Carolina Mountain Sports
123 West Broad St
Statesville, NC
(704) 871-1444
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March 17, 2018
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  Carolina Mountain Sports Paddling
Mad River Canoes

I have been an owner and fan of Mad River Canoes since the early 70s and am pleased to be adding them to the store inventory.  Initially, I’ll be stocking the Mad River Royalex Explorer in  16’ length.  This canoe is practically a legend as an all-around, rugged canoe…a benchmark when it comes to versatility.  They are stable, track well, handle a variety of water conditions and are tough.  This is an excellent canoe for a variety of waters in the southeast…lakes, ponds and rocky rivers.

I also expect to add the Mad River Legend.   Also a 16’ Royalex craft, but a little better hull design for folks that spend most of their time on our rivers, twisting and turning thru rock gardens and mild whitewater (although it is capable of more serious challenges.)


CMS staff and friends head out in the fog on Maine’s Allagash River.

These are both excellent watercraft based on their designs,  materials and record of performance.  These are not the inexpensive molded plastic boats that may be okay in some circumstances.  These watercraft will last a lifetime and appeal to novice paddlers and serious enthusiasts as well, who want and appreciate a craft that is time-tested and proven on waters of all types, in all parts of the world.

Like all other brands of quality Royalex canoes, prices for these are approximately $1400. Check out the specs etc. at 

(Bell Canoes?  As customers and previous readers of this site know, I was happy to stock Bell Canoes, when they were being manufactured.  Regretably, the company ceased production.   If you are the owner of a Bell, you have a craft to be proud of for years to come.)

Bell Yellowstone tandem make a great solo craft for smallmouth fishing on the New.

Selecting a Canoe

There are some excellent canoes on the market, although perhaps not as many as there use to be.  Brands like Bell and Wenonah produce many excellent models.   Some select models by Old Town and Mad River, and a few other brands can be excellent all-around canoes for the southeast.      

Stick with a well known brand and model.  For all-around usefulness, pick a canoe that is 15-17 feet long.   Make sure it does not have a keel or ridges or grooves on the bottom.  Those hang on rocks and can make navigating a river much more difficult.    A well designed canoe, without a keel,  will track and handle great, especially if you learn the proper stokes for padding.   The longer the canoe, the more weight (equipment and people) it can handle and the shallower it’s draft (a real benefit in low/shallow water situations).

Tips for Solo Paddling

Good, well designed canoes paddles great, as long as the paddler sits or kneels in the center of the canoe.  This usually means you must add a kneeling thwart or a center seat.  Doing so will transform an awkward unstable craft to a nimble, well handling canoe that will perform beyond your expectation.   Learn the various strokes for paddling and practice so you can execute them well.  In long stretches of flat water, a long double-bladed paddle (8-9’) can be a real asset in covering distance rapidly and efficiently (but perhaps without the  aesthetics of single-bladed paddling).

Fishing from a canoe

Canoes make excellent fishing craft,  as long as you adjust and adapt to their limitations (the same is true for kayaks and pontoon boats.   They offer excellent versatility in rivers, whether going downstream or upstream.  They are fast and efficient on slow, flat water.   In addition, if you have chosen the right canoe, they are easy to load and unload and access waterways where other craft could not be launched.    

Updated: March 12, 2014
Carolina Mountain Sports

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