A stand-up Canadian
  |  First Published: April 2010

It is amazing when you think how far boat design has come over the generations. Various hull shapes and configurations have been developed, found fashion and been superseded. Not so with the design of the canoe!

Modern materials have certainly had an impact on these primitive craft but the hull design and shape remain by and large unchanged. The hull shape is very efficient in regards to capacity, speed and ride; add an outrigger and you increase stability and capacity further still.

It’s common to see old boats and canoes just slowly rotting away in back or front yards with the grass growing around them.

Old boats generally aren’t worth looking at, timber stringers and transoms or sandwiched fibreglass and foam will often be badly rotted and often unseen. (Unless they’re highly revered models from major builders of the 1970s to 1990s which have become popular to DIY renovate. – Ed)

Old fibreglass canoes can look quite poor, often covered in mildew and badly weathered, but it’s surprising how fibreglass alone can withstand the rigors of time.

Sometimes it’s worth knocking on the owner’s door and making an offer. In my case, $250 was enough to have the mouldy Canadian canoe – and, as it turned out, a removable outrigger – on the roof racks and heading home.

Perhaps the quickest and best place to look for a second-hand canoe is good old eBay. The secret is to be able to see the potential in the vessel.

A good scrub with hot soapy water and light rub back, a repair kit from the local auto shop, a new gelcoat and $50 later, I had a bargain!


I’m sure the latest trend towards kayak fishing is due to the fun of pimping them; it’s no different with canoes. At 4.7m (15’), it is still light enough for me to lift it on to the ute racks by myself, which is often necessary.

I fitted an electric motor, comfortable seats, a sounder and some rod holders. Once on the water or adjacent to it, it’s important that all these accessories can be quickly and easily integrated.

Since buying, refurbishing and fitting out fibreglass Canadian canoe with an existing outrigger, my sports fishing boat has been in dry dock for over six months! The reasons are quite varied but I think the main one is that the canoe is so much fun to fish from and has opened up a considerable amount of quiet water.

Canoes have the ability to turn even moderately large dams into small, intimate water. Once you learn to work with the pace of the canoe you find yourself seeing the fine detail of piece of water, rather than roaring up to it, flicking out a few casts and zooming away to next spot in the distance.

If patience is a virtue then you will learn it in a canoe and reap the benefits of a methodical and refined fishing style.

The efficiency of the canoe should never be overlooked and experience tells me that you can expect to get much greater life out of your electric motor battery in a 15’ canoe than you would in a 12’ or even a 10’ aluminium punt, and you won’t sacrifice too much capacity, either.

With the outrigger attached, stability becomes a big asset. And should the battery die you can paddle a canoe very efficiently!

Versatility is perhaps the Canadian’s best quality. Some of the larger canoes have horsepower ratings that make long-distance travel very achievable with a small outboard. Back this up with a small, efficient electric motor and you have similar fishing radius to a small tinny.

And it takes little effort to ditch all the accessories and paddle and portage your way through the headwaters of a bass or cod river somewhere.

Being able to stand up to cast is a big plus with larger canoes, and this is one of the main reasons I use the outrigger canoe rather than my kayak.

While some modern kayaks have been designed to stand up in or on, the outrigger-equipped Canadian is far more stable, even compared with some of the larger craft now on the market.

It’s no less transportable and mine, for example, came at a price that puts it in a class of its own.

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