40 years ago this invention would have been impossible. Yet, 40 years ago is where this story begins. It’s a story whose conclusion awaits your eyes and ears at ICAST—one that just might change the way you think about canoes and fishing.
Somewhere in New York, the familiar glow of an iPad lights the hand of Cecil Hoge. Hoge, the President of class-leading inflatable boat builder Sea Eagle and lure giant Panther Martin, is busying himself with another new inflatable design. They are all done on iPads these days, though when Hoge founded Sea Eagle in 1968 (before he took the plunge into an aquatic lifestyle and boat design) everything was drawn on graph paper.
For nearly five decades, he’s been building some of the the most portable, most durable boats on the water. His creations have navigated the full length of the Mississippi River and plied the rapids of the Colorado. And his latest handiwork aims to take anglers and outdoorsmen to waterways they’ve never had easy access to before.
“When I saw it,” Hoge starts, “I noticed that one of the samples had a big basketball in the material.”
Hoge is talking about drop-stitch technology: the breakthrough behind Sea Eagle’s new TC-16 inflatable canoe. The TC stands for Travel Canoe, and I know what you’re thinking—but this ain’t your grandpa’s canoe.
“3o years later,” he continues, “the Koreans figured out how to make it so it doesn’t come apart.”
That’s where the TC-16 comes in.
Right now, there is nothing in the world like it. “There is nothing in the world that looks like it or will be like it if my patent holds up,” adds Hoge. Thanks to drop-stitch technology, the TC-16 is a unique inflatable canoe that fits in a car trunk and is sturdy enough to support an angler standing—and fishing—inside it. The secret to that, Hoge says, lies in drop-stitch. A normal inflatable holds about 3.2psi; Sea Eagle’s TC-16 can hold up to 15psi.
That’s enough air pressure to give the inflatable square, rigid, double-walled sides that make the 2-person, 60-pound canoe the perfect tool for accessing hard to reach or far away waterways. It inflates in about nine minutes, and as an added bonus, the TC-16 doesn’t look like your typical inflatable.
This is a durable, portable, versatile boat.
Sea Eagle says the TC-16 is capable of handling Class III whitewater rapids, but unless you’re a grizzly bear, you’re unlikely to be fishing in those. What you (or your customers) are likely to be doing is using the TC-16 to get into the hard to reach waterways that are normally the home of kayaks and paddle boards. And it’s there that the TC-16, with its added buoyancy and super-stable design, really shines.
Hoge says that each year, over 1,000,000 canoes are sold in America—that’s a piece of the market that Sea Eagle is poised to make a big splash in with the new TC-16.
To check it out for yourself, head over to ICAST Booth 1503 to see Hoge and the TC-16 first-hand. With a patent already pending, you’re unlikely to see anything like it again.