A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: January 24, 2021
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A fishing canoe can make your fishing trips infinitely more fun and fruitful. You can fish in new and exciting areas and turn your fishing trip into a real adventure. Different types of canoe allow you to fish alone, with friends or even as a family day out. In this post, we’ve reviewed the best fishing canoe options for you. Don’t forget that there are loads of varieties of fishing canoe, including inflatable and hardshell, solo and tandem. We’ve discussed the features of each here.
To create our reviews, we’ve talked about the features of canoes and what might make the best canoe for fishing. We’ve reviewed the weight capacity of the canoes, so you can work out how many of you can fit in there and if you are the right size for a solo canoe. We’ve also looked at the dimensions, length and weight. We’ve also reviewed fishing-specific features, like does it have holders for your fishing rods? With all this in mind, we found that the Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Canoe is the very best fishing canoe. It earned our ‘editor’s choice’ label.
Our team spent weeks researching this topic in order to bring you loads of information. We’ve used information from consumers and manufacturers. The guide is presented as an overview table and then full reviews of the very best products. We’ve also put together a buying guide to help you to understand the top features for your own specific needs, and whether you might choose something different to the Old Town Discovery 119 as a result.
The Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Canoe is one of the most agile canoes. It is a solo option, so is only suitable for one person to sit in, but there’s no reason your friends can’t get their own and come on trips with you.
If you’re the kind of person who wants a canoe for fly fishing or other angling needs in the very best areas, you will want an option that can keep up with your exploring, and the streamlined and agile design gives you this luxury.
As well as quick exploring, the hull is made from three layers of polyethylene and even has a lifetime warranty as it is excellently made and very durable.
The canoe is comfortable and the nylon webbed seats are designed to let the air flow around the canoe. There’s no back support on these, though so long spells on the water may not be very comfy.
You can use this with either a double-bladed or traditional paddle. A 350lb capacity is plenty for most people, and will probably leave room for your fishing equipment too.
What we liked:
Very agile and allows you to find new areas to fish with ease
Durable, and a very well-made hull has a lifetime warranty
Good capacity for one angler combined with some equipment
Has rod holders included
What could be better:
No specific storage space or compartments
Seat may not be as comfortable as some other options
This canoe is perfect for long fishing trips and is very well made. The SUNDOLPHIN Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe has an excellent capacity of 800lb meaning you can easily fit a few of you in there, as well as lots of equipment and food and drink for a long day out on the water when fishing. You can even take some camping gear.
The canoe is designed to be comfortable for three, and there are three sturdy but relatively comfy seats. You can also easily use this as a tandem canoe with two people within.
Underneath the seat in the center there is waterproof storage for your valuables, and there’s also an inbuilt cooler, a very special feature which lets you keep lunch cool for your fishing trips. There are even drink holders in the seats!
The manufacturers clearly have a lot of faith in their product and include a two-year warranty.
There are bow and stern eyelets to allow you to tie these down, as well as inbuilt transport handles.
This wonderful canoe does have some downsides including the fact that it is a little on the heavy side, and can get scratches to the paintwork a little bit more easily than some other choices.
What we liked:
Comes with a long warranty
Has an inbuilt drinks holder and cooler
Comfy for two or three people
What could be better:
Heavy to carry around
Can get scratches on the paintwork more easily than other canoes
If you’re looking for the best solo canoe for fishing but you don’t want it to be overly heavy to lug around, you might want an inflatable option such as this, the Sevylor Rio 1-Person Fishing Canoe. It is the best lightweight option on this list and can easily be put into the trunk of a car ready to be taken on your next fishing trip.
The inflatable design means that it is pretty sturdy on the water so even beginners will be able to use this canoe. Also, the 18-gauge PVC is excellent for use when out on the water and should avoid punctures. Even if you do get a puncture, it has multiple air chambers so you shouldn’t sink if one gets punctured. The airtight system within is also 100% guaranteed not to spring a leak.
Built with fishermen in mind, there’s a rod holder for you to use multiple rods or to keep your hands free. You can also install a trolling motor if you want to go faster on this canoe.
The rod holder could possibly be better quality and this is a bit more pricy than some other inflatable canoes.
What we liked:
Clever multi-chamber design means that if one chamber punctures your whole canoe doesn’t deflate
Stays stable on the water and is good for beginners
Capacity for one person and equipment
Comes with a one-year warranty
What could be better:
Not the cheapest fishing canoe with inflatable design
Rod holder is not as rugged and durable as some others
Using a motor for fishing can mean that you can get to more fishing and fly fishing spots, you can also reach these quicker without having to paddle. The Old Town Discovery 133 Recreational Canoe is a great option for mounting a motor onto, it has been designed to allow this. It is compatible with the brand’s motor mount, which means you can simply add a small outboard motor and be underway.
The hull is very well-made and can stand up to trips out on lakes and rivers, it even has a lifetime warranty due to the quality of construction.
At over 13 feet long this is one of the longer fishing canoes on the list and is designed to be a brilliant tandem canoe. The 800lb capacity should leave you loads of room for equipment as well as two people.
There are multiple ways you can row this canoe. You can both row from the bow and stern seats, or you can row from center and forward sockets. If you don’t want to install a motor, these oar sockets can be really crucial.
It weighs 78lb so it is a hefty piece of equipment. This boat takes some carrying. It does have two handles, but make sure there are two of you to carry it!
What we liked:
Easy to install a trolling motor if you want to
Multiple rowing setups and oar sockets
Lifetime hull warranty
Room for two people and plenty of fishing equipment
The Sun Dolphin Scout SS Canoe has a square stern which is perfect for installing a motor. You can get your hands on an electric tolling motor and the square design gives a sturdy transom. The motor isn’t included so you will need to purchase this separately.
Even if you’re using this fishing canoe with a motor, it is designed to have excellent tracking, so it doesn’t vere off onto the banks when you’re trying to canoe down the river.
There are six different locations where you can put rods, this means you can operate multiple fishing rods at once if you wish, or just choose your spot. It has clearly been designed with fishing in mind.
This model has three different seats and plenty of room for three people to use the canoe. 765lb of capacity is perfect for three people and equipment.
However, the seats are not the most comfortable. If the manufacturer could find a way to include some padding, these might be better for long trips.
As well as being the best square stern canoe for fishing, this canoe is pretty affordable when you consider how big it is and its impressive capacity. It weighs 84 lbs so needs at least a couple of people to carry it.
The Sevylor Ogden 2-Person Canoe Combo is a wonderful option for a cheap yet reliable tandem canoe for fishing. In spite of not costing very much compared to the other options, it can be a good starter option as beginners can quickly get started using this canoe.
A polyester cover makes this far more durable and protects the canoe from punctures. Even if a puncture occurs, this is another canoe with multiple chambers, so it won’t be an issue.
The airtight system which is included has been guaranteed to stay secure and not leak. Also, a boston valve has been double threaded and makes it easy to both inflate or deflate this, ready for the water or ready for storage.
There are bungees on the canoe to let you store your fishing gear. Be warned that 355 lbs is not the highest for two people especially if you are trying to get equipment in too.
The seats can be adjusted and even elevated to make the fit better and also allow you to paddle easily, no matter what build you are.
There’s an element of getting what you pay for with this, there are no rod holders and it can get blown along the water a bit and can therefore be tough to control.
What we liked:
Room for two people
Comes with a one-year warranty
Adjustable seats for more comfort
Comes with a carry bag and also two paddles
What could be better:
Can be hard to control and keep tracking straight
Not a very big capacity for two people
Larger people might struggle to fit
Things to Consider
Buying a fishing canoe can be pretty confusing if you are a beginner or have never bought one before. Knowing which features you should look for in a canoe can be tricky for a fisherman who may be more interested in the fishing side of things. Our buying guide is designed to help with this, and discuss some of the benefits of a canoe for fishing, plus all of the features we’ve looked at when making our fishing canoe reviews and top recommendations. Buying a fishing canoe is about getting the best features for your own needs, and reading a buying guide is the best way to do so.
Why choose a canoe for fishing?
There is a debate about whether canoes or kayaks are most suitable for fishing. The truth is that it comes down to personal preference, and there can be some very good options in both categories. Canoes have a much more open design, and don’t necessarily keep you as tightly strapped to a seat – this means that you have a lot more flexibility and often more space. This can be great for longer fishing trips. Canoes can sometimes be easier to mount motors on, too, allowing you to trundle along at a higher pace and find schools of fish a lot quicker.
Features to consider when choosing a fishing canoe
The following features are the vital considerations when you are going to buy a fishing canoe. Whether you want to buy a product suitable for beginners, or something which can be up to the task of pro fishing, there are the same set of criteria to consider.
We’ve used the below features when creating our fishing canoe reviews. Depending on your own needs, you may prioritize some features over others. For instance, if you want to take more people out on your canoe, you may prioritize the weight capacity and size of the boat.
Seats and weight capacity
Is it a solo fishing canoe, a tandem canoe, or even bigger? This will be dictated by the size and weight capacity of the canoe. Some of the bigger canoes on this list have capacities of up to 800lb and thee different seats, meaning they are suitable for family fishing trips rather than just for one person to take to the water. The SUNDOLPHIN Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe is an example of a canoe with such a big capacity.
It may be the case that there is a three-person fishing canoe that can have two people riding just as easily. The option to take a third person can be very beneficial, though.
If you are satisfied with a smaller canoe, and you need something small and nimble enough to be ridden by one person, the weight capacity might not be as much of a consideration.
Remember that the weight capacity is not just a consideration regarding how many people you can have on the canoe, but also the amount of equipment.
Length and weight
The length does have some impact on the legroom you may have when you are in your canoe, but is more of a consideration due to the fact it will impact storage and transportation. A long, rigid canoe may need a specific rack on your car to transport, or it may need a lot of space to store in a garage.
The weight can be a big consideration when looking at how portable a fishing canoe can be. If you are taking your canoe out on your own, you need to know it is lightweight enough to be carried. Some of the bigger options on the market in terms of capacity also weigh around 80 pounds, so need multiple people to comfortably carry them.
Inflatable and lightweight options such as the Sevylor Ogden 2-Person Canoe Combo can be much more suitable. This allows you to go out as a pair but also has the ability to deflate for easy storage. Think about the logistics of where you will be taking your canoe and whether a heavy option is realistic.
Fishing rod holders
A fishing rod holder can make your life a lot easier. Many of the best fishing canoes have taken into consideration the fact that people will have multiple rods or want to fish in multiple positions, and include flush mount designs of fishing rod holders. Many of these are also adjustable.
A fishing rod holder can be excellent for use over the longer fishing trips, and saves your arms from doing the work. However, it also allows you to use more fishing rods than you otherwise could.
Structure and build
There are many different designs of canoes, and the main distinction to make is whether they are hardshell hulls or inflatable.
Many of the clever inflatable options have some great functions including multiple air chambers, which means that if one of the chambers does get a puncture, you won’t sink when you are on the water.
Hull designs which are featured on the sturdy hardshell canoes have also come a long way in recent years. Old Town Canoes, who have multiple designs of the best fishing canoes to make our list, have 3-layer hulls to make them even more durable and long-lasting.
The build-quality is a vital feature for any canoe, you should feel safe and secure whether you go for an inflatable option or whether you look to buy a hardshell canoe.
Comfort: seats and adjustability
If you are going to spend any significant period of time on your fishing canoe, then you should pay a lot of attention to the comfort. The space you have in your legs and the size of the canoe can be a factor in this, but the main consideration is the seats.
Think about whether the kayak has molded seats with no padding or whether there is more of a comfortable surface for you to sit on. An example of comfy seats on a fishing canoe include the two seats on the Sevylor Ogden 2-Person Canoe Combo. These are also adjustable.
Having adjustable seats means you can alter the height to allow you to paddle more comfortably and use your fishing rod with ease.
The Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Canoe is another example of a canoe with flexible seats but these are not available with any sort of back support so may not be suitable if you have back issues.
The warranty of the fishing canoe is something to consider, too. In fact, you should always look at the warranty when buying any fishing product as it can give you a great overview of the confidence the manufacturers have in their product’s quality. A well-built quality can usually be found with a long warranty as the brand who made it aren’t scared of it breaking.
Most fishing canoes come with some sort of warranty, and one-year and two-year warranties are pretty standard. Some canoes do not guarantee their whole product will last, but instead offer a lifetime warranty on the hull, which should always be built to last. The Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Canoe has a lifetime hull warranty.
All sorts of fishing canoes come with different features to try and differentiate them from the competition. The SUNDOLPHIN Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe is an example of this. It has storage space and drinks holders within the seats and is exceptionally well-made.
Other extra features can be functional things like paddles, which most of the hard shell canoes offer.
Canoes are pretty stable, especially the inflatable options, and with a few simple trips out on the water you’ll be ready to use your canoe with less risk of it tipping. Larger canoes are great for stability.
The best length will vary depending on whether you want a solo or tandem canoe. Three-person canoes should be up to 14 feet, or even more. Solo and tandem canoes may be around 10 feet. In general, the shorter the canoe, the easier it is to navigate.
Our editor’s choice product is the Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Canoe. This canoe incredibly sturdy and agile, and it has a good set of features. Furthermore, the hull even comes with a lifetime warranty. It received our highest rating at 9.9/10.
The SUNDOLPHIN Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe is one of the best fishing canoe options. It has a lot of brilliant features and some impressive extras – it even has a cooler and drinks holders for a luxurious experience. It also has loads of space. We’ve rated it 9.8/10.
The Sevylor Rio 1-Person Fishing Canoe has a rating of 9.7/10 and is the best inflatable option on the list. It is very durable with a strong PVC construction and the light weight makes it very portable.