Mad River Synergy

-- Last Updated: Apr-04-07 8:22 PM EST --

Thinking about purchasing a Synergy 12 or a Native 12. Anyone have recommendations on either unit>>
I am looking for a boat that will do a little of everything. Looking to float down stream (I live on a river in Michigan) and fish for smallmouth and then paddle back upstream for exercise (due to health problems - treadmills suck). Exercise being the first priority. My concern is the upstream paddle and how each boat handles. I am 6'-1", 210 lbs, and a beginner paddler.

I have a ten year old MR Synergy.
It is a fast tandem/solo whitewater canoe with high quality Royalex. I have no idea why MR stole the name for rec kayaks, but I could care less, because my Synergy is going to last well after I die.

The Synergy is

– Last Updated: Apr-04-07 8:19 PM EST –

a new hybrid sit on top that functions partly like a canoe. Poly body, no scupper holes, big tankwell, fair storage area up front, no hatches, and double hulled like a sit on top. Confluence decided that Mad River needed a boat that would compete with sit on tops, but not be one. I'm not sure what the thought process was. I'd rather go with the new WS Ride or the Perception Search in the Confluence boats that will do the same thing.

The Native Watercraft Ultimate is another hybrid. More canoe like, its has a tunnel hull. The seat is one of the best around. Good boat for fly fishing and standing. Probably not the fastest craft around. Again, no scuppers. Its more of a canoe than the new Synergy.

A lot depends on what you want to do with the boats. Either will do well, but my preference is for the Ultimate in the 14 ft length. For fly fishing, it would be a great boat. I prefer the 14 partly because of my size, partly because I like to take two and three cay trips on rivers and it appears to have better carrying capacity. Though, really, if I want a canoe type boat, I'll get a canoe.

Thing the couldn't figure out what to call the thing when MR and Confluence looked at their creation. So maybe it means synergy between canoes and kayaks, who knows. If you don't mind losing the hull storage space, its probably an ok craft. If you like to paddle where waves come over the top of the sides, get a sit on top like one of the ones I mentiones, or another.

on your desires. for what you describe…paddling…the Synergy is going to be better, IMO. if standing up and fishing is a priority maybe the Native will work. while comfy for just sitting around the Native seat is NOT going to promote any kind of proper paddling posture.

The Synergy was designed to be an effecient, stable paddling boat with a MUCH lower seat position than any SOT, hense the lack of scuppers. You do not need to sit a couple inches higher than the water surface so it has a very SINK feel.

Sitting sideways and fishing over the side is quite popular and very EZ in the Synergy, in fact it is quite hard to tip all the way over and when you do it takes on very little water. You can slide back in with only an inch or 2 of water in the bilge. DO NOT try this in the Native.

We tested the Synergy in 25 knots of wind, 2+’ seas and it is a very dry ride. surfing windwaves is a hoot.

FWIW- I helped a bunch on this design and it’s testing. It IS really different than anything out there and is quite fun. I hope you get a chance to paddle it. It really is FUN.


Reports of owners of the Ultimate are

– Last Updated: Apr-05-07 1:03 AM EST –

that standing is easy. Standing, except for some who are decent sight casters (5%) and fly fishermen is rather overated in kayak fishing as a need. Everyone says they want the ability to stand,not many do it.

As for paddling technique, the Synergy is a fishing boat, very few kayak fishermen ever develop much in the way of technique other than what is needed to get the to and from fishing grounds. In the two plus years I've been reading posts on texaskayakfisherman and, probably the two largest kayak fishing forums, I've never once seen anyone post about a seat interfering with paddling. Its always about whether the seat is comfortable, does it offer good back support? Most want a seat that, after the 30 minute paddle to fish, is comfortable for a day of heavy fishing.Legend is now putting the seat in the Heritage Redfish, BTW.

The Synergy may have good points, but many SOT's will do what it does.

My impression of the synergy
I actually surfed the synergy in 20 to 25 knot winds with someone and it was a hoot. I sat in it sideways with my feet dangling in the water and it was extremely stable. It handled chop and waves extremely well and was a pretty dry ride. My wife would love it and it is the only boat i can think of that could actually replace my beloved scupper pros. (I know…blasphemy…I can hear Scupper Pro Frank now) You can paddle it with either a canoe paddle or a double paddle.

So it’s a mix of a canoe and a sit on top and it looks like they got it right. Be a great fishing boat, and you could camp out of it easily like a canoe. (take the square cooler)

I really like seeing a boat that has a lot of different uses in this day and age where we specialize so much. (I know I should talk) but the fact that this boat could cover so many different scenarios is refreshing.

I paddled the 12 footer and the 14 footer. Both handled the waves and wind well but I really liked the 12 footer maneuverability but that is probably because I have boats in the 15 foot range so the 12 was just plain fun! I would like to take this boat out in Sparkleberry swamp where you have to maneuver around cypress roots and stumps all over the place. it would do great!

I guess I am just impressed with the fact that this boat could easily be a boat of choice for boy scout troops or church youth groups and summer camps. pretty indestructible, super stable, use either paddle, load it up for camping fishing or day tripping…

Can you tell I really liked this boat?


BTW. there actually are boats that Confluence makes that I don’t like. but the Tempest 165 and this one are gems.

as the ‘fishing crowd’ matures they find out that effecient paddling gets 'em to further places with more fishing opportunities with less effort and more energy left for casting and reeling in the ‘big’uns’!


The sales of graphite paddles amoungst these same Texans has been HUGE, as they realize the benefit of decent equipment.

NO SOT paddles like a Synergy. THAT is our point.


The sales of grahpite paddles is

– Last Updated: Apr-05-07 12:25 PM EST –

impressive. But, not so much because they know how to use them. Partly, its because of the weight making for less tiresome paddling, but a lot of it is because of status. Many of these guys have to have the latest thing. Introduce a new paddle and the one they bought six months ago goes in the hatch as a backup. As a fisherman first and a paddler second (though that's changing), I'm as guilty as any of them of not having the best technique.

Few kayak fishermen will take lessons, even when offered by the fishing kayak dealers.

Ultimate Synergy
Both of these hulls are wide pack canoes for fishermen. Rotomolded, they run 50-60 lbs. Consider that Hornbeck makes pack canoes just above ten lbs, and their are other manufacturers.

All that said, maybe you want a 50lb boat. A quck look at both bottoms will tell you all you need top know. Synergy is prettymuch a canoe bottom. Ultimate had a tunnel hull,shaped like an inverted U in cross section. That gives the ability to stand in the hull but greatly increases wetted surface and hence, drag.

The ultimate also has dropped stems at the entry and exit to the tunnel. The hull is hogged about 5 inches, apparently on purpose, and will be very difficult to paddle upstream because that dropped bow will not swing across current and the dropped stern will not skid.

If you can handle thew weight of these plastic monsters the clear choice is Synergy, unfortunately named after an excellent ABS WW tandem that has been dropped by bean counters.

interesting comments about the hulls
Thanks for that. I just thought the boat handled really well in 20 to 25 knot winds and waves and was super stable, accellerated quickly and even into the wind, surfed great, and kept me reasonably dry. I don’t pretend to know anything about hulls or designs and if you say the synergy is canoe like, then even better for those situations where you would want to use either a double or single paddle, and carry some extra gear? Or even if you could only have one boat and your preferences are slow creeks and small lakes, then doesn’t this give you (compromises accepted) a good intro into both the canoeing and kayaking world? If I had one it certainly be the boat i would put company in initially.

Does it fulfill my wanting a solo canoe and a tandem someday? Of course not. Can’t ever have too many boats :slight_smile:

From a marketing perspective i think they got it right. From a design perspective it looks like they got it right.


design criteria
as with all new Confluence boats we work on, hull effeciency is key, along with maneuverability/tracking and stability…and she has to look ‘right’. :wink:

If you want to put some miles down AND have a reasonably stable platform (granted not enough stability to stand all day and fish), and a safe, dry, fun ride the Synergy works well.

but I’m preaching to the choir eh, Paulo???



Another bad site design(sigh)

– Last Updated: Apr-06-07 9:19 AM EST –

At the Mad River site, the only link to the new boats is on the home page, and none of the other pages even have a link back to the home page.

Steve -- when you're through testing boats, somebody in the web group needs to be smacked upside the head with a soggy bootie.

The Synergy looks interesting, but 60 pounds is toooo much for a 12' "play" boat for me.

I second that!
the soggy bootie part. someone needs to understand that there is a huge market out there that relies on the internet for their first and second impressions and I wonder if anyone knows how many lost opportunities there are due to bad web sites and bad web designs.


A significant problem with all Confuence
websites offering new style models.

Just demoed
a Synergy 14 yesterday. Its more maneuverable and “feels” like it might be quicker than my LL Manta Ray 14. They had a Manta Ray 14 there, so I could do a head to head comparison. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that you sit very deep (helps with stability) so folks like myself who are vertically challenged (5’5") could have a hard time bumping the gunwales with hands or paddle. I think I could elevate the seat though to compensate for that. I liked it enough that I went ahead and bought one. It also doesn’t seem to be able to carry as much camping stuff as my Manta Ray 14 though. As with most SOT’s, its very comfortable and stable.

They also had a Native Watercraft Ultimate 12 there. Very comfortable seat, but sorry, its a dog. Woof. Your mileage may vary.

it is??
I haven’t ever heard that our (CWS) web presense was an issue???


maybe I should ask someone???



steve (being dorky on Easter morn)

I demo’d the 12 yesterday
I’m a confirmed SINK paddler…and I like the way the paddler sits lower on the Synergy…found it to be responsive and quite fast…I lack personal experience on the load capability of either but have always been impressed with the LQL Manta Ray’s capacity (I’ve paddled next to Redmonds fully loaded boat) so if the Synergy lacks a little on the load capacity you aren’t missing much…you’ll still get decent load carry.

For a SOT, I like the Manta Ray, but was impressed by the Synergy…think the 14 footer for added storage and increased speed.