Good River Tripper?

Alright, so I have posted about my Dagger 15 before. 1994/Royalex/Center seat. I absolutely love this boat.

I am considering adding a similar boat, depending on covid and savings…and no longer need something super light weight. I’ve had success using cam straps with a cart for the short “portages” from car to lake/river. This opens the doors for something that doesn’t have to be super light. I can load it up with gear and lug it around without damaging the hull or attempting to keep it on my shoulders.

Here’s what I’d potentially be looking for:
Good primary stability for fishing.
Enough rocker for modest rapids.
Durable material (Similar to Royalex?)

The second question relates to the seat:
The Dagger has a center seat. With this seat I learned to do all the strokes I know to day. I can do a J, Canadian, and Indian Stroke. Sculling draws, sweeps, pries, etc, etc… they are all easy with this center seat. I’m wondering if I should add a center seat to a new canoe… or just learn bow reversed? I imagine it would be a learning curve from that position as I’m not at the balance point of the canoe…

I have a Colden DragonFly… It is 14.5 feet long and deep . What it can do that your Dagger cant comfortably is cross strokes without switching hand positions. Never do that on the river. You cannot afford to drop the paddle.

It is designed for downriver travel and it carries gear for a week, Paul at Colden build it ; it is composite but tough. It has a lot of layers of various fabric and at 38 lbs not super lightweight. Whitesell Canoes also has been building composite whitewater boats for a long time.

If you want T Formex go to the source. Esquif specializes in not only the material but whitewater designs.

Being in the center gives you the most control… Nearer an end and you are steering the shopping cart from the front end going backwards. Try that on non senior shopping day and you will get the gist.

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the esquif adirondack looks interesting. I wonder how the primary stability is?

I started paddling canoes in maine a long time ago. The wisdom I was taught then and there was never switch hand positions. That was reinforced by R.H. (Greenville, ME). I no longer think of that as a hard and fast rule. Certainly there are times when a cross stroke is quicker but if you can anticipate a move then switching is okay in my book. A great example would be peeling out on your off side. I think it makes sense to switch and make that your on side and then switch back after the move. I’ve always wondered if the never switching hands was regional or indicative of a certain era or mentorship. Cross strokes are a lot of fun and often the best choice but in my view not always for solo paddling. My own thought is that never switching sides evolved out of tandem paddling and the belief that the boat is more tippy with two people paddling on the same side of the boat. In the c1 I did a good bit of both, cross strokes and switching. Often there was a power advantage to switching and doing multiple strokes on the other side of the boat. For instance in maintaining a upstream ferry angle I wanted to be on the side I was moving toward and maintain power to hold the angle in the oncoming current. For bow paddling and course correction around rocks I concur with not switching as a pretty hard and fast rule. Now I pretty much just kayak. It is interesting to me though that many new kayakers will only do one stroke on a side before paddling on the other side when more then one stroke on the same side might have been more beneficial (for getting around the rock, finishing the ferry etc).

as far as the op, I think you are always better getting a boat set up for solo work then making do with the bow seat on a tandem. That is only something I did in a more wilderness type setting when you wanted to run a light boat (minus the bow paddler and the gear) down a rapid, especially a drop where a light bow is an advantage. If you are thinkin’ about ww do consider how the extra seat will change adding flotation. Portaging/carrying can also be affected by an additional seat. Often boats with a 3rd seat/saddle are a bear to portage since thwarts get moved or added and the balance point changes from what was a center thwart. I guess what I’m sayin’ is solo boats are best run solo and tandem boats best with two but you can learn to make do.

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I agree with tdaniel about switching hand positions. I was a serious whitewater canoeist for many years with weekly extended Class IV runs with a few Vs thrown in. For a long time the rule was certainly to not switch for just the reason kayamedic mentioned. However on more technical runs, in the late 90s I really started to see more OC-1 and C1 boaters start to switch, especially with must-make tight eddies or slots, and I never saw anyone drop a paddle while switching. I would also see some switching at the national level open boat slalom races. While I still would primarily paddle on my on-side, I would switch when I really needed a little extra reach or power on my off side. Don’t fear the switch.

Aah but the rub is practice! Too many of us don’t use both sides as our primary paddling sides . Ergo without the practice the cross stroke is still the most practical…

I am amazed at how lousy I paddle with my right hand as the grip hand and how well with the left hand as the grip hand.

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So a dedicated solo with good stability is what I’d be searching for, then. I had a Nova fox solo 14 and I loved the weight and speed… but not the primary stability for fishing.

If stability is your main concern, then weight and/or speed will necessarily suffer. I canoe to canoe but if my primary pursuit was fishing, I’d at least look at an Old Town Pack canoe. It’s short, light, stable, and slow. You could use it with a kayak paddle to help speed it up a bit.

It’s a tough call. I really enjoy my dagger 15. For me, it has great cruising speed, it’s stable, and it’s easy to fish from. I’m having trouble moving it around. Easy to car top, but I’m experimenting with trolleys to move it longer distances.

I read your original post when you first posted it, but had forgotten most of it by the time I replied. Sorry.
Now that I’ve read it again, I’d say to just keep and enjoy the Dagger.

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I found a kevlar OT Canadienne, the short one. I tried paddling from the front seat with the boat turned around to be very unsatisfactory. I just removed the tandem seats and center thwart and added a single seat about 9 inches behind the balance point of the canoe. I also added a forward thwart.

Jay: I picked up an Esquif Adirondack recently. I am 290 lbs and I find the secondary stability to be excellent. Primary stability is OK. I’m working on mastering how to enter it, but it can be tippy. Once in and paddling, very stable and a great canoe.

Loving my Dagger Reflection 16. Have not tried solo reverse, but the people who have rave about it. I like my Wenonah Fisherman reversed too much for that. I can stand in it, but it doesn’t have fantastic secondary stability.

I ended up removing the center seat entirely and adding a legit yoke with shoulder pads. It has made a huge difference.

If you are still soloing the boat without the center seat, you might consider putting in a kneeling thwart so that you aren’t paddling an asymmetric boat backwards. Just replace the thwart with a kneeling thwart and you are close enough. They can be had from Ed’s Canoes in VT.

I paddled a Reflection 15 that way for years and can recommend it. Finally sold it cause I am too old and it was too heavy.


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Using a canoe with primary stability for moving water is a bad idea.

I can’t say I agree.

Jay how much moving water experience do you have?

been paddling rivers since I was 5. But it’s entirely possible you know something I don’t. Can you elaborate?

To me, a boat with a wide beam and flat hull and good rocker is stable in all conditions, but I don’t mess with high water or anything above class 2 as I don’t have a need to.

Maybe the video linked below will help answer your question. There are advantages and disadvantages to just about every element of hull design. In general, flat bottom hulls have good primary stability but sacrifice secondary stability, and the extent to which the hull can be heeled or edged before secondary stability is completely lost has a very abrupt transition. Flat bottom boats also tend to track less well and have a greater wetted surface area which increases skin drag.

Shallow arch hulls tend to be more user-friendly in rough or moving water if there are any significant waves, especially during those times you get sideways to the current or encounter strong diagonal waves. They also tend to deal with converging currents more predictably.

Flat bottom boats tend to resist heeling or edging which is an important element of control in river paddling. Also since the sides of a canoe are relatively vertical and the bottom of a flat bottom hull is pretty much horizontal, there is a more abrupt transition where the bottom meets the sides, i.e, a “sharper chine”. If you do heel a flat bottom boat you will tend to sink more of that chine into the water than you will for a shallow arch boat. And in the shallows if you hit a rock sideways in current it is very easy to “trip” over that chine. A hull with a more rounded contour will tend to ride over rocks and other underwater obstacles in a more predictable fashion.

For these reasons most river paddlers of yesterday preferred shallow arch hull designs to flat bottom designs and many still do. Whitewater canoes and kayaks with a more rounded hull contour are said to have “displacement hulls”.

Having said that, in recent decades many whitewater canoes and kayaks have gravitated to more flat-bottom, hard-chine designs. These boats are said to have “planing hulls”. Many whitewater play boaters want boats that flat spin more easily. And the sharper chines can be used to advantage to provide directional stability for ferries, make eddy turns snappier, or allow for “knee steering” or directional control of the boat by deliberately dipping one or the other chine into the water by weighting one knee or the other. But those boats require the paddler to be ever mindful of that sharp chine and develop the ability to shift weight immediately if the chine tends to trip over an obstruction or a strong eddy line.