Canoe fishing mods

Canoe fishing mods DEFAULT

I fish out of canoes and like all boats, they need to be tweaked a little to fit your fishing style. Here are mods I've done so far. Maybe this can give you some ideas how to customize your own boat or show you what you don't want to do.

You ever need to lower your boat down a steep put in only to have you paddles slide out of the boat or worse, you have an extra paddle but you flip the boat and lose both?. Yeah, no fun at all. I always take a single blade and a double blade paddle for my canoe so I need a secure place to store them in the boat. Here is what I came up with. My double blade is broken down and stored behind me but I can easily reach the ends and pull them out very quickly. I also put a paddle clip under the front thwart to secure my single blade. All blades are snuggled into the ends of the boat so I only needed 1 clip per paddle. Alos, the clips were only $1.50!

Ever start going down a rapid and wished you could store your flyrod out of the way and securely in seconds? Also need to have another rod with a sink tip ready to go but out of the way and secure? I thought about this one a lot and a canoe just isn't storage freindly for long objects. Even with a 2 pc rod broken down, that 4 to 5 foot length can cause headaches especially in a 12 ft boat. Here is what I came up with.

I use a drag chain anchor for anchoring in rivers. It consists of a 3 ft length of 3/8" chain that is covered with bycycle inner tube. The anchor rope is attached to the chain in the middle so I really have two 1.5ft lengths of chain. The anchor rope is actually a retractable dog leash so that the anchor line never piles on the floor of the boat. I use a "Clam Cleat" to stop hold the line. The cleat does all the work, the dog leach just holds the line. The line come out of the boat thru a brass grommet (thru hull fitting) so that the entire anchor system is beneath the gunnels. Be warned, anchoring in current is dangerous. The anchor can get hung up in heavy current and the river will be in the boat. Keep a sharp knife close to your anchor rope!

This year I have gone down some very rough water. No, not rapid classification but as in rough rocks that have really scraped up my boat. My boat is made of Royalex and while it is considered abrasion resistant, I don't think the makers of Royalex knew what I was going to be slamming and scraping my boat into and over. So, I took the boat to Sunrift Adventures in Greenville SC and had them install some skid plates. Here are some before and after pics. After I do several trips with the new modification, I'll update this page.

When I bought the boat, it had a cane seat that was lower than I liked and about 9 inches to far back toward the stern. The bow rode higher than the stern and any headwind would instantly turn the boat around facing upstream. This was unacceptable so I bought a 12" by 1" oak plank and bolted it directly under the gunnel so that the front edge was exaclty dead center length wise. This leveled the boat out and now wind just pushes the boat instead of spinning it around quickly. I would have used the factory cane seat but when moved forward, it was too short to span the width of the boat. My modification also raised the seat 2 inches and I had a better view of the water and what is under the water. By adding a Sit Backer, I raised my rear end another 1.5inches. Most people lower the seat in their Pack for added stability but by moving it forward and leveling the boat, the hull is more evenly contacting water and I actually saw an improvement in stability even tho I was sitting higher. After dozens of trips, I knew I had the seat positioned exactly where I wanted it. Now, a white oak board that is 12" x 1" x 32" weighs anywhere from 8 to 15 lbs depending on water content so I calculated I could make an aluminum seat base that weighed 3 lbs and I would save around 10 lbs and also have a seat impervious to water damage.

I'm using two 1" square tube main supports (with .062 wall thinkness), a couple of 1" angle pieces (with .062 wall), two 3/4" x .o62 angle pcs. for middle support, and a 14" by 18" by .05 thick aircraft grade aluminum plate for a base. The materials were bought from Home Depot and Hopefully, this will give someone some ideas to improve thier fishing platform. BTW, aluminum is not cheap and thats why I did dozens of floats first before springing almost $80 for the aluminum. I bought mine retail and you could save a few dollars looking thru the local scrap yard...but I am too lazy for that.

I liked the first rod holders but they weighed around 10lbs and I never used the backup rod so I bought a cheapo Cabela's 4 pc. rod to store under the gunnels and reworked my rod storage. Still wanted to keep the main rod handy but secure during shuttling, rapid shooting, and portaging. Here is what I came up with. Very light, secure, and easy to access. First the backup rod which never leaves the boat (one less thing to carry and secure every trip!), and then the main rod.


Saturday canoe modifications

Well I spent today getting my anchor system finished, finishing my basket/rod holder, and raising my back seat. I've have my trolling motor mount done for a while now and decided to finish the rest up before fishing gets in full swing. My dad and I took a trip to Lowe's to get the aluminum rod for the pulley at the bow and a few other things. We heated the rod and bent it by hand. I think it makes it look like I actually meant to do it!

Raised seat

Basket and rod holders. (Plus the "fish finder". I just use it as a depth finder.)

Pulley system

All put together!

Tell me what y'all think!


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When it comes to outfitting canoes, the modifications made tend to vary from person to person. However, there are a few modifications you can make quickly and easily that will greatly improve your canoe’s performance and help you get the most from your time on the water.

Below are some of the best canoe modifications that you can make to your boat:

  1. Lace the canoe.
  2. Add grab loops.
  3. Put airbags in the canoe.
  4. Add a kneeling thwart.
  5. Add a painter line.
  6. Install comfortable seats.
  7. Add an anchor.
  8. Attach outriggers.
  9. Add paddings.
  10. Install comfortable yokes.


Lacing the canoe

Lacing a canoe is a simple and quick way to add extra extra functionality to the boat. It is one of the first additions you should make when outfitting your canoe.

Adding lacing to a canoe gives you the option to attach things to your boat.

It is important for you to lace the canoe from end to end just so you have strong attachment points for when you put the airbags in the bow and stern of the canoe. Usually, this is done by drilling equidistant holes around your canoe then inserting the rope like you would a shoe lace.

It is advised to get at least a rope that is 5 millimetres thick.

When you fit in your airbags the lacing makes sure that your airbags are secured and will not have a tendency of popping out of the canoe.

These ropes are also helpful if you need to secure other stuff that you think you would need for the canoe trip.

Grab loops

Grab loops are ropes that are tied on the bow and stern of the canoe. A grab loop is usually just a small, but fairly thick, rope that has a loop big enough to attach a hook, secure painters, or to serve as tie-off points for rescue ropes or tow lines.

Another purpose for a grab loop is as a … well … “grab” point. This grab point gives you something to on to during portage. The grab loop makes it easier to carry the canoe securely because you have something to grab on to.

So, if your canoe does not have grab loops yet, you can attach these handy pieces of rope simply and quickly. Start by drilling holes through the hull just a little bit below the deck plates and tie the knot off by using a fisherman’s knot or double fisherman’s knot.

Put airbags in the canoe

Airbags are usually installed in the bow and the stern of the canoe.

Airbags are usually secured by roping them against the lacing and then tying them to the bottom of the boat using a D-strap.

Usually, the size of the airbag that you are going to need depends on the space you are willing to give up in your canoe.

If you are opting to go canoeing on your own, then it would be best to fit bigger airbags because you have the space to do so. If however, you plan on going with a friend or your dog then it would be best to install airbags that are smaller because you do not want to have a cramped space in the canoe.

Whatever sized airbags that you install they should be monitored, especially on hot days, because airbags have the tendency to pop due to extreme heat. You can avoid this by deflating them a tad bit on really hot days.

Add a kneeling thwart

When it comes to canoeing, paddlers will either sit upright in a normal boating position or they will reduce their center of gravity by paddling in a kneeling position. Kneeling not only lowers your center of gravity thus increasing the stability of the boat but it also gives you much more control over the canoe.

The problem with paddling in a kneeling position is that it becomes extremely uncomfortable if done over long periods time without any support. Therefore, adding a kneeling thwart is important because it adds comfort to your knees when you are canoeing.

The location for a kneeling thwart is based on your personal paddling position but is very easy to use and install as you can see in the video below.

Add pads

In addition to a kneeling thwart you can add more comfort by adding canoe pads to the bottom of the boat. This helps because you would not easily feel uncomfortable after a few hours of kneeling.

As well as comfort the padding also helps you to create some resistance when you are paddling. With padding you will not slip as much and will create more resistance against the paddle resulting in a better efficiency with your paddling.

If you do not want to add pads a great alternative for this is to wear knee pads because that way you still have extra padding for your knees without the trouble of installing and maintaining pads in the canoe.

Add a painter line

The main purpose of a painter line is for lining the canoe, but it is also useful when towing the canoe and can also be used to ‘walk’ your canoe through shorelines.

A painter line is just a strip of rope that is around three-fourths of the canoe’s length. This is made shorter to avoid the rope becoming tangled.

Usually, a painter line is tied to the grab loops of the canoe. At the end of the painter line you can loop it into an overhand knot.

Install comfortable seats

If you are someone who prefers sitting down rather than kneeling when canoeing, then it is a must that you replace the seats that are built in the canoe with more comfortable versions or add seats if there are none already.

There are a wide variety of designs you can choose from that are readily available in the marketplace. Alternatively you can can opt to use a boat seat cushion on an existing seat.

Although you can go the whole hog and install seats with backs a simple and easy to make seat modification, that is extremely comfortable, is to add simple canoe seats as shown in the video below.

Add an anchor

Anchors are an essential piece of kit for every boat, even a canoe, especially if you are an angler. An anchor helps to keep the canoe stay put while you do some fishing and it also helps you have extra resistance when you are fighting the force of a large fish.

There is a lot of variety of anchors that are readily available in stores as well as online. If you do not want to spend a lot of money on a good anchor, you can easily make a DIY anchor at home.


Another way to keep your canoe stable is to add outriggers. Outriggers give a canoe much more stability in choppy waters and can even help keep the canoe afloat if it takes on a little bit of water.

Outriggers are essentially used to stop the boat from rocking from side to side. Many canoes that are used in the ocean are fitted with outriggers (see our guide to canoeing in the ocean).

There are a lot of videos on the internet showing you how to make DIY outriggers using PVC pipes but they are available in stores.

We have a detailed article about attaching canoe outriggers that you may want to read.

Add a comfortable yoke

The yoke of the canoe is the cross beam located at the center of the canoe. This usually has a curved indentation at the center so that it is comfortable for the canoeist to carry the boat.

The yoke rests on the shoulders of the person carrying the canoe, so it is important to have a really comfortable yoke especially when there are long walks that you have to endure when portaging.

Some people also add portage pads to the yoke to create a softer surface where the yoke meets their shoulders.

Final thoughts

All of the above modifications have their place and can help make your canoe trips more fun. However, it is important that you do not overdo canoe outfitting because you only limited space in a canoe. It would be best if you smartly outfit your canoe based on the activities that you personal do in your canoe so you can keep your canoe lightweight and simple.

Remember that you can always add or remove most of the modifications that are mentioned above, so you can change the modifications you make to your canoe based on the activities you are engaged in or until you find the right modifications for the activity you are going to be doing with your canoe.

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