Eaglet, Coho, Rockstar, Novacraft Pal...

…Novacraft Bob Special, and Mad River (Dagger) Reflection 15. Those are the ones I’ve narrowed my next boat down to. I’m selling an Esquif Mistral that I tried to make into a solo. Just too wide, too deep, too much rocker. I like big boats since I’m big, like to fish, and like to take pictures. Just not THAT big. Besides, for tripping, I already have a kevlar Mad River Courier. That’ll carry a weeks groceries and half a moose (LOL)!

I’m looking for something with less depth on windy days, a day tripper that I could stick my nephews in for the day. I always liked the Bell/Placid/Colden Starfire, but decided since photography is more and more important I don’t need all that rocker. The Eaglet has the edge right now because I’ve always been partial to Yost’s designs, like the Autumn mist, Shockwave, and Starfire, et al. But I have problems with numbness in one leg and I need something stable enough that I can move from kneeling to sitting, back to kneeling without feeling I’m going to swim. Don’t really want to exceed 34" in width or 16’ in length.

If anyone has any tidbits of imfo about any of these beyond what’s in the few reviews I can find, I’d appreciate them. Especially if you’ve paddled a couple and could compare. Thanks!


Gosh, Woulda Thought…
…SOMEBODY had paddled one of those boats and had some thoughts about them? Guess everybody is paddling kayaks? Have a good weekend!

Well Terry …
Since you got no responses I’ll give it a try.

I have never paddled any of these boats but the lead guide on our San Juan River trip paddled a Dagger Reflection 15 set up as a solo with a center seat. He loves that boat and said it’s his go-to canoe for river paddling up to strong class two rivers. It is the boat I was looking for when searching for my first solo canoe but none were available used back then and Dagger had just stopped making canoes at that time.

He paddles from a kneeling position - I never saw him sitting. The San Juan has a fast current with about five class two and two plus rapids. The rapids are mostly big water with big waves. In addition one of the rapids has a hidden hole after a ledge, and another has some huge boulders to dodge.

I was paddling tandem in the bow. On our first dump we took on too much water in the waves and eventually dumped. On the second dump we all forgot about the ledge (we were too concerned about taking on too much water in the waves) and hit the hole after the ledge. I knew we were going to dump when the bow was completely under water and the water was pouring over the gunnels at my knees.

I’ll see if I can find his email address and ask him about the Dagger’s stability for “non-canoeing” activities like fishing and photography.

Watcha gonna do with that new Mistral?

One Solo
Your criteria are mutually contradictory, so nothing will fit. That said, all the boats listed are tandem canoes with the exception of the RockStar.

There are just a few supersized solo canoes; RockStar at 15X32, Swift’s Shearwater, 16.2 X31 and WeNoNah’s Wilderness, 15X30.5.

All those compact tandems except Eaglet at 15X33 are 34"wide requiring quite a wingspan to solo well, which includes a vertical paddleshaft on a cross forward stroke.



Have paddled
Eaglet, rockstar, reflection…best of those for your stated purpose is eaglet…not fast, but stable, which I find more comfortable for just day paddling, pic taking and fooling around the older I get.

but Eaglet is not a DY design

I am among canoes this weekend and not on the computer.

The Ice Canoes that is! The perfect combi of winter and summer sport. An excuse to paddle with crampons.

Was that Mike, or Larry? They were in
longer craft on the first Sunrise San Juan run, in '99. But there were several Reflection 15s along.

He may call it his go-to boat in class 2, but I wouldn’t use it for that unless I needed the boat’s flatwater speed. A bit marginal as a tandem with gear. I would suggest a Reflection 16 instead, but I don’t know if Mad River makes the 16.


– Last Updated: Feb-05-12 10:59 PM EST –

"Your criteria are mutually contradictory, so nothing will fit." O.K., if you say so. Feel free to sit this one out, CEW. I just thought someone whom had paddled some of the aforementioned hulls could help.

I've soloed tandems quite a bit, have wide shoulders, can handle it. I want something a few inches narrower, but that won't dump me when I'm looking up in a Sycamore "Shooting" an eagle with my camera. Plus, have more "Balance" issues due to leg injury/numbness. Thanks all who wished to contribute, including the e-mail I received.

Pete, the Mistral is sold to someone whom saw me paddle it on the Eleven Point. I tinkered with it for two years, including pulling in the gunnels 2" the other day. Still, just bigger than I need, so......

Didn’t Realize That
Sure thought the Eaglet was Yost. Dave Curtis seems to be a nice guy and the Hemlocks I’ve seen were impeccably made.


– Last Updated: Feb-06-12 9:56 AM EST –

I have a Royalite Pal I paddle solo. I added an extra angled seat behind the front seat facing backwards so I can use it tandem also. It's relitivly narrow width helps it work well solo. I find it a docile sweet stable boat with no vices,and the low freeboard is an advantage in the wind. It not great in moving water,but not intended to be.It's no rocket speed wise,but never feels slow. I have paddled the Bob's special solo and didn't like it's extra width and shorter length,it did feel slow.

I like the Bob’s 15’ length, but was thinking it a bit too wide, and stems a bit higher than I wanted. But, I have a line on a once used Bob for a steal if I want it. Too bad it’s not a Pal! Another friend I’ve been talking with has a Pal and espouses it’s attributes. Wish I could paddle them all side by side, but that aint gonna happen.

I had a kevlar PAL. Paddled it with a friend in 3’ waves and had a ball. Actually surfed about 5-6 sec. That surprised us both. Had no stability issues. Also tandemed down the Wickie Watchie in FL w/o problems. Also out in the Gulf to Anklote Key solo. I agree with Turtle - a nice forgiving hull. Paddled a kevlar Bob’s once at WPASCR. Didn’t notice any stability issues though it seemed bigger than the PAL but it is deeper and 35" wide vs 34" for PAL. If you have a good price on the Bob’s get it and keep looking for a PAL. If you don’t want to keep the Bob’ sell it - they don’t appear for sale very often and you should get your money out it- and you’ll have the experience of paddling it. NC makes nice boats.

The Curtis boats are DY
but the Hemlocks are not.

Come ask Dave and Dave about the story. Its kind of long.

CORRECTION - Larry in Dagger Legend 15
Correction: the boat was a Dagger Legend 15 not a Reflection 15. The specs according to the Mad River site are:

The Legend 15 specs:

length … 15 feet

max width … 33.5 inches

rocker … 2 inches at bow and stern

The Reflection 15:

length … 15 feet 4 inches

max width … 34 inches

rocker … 1 inch at bow and stern

The guide’s name that paddled the Dagger Legend 15 is Larry. Here is a link to a picture of him sitting below Ross Rapid


This was in October 2010. We put in at Sand Island and took out a Clay Hills Crossing.

I guess Larry wanted that boat for our last two days on the river. It was all slack water there and it’s silting in so bad it was hard to find a channel.

They said that at the rate it is silting in you may not be able to take out at Clay Hills within the next five or so years.

Paddle it while you can. It’s a great river.

Was Wondering About That

– Last Updated: Feb-06-12 8:52 PM EST –

That 1" of rocker and sub 20" stems wouldn't be MY pick for WW, but I'm not planning on WW with the boat. Just want something that is a bit easier paddling than the ship Dick coined the "Queen Mary" LOL!

I could pick up a barely used Bob Special in Montana, but that's a long road trip. At least, the only couple I know in Montana live in the same city as the boat, though.

I think I'm narrowing it down to the Reflection, Pal, and Bob, thanks to the e-mails I've received. Thanks, Vic!

Well, let’s see …
It’s been a few years since your last road trip to the West.


Go to Montana. Pick up canoe. Go to Glacier - paddle there. Go to Yellowstone - paddle there. Go to Grand Tetons - paddle there. Stop in Nebraska on the way home - paddle the Niobrara.

Doesn’t sound too bad does it?

Eaglet should work
Not much help, but the Eaglet is the only one I have paddled. I too like to do photography, sometimes with a tripod mounted in the canoe, and I like to change from kneeling to sitting. The Eaglet would satisfy these stability requirements for me, as well as being narrow enough to solo comfortably.

However, I can’t advise that it’s “better” than any of the others for your purposes.

Get a light composite canoe if are going to stay on flatwater and can afford it.

The only Larry I know is Larry Totten.
Larry, Mike, plus a bunch of Sunrise Expedition court royalty were along on the first Sunrise San Juan run in 1999. I had signed up for the Verde, but it was too low and the trip was moved to the San Juan.

Our water was lower and less silty. Our support rafts (a luxury you may not have enjoyed) did have a bit of trouble going down to Clay Hills, but at that time, there were meandering pathways around the silt bars. Those of us canoeists who understood the river meandering process were able to guess where we needed to be.

If the Clay Hills take out were unusable, that would seem to close the entire lower canyon.

…that DOES sound good! Had to bypass paddling the Neo last trip because Margaret didn’t want to paddle in the 100+ heat. That would be the right way to “Christen” a boat, 'eh?