Imagine a cool morning as the sun rises. You’re floating on a peaceful lake, a couple of fishing rods secured in your canoe’s holder. A third is in your hands.
The world is quiet. There’s only one sound out there, and it’s the gentle lapping of the water against the canoe’s hull. An occasional songbird offers a melody.
Does it matter if you even catch anything in those circumstances?
With all the stress that this world offers, more people should consider getting outside to commune with nature. One of the best ways to accomplish that is by using a square stern canoe.
When Should You Choose a Square Stern Canoe?
Square stern canoes are typically used when hunting or fishing because one end features a flat, square shape. Its sporty design offers more stability and the option to attach an electric trolling motor for faster movement between spots. Some designs come with multiple holder locations for added convenience.
A square stern canoe is only slightly different from a standard design. It features a modified end with a flat, squared shape instead of a point.
If you’re paddling a canoe with this style, the difference is minimal. This design is meant to mount a motor to the vessel, allowing the squared portion to provide enough support for trolling. That makes it easier and faster to maneuver it through the water.
When you invest in a square stern canoe, you have more steering capabilities. It’s a great option for those times when getting to your favorite spot isn’t practical if you want to paddle.
Although a square stern canoe handles most conditions, it is not suitable for rough waters or whitewater areas. It’s meant more for lakes or calm spaces. A different vessel is necessary to navigate the rapids.
If you have a short recreational trip planned, you might find this canoe style to be bulkier than you want. That makes it harder to paddle, even if everyone helps.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Owning a Square Stern Canoe?
If you’re thinking about investing in a boat for getting out on local waters, a square stern canoe could be a great option to consider.
As with any investment, there are potential advantages and disadvantages to consider. Here is a closer look at what to expect when owning a canoe.
|List of the Pros of Owning a Canoe
|List of the Cons of Owning a Canoe
|A canoe is typically more stable than other small vessels, such as kayaks, for sporting activities.
You can cast without worrying about the boat flipping.
|Square stern canoes come with an open cockpit design.
You’ll be exposed to all the elements during your journey, including the wind, sunshine, and spray from the water.
|It is easier to enter a square stern canoe than other portable vessels.
You sit inside the craft with push-off options at launch, reducing the risk of getting wet or tipping over during those critical moments.
|It takes more effort to paddle a canoe than other portable vessels.
You can counter that issue with an electric trolling motor, but that can reduce your portaging options for some areas.
|A canoe provides a higher load capacity than other options, allowing you to carry more gear for your adventure.
There’s enough space for overnight camping options, long days on the lake, or similar activities.
|Canoes have less maneuverability than kayaks and other boats, requiring more power to turn the vessel.
That can cause your fuel or battery to run out faster or add another difficulty level to your paddling.
|Canoes offer higher seating positions, allowing you to get a better view of your surroundings.
That makes it easier to navigate toward your favorite hunting or fishing spots.
|Some waterways don’t support the use of canoes.
You’ll need to check on local regulations to see what vessels are permitted.
Launch fees, inspections, and other rules might apply.
|When a trolling motor isn’t equipped with a canoe, it’s possible to portage the vessel even when on a solo journey.
|Canoes are often heavier than paddleboards or kayaks, requiring more of an effort when transporting them to your preferred spot.
A square stern canoe comes in various sizes. If you plan to go solo, a smaller model might be more appropriate. You might lose some storage space by downsizing, but it’ll be lighter and easier to move.
Those benefits translate to needing less power or fuel to move around with your trolling motor.
Other Canoe Options to Consider
When you’re in a canoe, the paddle used to generate momentum is typically a single blade that requires the user to move from one side to the other. That technique allows the vessel to track in a straight line.
That’s a different shape than a kayak paddle, which has blades on both sides because the operator sits closer to the waterline.
Most canoes have two bench-style seats where you would sit, although larger models come with three. A smaller design might offer one.
If you’re thinking about a square stern canoe, there are four different types to consider. Each one brings specific benefits to consider.
1. Recreational Canoes
The typical recreational canoe is up to 17 feet long. It’s designed for stability while being easy to paddle.
They’re the most common option chosen for ponds, lakes, and slow rivers. Most are large enough to take the entire family on an outdoor adventure.
One issue that comes up with this canoe design is its size. Since the vessel can be nearly 20 feet long, transporting it on a vehicle isn’t always possible. If you live close to the water or have a trailer to use, this option makes sense to consider.
If you drive a passenger car and use a roof rack for hauling gear, this investment won’t have the portability you need.
2. Whitewater Canoes
This design is built for faster waters, choppy rivers, and whitewater paths. They’re significantly shorter in size and have more rocker incorporated to make them maneuverable. It’s harder to paddle this style in a straight line.
Most whitewater canoes do not come with a square stern design. You wouldn’t want to use a trolling motor in wavy areas anyway.
Many of the canoe designs in this category come with flotation bags that prevent water from coming into the cockpit.
It takes time to learn how to steer, but the fun you can have in challenging waters is worth the investment to some.
3. Racing Canoes
These canoes are built with a narrow hull to reduce how much surface area comes into contact with the water.
This design element increases speed while sitting lower in the water to add stability.
If you ride in a racing canoe, you’re more likely to be kneeling in the bilge instead of having a seat to enjoy.
That makes it harder to do some fishing, but it could help you reach a favorite hunting spot easily.
4. Flat Back Canoes
A square stern canoe is also referred to by this name. The end of the vessel provides a mounting spot for a motor without requiring extensive modification. You can focus on steering and speed instead.
Some canoes come with dual flat ends with this design. Others use a more extended shape that makes the vessel look closer to a kayak than a canoe.
If you use an inflatable design, ensure that a mounting bracket or space is available to use. The best models offer a rigid frame to deliver enough support for the motor.
How to Get into Your Canoe Safely
Once you settle into a canoe, the vessel becomes stable. The process of getting into or out of one is a different story. Since your center of gravity is much higher than the boat, it tends to wobble a lot during weight transfers.
You must be careful when entering or exiting a canoe to prevent it from capsizing. If you have a trolling motor equipped, the event could damage the product.
Two basic methods work well for getting into a canoe. It depends on whether you’re entering from a deep or a shallow shoreline.
- Deep Shoreline Entry. Position the canoe to have it parallel to shore or the dock. Have one person stabilize the boat while the other steps into it. Stay as low as possible, reaching across to have a hand on the gunnels while stepping to the center, using one foot at a time. You may need to begin this process from a sitting position.
- Shallow Shoreline Entry. The person who sits in the near position should stabilize the canoe with the other person steps in and walks the boat’s length before reaching their position. Stay low, sliding hands along each gunnel for support. Ensure that your feet are always in the middle of the boat. After settling into the seat, the other person can step in while staying low.
When paddling with a partner, it’s usually easier to be on opposite sides of the canoe. If you’re in front, it’s your role to see what is coming to avoid potential obstacles. The person in the back is responsible for steering to ensure it tracks in a straight line.
The paddle should go into the water vertically. It helps to keep it in line with the boat, getting as much of the blade into the water as you can. Push it away from the boat or pull it towards yourself to control the tracking.
How to Convert a Canoe to Use a Trolling Motor
If you have an existing canoe and don’t want to keep paddling, you can convert the design to hold a trolling motor. You must install a rugged bracket to the stern that provides enough support to keep the extra weight stable and secure.
The best mounting brackets use 6061 aluminum because the material is virtually impossible to bend without using external equipment.
I used the Aqua Outdoors Mount Bracket with an Aluminum Crossbar for one of my smaller canoes. It doesn’t work on every design, but it did a good job outfitting mine for a mounting spot.
It is 28 inches long, providing a full range of steering motion. The width works to minimize motor vibration in the boat while driving. It uses an ash block with an acrylic urethane sealant to create a stable experience.
The installation is super simple. Set the clamps to the gunwale, tighten the star bolt, and keep turning until you have a tight fit.
Some brands require a different clamping system, including Coleman, Marine, and Grumman Eagle.
I like this option because it doesn’t require a permanent change to my canoe’s configuration. It lets me use the motor while duck hunting or paddle out for some morning fishing.
If you use other products, the process is still the same. You’ll clamp the item to your canoe, establish a firm block, and mount the motor after arriving at your destination unless you can haul it with your trailer or vehicle.
How to Hunt Ducks from a Boat Safely
If you’re not the biggest fan of fishing, a square stern canoe provides an excellent platform for duck hunting. I’ve found that launching my boat into a small river is generally peaceful, helping me avoid the larger crowds that go early and fight for room in marshland blinds.
Hunting from a canoe isn’t without some unique challenges to manage.
For starters, you need to find a river that offers predictable movement. If you’re scouting a new location, look for zones where shooting is dangerous. From there, look at the take-outs and launches to find the best spots for encountering birds.
When I need to travel, I use Google Earth to look for the best areas.
Once I’ve found some great spots, I set my alarm for a mid-morning wake-up call. Ducks that go to roost somewhere else typically feed at sunrise.
They’ll reach the secluded points of a small river before noon, looking to have a nap. That’s where I want my canoe to be.
When you’re floating, a large canoe can support a second person. I like being out there alone, working around the bends while letting the current take me where it wants to go. A trolling motor can be a little loud, but it gives you speed when you need it.
I also tether my paddle to ensure it doesn’t get lost. I like to use the LINGVUM stretchable leash because it can handle my fishing poles for those times when I’m not hunting.
Once I’m in position, the decoys come out for some extra support. I strongly recommend bringing at least a half dozen to use, but it depends on how much space you have in your canoe.
It’s important to remember that river ducks sit on specific stretches for a reason, so recognizing the conditions is crucial for a successful result.
It can be hard work to have a floating hunt, but it’s a little easier when a square stern canoe is helping the process along.
Best Duck Decoys to Use with Square Stern Canoes
Some duck decoys are excellent. Others aren’t worth the materials used to create them. When you’re floating on a river in a canoe, you need a product that offers natural movement to have a successful result.
When the decoy looks like it’s struggling to swim, a duck will look at that and say, “No thanks!”
That’s why I rely on the following decoys when I’m taking my square stern canoe out for a day on the water.
AvianX Top Flight Duck Decoy
The problem I’ve always had with decoys is the lack of realism. You need more than an authentic shape to attract birds. The look and visual aesthetics need to match. That’s why I love this product.
When you see an AvianX Top Flight Duck Decoy from a distance, you’d swear you were looking at a real bird.
The attention to detail is amazing, even if they tend to look the same when lining them up to pack them away.
The paint’s durability is excellent. I use them throughout the season, getting about three seasons’ worth of work out of them before a replacement is necessary.
They’re easily one of the best products I’ve used, and the results speak for themselves.
Should I Invest in a Square Stern Canoe?
A square stern canoe is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a more upright fishing or hunting experience. It has more stability than many kayak designs, offers the option of a trolling motor, and works in virtually any calm water situation.
I don’t know where I’d be without my square stern canoe. Mine is paired with the Malone Auto Racks MicroSport Trailer for easy hauling.
I prefer this trailer because the steel frame uses marine-grade galvanization, reducing the risk of corrosion.
It comes with carriers that support over 350 pounds. When we take the kayaks out instead, I can fit four of them on this unit.
Fishing and hunting are always enjoyable. When you’ve got the right setup for your favorite spots, it gets even better! That’s the power of a square stern canoe.