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Pleasant is okay, though it tend to have substantial motor boat traffic on it, which can be annoying. Also, during the summer months the shore lines are really exposed so it is difficult to get out of the sun. Personally, I also think it is the least scenic of the desert lakes. It does have the advantage of being close to Phoenix though and in the spring, fall or winter can be really nice paddling.
However, ff you are looking for something close to the valley I would recommend Saguaro Lake. Same issue with motor boat traffic but if you put in at the Butcher Jones Recreation Site you can head straight up into the canyon and check out some of the coves close by. It is pretty paddling.
Bartlett is similar to Pleasant, with much of the same problems, though prettier area in my opinion and also has on lake rental options.
Horse shoe is a little more difficult to get to but just up stream from Bartlett. It is about 10 miles of well maintained dirt roads to get there but it is peaceful. I've never shared the lake with more than two other boats which are generally fisherman.
If you are willing to go a little further out, Blue Ridge Reservoir up on the rim is a great paddling destination. It is up in the pines and is a beautiful area to paddle. It is doable as a long day trip from Phoenix (about 2 hours each way), plus no motorized craft allowed. There is also camping available in the area if you want to stay longer.
You had mentioned on lake rentals, which isn't a bad deal if you are only going to be out for an hour or two but if you want to check out some of the other locations I mentioned, or just want to have an all day excursion with out it costing you the price of a used boat... I use to do all my rentals from Arizona Hiking Shack (No affiliation what so ever) until I bought my own Yak. I still go there if I'm taking someone who doesn't have a boat. Great people, easy to work with, reasonable rental prices and they will set up up with everything you need to transport the boat (or you can get an inflatable if you like as well). I highly recommend them. There are other places in the valley that rent boats as well (I've only worked with Arizona Hiking Shack so can't give you any advice on them) which are likely going to be significantly cheaper rentals than what you will find on the lake(s) so something to think about.
Hope this helps.
Don't forget the Arizona Paddle Festival at Lake Pleasant Saturday, 8 April 2017 at Fisherman's Cove.
I have a map attached!