Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NuCanoe & Frontier Comparison by Ken Ziomek

As a member of Team NuCanoe, I frequently get questions from prospective buyers asking my opinion of the NuCanoe and various rigging options.  With the arrival of the Frontier, I’ve started receiving requests to compare the two models and to comment as to whether the Frontier is worth the higher price tag.

Let me start out by saying that you can’t go wrong with either model.  Both are, by far, a much better purchase decision for a fisherman than any S.O.T. kayak.  In fact, I don’t even put NuCanoes into the same category as kayaks.  I fished from a S.O.T. kayak for six years and thought it was great.  It was, until my aging back made it very difficult to stand if I was fishing longer than an hour.  I thought my days on the small lakes and ponds near my home were over until I saw an ad for NuCanoe in Kayak Angler magazine. I consider NuCanoe to be a small fishing boat, not a cramped, uncomfortable kayak.  If you want to be a kayaker that goes out on outings with other kayakers and you want to look like them and keep up with them on the water, then you should buy a kayak.  However, if you are a fisherman who wants more of a fishing boat than a kayak, go with the NuCanoe.  I find it hard to believe that anyone who tests a S.O.T and then a NuCanoe would ever select the kayak over a NuCanoe for fishing.  Also, please remember that if you take a 15 minute test ride in a kayak, it’s not the same as having to sit in that one position for multiple hours while you fish.

So much for the free commercial for NuCanoe, now let me offer my viewpoint on which model to purchase.  I look at the original NuCanoe the same way as I would look at the basic model offered by any fishing boat manufacturer.  When you purchase the basic model, you get everything that you need to get out on the water, fish comfortably, and have the flexibility of customizing your boat.  Photos and videos of my 12 foot NuCanoe with my elevated swivel seats, trolling and storage rod holders, carpeting, and Side Imaging depth finder can be found on the NuCanoe web site.  I firmly believe that anyone purchasing the original NuCanoe will not regret their buying decision.  I love my NuCanoe.  I’ve caught well over a thousand bass from my NuCanoe in the last two years.  I look at the Frontier as an upgraded model with added features, which do not necessarily translate into more fish in the boat.  The important thing to remember is that both models provide the same basic fishing function, which is the ability to comfortably fish from a lightweight portable fishing boat.  Unless you need some of the added features of the Frontier or you have the extra money and prefer the looks of the Frontier, the original NuCanoe may be all you need.
Now let’s look at the Frontier, which I see as the enhanced model in the NuCanoe line, and review the differences and my assessment of them.

-          Both models weigh the same at 77 pounds.  Because I always use trolley wheels, weight has not been a factor with either boat.
-          The beam of the Frontier is one inch narrower.  It’s not a big thing to me because both models fit into the bed of my Ford Ranger.
-          The Frontier has a weight capacity that is 125 pounds greater than the original model.  The 525 pound capacity of the NuCanoe was adequate for me and any of my fishing partners.
-          The hull design of the Frontier allows fishing in a minimum of 3 inches of water compared to 4 inches for the NuCanoe.  The limitation of four inches of water has never created any problems for me.
-          With respect to seating, the Frontier swivel seats are higher than swivel seats mounted in the NuCanoe.  The Frontier also offers the option of a quick snap-in bracket for mounting and removing the seats.  I like this feature and find it useful.  I suspect it could be adapted to work on the NuCanoe.  With respect to seat height, neither model was high enough to address my back problems so I built a more elevated mount for my swivel seat on both models.
-          The Frontier’s 70 inch Freedom Track allows unlimited options for seat position, rod holders, and electronic apparatus mounting.  The NuCanoe has limited mounting positions with six threaded inserts.  I find the 70 inch Freedom Track very useful for varying my seat position based on whether I’m fishing alone or with a partner.
-          The deck area of the Frontier is 20 inches wide compared to 12 inches for the NuCanoe.   The added space is very useful when shifting your feet for comfort or when standing.
-          I like the hull design of the Frontier.  Coupled with the 20 inch deck width, it provides greater stability and allows easier standing.  The hull design also allows the Frontier to track on a straighter path.  Straighter tracking is important when using my Side Imaging depth finder as it provides better reception for a clearer portrayal of the lake bottom.
-          Storage is clearly better on the Frontier.  The front hatch, when opened, provides access to a small storage pouch.  Removing this storage pouch provides space for rods and other large items in the inside hull.  Access to the inside hull also allows reinforcement with large washers of rod holders mounted in the indented spaces of the Mount Docks.  Enclosed storage is available for the NuCanoe by adding the optional Sport Box.
-          A Modular Multi-Mount for mounting electronics is available for the NuCanoe, however I am not aware of a similar accessory for the Frontier at this time.  A Slide Mount, which I believe is designed for marine electronics is scheduled for availability in April, 2012.  I re-used my Modular Multi-Mount on my Frontier by adding Starboard marine lumber extensions at each end to match Freedom Track spacing.
    - The Frontier has two scupper holes in the hull while the NuCanoe does not have this feature.  For my fishing needs, I see no reason for them while I am out on the water and I use the scupper plugs that come with the boat.  I do use them however when I’m cleaning my boat because it’s a lot easier to pull the plugs than to turn the Frontier over when it’s full of water.
-          The NuCanoe and Frontier hulls are both molded from polyethylene.  The NuCanoe has a “pebble grain” finish while the Frontier’s hull is smooth.  I believe the smooth finish provides two advantages.  First, the smooth finish allows the Frontier to move through the water with a slightly greater efficiency.  Next, if you like to adorn your fishing boat with stickers and decals advertising your favorite tackle and lures, they will adhere better to a smooth finish.
-          The handles at the front and back of the Frontier are more comfortable for pulling the boat on trolley wheels to and from the water’s edge than the handles on the NuCanoe.
-          The Frontier comes with two paddle/rod holders and a zigzag cleat while these are optional items on the NuCanoe.

I’m certain that many of you are wondering why, if I loved my NuCanoe, did I choose the Frontier?  Which of the added features of the Frontier caused me to upgrade?  Most of the people that I take fishing are retired and they come with the normal ailments of retired folk, such as bad knees, bad backs, bad hips, and reduced mobility.  The Frontier swivel seats are higher and I was able to elevate them to even a higher position to provide more comfort for both me and my fishing partner.  I appreciate the wider deck area because it allows us “old folk” to more easily enter and exit the Frontier.  One of my fishing partners must have his right leg extended in front of him because of knee pain.  The 70 inch Freedom Track allows me endless adjustments for seat positioning.  Finally, the added stability of the Frontier makes it easier to stand up while fishing to relieve aching muscles.  The rest of the added features are nice but, by themselves, they certainly would not have caused me to move from my NuCanoe to the Frontier.

If you don’t have the extra cash, can you get along with the NuCanoe?  Of course you can.  As I indicated earlier, I’ve caught over 1000 bass from my NuCanoe over the last two years, so I was able to do more than just “get by” with my NuCanoe.

Feel free to contact Ken at

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