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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.