How Do I Choose the Best Canoe for Fishing?

Dan Cavallari

Comfort and performance are the two primary concerns when choosing a canoe for fishing. Most canoes require the paddlers to kneel while paddling the canoe, so it is helpful to choose a canoe that can account for this uncomfortable position; padding may be included or it may be added after purchase to make the kneeling more comfortable. A wider canoe will be more stable than a narrower one, though a wider canoe will be more difficult to propel forward. Consider where you will be fishing primarily to choose the best shape and size of canoe for fishing.

The size and shape of a canoe affects is fishing qualities.
The size and shape of a canoe affects is fishing qualities.

Some canoes feature keels, while others do not. A keel is a thin strip that sticks vertically into the water off the hull of the boat, adding stability and ease of steering when paddling in rough waters. Keels are useful in lakes and ponds, while a keelless canoe for fishing is better prepared for use on a river. The width of the boat will also be determined by the types of waters you are likely to navigate; a wider boat is great for rivers and rough waters, while a narrower boat is great for still waters on which speed is important.

Bighead carp may be found in many rivers in North America.
Bighead carp may be found in many rivers in North America.

Think about whether you want an outboard motor mounted on your canoe for fishing. Many fishermen prefer to use an outboard motor to make propelling the boat much easier, while others prefer the quieter method of paddling. Paddling will use up more of your energy, and it takes some skill, but a boat without a motor will also be far less expensive than a boat that features a motor. If you choose a boat with an outboard motor, choose a lightweight and quiet motor whenever possible, and be sure to choose one that is easy to use from the stern position.

Rigging may or may not be included in the canoe for fishing; if rigging is not included, you will want to buy or make your own. This rigging will be necessary to secure your fishing equipment in the boat to prevent the equipment from floating away should the canoe capsize for any reason. If the canoe does not feature rigging, be sure to look into prefabricated rigging options, and make sure the boat has plenty of options for securing rigging to the boat's interior. Other upgrades may include cushioned seats, seats with seat backs for added comfort while fishing, and weight-saving materials used for construction of the boat.

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