My wife and I are considering upgrading to the Dagger Catalyst 13. I have read the few reviews posted here on PNET but they didn’t address my main concern. WITHOUT a rudder how well does this boat track? We’ll be using the boats on rivers and lakes here in the midwest and generally we won’t have to worry about BIG waves, but I am curious about weathercocking on windy days.Also–does anyone have any big complaints about this boat? I am getting very excited at the prospect of a new boat, but I don’t want to get too caught up and end up regretting it later. Any feedback will be helpful and appreciated.

I have a Catalyst 12.8.
Hi, my best friend talked me into kayaking last spring and we each bought a Dagger Catalyst 12.8 (12’10")w/o a rudder. This was the model that the shop owner recommended for us, as it’s a good all around kayak, and it’s very stable.

We mostly paddle on fairly large lakes and flat rivers, and this boat worked out pretty well for us, and it was a great boat for a complete beginner like me to learn on. We went out on some pretty windy days in rather rough conditions in over 2 to 3 foot ways and I never had any trouble at all. But I’m tall, an am a fairly strong paddler. My friend, who is smaller and not as strong, had trouble making much headway in the stronger winds, and she had quite a bit of trouble with weather cocking as well. (The wind never really bothered me that much.) The Catalyst is 25” wide, so it’s not a fast boat, but I thought that it tracked well and was very easy to maneuver. (But you need to remember that I’m very much a beginner, and this is the only kayak that I’ve spent any amount of time in.)

We bought our kayaks with the option to trade them up within one year (for full price), and we plan on moving up to longer and narrower kayaks this spring (probably the Perception Avatar 15.5 or 16.0). I don’t have any complaints on my Dagger at all . . . it was a wonderful boat to learn on, and I always felt very safe in it. I’m just ready to move up to something with a bit more performance now, as I want to push myself a bit more.

I hope that this helps a bit.

~ Arwen ~

fit will make a difference
The Catalyst 13’s a good boat, though there are a few others in the size range you might also consider, including the Necky Manitou (about the same length, but 1.5 inches narrower) and the Current Designs Breeze, which is a smidge longer and has thigh-braces as standard equipment.

Personally, I’d see the ability to really get your knees under the boat and control direction to be of more value than a skeg when it comes to weathercocking - the Dagger’s cockpit opening is a little wide for most medium sized paddlers to do that without splaying their legs wide open at the thighs, which can be uncomfortable. You could retrofit an after-market thigh brace to the cockpit, which would make a big difference, but would also add $40-50 to the cost of the boat. Definitely spend some time sitting in the boat before you decide to buy.

I wrote
my review on the catalyst 12.8 that I bought, and the only thing that has changed in the fact the I bought a spray skirt. My only complaint with the boat was the fact that water comes over the bow of the boat. With my sprayskirt I don’t have to worry about that anymore. The boat tracks great. I do a lot of large lakes and rivers. I was new to kayaking when I made my purchase, and fell in love with the sport right away.

I do agree with the wide cockpit and needing to spread you knees, I haven’t had any problems (yet)but I have thought about adding foam for a tighter fit.

With price and proformance you can’t go wrong with this boat.

Jason S.

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