solo canoes

Let me first state that I am a total kayaking addict and am not proposing I empty the barn of kayaks but just adding a canoe into the line up.

Any suggestions for a solo canoe that I can play around with and learn to make it dance?

I don’t want something stable and boring.

First time in a canoe was at the N.Cove demo event and so tried a Merlin 11 from Bell that seemed pretty sweet. Used a canoe paddle with my kayaking strokes and seemed pretty responsive. Was able to turn, edge, draw and occaisionally go straight. Even able to stand in it and paddle which makes me wonder if it is too stable.

Any ideas?


Here is a good place to start.

Check out the Spitfire.

Or the Rapidfire

Mohawk Solo 13 or 14
The 13 has more rocker and turns easy.

The 14 is a little more lake friendly.

Both of these boats are VERY responsive yet stable enough. I have the 14 and a friend the 13. We love them both.

My 14 is a touch too tippy for me to stand in, but I am sure others with better balance could do it with ease.

Mine is Royalite and 40 lbs. You could buy it from me for oh… say… $10000…

Actually the Flashfire…
if you want to learn to make a canoe dance using a single blade canoe paddle. You can either kneel or sit in it and it is fun with a single blade canoe paddle. It won’t be real fast when striving for straight ahead speed.

The Rapidfire and Spitfire are sit on the bottom designs and most people use a kayak paddle to propel them.


– Last Updated: May-05-08 12:36 PM EST –

The RapidFire is a single blade boat for small kneeling paddlers.

The Spit is a double blade canoe.

The Mohawks dance ..too bad they look unsexy..Dont get me wrong the Solo 13 is fine but I feel less than elegant in mine. Its big volume for a 13 foot boat.

Try for a FlashFire..see

Sometimes they pop up used at a good price. Bell does not make any FS hulls anymore ..WildFire and RapidFire are now made by PBW.

As you can stand in a MerlinII you sound Flash size..

Rapid is more of a go ahead boat and so is Merlin II.. Not saying they dont dance ,..they do ..I have both but others dance better.

Merlin II has differential rocker and needs pretty good heel to accentuate fast turns as the stern otherwise sticks.

If you come across a Loon Works boat...the Nakoma or the Solitaire..go for it.

RapidFire, WildFire, FlashFire
If you post your height and weight we can make better recommendations. If you want to play, you need to be able to comfortably reach your offside hand far enough across the rails to keep the paddle vertical. A boat that’s too wide for your width will make that awkward.

At 6’0" and 210 pounds, I loved my WildFire. It’s reasonably fast, but it loves to turn. If you’re smaller, the FlashFire is the same idea but downsized.

I traded the WildFire for a RapidFire, giving up nimbleness but gaining speed. I use it as a solo canoe (kneeling on a bench seat, with a single blade). So I disagree that it’s a canoe only for smaller people. I used it on a twisty little river this weekend and found that it took the turns quite nicely if I leaned to the outside of the turn; a lean to the inside felt sluggish. The WildFire and FlashFire, in contrast, turn readily with an inside lean.

I agree that the Mohawk Solo 13 and 14 are good boats. I paddled a 14 for a few days last year and found it a little too large even for a larger guy like me. I remember the 13 as a fun, smaller-feeling boat.

The Merlin II you tried could be made to feel very different by raising or lowering the seat two inches.

– Mark

I recommend a canoe that will be
stiff and hold form while doing typical freestyle maneuvers. That will rule out some Royalex boats. A properly done composite boat may flex when pushed with a hand on the side of the hull, but it will be stiff enough to hold form when heeled way over.

Solo canoe
Mohawk Probe 13

I vote for the Wildfire
It handles great. I, also, have a Solo 13 that paddles good. The Solo 13 is a lot cheaper, if that makes a difference.


– Last Updated: May-06-08 8:17 AM EST –


We don't know what you mean by that, but let's just assume you mean FreeStyle dancing.

We still have no height/ weight data, which would help center suggestions.

Pb took an order for a FlashFire today.. The guy was 180, 5'9". It was a marginal selection, but he was an experienced solo boater and will probably do well.

I'm 165 lb and5'9" and paddle a Flash. I've hogged an extra 100 lbs of gear and H20 on several rives and gotten by well.

The Flash/ Wild split has more to do with thigh length than weight or height.

Oh, yeah, if you have good balance, that influences choice too.

As a yaker, you must appreciate the benefits of instruction. Please consider attending the Adirondack or Midwest FreeStyle events - a short
step up on that dancing learning curve.

The Adk event, in July, is on these pages. The Midwest event, usually held in Sept, will be soon.

bon chance, charlie

Hi again,

I am short and round - 5’ 4" and 160 with excellent balance and flexibility.


you will have a blast…that is unless you are all legs.

Your new options are few; American Traders Twister, a custom stripper from Dog Paddle, Loon Works, Nakoma or Solitaire and Pb’s FlashFire.

Used options open up a little; Bell FlashFire, BlackHawk Solo 12 or 13, Curtis MayFly or LadyBug, Mad River Pearl, with a new seat, Pat Moore’s small or medium Reverie and Sawyer’s StarLite.

The Sawyer Starlight doesn’t dance.
At least not nearly as well as my Blackhawk Zephyr. The Starlight is straight keeled with no obvious rocker (just like my Sawyer Summersong) and needs quite a bit of a heel to turn quickly.

Say! Charlie mentions an excellent…
…choice to possibly begin with!

Mr. Dave Curtis, at his Hemlock Canoe Works,


currently has a Ladybug for only $495. I suspect that price is that low for this vintage 1984 boat becaude Dave is an exceptionally fair man, and honest in his appraisals, such as listing the boat, “Used; hull good, wood serviceable.”

Personaly, I’m quite taken with the Ladybug I purchased for my then eight, soon to be eleven years old daughter Nicole. I’ve had my friends c2g paddle her down a shallow, twisty Eastern shore creek, and Topher pole her a few hundred feet. Both fellas are somewhat larger than yourself, and yet they both found the boat nimble, easily spun, yet tracking well when held-up straight on keel. I myself, a stocky 220-lb. 6-footer, wobbly of knees and as graceful as a sneeze, was able to pole her a few hundred feet once, headstand her, too, for an instant. Luck and good fortune had most to do with me stay’n aboard her dancey hips which firmed up well for brief moments while I easily, unintentionally, whirled quick pirouhettes. Those trackin’ bow-n-stern stems lift out and suddenly I’ve got a rhumba partner!

Anyway, as I said, I didn’t get her for my Tomfoolery and flops, but for my daughter to have a fine, affordable boat, thus to advance and champion her skills in hull preference and as her defiance to an older sister who paddles a Wilderness Systems Piccolo. (Nicky is quite fond of the sticker Topher gave her for her poling interest, the one that reads: Canoe Poling. If It Was Easy They’d Call It Kayaking.") And, whilst not as freestyle lithe, perhaps, as a Flashfire or Wildfire, at $495 and not too far a jaunt from your home state Mass to Dave’s Hemlock Lake in New York (Well, “far” is always a relative thing, ain’t it?), I’d say you would be getting yourself an excellent bargain as addition to that stable of manned, er, womaned-torpedoes you generally surf over seas in.

To see the one for sale, go to the the Hemlock link I posted above, and scroll down the left bar to click upon Used & Demo Canoes. She’s right at the top of the list, and you can click on her thumbnail image for an enlarged view.

Here’s a few pics of my own of this model of boat -

c2g aboard:

Topher poles:

Nicky doublebladin:

Nicky glid’n:

Nicky stands-n-paddles:

Oh! I don’t work for Hemlock, or receive any bonus or kudos or nothing. It just seems thet this might fit your size, criteria, desires to stand and dance and deliver and whatnot, etc. for a steal! I’d be on my way for it if it weren’t for a 1952 Sunbeam Furnance bellowin’ death knells in my basement, and perhaps my own desire to obtain an Esquif Presage or OT Appalachian for furthering my, as Chip phrases it, “Dithered” failures in mis-poled river transportation.

Whatever you come by, I hope you find in a canoe many peaceful, and delightfully danced, paddles,


its not that far from Mass
to the Finger Lakes of New York…and others might be able to help…

That is if they dont buy this… Its a terrific boat and seldom seen for sale…

Get the Lady Bug…you will love it.