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#10802756 - 04/28/15 06:56 AM Sportspal canoe review
Brad R Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 03/09/15
Posts: 793
Loc: Texas
I have had my 15'3" Sportspal canoe for a couple of months now and I have collected some thoughts on it, things I'd already set up differently.

First, as I did, I'd recommend the longest canoe offered by Meyers. I have the S-15 and, while all of their canoes are 38" at the gunwales and 44" to the outside of the sponsons (boat collar), the longer a canoe is, the more stable it is. At age 62, 6'3" and 250 lbs. I can stand in front of the stern seat or preferably in the mid-ships area, and fish all day and paddle standing, even crossing deep water on windy days. I don't wobble the slightest. But, if I ordered again, I'd get a traditional double pointed canoe, the S-16. Why? Well, really when you mount a small outboard or a trolling motor (I did the latter) on the square stern, the throttle arm sticks out right where your back is. It would be much easier to mount either of these on an available side mount where the throttle would be off to the side for operation.

But, even the power is totally unnecessary for most canoeing where we generally spend time on either smaller water/rivers/creeks . . . or circumnavigating large lake perimeters staying in the shallows and coves. We stay out of boat lanes for the large part. My Optima battery weighs in at a whopping solid 53+ pounds, then the trolling motor itself is another 20+ pounds. These are the heaviest things, other than me, in the canoe.

What I prefer to do is use paddle power and, in certain conditions, I'd rather have a 30 lbs. Honda 2.3 HP outboard to move me around longer distances, this lighter and better than a trolling motor. Much, much lighter.

Seating: I found that when I want to sit down to, say, tie on a lure, all I needed to buy was a blade footed lawn chair. Mine fits easily in my canoe. It is at a more comfortable height than the factory bench seat and I lodge the back "blade" of the unfolded chair between a mid-ships factory bench seat and the rear thwart just behind it. If needed, these chairs are so light, I can literally stand up, reach back and pick it up with one hand and fold it up and toss it out of the way. I could even tether it and hang it over the side for a moment to get it totally out of the way since it is just an aluminum frame with that webbing material. I love the back support when I sit in it at times and kick my feet up on the bow thwart.

Anchoring: One needs a good anchor to fish effectively from a canoe because they are like leaves blowing across water. Find a spot, drop an anchor. I set up an anchor trolley where I can drop an 8 lbs. mushroom anchor overboard (it sits just behind me off to the side) and then use the trolley to position it in the more desirable bow or stern area where the canoe then swings out on its long end to one or the other ends. Too, I bought a fiberglass stake-out pole that can be jammed down in the mud in some cases. Very effective. I had an extra section spliced in that I can add to the stake-out pole to use as a push pole for pushing around in the shallows up to around 6 or so feet in depth. Mine extends to 12 feet.

Paddles: The Sportspals come with two 5' paddles, pretty nice wooden ones. But, if you are going to solo, I'd get an 8' double ended paddle like kaykers often use. You can keep to a straight line better. And, I like paddling standing up and they have two bladed paddles for the SUPs (stand up paddle boards) and actually, as I think about it, a Sportspal is really sort of a very stable SUP in a manner of speaking . . . just with lots of storage and carrying capacity.

Equipment:

I'd recommend a nice large ice chest to be set forward of your mid-ships seating and behind any passenger in the bow of the boat. It can be rather large since the boat is so wide and stable. Two rods is about right to carry along, just the tackle you need for the day and it can be dangled in a pack from a thwart, plenty of water, for sure, a dry bag, and I carry some crotch high waders. Customize as you like using regular and less expensive consumer products, not so much the super high marked up accessories common to kayaks.

Advantages over other small craft:

1) Compared to a kayak, well the major advantage is you can stand and move around the vessel so much easier. For the few kayaks where standing is even possible, your standing area is still very limited. And, in a canoe you can carry passengers. I have fishing buddies, kids and grandkids. Only a few kayaks are set up for multiple passengers. You can carry more gear, too. My chair, if I stick with this simple solution, cost $15 and I think it is likely much more comfortable than most kayak seats, especially the low ones. A canoe is generally lighter, mine comes in at 67 lbs. so top-mounting is good on the right vehicle. I built a Harbor Freight trailer but it wasn't necessary.

2) Compared to bass buster sorts of small plastic crafts? A large Sportspal generally has more carrying capacity, I would suppose, and is easier to manually (and under power) move across water, even deep water for a canoe is a snap. I know less about these boats and I have seen some really nice ones. I still think the right canoe has more positives.

Anyway, a canoe will get you off the bank. I like bank fishing but you'll do much better fishing off the bank where you can cast parallel to it but just outside of any vegetation lines where bass lie waiting for easy prey to grab. And, you can float up to submerged trees and lay-downs and more accurately get on the fish.

I'll try to get some pics and/or video soon. I could spend all day on my canoe. I hope to get back down to Wheeler Branch on Friday since it is supposed to be a low wind day, nice temps. If so, I won't even bother packing the trolling motor.

Brad



Edited by Brad R (04/28/15 07:01 AM)
Edit Reason: fix

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#10810637 - 04/30/15 10:56 PM Re: Sportspal canoe review [Re: Brad R]
porta Offline
Angler

Registered: 09/25/09
Posts: 340
I prefer a open "U" or "V" float tube (or even a pontoon) over any other choices because:

-Gets you off the bank at a lower price
-Weighs as little as 8# for a pack in model and is very compact- 2 can be easily transported in an airline carry on case when deflated.
-Most stable- due to low center of gravity and wide stance
-Easiest transport- gets you on the water faster and easier if you leave it set up in a garage with pockets packed- just slide into some hatchbacks, or tie down in PU bed or car roof
-No hassle loading/unloading and no waiting, rolling or carrying at a ramp- one man launch almost anywhere
-No anchor needed in up to waist deep water- simply stand up to hold position
-No climbing in or out- really great when making frequent stops for rapids, portaging, bathroom breaks, etc.
-Can go on a hike with you to remote water while setup and packed- by using back straps
-Bounces or slides off rounded solid obstacles that stick above or slightly below the water surface without scratching, denting or cracking- rocks, dead trees, etc.
-Seat bladders and angle adjustment can be set to most comfortable seating posture- even above water for dry hindquarters
-Can be used for many hours at a time without fatigue, backache- like sitting in a TV easy chair
-No marinating of feet in tracked in muddy water- feet can periodically dry out when placed on a foot bar above water
-Some can be adapted to motor or oars for traveling long distance over water

These are just my humble observations, may not work for everyone!

PC

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#10810679 - 04/30/15 11:32 PM Re: Sportspal canoe review [Re: Brad R]
Wadefishing Offline
Angler

Registered: 07/02/08
Posts: 308
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Thanks for the review Brad. I prefer to be in a canoe because I want to be in a boat and not on top of a kayak or in the water on a float tube but that's just personal preference.

Sounds like you've got the canoe figured out very well. Good luck with it. I hope to be able to get one soon.

By the way where did you get yours if you don't mind my asking.


Edited by Wadefishing (04/30/15 11:43 PM)
_________________________
Wade

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#10810759 - 05/01/15 05:00 AM Re: Sportspal canoe review [Re: Brad R]
Brad R Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 03/09/15
Posts: 793
Loc: Texas
Wade, I purchased it directly from the factory. Meyers doesn't want to compete with its retail outlets so there was no price advantage; and, I would have likely purchased it locally if one were available.

It was more or less mailed to me in a large plastic wrap, all in great shape, a couple of hundred bucks for the shipping.

I am up early. Today is supposedly a low wind day, nice 81 degree weather, so I am leaving the trolling motor and my heavy battery home for the first time, going to give the 280 cm, 9'2" double-bladed paddle a workout at Wheeler Branch. My "flight path" looks to be around 3 miles if I follow the plan as I have laid it out.

I'll fish standing the whole day with rare exceptions, paddle some standing but more normally dropping down for better leverage. I'll push pole a bit in shallows to work with that new system and experiment more with my anchor trolley. I left a required carabiner home by mistake last time out so I didn't get to use it.

*** A great YouTube tip: I didn't have time to rig it, but those red dumbbell shaped floating markers? One YouTuber, Yakntexas, publishes quite a few Yak tips and many of them work well for canoes, too. So, with this little cheap device, he fuses a carabiner to one end with epoxy, then an 0-ring attachment to the other. He then winds on enough anchor line for shallow water applcations, runs off enough to anchor out (he recommends 3X the depth for a good grab angle), the rest of the line is on the "spool" where it is then hooked through the carabiner on the side. The other end is tethered to one's anchor trolley. Well, just like a single finger tip holds the line back on a spinning reel, when the line to the anchor down below is run to the side like that and through the carabiner, it locks the spool up, keeps it from un-spooling line.

A nice trick for all small craft floaters so one can reel out, then up the anchor line and not have a hank of rope lying on the vessel floor or in need of some sort of reel.

Take a look! He shows two anchor rigs on this video and it is the second one that has interesting applications for the floaters and paddlers crowd. Yakntexas . . . a nice guy, too, with many great "shares" for other people to try out.

There is no use "crashing through and open door" as one of my old professors and mentors used to say.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FKA1p0dl2Y

Brad

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#10821755 - 05/05/15 10:37 PM Re: Sportspal canoe review [Re: Brad R]
Wadefishing Offline
Angler

Registered: 07/02/08
Posts: 308
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
How did it go with the double bladed paddle instead of the trolling motor. Are you still thinking it would better to have the double end canoe with a side mounted trolling motor or without a trolling motor?
_________________________
Wade

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#10822291 - 05/06/15 09:16 AM Re: Sportspal canoe review [Re: Wadefishing]
Brad R Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 03/09/15
Posts: 793
Loc: Texas
Wade, I ended up with a 280cm (9'3") double bladed paddle and I have used it twice now and I really like it. If one is paddling a wide canoe, the loss of momentum in that second or two shifting back and forth with a standard paddle is really hard to overcome into a strong current or headwind.

I took the canoe out Monday afternoon, to Marine Creek, paddled over a mile with the two blade paddle and it was great. I left the trolling motor at home. That saved me packing around a 54 lbs. Optima D27 Blue Top and I guess a 20+ lbs. Minn Kota. That set up, other than me and/or a passenger, is by far the heaviest thing I carry in the canoe.

Too, I tried out the float marker dumbbell rig, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FKA1p0dl2Y

and, it works great as it transfers what used to be a hank of anchor rope lying around in the canoe . . . to a system that floats in the water. I used deck clips, those nylon devices, attached to each end with well nuts, then one carabiner to route the anchor rope through (it acts similar to a finger on the line of a spinning reel) and another carabiner attached to a short shock cord back to the O-ring on the anchor trolley.

Hmm? I really like the looks of the S-15 since it is a hybrid sort of appearance between a canoe and I suppose the very edge of tripping over to a sleek form of jon boat. It is not as traditional looking as a two pointed canoe; it is way, what, sexier than a jon boat. But, from a purely functional standpoint, mounting a small outboard or a trolling motor on the square back transom just isn't the best of possible mounting positions. So, in either case, S-15 or S-16, I'd want to establish where I want to sit when I am under power, then have a side mount for either and electric or gas motor positioned where the throttle arm is off to my side.

If I were on really large lakes? I'd go with a small outboard for more range but still work the lake perimeters and stay out of boat lanes. For smaller lakes where you won't cover over 5 or so miles, a trolling motor is fine with one caveat: they bring a lot of weight to the equation.

I'll be out and around over the next few weeks. Let me know if you want a "demo." I am in Ft. Worth.

Brad

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