The 20 Best Fishing Canoes

Canoes seem like a pretty basic invention, and they are definitely a common-sense one. It’s the main reason why they popped up among indigenous peoples across all five continents. When it comes to maximizing stability in moving waters with the least amount of weight (and materials) to carry around, the canoe’s signature shape provides the most bang for your buck.

For fishermen, canoes also bring the added bonus of silent, stealthy navigation and plenty of storage space. Back in the day, when a successful fishing trip was part of our survival needs, canoe fishing relied on the work of patient artisans and tried-and-tested designs.

Nowadays, canoe fishing is, for the most part, a weekend activity that allows us to relax and recover our connection to nature. We also have better materials and smarter designs. That means that fishing canoe makers have a lot more leeway to experiment with the extras.


Old Town Guide 147Old Town Guide 147

Old Town is a well-reputed brand for fishing equipment, and they have always placed a great deal of importance on high-quality finishes and sturdy materials. The Old Town Guide 147 is one of their best-ranked fishing canoes thanks to its stability and comfort; it has been described as comfy and spacious enough to sleep in!

This canoe is also large enough to comfortably fit two people. Made with three-layer molded polyethylene technology, this canoe is also durable and safe, and yet it keeps its weight relatively light.

The Guide 147 is just under 15 feet long and 38 inches wide. Despite only weighing 82 pounds, it can carry up to 900 pounds. The seats are contoured and padded, and it is compatible with both a flush mount rod holder and an anchor system.


Wenonah Spirit IIWenonah Spirit II

Wenonah has a well-earned reputation as a canoe manufacturer, and even they are proud of the results of the Spirit II’s design. Dubbed “the Swiss army knife of Wenonah canoes,” the Spirit II offers all the basics in a superiorly-made, portable package.

The vessel’s endurance comes in large part from its high-quality Kevlar, which makes it capable of resisting the toughest riverbanks. It’s long enough to comfortably fit two people in their sleek, ultra-ergonomic seats, and yet it keeps a balance that we would only expect from shorter canoes.

It’s 17 feet long, but only 36 inches wide, which is great to keep up with the speed of a demanding chase. Cane seats are available as an add-on.


Mad River Passage 14Mad River Passage 14

A favorite for those who are used to sailing solo, the Mad River Passage is small, but it caters specifically to the needs of fishing fans. It’s for those of us who need to rely on our own two hands, and because of this, it privileges stability and maneuverability; you won’t miss the second paddler as you go down the river.

Despite its sophistication, this is considered a superb training canoe as well, as the paddles are remarkably stable and allow for some poking around with a high degree of safety.

The Mad River Passage 14 has a length of 14 feet and a width of 37 inches. It can carry up to 875 pounds. Both the hull and the gunwales are made of high-grade polyethylene.


Old Town Discovery 119Old Town Discovery 119

The Old Town Discovery is a light and portable option offered by Old Town, the specialized fishing brand from Johnson’s Outdoors. Although storage space is slightly limited, the Discovery 119 seems to keep one foot on the size advantages of kayaks and the other one on the functionality of fishing canoes.

As for design itself, they have managed to provide the best possible iteration of a shallow arch. Some tipping is bound to happen in such a small vessel, and yet the canoe rarely rolls over. When the time comes to fight a feisty fish, just let your body embrace its energy.

This canoe is just under 12 feet long and 33 inches wide. It weighs 43 pounds, but can carry up to 700. It’s made of high-grade, sturdy, triple layer polyethylene, and is compatible with sponsons (which are not included) for those who are fond of fishing standing up.


Origami MyCanoe Plus 2.5Origami MyCanoe Plus 2.5

At first glance, it feels like a bit of a stretch to include a canoe that can be shipped inside a box on a “best of” list. However, the MyCanoe2.5 is a foldable fishing canoe that has earned its place among the best fishing options out there.

The custom polypropylene fabric it is made of may seem flimsy at first, but it is actually meant to last 15 years and to be folded 20,000 times. Easy to order, simple to assemble, and light enough to carry around on your next world river tour, the Origami canoe is still stable and has super straight tracking.

Fourteen feet long and designed to be sailed in tandem, the Origami itself is only 36 pounds (although there is an additional accessory box weighing 18 pounds and that includes the paddles). Seats are adjustable and there is enough space inside the canoe for a large cooler and mid-size fishing gear.


Lifetime KodiakLifetime Kodiak

The Kodiak is a great option for those who love to turn their fishing trips into a family experience. It has three molded seats (only two of them with back rests, though) specially designed to keep plenty of storage space underneath them. The hull design is very stable, so if there are only one or two people on board, standing up is perfectly comfortable. The materials are light and UV protected, and fully compatible with an electric motor – provided the thrust rating is 40 pounds or less.

For added comfort while fishing, rod holders and cup holders are conveniently molded-in at the front.

The Kodiak is 13 feet long, 39 inches wide, and can carry up to 600 pounds. However, with a total dry weight of 96 pounds, it is not as easy to haul around as other models on this list.


Grumman 16’ Square Stern

Grumman has never shied away from targeting their products to pros who know how to recognize quality at first glance. The Square Stern was made for power: powerful currents, power paddles, and power fishers. It is made from 125’’ aluminum and has extra-resistant outboards and ribs for added stability.

Its sleek design is shock resistant and highly stable. In addition, Grumman is committed to pulling all the extra stops post-sale, as they are recognized for their superb customer care and maintenance services.

This canoe is 36 inches wide, and is available in 16, 17, and 19-foot versions. Despite being a bit on the heavy side, it can carry up to 650 pounds and provides wide storage space.


eSquif HéronSquif Héron

French Canadian outdoor gear experts Squif are still relatively unknown inside the U.S., although the Heron should not remain obscure for long. This elegant multi-purpose canoe is stable and easy to maneuver, providing a pleasant a stress free fishing experience even for those who are more used to yachts or piers.

It’s made of T-Formex, a very sturdy but light material that helps insulate passengers from very cold water temperatures – which makes sense considering Squif’s origin. However, if you are fond of classic, rustic looks, you can order the wood trim version. A camo paintjob for their vinyl trim is also available, and looks very neat. It can withstand propulsion engines of up to 3 HP, or just paddled around the river.

Fourteen feet, 6 inches long and 38 inches wide, the Héron should weigh more than the 69 pounds it actually does. This makes it light enough to carry on top of a van or with a very simple trailer. It is equipped with two caned seats and a central yoke seat.


Old Town Penobscot 174Old Town Penobscot 174

This long canoe is great for shallow water fishers who need some extra stability without scaring fish away. It can sail quickly and efficiently thanks to its high-quality paddles, but it also performs very well whenever it needs to be poled around. Likewise, it resists windy conditions and strong currents properly.

Because of this and its large amount of storage space, as well as above-average weight capacity, it is a great option for those who are embarking on longer trips. Old Town provides two versions for the Penobscot: a polypropylene model and a lighter Royalex version. It comes with seats for two people, and can be paddled backwards from the back seat.

This model is 17 feet long and 36 inches wide. It is graded to carry up to 1500 pounds. The seats are nylon web, and it’s equipped with aluminum gunwales, ash thwart, and yoke.


Sun Dolphin MackinawSun Dolphin Mackinaw

Sun Dolphin has a well-earned reputation because of its talent attracting and keeping new canoeing fans. The Mackinaw is a great example of this. Its affordable price makes it a very attractive choice for those who are still testing their waters as it is very easy to use and stable. At the same time, it packs enough resistance for those who are used to long trips and demanding experiences.

Its high-grade Fortiflex polyethylene can resist rocky riverbeds and rough waters, and its straight tracking surpasses anyone’s expectations.

Fifteen feet long and 42 inches wide, the Mackinaw can easily carry three people and their gear without breaking its high-tech sweat. It is equipped with square back seats, rod holders, beverage holders, and a waterproof dry storage compartment.


Sevylor OgdenSevylor Ogden

“Heavy-duty” and “inflatable” are not terms we are used to seeing when describing the same canoe, but they completely apply to the Sevylor Ogden. It’s made from very good PVC and coated with extra UV protection, which makes it ideal for lake use. Seats are adjustable, padded, and inflatable, which will keep up the comfort level even during long sails.

As an added layer of safety, it has well-designed multiple air chambers, which mean that even if one gets punctured, you can still rely on the rest to keep you safe and dry. Combine that with its patented valves and Airtight© system, and you won’t have to think twice about staying away from edged rocks.

When fully inflated, the Sevylor Ogden fits two people and is 10 feet, 3 inches long. The kit includes a carry bag, foldable paddles, a pump and a pressure gauge – all ready to be stored away in any backseat on your next trip to the revitalizing outdoors.


Golden Hawk Traditional

This is a good, old-fashioned square stern creation that seems borrowed from a period movie, but can be easily adapted to your modern adventure needs.

This is a great fishing canoe for those who like to trap or stalk their pray rather than chase it around. Although its width means its speed is not the most impressive, it is very stable and remarkably silent for a short canoe model. Its capacity is also impressive, as its 12-foot iteration can easily provide space for 4 people without keeping quarters tight.

As a brand, Golden Hawk has recently experienced some changes, but this offered them a great opportunity to revamp some models and improve their materials – and this canoe is a perfect example of it.

This canoe comes in both 12-foot and 10-foot models. The 12-foot one is 38 inches wide and weighs 55 pounds. It can carry up to 750 pounds. The 10-foot model has the same width but can only haul 450 pounds. Both are made from fiberglass composite.


Mad River Adventure 16Mad River Adventure 16

The Mad River Adventure 16 wants to be taken to the river. Its high maneuverability makes it very easy to stay on track even in large rapids or when subjected to currents. Furthermore, this is the kind of canoe that won’t have you relying on another paddler for safety as it can be easily handled (just not lifted) by a single person.

This canoe can keep up a decent speed when faced with calm waters as well. The design and the grade of its Royalex has been updated recently, improving the hull softness and making the overall construction a bit lighter. In addition, its wooden gunwales expand and contract a bit depending on the environment, which will keep your canoe from cracking even if exposed to odd water temperatures. They seem to need some regular maintenance, though.

It’s 16 feet long, as its name indicates, and weighs 84 pounds with a capacity to carry up to 950 pounds. It has padded foam seats for up to three people, and holders for three paddlers. The square stern version can be hooked to an electric motor of up to 40 pounds thrust strength.


Old Town DirigoOld Town Dirigo

Although usually advertised as a recreational model, the Dirigo tandem is stable enough for fishing and includes all the necessary storage space. Design-wise, it is halfway between a kayak and a canoe, with a deep-V bottom that adds both stability and speed.

If you are traveling with someone who is not too fond of rocking or who tends to get jumpy when uncomfortable, the Dirigo’s contoured seats, thigh pads, and foot braces will prove to be an excellent investment. Comfort and peace of mind will be assured for the entire day.

The Dirigo has many of the frills that we are used to only finding in kayaks, but are always a great addition to canoes. These include click seal waterproof hatches and glove compartments, as well as separate dry storage space. The canoe itself is 12 feet long, 30 inches wide, and weighs 80 pounds.


Osagian Lil' MissourianOsagian Lil’ Missourian

If seawaters are not your thing, but long stretches of speed are essential, the Lil’ Missourian is a great option for you. This aluminum square stern canoe is fully compatible with a motor mount of up to 5HP. Its integrated hydrodynamic sponsons ensure speed, while its all-welded keel design and superior craftsmanship will keep you safe during rocky beds and rapids alike.

The standard model comes with two seats, although a third one can be added. Unique camo paint is also available from the manufacturer. If going commando is not your scene, red, yellow, blue, and green are also available, all with a powder-coat finish.

The Lil’ Missourian is not that little, but it is quite light: 16 feet long, 36 inches wide, and only 80 pounds. It can nevertheless carry loads of up to 700 pounds.


Old Town Saranac 146Old Town Saranac 146

The Saranac 146 comes from a brand that earns consistently rave reviews for its quality craftsmanship and efficient design, and it still manages to stand out because of its comfort. This canoe can perform very well for fishing fans who like to take things to the extreme. However, it is equipped in a very family friendly way, and combines storage space, stability, and reliability.

Add some molded handles, cup holders, and well placed storage trays, and you will get a very relaxing way to tour the nearby rivers. Molded-in rod holders, strap eyes, and lots of room to move around means it will be a great experience for anglers as well.

Despite a size that seems to hint at a much higher load, the Saranac 146 only weighs 80 pounds. At 14. 6 feet of length, and 36 inches of width, this denotes a high degree of efficiency. Its thermoformed polyethylene hull can be loaded up with up to 750 pounds of man and gear.


Wenonah Ultra-Light KingfisherWenonah Ultra-Light Kingfisher

Silent, light, and impact-resistant, the Kingfisher is a great Kevlar option for those who like to keep their options open. If you can’t decide between salty seawaters and shallow river beds, then this may be the first canoe you should consider. Designed by Dave Kruger, the model is almost as hop-on and hop-off as a taxi, thanks to its breathtaking stability.

Long, wide, and with a slight tumblehome, this canoe will provide you with enough space to store several days’ worth of gear.

As befitting its premium-product status, Wenonah has provided a lot of options to for customizing the Kingfisher. It is available in 12 different colors and 3 different composite materials (although we are fans of the Kevlar version). A black aluminum trim is also available, as well as extra-long paddles.

Sixteen feet long and 38 inches wide with a bow depth of 19 inches, the Kingfisher is no small vessel, and it is surprising to get so much space out of a canoe that weighs only 39 pounds.


Grumman Double Ender

This is an extra-large and roomy aluminum option that can serve up to three paddlers and is compatible with an engine of up to 5HP.

The double-end design adds to its versatility as it can be ridden both front- and backwards. It spacious and resistant design means it’s ideal for those who have trouble packing small, or are venturing on a long-weekend campout. Despite the lack of color options, its natural aluminum finish looks very sleek and modern, almost as a fashion statement.

Equipped with flotation gear on each end, and superior quality paddles and paddle holders, Grumman has provided us here with a good option for starting canoers or for anyone who is traveling with less experienced fishermen. This safety comes at a price, but the quality shows all around.

Seventeen feet long, and 36 inches wide, this is a heavy duty canoe. Its sturdiness and 0.5-thick aluminum allow it to haul up to 755 pounds of cargo and people combined.


Sun Dolphin ScoutSun Dolphin Scout

This was a bold bet for Sun Dolphin. Despite being one of America’s most prestigious canoe makers, few brands venture to the more unpredictable international market. However, the Scout SS is fully CE-Rated, and has proven to be a hit abroad as well.

Made of high-density polyethylene, this is a very comfortable option. Cup holders, three adjustable seats, foot rests, and six rod holders are all clearly meant to ensure that you’re free to place your back the way you like it, and not the way the current is forcing you to.

Fully compatible with propelling motors, the Scout SS is still capable of moving quite quickly when only being propelled with the paddles. One major letdown, however, is that paddles are not included. This is rare nowadays, but allows those who know their business to choose high quality ones.

It is 14 feet long and 38 inches wide. The Scout is fairly light as it only weighs 84 pounds. It can carry up to 765 pounds, passengers and cargo included.


Sevylor RioSevylor Rio

This inflatable canoe was made with the needs of the solo backpacker in mind. Not only is it fully portable, but it is also small enough that it can be easily maneuvered by one person – and it still manages to include attached rod holders and stay stable and safe.

Made from 18-gauge PVC and with a sturdy carrying bag, the Sevylor Rio will resist battering and punctures for years. It is also fully compatible with Sevylor motor fittings. After all, if it’s only one person doing all the paddling, so why not have a little bit of extra help when needed?

This canoe is only 9 feet and 9 inches long, but it can carry up to 350 pounds. The seats are fully adjustable and it includes a carry bag and a pressure gauge.



Types of Fishing Canoes

There are many ways to classify the types of fishing canoes available nowadays. Propulsion is probably the easiest one to recognize. Traditionally, canoes have been equipped with paddles only.

But some fishing canoes nowadays also offer the option to install an engine. This is extra important for single-person canoes, if you are hauling a large amount of gear, or using a heavier model. For those who are looking for a more discreet compromise, a canoe equipped with pedals is also a good option.

Unlike kayaks, canoes usually offer more open space, so the amount of people each can carry is rarely set in stone. That being said, the smaller models (anything under 14 feet long) may result in an uncomfortable ride for more than one person.

What Should You Look for in a Fishing Canoe?

The most important attributes for a good fishing canoe are stability, maneuverability, and speed. Dozens of models and design solutions are now available that emphasize one over the other, but we believe that the very best are the ones that provide a well-rounded approach.

Depending on your individual preferences, other attributes may also take priority. Space is usually a major one, especially for those who like to bring a friend along on their fishing trips. If you are constantly on the move, then you may also prefer a light model that can be hauled around easily. Depending on your climate or environment, you may also want a canoe made of a heat-isolating material, which will help you keep your presence hidden from local catch – and your bum and legs from freezing.

When compiling this list, we have also looked into the overall comfort provided by each model, the gear or equipment included (or at the very least, compatibility for easy installation) and the brand’s reputation. While we don’t believe that high-end brands are the end of the story, the degree of customer support and service each provides is still important.