• Happy Nature Photography Day! 📷🦌🦅🐟🌄

Canoe for solo tripping and fishing

Joined
Jan 23, 2024
Messages
6
Reaction score
4
Location
Beaverton, MI
New member from Michigan here looking for help. I currently have a meyers sportspal s13 squareback that works great for flatwater fishing with a trolling motor but doesn't paddle well, pretty much have to use a double blade or pole it in shallow water. It is very thin aluminum so it wouldn't hold up very well to much abuse I don't think either. I also have a OT discovery 158 royalex/plastic that weighs somewhere around 85lbs, OK for tandem tripping but not the best for solo portaging. That boat I think I could just tie a rope to it and drag behind the truck for transporting and it wouldn't really hurt it. I have done river trips in both boats but they are less than ideal. I have done most of my tripping (rivers and wilderness lakes) in rented aluminum tandem canoes over the years.

I am 6' ~180lbs. Primary uses will be:
  • tripping down Michigan rivers (no real rapids to speak of on rivers I travel, if I do come across something that looks dicey I will portage. Main obstacles are shallow gravel sections and log jams to go over/under etc.)
  • wilderness lake trips (Sylvania wilderness, big island lake wilderness, Craig lake state park etc.)
  • trips are usually weekend but would like to do weeklong trips at some point but I travel light so ~150lb. load over my weight is probably enough
  • local rivers for fishing day trips. Small/medium rivers. Will be used to float to the next hole, get out in my waders and fish, then float to next hole. Possibly anchor with logging chain at head of deep holes on occasion and fish from boat, but most of the rivers have good spots to get out to fish.
  • I want something light for ease of portaging (aramid/kevlar if it is tough enough for very occasional shallow gravel and regular dragging over logjams).
  • Most of my camping trips are focused around fishing, so boat will be used to get me to the campsite and then used to go out on the lake fishing\exploring.
Over the past ~40 years I have done quite a few weekend river trips and many day floats as well. I have done 2 wilderness lake/portage trips and want to do more. I have always just used what I had or rented from a livery which is mostly heavy plastic or aluminum rigs. Really want a lightweight canoe that I can easily portage and that paddles decent on flat water and mild rivers. My OT is too heavy and the sportspal does not paddle well. Boat needs to hold up to some use but I am not hard on my stuff and it will be stored indoors. My biggest concern would be occasional shallow gravel bars and logjams, as previously stated. In really shallow stuff I currently get out and walk the boat when possible (it usually is) and that mostly prevents the boat scraping against the rocks. Sometimes it is so shallow the boat still drags. I could carry in those situations if needed. I am ok with having to patch a boat occasionally but hopefully that is rare. Want something with good primary stability for fishing. I can easily stand and fish or paddle out of the sportspal, but it is around 38" wide and flat so kind of like a rowboat really. I understand a solo boat may not allow standing up but my balance is pretty good. I have a bending branches double canoe paddle but prefer a regular paddle and j stroke. The double is necessary on lakes with the sportspal if there is any wind or if I need to actually get somewhere without a motor attached. I would take the double paddle along as my extra paddle with a solo though, it adds speed for sure.

I have been looking online at boats like nova craft prospector (primarily I have used tandems solo, thinking I would like to try a true solo though), wenonah wilderness, NC pal, northstar northwind solo etc. Not sure where I could go to try some of these out. I am currently located right in the middle of the lower peninsula, 20 minutes outside of Clare. I am open to any suggestions 12'-17', my main priorities are lightweight, reasonably tough, carry a load of maybe 350lbs well but also does well with just me and 15lbs of fishing gear, easy to paddle/handle on easy rivers and flat lakes. If it is really windy I usually don't go fishing, it just isn't much fun getting blown all over. I sometimes kneel and sometimes sit on the seat. depends on situation as well as if my legs start to go numb while kneeling. Please let me know if any additional info is needed. Thinking someday I would like to replace the OT with a light composite prospector or similar style also.
 
I paddle tandems solo and have both a NC Pal and a Bob's special. I trip (Lakes) in the Pal and take day trips on local rivers in the Bob's. The Bob's special is 1 foot shorter and 1 inch wider than the Pal. My local rivers are shallow and I stand up paddle and pole some sections. Were I to take a river trip I would take my Bob. I use a dry bag with water for ballast to trim my day trips. Both canoes are very maneuverable to me yet track well.
 
New member from Michigan here looking for help. I currently have a meyers sportspal s13 squareback that works great for flatwater fishing with a trolling motor but doesn't paddle well, pretty much have to use a double blade or pole it in shallow water. It is very thin aluminum so it wouldn't hold up very well to much abuse I don't think either. I also have a OT discovery 158 royalex/plastic that weighs somewhere around 85lbs, OK for tandem tripping but not the best for solo portaging. That boat I think I could just tie a rope to it and drag behind the truck for transporting and it wouldn't really hurt it. I have done river trips in both boats but they are less than ideal. I have done most of my tripping (rivers and wilderness lakes) in rented aluminum tandem canoes over the years.

I am 6' ~180lbs. Primary uses will be:
  • tripping down Michigan rivers (no real rapids to speak of on rivers I travel, if I do come across something that looks dicey I will portage. Main obstacles are shallow gravel sections and log jams to go over/under etc.)
  • wilderness lake trips (Sylvania wilderness, big island lake wilderness, Craig lake state park etc.)
  • trips are usually weekend but would like to do weeklong trips at some point but I travel light so ~150lb. load over my weight is probably enough
  • local rivers for fishing day trips. Small/medium rivers. Will be used to float to the next hole, get out in my waders and fish, then float to next hole. Possibly anchor with logging chain at head of deep holes on occasion and fish from boat, but most of the rivers have good spots to get out to fish.
  • I want something light for ease of portaging (aramid/kevlar if it is tough enough for very occasional shallow gravel and regular dragging over logjams).
  • Most of my camping trips are focused around fishing, so boat will be used to get me to the campsite and then used to go out on the lake fishing\exploring.
Over the past ~40 years I have done quite a few weekend river trips and many day floats as well. I have done 2 wilderness lake/portage trips and want to do more. I have always just used what I had or rented from a livery which is mostly heavy plastic or aluminum rigs. Really want a lightweight canoe that I can easily portage and that paddles decent on flat water and mild rivers. My OT is too heavy and the sportspal does not paddle well. Boat needs to hold up to some use but I am not hard on my stuff and it will be stored indoors. My biggest concern would be occasional shallow gravel bars and logjams, as previously stated. In really shallow stuff I currently get out and walk the boat when possible (it usually is) and that mostly prevents the boat scraping against the rocks. Sometimes it is so shallow the boat still drags. I could carry in those situations if needed. I am ok with having to patch a boat occasionally but hopefully that is rare. Want something with good primary stability for fishing. I can easily stand and fish or paddle out of the sportspal, but it is around 38" wide and flat so kind of like a rowboat really. I understand a solo boat may not allow standing up but my balance is pretty good. I have a bending branches double canoe paddle but prefer a regular paddle and j stroke. The double is necessary on lakes with the sportspal if there is any wind or if I need to actually get somewhere without a motor attached. I would take the double paddle along as my extra paddle with a solo though, it adds speed for sure.

I have been looking online at boats like nova craft prospector (primarily I have used tandems solo, thinking I would like to try a true solo though), wenonah wilderness, NC pal, northstar northwind solo etc. Not sure where I could go to try some of these out. I am currently located right in the middle of the lower peninsula, 20 minutes outside of Clare. I am open to any suggestions 12'-17', my main priorities are lightweight, reasonably tough, carry a load of maybe 350lbs well but also does well with just me and 15lbs of fishing gear, easy to paddle/handle on easy rivers and flat lakes. If it is really windy I usually don't go fishing, it just isn't much fun getting blown all over. I sometimes kneel and sometimes sit on the seat. depends on situation as well as if my legs start to go numb while kneeling. Please let me know if any additional info is needed. Thinking someday I would like to replace the OT with a light composite prospector or similar style also.

Mdkelly
Welcome to the site. It sounds like you have a pretty good idea of what you want. You'll probably be fine with most composite canoes. The normal layups are capable of handling occasional scrapes and drags.

Most of those solos sound like great choices. Loading and portaging will be so much easier you'll probably grin and laugh for the first year. I think you'll be happiest with something in the 15 ft range. A 13 ft canoe is going to feel slower, and a 17 ft canoe is going to feel less maneuverable on a river.

The boats you have now are very wide, heavy, and feel very stable. Solos are the opposite. I notice tippiness the most in getting in and out of my solo. For instance, climbing over a log jam. For fishing and tripping I normally use my narrow tandem. But plenty of people prefer tripping in solo canoes, it's just a matter of preference.

Good luck, and let us know what you get and how you like it.
 
Hi & welcome to the site. I'm unsure how to advise you about specific solos as the only production solo I own is a Sawyer and I've currently started building strip canoes in search of my best fit.

I see that there is a Northstar dealer in Harbor Springs but their website isn't terribly helpful as far as the availability of boats let alone the possibility of a test paddle. The one in Dexter sounds a little more promising at first glance.

If you're still looking in June (and you're up for a road trip), there is a solo canoe rendezvous outside of Butler, PA where you can paddle a variety of new & used boats (not all are for sale but, by the end of the weekend, you'd probably have a great idea of what you're looking for)

Sorry I can't be of more help. I know there have been similar searches if you'd care to look through the archives but there are just so many options and each person has their own preferences that you really need to get in a few and paddle. Once you know what you like / dislike about each, it will become easier to pick your ideal.

Alternatively, you could just buy a bunch of them and paddle what feels good on that particular day. Either way, best of luck and let us know how the search progresses.
 
First off, welcome to the group. As to your question; it may be difficult to find in your neck of the woods but if you can test paddle a Hemlock "Peregrine," I think you may find what you're looking for. I'm a squat 5' 8" but tip the scales at 215 lbs. I love the Peregrine because it handles well when loaded with me and my dog, just me with gear or no gear at all when fishing. The weight is easy to handle (in the low 30s if I remember correctly) and it's easy to portage when I need to do that; as well as when loading it on/off my truck.

Dave Curtis, the owner of Hemlock Canoe, is getting ready to retire so there won't be too many more coming out of his shop. He does sell used boats as well on his website so you could check that out as well. I realize it's a long drive from Michigan to the Finger Lakes region of NY but it might be worth your while.

That's all for now. Take care, good luck in finding the perfect canoe for you and until next time...be well.

snapper
 
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that there’s a large contingent of boatbuilders here…
I’ll advocate for you to build your own solo canoe.
There are many designs that will suit your needs.
The material costs for a solo build will be about 1/4-1/5 of the cost for a quality solo production boat.
My heaviest solo build was (is) 39 lbs, don’t know if that seems lightweight to you.
Currently I’m paddling a Kite, all composite that weighs 28 lbs.
All you need is a little space to build in, and a little motivation.
Since I know you can type and use the internet, you already possess the skills…it’s really just a series of small steps that appear daunting.
It’s easy
 
Welcome to the group, I will let SG try and seduce to the dark side of building your own, he can be our ambassador for that.

If you want a load capacity of 350 pounds and you are around 180 pounds, that is 170 pounds of gear .... sort of defeats the purpose of a lighter canoe. The reason I point this out is that it affects what boats you look at ... if you quote a load capacity of 350 to a vendor and that value isn't really close to what you want, then you likely won't get offered boats to match your needs.

Since you kneel and like to stand, stay away from the pack boat versions .... it's a long way up from the pack seat position to standing and kneeling is not an option.

My first choice would be a Swift KeeWaydin 15 Solo at 15' and the next one to look at (for me at least) would be the Wildfire (also Swift) at 14'

I really like the Keewaydin 15, it's light, fast and handles most weather really well. Runs well loaded and unloaded .... I like it enough that I made a stripper version for myself.

Regardless of what you choose, make sure to get out in the boat before you buy it.

Brian
 
Check with Ron Sell. ron@unadillaboats.com 734-433-1651 Website not updated but think he’s still open in Ann Arbor. Northstar dealer, very knowledgeable and skilled at repair or building….and Michigan paddling…nice guy.
 
I will reach out to Ron. I work out of Ann Arbor and will be down there in a couple weeks...

Thanks to all for the suggestions and advice. Reading about the bob special, that sounds like it may check off most of my wants/needs even if it isn't a dedicated solo. I will also look for events/shows I could attend to try some boats out, that is a good idea. Not interested at this time in building a boat (too many other active "projects") but I think there are classes in the Traverse City area for building cedar strip canoes. I plan to move to that area next summer so that could be a fun winter project a few years down the road.
 
I may make a trip to the WI show, will look up info on that.

Stevet - I love winter! Unfortunately, the wife does not and plans for us to go somewhere warmer for Jan-March every year it sounds like. Oh well, I can adapt.

Well, reading about the northstar boats (northwind solo, polaris with a center seat, phoenix...) it sounds like several of those would be very nice as well. I guess I will really need to just go paddle a few and see what works. That seems to be the main issue with buying a new boat, so many choices and kind of difficult to compare from my couch.
 
Mdkelley, welcome to site membership!

Feel free to ask any questions and to post messages, photos and videos, and to start threads, in our many forums. Please read Welcome to CanoeTripping and Site Rules! Also, please add your location to the Account Details page in your profile, which will cause it to show under your avatar, as this is a geographic sport. Many other of the site's technical features are explained in Features: Help and How-To Running Thread. We look forward to your participation in our canoe community.

There is no perfect do-it-all canoe, solo or otherwise. But there are many reasonable canoes that will fit the solo bill. Most folks solo flat water in canoes between 14'-16' in length, depending on their size, gear loads and preferences. I personally like solo canoe in the 15' range as being big enough to carry tripping loads but small enough for day paddling play.

If you want a canoe that paddles forward reasonably well, that becomes increasingly difficult when waterline beams begin to exceed about 35", although those canoes will become increasingly stable and you can solo them radically heeled over ("Canadian style"). Canoes with waterline beams below 30" become increasingly fast and efficient at the cost of initial stability. If you are a fisherman who wants to stand up, and who also wants to carry a shifting dog, you might want to focus on solo canoes or small tandem canoes in the range of 32"-34" waterline beams. They should be stable enough for careful standing, if they have flattish bottoms, without being too sluggish.

Among my several canoes I have a 15' Nova Craft Bob Special in the Aramid Lite layup, which weighs 40 lbs. It could probably fit your bill, but it's expensive new as all lightweight composite canoes increasingly are. One feature of the Aramid Lite layup of this NC canoe is that it has a V bottom, likely for strength. That makes its initial stability a bit wibbly-wobbly until you get used to it. I don't know if NC's other layups of the Bob Special have the V bottom. It doesn't bother me, but I've never tried standing up in it (too old and out of shape).

2021-03-18-canoe-Heap-0014.jpg
 
Not mentioned, pack canoes. You gain some stability, which is nice for fishing and generally, in a narrower more efficient canoe. My swift prospector 14 pack is very stable, not too wide, and very light - 29 pounds. (And the swift pack seat is super comfortable.) On the other hand, I avoid rocks.
 
does anyone know if canoecopia offers opportunity to test out boats, or is it mostly just a go look at what is new? I looked at the website and didn't see anything one way or the other about test paddles.
 
mdk - welcome to the site. I noted your wilderness lake areas - Sylvania, Big Island Lake, Craig Lake St Park - they are favorites of mine also. In fact, I really like all of the UP. Enjoy your search for a suitable solo.
 
First off, welcome to the group. As to your question; it may be difficult to find in your neck of the woods but if you can test paddle a Hemlock "Peregrine," I think you may find what you're looking for. I'm a squat 5' 8" but tip the scales at 215 lbs. I love the Peregrine because it handles well when loaded with me and my dog, just me with gear or no gear at all when fishing. The weight is easy to handle (in the low 30s if I remember correctly) and it's easy to portage when I need to do that; as well as when loading it on/off my truck.

Dave Curtis, the owner of Hemlock Canoe, is getting ready to retire so there won't be too many more coming out of his shop. He does sell used boats as well on his website so you could check that out as well. I realize it's a long drive from Michigan to the Finger Lakes region of NY but it might be worth your while.

That's all for now. Take care, good luck in finding the perfect canoe for you and until next time...be well.

snapper
I second the Peregrine or even more stable and capable Hemlocks Eaglet!
 
I have paddled my tandem canoes solo for decades. Even the big canoes like a Guide 18, Sawyer Charger and Wenonah Odyssey. I would consider a tandem canoe in the 16 foot range. Something not too flat, and not too narrow. Solo canoes are not very beamy and feel tender for things like fishing. It would help to have a kevlar boat.
 
Back
Top