When I’m out fishing out of my canoe, I often wish that I could move the boat without packing my gear away and using the paddle. Square stern canoes are an excellent solution to this problem, as they allow for easy mounting of an electric trolling motor, which is actually quieter than paddling and less disturbing to fish.
The Old Town Discovery Sport 15 is my favorite canoe with a square stern right now, so I decided to write this review to help you to make an informed decision about your next canoe buy.
- With a square stern, the Discovery 15 can be paddled traditionally or motored with up to a 4-horsepower motor.
- Enjoy a dry and confident ride thanks to the full-length stabilizing chines and generous beam.
- Sit comfortably on the trio of durable, breathable, UV-resistant, nylon-webbed seats, which allow air to flow freely for all-day ease.
- Old Town's durable three-layer polyethylene canoe hull also includes vinyl gunwales and easy-carrying handles.
- Capacity when paddled is three people and 1,650 pounds, capacity with motor is four people or 800 pounds; measures 15 feet 3 inches and weighs 113 pounds....
Last update on 2020-07-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Things to Consider Before Buying a Square Stern Canoe
Mounting a trolling motor on a canoe is a whole lot easier when you have a square stern. Without one, you need to cobble together a mount by attaching a spreader bar between the inside edges of your hull, and then mounting the motor off to one side of the canoe.
It’s neither an elegant solution nor a very practical one as it’s harder to maneuver the boat when the motor isn’t directly behind it.
However, not all square stern canoes are equal or suitable for all paddlers. Some people require a lighter weight boat while others are looking for maximum storage capacity. However, all square stern canoes should be geared towards maximizing the fishing experience, as this will be their primary purpose.
You can find more information on this subject in this article I wrote about the best square stern canoes.
If you’re not going fishing with your canoe though, a square stern will be a disadvantage as it usually makes the canoe heavier and limits you to a single direction of travel.
A few things that frequent anglers will want to focus on when buying a square stern canoe:
- Hull design
- Materials the canoe is constructed from
For the most part, these three things will dictate the canoe’s performance.
Review of the Old Town Discovery Sport 15 Canoe
The Discovery Sport is one of the latest boats to come out of the canoe juggernaut that is Old Town and it does not disappoint, especially with those wanting to do some fishing on their paddling trips.
It’s a square stern canoe, which means you can easily mount a trolling motor on the rear to help with maneuvering between fishing holes. However, it’s also a solid canoe when the motor’s not running and has an oarlock system that makes solo paddling a cinch.
- Comes with mesh seats that promote airflow and are great for keeping your backside dry
- Hull is very stable, even with newbie paddlers
- Three-layer polyethylene hull is more durable than most plastic canoes
- Can carry three passengers
- Oarlocks make solo paddling possible
- Too heavy to be carried by just one person
- Somewhat expensive
- Feels cramped with three passengers
The first thing to look at when buying a new canoe is how it performs in the water. However, I should start by saying that most fishing canoes are not designed for “performance” in the traditional sense of the word. They’re slow and less maneuverable compared to models designed for running fast-moving rivers. Yet, where they do excel is with stability and the Discovery Sport is no exception.
Related Article: Most Stable Fishing Kayaks
The hull design of this canoe is a flat bottom with flared sides, which gives it incredible initial stability, even when it’s fully loaded. It’s also got a moderate rocker, which helps it to keep a straight line when paddled or under motorized power, but the rocker also cuts down on its maneuverability.
Overall, this is a middle of the road design that’s intended to appeal to most paddlers by being moderately maneuverable while remaining fairly stable.
The Discovery Sport also comes with an oar socket and lock system, a fantastic feature if you’re paddling alone. It’s a totally different experience paddling with the oarlocks, but if you’re not very experienced with solo paddling, the Discovery Sport’s 15-foot length can feel unwieldy without them.
It remains very stable under motorized power too, as the moderate rocker prevents the canoe from riding too high in the water and losing it’s tracking ability. You’ll find that a four or five horsepower trolling motor will be just about right for the Discovery Sport as it doesn’t need any more to get it going and a higher horsepower motor would just add weight.
For more information on this topic, you can read here my article about my favorite trolling motors for canoes and kayaks.
Everyone wants a portable boat that they can carry to the put-in point all by themselves, but that’s not always possible.
The Discovery Sport is a heavy canoe, there’s no getting around it – it weighs in at 113 lb. Loading and unloading this canoe on top of your vehicle is going to be a two-person job, and an unpleasant one at that. Doing it solo is near impossible, but then again, the same could be said for getting it to the put-in point without a canoe/kayak cart. For tandem carry though, it has convenient grab handles at the bow and stern.
Its weight isn’t out of line for its size though, so this is more of a warning than a criticism of the model. You should have a plan for how you’re going to get the canoe in and out of the water, and maybe a trailer for towing it rather than mounting the Discovery Sport on your vehicle’s roof.
With a length of 15 feet, the Discovery Sport feels just right with two adult paddlers, but with all three seats occupied it can feel crowded unless at least one of the passengers is a child.
However, the canoe is capable of carrying 800 lb in addition to a trolling motor, so there’s certainly nothing preventing three adults and their gear from hitting the water.
The seats on the Discovery Sport are made from nylon webbing, which is supposed to have more give and feel more comfortable than the hard plastic seats used on some canoes. For the most part, they are more comfortable and the mesh allows for greater airflow to dry out your pants or shorts when they get wet.
However, I still wouldn’t call them comfortable for all-day adventures. They’re not very wide and are especially uncomfortable if you’ve got a bad back. If that’s the case, you’ll want to look towards aftermarket seats that provide back support. Most canoe anglers spend a fair amount of time standing up in the boat though, so having a less than comfortable seat isn’t that big of a deal.
This boat is in the middle of the pack when it comes to durability. Old Town utilizes a three-layer polyethylene for the hull, which is pretty solid under most conditions. If it were to fall off the roof of your car or get bent around a rock on a fast-flowing river, there could be catastrophic damage, but minor scrapes in shallow water won’t phase it.
The main issue with polyethylene is that it can be warped and crack with long-term exposure to ultraviolet light. A day or even a week out on the water isn’t going to hurt it, but if you leave this boat lying out in your yard between paddling trips, don’t expect it to have a long lifespan.
Polyethylene canoes won’t last for decades like aluminum; it will eventually wear down and substantial repairs to polyethylene are nearly impossible. Replacement is the only option.
Alternatives to the Discovery Sport 15
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Discovery 158 Recreational Canoe Review
Old Town makes a model of the Discovery without the square stern that’s more suitable for non-anglers called the Discovery 158. It has many of the same great features seen on the Sport, but with only two seats and no mount for a trolling motor.
However, it does come with a yoke, which makes it easier to portage, as does its 87 lb weight (26 lb less than the Discovery Sport).
Sun Dolphin Scout SS Canoe Review
Another great option if you are in the market for a square stern canoe is the Scout SS from Sun Dolphin. It’s about a foot shorter and considerably less expensive compared to the Discovery Sport.
It doesn’t have the mesh seats (hard plastic) and is molded from a less durable plastic that’s more prone to warping, but it could be a better choice if this is your first foray into square stern canoes.
Grumman 17′ Square-Stern Canoe Review
If the Discovery Sport looks too cramped for your purposes, there’s also the Grumman 17’ Square Stern. This beast of a canoe has just two seats and a whole lot of space for gear in between them (and an 875 lb carrying capacity).
It’s also made from aluminum, which lasts much longer than the Discovery Sport’s polyethylene hull. It only weighs a few pounds more than the Discovery Sport, but it costs over twice as much as the Discovery Sport; it’s definitely for the more experienced paddler that knows what they’re looking for in a canoe.
You’ll also notice that the metal heats up and cools down quickly, necessitating some insulation between you and hull if you’re paddling from a kneeling position.
Conclusion – Is the Discovery Sport for You?
Finding the right canoe can be a real challenge with dozens of features to pore over before making a purchase. The easiest way to decide whether the Discovery Sport 15″ is a good fit for you is to consider how you’re going to use it.
- Since it’s a square stern canoe and can accept a trolling motor, it’s actually not a bad choice for solo anglers, as the 15-foot length won’t be as much of a barrier to maneuverability.
- It also has the oarlock system, which makes paddling much easier when you’re alone.
- However, if you’re not mounting a motor on it, the Discovery Sport probably isn’t going to be a great choice. You’ll be limited to paddling in one direction with it.
- If you need a moderately priced square stern that can fit up to three paddlers, it’s an excellent choice.