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Canoe for solo tripping and fishing

after reading a bunch of Rutstrum books and also a couple Bill Mason books that was my conclusion as well. A good, lightweight 16' tandem paddled solo is probably going to be the best do-all unit for me. I don't get out in a boat as much as I would like at this point but am keeping my eyes out for good local deals in the classifieds. I haven't even canoed the river that runs through my property yet other than one short 1/2 mile jaunt a couple years ago.
Welcome, Rutstrum and Mason set me on tandems also. I paddle wood canvas canoes so I really have no experience with modern non wood canoes, but I have many days in 16’ tandem canoes solo. My first was a 16’ Chestnut Pal which I really liked, but then I found a 15’ Chestnut Chum which became my favorite for years. The Chum was a tandem, which I paddled reverse. I could have moved the seat to make it a dedicated solo but I dislike sitting so close to the middle of the canoe. (I also dislike removable center thwarts). Then I was gifted a Chestnut Cruiser by a member here and it became my favorite 16’ canoe.
I love the view I get out over my tandem wood canvas canoe with canvas/leather packs up front.
All this probably won’t help you much, but when you mentioned you read Rutstrum and Mason, I had to ad my 2 cents.

after reading a bunch of Rutstrum books and also a couple Bill Mason books that was my conclusion as well. A good, lightweight 16' tandem paddled solo is probably going to be the best do-all unit for me.

I love Rutstrum and Mason, and there are benefits to soloing a 16' tandem canoe. My first two canoes, tandems which I paddled mostly solo, were a 16' Mad River Royalex Explorer and a 16' Old Town wood/glass Guide.

I will point out that Rutstrum and Mason were writing and filming before the advent of the modern solo canoe revolution in the 1970's USA, which focused on shorter, sleeker and lighter weight dedicated solo canoes for both flat water touring and whitewater paddling. I moved into dedicated solos for white then flat water in the early 1980's, and find them more enjoyable for most types of paddling. I'd probably still favor a 16' tandem for solo paddling if poling, carrying a lot of gear on a non-portage river trip, or for stability if I were fishing, hunting or using the canoe as a photography platform.

With old age also comes a lifting strength problem. That drives many folks to very lightweight and often expensive dedicated solo canoes.
Most of my experience in solo canoeing has been in short tandems (15-16 feet) and only later in my years did I acquire dedicated solos to use. The dedicated solos paddle more efficiently and are faster due to their narrower beam but don’t offer the roomy stability of a tandem.

About 3 years ago purchased a Northstar Polaris (16’ tandem) and had it built as a 3 seater and, after removing the bow and stern seats, find it makes a great solo. The Polaris is narrow for a tandem so it offers a good paddling position for a solo paddler. Being a roomy tandem it allows you to move around in the cockpit to deal with river obstacles.


The Polaris is my current favorite, every day, canoe.

This thread is reminding me of the pleasures and benefits of paddling a tandem solo. There was much more room and greater stability. Fishing from the boat was much easier. I remember paddling my Mohawk tandem in the Everglades and Big Cypress. Lots of flat water. I got a kick out of learning to lean to reduce the area actually in the water - there are probably more accurate words to describe that - but it made it easier and faster to paddle.

I was having great fun with this style and seeing how far I could lean…then remembered I was on a deep canal loaded with big gators. :oops::)
It's interesting how preferences differ. My preferences run strongly to dedicated solo canoes around 16' long and 30" wide with just a little rocker. I think they're great for day paddles, fishing, and tripping. I've rarely felt stability to be an issue.

I had a Bell Northstar (now Northstar Polaris) and I did not enjoy it much at all. The extra width made it more awkward to paddle, having the paddler position back from center made the boat more difficult to control, and even the slightest wind wanted to push the bow around (this was an empty boat). I thought the boat was fine as a tandem.

Native Michigander here. I started few years ago with a small tandem/large solo, Blackhawk Combi. Quickly learned the benefits of a dedicated solo; especially for tripping/portaging. Went to WPASCR to try as many boats as I could before buying new. Went with a Colden Wildfire. later picked up a Bell Royalex Wildfire (Yellowstone Solo) to 'save some wear and tear' on my Colden, which was actually unnecessary; modern composites are super strong. Picked up a couple WW boats over last few years and OT Penobscot to paddle with family, handles well solo. My newest 'new to me' is a Colden Dragonfly which is my new go to, I love rivers; fortunately Michigan has plenty. If I had to choose one it would be my Wildfire.
If you're still in the market, Feel free to reach out, happy to let you demo what I have. I'm often found paddling all over the state. Love a good road trip.

I do agree with previous posts about Ron Sell, Unadilla Boatworks is now located in Dexter, right on the Huron R. He's a Northstar dealer and usually has one of each of their models to drool over.