Mohawk Shaman / Probe ??????

I am thinking of getting a true whitewater canoe vice continuing to paddle my MR Guide as a whitewater boat (which actually does quite well in Class III but I kind of want to do more playing and run some bigger water).

I found some used boats locally: a Mohawk Shaman and a Probe 12.

I weigh 200 and want to do Class III and maybe some IV in this boat.

What do you think about these two boats for this task? I know that the Shaman is an older boat and no longer made by Mohawk, but not sure how long it has been since they made it. Also know it was designed by Harold Deal, but don’t know how it compares to the Probe which seems to be a pretty user-friendly all-around WW. canoe from what I have read, but honestly I don’t know much about dedicated WW canoes.



old reviews
If you google “Mohawk Probe Shaman” you should find an old review of the Probe 12II and Shaman from Paddler Magazine Online.

faster vs. dryer
The Shaman is faster and the Probe is dryer. I haven’t actually paddled a Probe so I can’t comment on it beyond that. The Shaman is also very sweet for doing cross forwards due to it’s narrower bow. The Shaman is Swede form whereas the Probe appears to be more symmetrical. The Shaman is a blast to paddle and at your weight, you’re fine. It was just discontinued by Mohawk this year.

Having read your goals and style here (speed, efficiency), I think the Shaman would be a better boat for you.

Both are good boats
And they are both capable of running whatever Class of whitewater you are capable of running.

I think Clarion’s assessment is accurate and succinct. Mohawk came out with the Probe series years ago to offer a somewhat more user-friendly version of their wildly popular, sharp-chined Viper (which was itself derived from Frankie Hubbard’s slalom racing Edge). The Probes have similar dimensions to the Vipers but somewhat softer chines.

Harold designed the Shaman to compete in the combined downriver and slalom racing category. The Probe is symmetrical. The Shaman is decidedly not symmetrical. The Shaman carries considerably less volume and width in the front and has a bit of edge throughout the bow with soft chines amidships and astern. Paddling “cab forward” allows the bow of the boat to engage and leaning back frees the bows edginess.

Overall I think the Probe might be a little quicker to figure out, but I wouldn’t let that deter you from the Shaman. Which is “better” is a matter of preference.

Never had a Shaman but had
the Probe. As mentioned it was a dry boat and forgiving with that great secondary stability. Not as nimble as its Viper counter part. Only negative i can think of is that over time I grew out of it and would have preferred something more responsive for an open ww boat.

Paddled Ness’ Mohawk Shaman

Randy and I took my boys out on the lower Eckert to Harris section and I tried out Ness’ new-to-her-but-undelivered Rx Shaman. It felt a lot like the Hemlock version except a bit more stable. The sides have a bit of a rounded (hate to use the word “bubble” because it’s not that) nature to them. I think that’s what makes it feel more stable. But other than that, the Rx version seems very true to the composite version. Of course it is a bit shorter and has blunter ends. I also never got the feeling that the boat was shrunk down chine wise. I had an excellent stance in the Rx version.

It is interesting that you comment on the relative edginess of the bow section. I never quite figured out why when I’m “cab forward” running a rapid, (often trying to protect my stern from a strike) I can spin an eddie very quickly, sometimes inadvertently. I think you’ve nailed it with the difference in edge between bow and center sections.

Shaman design
I talked with Harold about the design criteria for the Shaman at the WPASCR.

As I mentioned, the boat (composite version) was originally designed to compete in the combined race category so that it would be effective both in slalom and downriver. It’s length was dictated by minimum length requirements for the class.

The bit of chine in the bow does give it the ability to carve and engage on ferries and eddy turns, but Harold kept the center and stern softer to make it more precictable on eddy lines.

Sharp-chined boats like the Edge, Viper, Ocoee and many of Kaz’s designs which carry the edge throughout the boat’s length, do have a tendency to get their “tails twisted” crossing strong eddy lines.

Probe comments

– Last Updated: Jun-25-10 12:02 PM EST –

Can't speak to the Shaman.

I've had a Probe 12 (what the new owners of the company now call Probe 13) for many years. It's very stable, very predictable, right in the middle between dry and wet (though probably way drier than what you're using now), but not particularly responsive. Front surfing a Probe is sort of like dancing with a big woman who keeps trying to lead - you can do it, but it requires a lot of "No, you're supposed to go over HERE!"

If you've got the skills for it, you can play all day on class 3 in a Probe (though the powerful correction strokes it requires will wear you out). I can attest from personal experience that it's possible to get a Probe down a class 4 creek cleanly, but if that was the kind of stuff I was going to paddle regularly, I'd get a shorter/edgier/more rockered boat.

If you're looking beyond just those two used boats, consider an Esquif Detonator or Nitro. They're slow, but if your main goal is class 3 play, those things surf like nobody's business.

As an addition
I jumped in the Rx Shaman for a couple riffles, and coming directly from my MR Outrage it felt distinctly faster and was rock solid (had to try extremely hard to heel over). Now versus the Outrage though it felt slow into eddies (the Outrage snaps into place) and I regularly dip a gunwale (just ask Brian how frequently) and the boat recovers just fine (albeit with a bit of water scooped up). I get the feeling if I would peel the Shaman over that far I wouldn’t be able to right the ship.

No flaws, just a comparison, and if I had the money I’d have a composite version in my fleet.



Aar ye Major B?
Iffin’ so ah’ got’s a Probe 12 yer kin try out waan yer git ta Joisey.

Iffin’ yer not… yer kin still try ot out if yer wish.

Wit de Shaman, ah’ kin not help yer.

Fat Elmo

Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

Yes, I am MAJ B. I’m guessing you got my email about the canoe club!


Paddler Mag comparison

– Last Updated: Jun-25-10 1:41 PM EST –

Here is a review of the Probe and Shaman, and 3 other hulls, by Paddler Magazine:

Harold Deal told me that to create the plug for the Mohawk Shaman, he cut 3 inches off each end of the composite Shaman plug and bondo-ed the ends together ... all because Mohawk wanted to market the Shaman as a 12' boat instead of a 13' boat.

I've paddled the composite Shaman and think it is an excellent whitewater slalom and play boat. Very asymmetrical, including the chineline and rockerline.

I've never paddled the Probe, but I think Deal knows what he's doing when it comes to designing sophisticated boats for discriminating paddlers.

Deal was kind enough to send 3 photos
of the composite Shaman underside. I can send them to anyone supplying an email address.

I didn’t order the Shaman because it lacked the degree of bottom flatness I wanted. But it looks fast and quick handling.

look at this
Some photos and short videos of Harold Deal paddling his composite Shaman on “The Mile” of Slippery Rock Creek in Western PA courtesy of Lee Ann (Sparrowood).

Harold would be in the red boat. Ignore the idiot in the pink boat.

Please qualify …

– Last Updated: Jun-25-10 5:58 PM EST –

The 3rd photo from the left, in the second row of photos.

Pete, would that paddle action qualify as a "mystery move", or a "rock brace"?



Deal: very smart, dry, fast lines.

I’m not above doing a rock brace
but it just looks like the paddle is on or close to the rock. I was well past the rock in that photo, just getting ready to put my paddle in the eddy.

Whatever you say Pete…

I know you’re trustworthy… :^)

Heck, I’d brace on another boat, the bottom, a piece of driftwood, whatever…if it keeps me open side up.


The red boat …
… seemed to move in the most sophisticated manner. I’d get that one.

The pink boat isn’t pink. It’s faded fuchsia. I own one.

How is fuchsia pronounced?