Canoe vs Kayak? Pros & cons [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Canoe vs Kayak? Pros & cons

Tod D
08-03-2001, 12:03 PM
As a follow up to Juro's Yak census, what are thoughts on a kayak vs canoe? Familiar w/ the general contrasts re stability, portability, speed... Interested in people's thoughts, experiences, opinions.

Gained some great insight from JimW the other evening; would be interested in others' experiences. Have a canoe now & use it quite frequently, but an off-season yak purchase may be in the offing...

08-03-2001, 05:06 PM
Good point Tod -

This is really at the core of my questions. I have a canoe, a rowing dory, and a W/W raft. The canoe is awesome for ponds and lakes, the dory a bit more versatile with a trolling motor and oars also very good in a moderate river current, and the bronco a real big river vehicle. When I lived out west it was my escape pod into the gorge where there were no people and lots of steelhead.

Out here, what I am finding I don't have is the ability to defy the current and go in the direction I need to go. I watch people in yaks glide against the current until they are out of sight, something I could never do with the tools I have now. Of course a 16 foot aluminum vee with a nice motor would solve all that, but at one tenth to one twentieth the cost the kayak strikes me as the way I can defy the tides at least until my kids are done with college.

That, in a nutshell, is my attraction to yaks - the ability to travel against the tide.

08-05-2001, 12:28 PM
Check the attached web site,,
I read a series by a gentleman who uses a Kruger canoe to explore the New England Coast. The maker of these canoes has actually set several world records, he's even paddled one UP the Rio Grande.

If money were no object, I'd order one today. Otherwise, for the ocean, I favor a touring kayak over a sport kayak mainly for the ability to point into the wind, track & get to where you're going a lot faster.

Tod D
08-06-2001, 11:34 AM
Thanks guys. Put the canoe to serious use this weekend & for where I've been using it it has been outstanding. Handles chop fairly well (all bayside, nothing too hairy), got me into some very, very, very skinny water, allows me to stand & cast, and covers some decent water fairly quickly when fish were breaking all around.

08-06-2001, 05:59 PM
For calm lakes and ponds and slow moving streams a canoe has its advantages. Standing up to cast isn't unreasonable with some canoes in favorable conditions. Certainly there is opportunity to move around. Carrying gear is not an issue, just throw it in. Maybe you could even consider sharing your canoe with a bluefish, something unpleasant even to think about with a kayak. I haven't fished from my kayak yet, but I don't think it is well suited. The kayak has so little drag that fighting a fish will at least require developing some technique.

On the other hand any kayak will lower your center of gravity, be less affected by wind, and probably behave better in waves. A canoe on a windy lake with whitecaps can be a handful even if you are a good paddler. When I had my Pungo in these conditions it was easy to control and felt comfortable (my wife was able to handle the conditions too, but was less comfortable).

My canoes have been reasonably stable general purpose boats. When pushed too far they would suddenly flip. The Pungo wouldn't flip, it just took water into the cockpit until it became unstable. It took some effort to make this happen.

The Pungo behaves well in fast moving tidal creeks and is far superior to a canoe in terms of paddling ease in this environment. The double bladed paddle probably helps less experienced paddlers keep the boat under control, but I guess you could paddle a canoe with one too.

If you can flip a canoe up on to your shoulders it really isn't a chore to carry it (single handed) a couple hundred yards if the wind isn't a problem and you aren't sharing the inside of the canoe with hundreds of biting insects. Despite the lower weight of the kayaks, they don't seem easier to carry. Two people can easily carry two kayaks however by grabbing the handles on the ends.

I can roll a kayak, but rolling a Pungo even with a skirt would be just a stunt. They are designed to allow you to get out (read fall out) easily under any condition. In contrast, a whitewater kayak "locks you in" with thigh braces and footbraces. If you don't roll, you have to get yourself out of the kayak. I did take my whitewater kayak out into moderate post storm waves years ago. In this boat I was comfortable having the whole boat underwater occasionally under whitewater conditions. Powerful ocean waves are another thing. The combination of undertow, rip currents, and waves that could pound you into the bottom are best avoided, IMHO. It is possible to empty a swamped Pungo and get in it in chest deep (calm) water, but I didn't experiment in deeper water. Don't expect to be able to do so without a little practice.

The Pungo's tradeoffs are great for getting from point A to B or just cruising around in bays and salt creeks in my opinion. My wife is delighted with hers too and, although she has paddled a canoe with me, she had no kayak experience. But, don't sell the canoe, it has its place.

Tod D
08-07-2001, 08:07 AM
Gordon - Thanks. great food for thought. No plans to retire the canoe as I absolutely love it; just been contemplating an addition to the jr. armada. My wife, however, isn't quite on board with that idea though... ;D

11-07-2001, 01:38 PM
Todd- I've been around the water most of my life and can tell you that nothing beats a pair of oars on any boat -type for getting around under any type of conitions. I've been toying withthe idea of mounting a set of oarlocks on the Coleman canoe I have, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Then I see Old Town canoe company has come out with a canoe- the osprey 15.5 that is set up to row. The only item I'd add is a set of sponsons to increase the stability of the canoe in a cross sea. I have rowed in some very rough weather and never had a problem and in fact I used to troll along the shore of Mount Hope Bay with a rowboat and do quite well on stripers. To me there are too many nuts on the water to be sitting as low as you do in a kayak- I'd rather be higher up so they might see me better not hat it makes alot of difference some times. Now I generally use the canoe just to get to places that are inaccessible by land so I can fish from the shore, but if the circumstances dictate I wil fish from the canoe. Just my $.02 Ron

Tod D
11-08-2001, 04:02 PM
Ron - Thanks for the advice!

Saw a picture the other day of the Osprey w/ the oar lock set up. Looked like a great idea; definitely one to consider adapting for my discovery.

Thinking long and hard about making up some pontoons over the winter too.

Beans did have some nice overstocked kayaks at their Freeport outlet the a few weeks back though...Hmmm, canoe "upgrades" or a kayak...