparison
Go with the Bell.

I don’t know squat about the Bell
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t spend $300 JUST to avoid oil canning. Oil canning is nothing to fret over.

Now, if there are other features that would make you want the Bell instead, those may well be worth the money. I’m just saying that reduction of the likelihood of oil canning wouldn’t be worth $300 extra to me.

Then again, I am easily satisfied. Rod in hand? check. Cold drinks in cooler? check. Water pouring into boat? no. I’m satisfied.

  • Big D

Oil canning? - Who cares?
Oil canning doesn’t mean a thing - most canoes (other good old Grumunn Aluminum) oilcan to some degree. A little weight (6 pak, munchies,tackle box, fishfinder, etc) placed in the middle will reduce the oilcanning to the point you won’t notice. Spend less on the boat and more on gear that makes the trips more enjoyable.

Oil canning
Oil canning does rob energy from your forward glide. And there are canoes (good ones) that don’t oil can. But that doesn’t make it so important in a fishing canoe. You have to accept something in trade to avoid oil canning. It’s gonna be extra weight, extra cost, extra heat&noise, less maneuverability, or less initial stability - maybe even a combination of two or more. In a boat that’s primarily for fishing, oil canning would be low on my list of concerns.

Install oars
Wide canoes row very nicely if you install oarlock sockets. I row forward when going downstream in rivers (without fancy rigs - I just push instead of pull), or I can turn the boat around and pull if I need additional speed or strength.

Just a thought. Easy to do, though it takes a little getting used to.

  • Big D

Penobscot16 = great stability

– Last Updated: May-29-09 8:30 PM EST –

OT's Penobscot16(Royalex) has good initial stability for fishing from. Don't know your weight, but I think there are two models...one a little bigger. Royalex weighs 50+ but the material's initial stability is great. The Penobscots don't oil can....love some Bells, but the inherent speed of kevlar[/carbon] is the best paddling there is, but doesn't possess the bulkiness to give you that great platform to fish from. Need to prioritize!..as said previously..trade-offs!...super-paddling-enjoyment or a quality-platform-for-fishing. But I think the Penobscot16 paddles pretty straight...the initial stability is the trade-off for speed & efficiency of a canoe(always)...and then the carry/"portage" either IS or ISN'T an issue..? You haven't mentioned your weight...as mentioned...OT isn't the only Royalex canoe maker..both Bell and Wenonah make Royalex versions of their kevlar[/carbon] models and Nova's canoes = certainly well liked. MadRiver has some great boats to look at as well..
Wenonah has some large solos that should be tried if you can find...take a look in these companies' websites and try to find to demo...even if it takes a little drive...it'll be worth it.
FINISHED...starting to ramble..

Get the Crow Wing Kayak
The Crow Wings are all setup for fishing already. I wouldnt mess around with anything else. I got mine here $100 under cost! http://www.sportkayaks.net

I noticed that sportkayaks.net site isnt selling the Crow Wings anymore, But i did notice that have alot nicer fishing yaks now. Tandem or Solo ones, paddle holders,scupper holes, drink holders, these things blow away those cheesy Crow Wings, and i even seen one the other day that had a built in livewell! Now thats cool. The scrambler one is the one i own, i really like it. I woulnt mind a bit longer one though, but hey for $500 bucks i wasnt complaining. Here is a link to check out that one. http://c29hq.tk

Royalex: amazing stuff
My OT Hunter 14 is over 20 years old and made of Royalex. Bought it new in '87 or '88; can’t remember which. It hasn’t seen a lot of use, but it has sat outdoors most of its life. Since retiring, I’ve cleaned it up and started using it with some degree of regularity.

What impressed me was that sitting outside in the snow, rain and sun for a couple decades didn’t really affect it. Once I cleaned it up and gave it a good scrubbing, it looked almost like a new canoe…inside and out.

Now it’s getting used and starting to pick up some scars; but it seems to shrug off hard use. No sign of brittleness, weathering or deterioration from the sun. With a little care, a Royalex canoe just might be a lifetime investment.