Wouldn’t it be great if the perfect canoe would jump out at us from the store yelling, “Pick me!”?

Unfortunately, that’s not how canoe shopping works, as far as I’ve seen.

So, how can you choose the best canoe for your fishing ventures?

The good news is that there are some very specific ways to tell if a canoe is good for fishing.

Today, I’m going to share my secret recipe for success when it comes to finding the best canoe for fishing.

Below, you’ll learn exactly what you’ll need to look for in a fishing canoe. Then, we’ll see how to choose a canoe that suits your individual needs.

After that, I’ll introduce you to 5 of the best canoes for fishing currently on the market.

The Right Fishing Canoe Will Get You to Your Perfect Catch

I know you love the feeling of getting out on the water just as much as I do.

I’ve had many different canoes over the years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: not all canoes were made for fishing.

As we’ll discuss below, different features of a canoe can really affect the experience that you have on the water.

And I’m not just talking about pre-mounted fishing accessories.

Personally, I found what I consider to be the best canoe for fishing a few years ago. And it truly made all the difference.

I’ll admit: it’s possible to fish from any canoe.

However, I realized that the experience was much more enjoyable when using a canoe that followed certain criteria.

I’ll introduce you to my favorite fishing canoe below, but first let me explain how you can sort through the options and truly find the best canoe for your individual fishing experience.

Choosing a Hull Design

The design of the hull, or the body of the canoe, can affect many different things. Most importantly, hull design has a large effect on stability and maneuverability.

Stability is without a doubt the most important feature when choosing a canoe that is good for fishing.

Why do I say that?

Imagine that you’re out on the water, fishing from your canoe. You feel a bite, and immediately you can tell it’s a big one, possibly the biggest catch of the day. You stand up and start reeling it in, and that’s when everything goes wrong.

Suddenly, the canoe starts wobbling. Before you know it, you’re so focused on stabilizing the canoe that you lose your big catch.

If this has happened to you, you’re not alone.

But, as much as you want your canoe to be stable, it also needs to be maneuverable.

Being able to get around and find the best spots for fishing is one of the most important parts of a fishing canoe.

So, what kind of hull design is best for both stability and maneuverability?

  • Flat Bottom

Flat bottom canoes have just the slightest curve on the bottom. This allows them to be extremely stable on calm waters, giving you the ability to truly relax while you’re out.

However, there is a downside to flat bottom canoes.

While they’re great when the water is calm, they become very unstable when conditions aren’t ideal.

For example, flat bottom canoes are more susceptible to wind or waves. At that point, they become unstable and are easier to tip.

  • Round Bottom

When your canoe has a round bottom, you’ll almost always feel like you’re going to tip over.

These canoes feel very unstable, and can make a day out on the water much less relaxing, especially for a more inexperienced paddler.

Oddly enough, however, it’s much more difficult to tip a round bottom canoe than a flat bottom canoe.

For this reason, a round bottom is much better in wavy waters and unfriendly conditions.

Round bottoms also give you better maneuverability than flat bottoms.

  • Shallow Arch

If you’re waiting for the best of both worlds, here it is.

A shallow arch bottom is somewhere in between a flat and round bottom.

Basically, what you end up with is a gentle curvature that makes you feel stable on the water and is very difficult to tip over. This style is also great for maneuverability.

Other Features That Signal a Good Fishing Canoe

  • Materials

To make sure that your canoe will last a long time, it’s important to ensure that it’s made of the best materials. Here are some of the most popular options for canoe materials that you’ll find.

  • Polyethylene

While it is one of the most affordable materials for canoes, it is not the best. Polyethylene can take a beating, and is perfect for recreational paddlers or those who only go out in their canoe occasionally. However, prolonged exposure to the sun will have a greater effect on polyethylene canoes than on others.

  • Wood

The classic canoe material, and honestly one of the best in terms of performance. Although you will need to handle with care, a wooden canoe is a true masterpiece. Most are made by hand, and they’re actually quite versatile. If you really take care of it, a wooden canoe will last you much longer than any other material. As a bonus, it’s also much nicer to look at!

  • Fiberglass Composite

Another material that has been gaining popularity lately is fiberglass composite. This composite material is very sturdy and rigid, resistant to damage and extremely efficient on the water. Fiberglass composite canoes are also much lighter than other materials.

  • Size

Depending on what kind of fishing trip you’re looking for, a different size canoe may be better. For example, longer canoes offer more space if you’re looking to travel with a friend or family member.

However, keep in mind that longer canoes can be very difficult to maneuver solo.

Also, keep in mind size when you’re thinking of transporting and storing your canoe. If you’re limited by space, don’t worry: there are canoes that are perfect space savers, one of which we’ll discuss below.

  • Storage Space

When you’re fishing, you need to take along all your gear, your rods, snacks and drinks for the trip, plus you’ll need to save space for the day’s catch.

Thankfully, most canoes do have quite a bit of storage. You’ll also want to keep in mind the weight limit of the canoe itself, ensuring that the paddlers and the gear combined down go over the canoe’s weight limit.

  • Fishing Accessories

This is the last feature that you will look for when trying to find the best canoe for fishing.

Why?

Because fishing accessories can always be added on later.

Some canoes do come with rod holders, specific storage spaces etc., all of which are great features. But, it’s important first to check the features we mentioned above.

After all, if the canoe itself is not good quality, the extra accessories will also be worthless. On the other hand, a well-made canoe can always have accessories added to it down the road.

Summary: What You Need in a Fishing Canoe is…

  • A stable yet maneuverable hull design, such as a shallow arch
  • Good materials, such as wood, fiberglass composite, or polyethylene (for occasional paddlers)
  • The right size for your needs
  • Enough storage space for yourself, your gear, and your catch
  • Fishing accessories (only if found along with the above)

Reviewing the Best Canoes for Fishing Today

  • Old Town Discovery Sport 15


This flat-bottom canoe is perfect for calm waters such as lakes and rivers. Its moderate rocker allows for excellent stability, while still ensuring good maneuverability. Old Town has made this canoe out of polyethylene, but its triple-layer design actually makes it quite durable. The square back also gives you the option to add a motor.

Length: 15 feet

Width: 40 inches

Canoe Weight: 113 lbs.

Weight Capacity: 850 lbs.

Seats: 3 nylon webbed

 

  • MYCANOE 2.5 Origami


For those with limited storage space for a canoe, this origami canoe is the perfect option. Just can’t fit another toy in the garage? Well, this canoe folds until it’s only 37 x 8 x 25 inches! The custom polypropylene body comes with a UV treatment that boasts 15 years and 20,000 folds.

This canoe is incredibly lightweight, and allows you to glide along the water smoothly without fears of tipping or sinking. It also has adjustable seats, giving you 8 different options of where you want to sit in the canoe.

The only downside is that it does have a much lower weight capacity than other canoes. But this may be a worthwhile tradeoff depending on your situation.

Length: 14 feet

Width: 35 inches

Canoe Weight: 52 lbs.

Weight Capacity: 440 lbs.

Seats: 2 adjustable

 

  • Old Modern Handicrafts Real Canoe


This beautiful creation is truly a ‘real canoe’. Built from sturdy cedar wood, this canoe implements modern technology with a combination of fiberglass and resin that protects the beautiful wood, making it even more durable. This canoe is also surprisingly light and easy to maneuver.

What’s truly unique about this canoe though is the incredible craftsmanship. In the age of industry, something so beautiful is rare. For a man who truly enjoys the finer things and appreciates craftsmanship, this canoe is the perfect companion.

Length: 16 feet

Width: 31 inches

Canoe Weight: 45 lbs.

Weight Capacity: 550 lbs.

Seats: 2

 

  • Sun Dolphin Mackinaw SS


If you’re looking for a fully-equipped fishing canoe, then the Mackinaw is waiting for you! This canoe has a custom UV-protected polyethylene construction, which is quite durable. It also offers a flat-bottom hull design and straight sides that are perfect for calm waters.

This canoe also gives you plenty of great fishing accessories! You’ll get fishing rod holders and paddle holders, plus cupholders molded into all three seats! In addition, the center seat comes with a space you can fill with ice and convert into a cooler, plus a dry storage space. You also have the option to add a motor with the square back design.

Length: 15.6 feet

Width: 42 inches

Canoe Weight: 104 lbs.

Weight Capacity: 800 lbs.

Seats: 3 plastic molded

 

  • Old Town Discovery 119


This one-person canoe is perfect if you plan on quiet days of angling solo. Its shallow arch hull and straight sides offer the best of both stability and maneuverability. Since the Discover 119 is shorter, this also makes it easier to get around.

Made of triple-layer molded polyethylene, this canoe is efficient on the water and relatively lightweight.

Length: 11 feet 9 inches

Width: 32.5 inches

Canoe Weight: 49 lbs.

Weight Capacity: 500 lbs.

Seats: 1 nylon webbed

And the Best Canoe for Fishing is…

We’ve discussed some great canoes today.

Really, the choice will depend on your own wants and needs when it comes to a fishing canoe.

If you’re looking for a canoe that is ready to head out on the water for a fishing trip as soon as it arrives, I highly recommend the Mackinaw SS. It is well-built and stable, and manages to pack in quite a few accessories for anglers.

On the other hand, solo anglers would be best served by the Discovery 119. This canoe is easily transportable by one person, and is great for quiet days on the water.

Out of all of these options, however, I have to say that my personal favorite is the Real Canoe by Old Modern Handicrafts. This canoe is truly a work of art, and its wood and fiberglass construction makes it lightweight and durable. For those of us who appreciate a unique piece of construction, the Real Canoe is the perfect option.

Purchasing the best canoe for fishing is just the beginning of your journey. Once you have that perfect canoe, it’s time to get out on the water and enjoy the best of what nature has to offer!

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Phil Mansbridge
Phil Mansbridge

Phil is a retired Sport Fisherman from Florida. His passion for the last decade has been kayaking and canoeing. He spends his summers in Canada and most of the winter in California. He loves reviewing equipment for his avid readers and hopes that everyone's time out on the water as enjoyable as possible.