Spitfire or Rapidfire?

I believe that one of Placid Boatworks boats will be an ideal compliment to our growing floatilla. I am looking at the Rapidfire and the Spitfire.

From what I understand the Rapidfire is more of a straightline boat, and thus a little more challenging to turn. The Spitfire is 12 feet. I wish it was a little longer say 14 feet.

I want a “general” boat to compliment our SINKs which are full on sea kayaks and our SOTs. The Placid Boatworks boat will be used for fishing and paddling in the freshwater rivers/creeks, coastal creeks, ICW and lakes of FL, GA nad SC.

Please offer thoughts or suggestions. Hearing from those with specific hands on experience is appreciated. Thanks ahead of time - Craig.

Your size and conditions
How tall are you?. What do you weigh?

That said, please define creeks.

Rapid is pretty maneuverable, especially if you heel it a little.

Here in the 'Daks, paddling up Chubb River, which is truly a creek, sometimes less than 10 feet wide, I quietly cursed my 23 year old son in the Spit while I was forced to focus to control the bow crossing strong currents in Rapid. On the way back downstream there were no issues.

If you are big and your creeks are slow moving rivers; try Rapid. On lakes, most skilled paddlers prefer Rapid. If you’re really paddling upstream in little creeks, Spit is your daisy.

RapidFire vs Spit

– Last Updated: Jan-06-09 11:22 PM EST –

Most of the difference is in the carrying capacity. I bought Rapid for week long and longer trips.

If I were the size of my friend who is the size of George Washington Sears (100 lbs) with his week long tucker of 30 lbs I would choose Spit. But I am not.

Sure due to the increased WL Rapid is a little quicker. 5.2 kts for max in Rapid vs 4.64 kts for Spit but how many have the power and endurance to make that matter?

Rapid is pretty maneuverable. There is still sufficient bow rocker to allow it to turn without effort. If its straighter tracking for less experienced paddlers, that may be a plus. However both Spit and Rapid have the same rocker measurements.

the L/W ratio are different. Spit is a little rounder in shape.

But with Spit you can work on that forward stroke and its all about you the paddler to learn to make it go straight.

I have paddled both but chose Rapid for its greater carrying capacity. Occasionally I overload it with fresh water on seagoing trips.

If you dont need to haul lots of stuff Spit is fine...why carry more boat than you need to?

Spitfire vs Rapidfire

– Last Updated: Jan-07-09 12:26 PM EST –

I have had a Rapidfire for two years and I'm very pleased with it. I find the Rapidfire tracks very well and still turns decently.

If you want a 14' canoe that turns better than the Rapidfire, look at the Wildfire, also built by PBW. (it's slower)

The major factor in choosing between the Spitfire and the Rapidfire is, in my opinion, paddler size and weight. I'm 6' and was 215 when I bought the Rapidfire. I'm am moving under 200 but it still is fine for me. I expect to be paddling it at about 185 in the future.

Both the Spitfire and Rapidfire are pack canoes, designed for sit on bottom double blade paddling. They can be built with stronger sidewalls for a hung seat. I think they paddle similar, but the Rapidfire is faster and carries my weight better. For smaller/lighter folks the Spitfire could be a better choice.

The Wildfire is a kneeling canoe and less suited to sit on bottom/double paddle use.

Contact Charlie. He can help you on where to draw the line between the Spitfire and the Rapidfire, advise you to look at the Wildfire, or tell you I don't know what I'm talking about.


You would do fine sitting in a WildFire

Anyone who can do FS in a Grumman has my respect.

Get on the phone and talk to Placid.
The first guy who posted.

Thanks for the responses
Everyone, thanks for the advice. I do plan on calling Placid Boatworks tomorrow when they reopen. My question came up last night so I posted.

To answer everyones questions, I am 5-10 and about 175 lb.

The boat will be used for trips no longer than about three days. However, the boat will be paddled a lot for day trips - with basically little gear.

The boat will be paddled alot on Florida springs and slow moving rivers. The creeks I will be on are basically flat.

I really like the idea of an open top kayak - that will suit my fishing style.

These are two boats you definitely
want to try before buying…coming from a performance sea kayak background you’ll be disappointed in just about any of the sit on the bottom canoes. Without excessive outfitting of thigh braces and hip pads you won’t be able to heel the boat over for sharp turns from a sitting position. They are also harder to get in and out of, no place to brace your paddle and sit on the back deck like you do with the SINK. Without a front deck or fabric cover you’ll be incessantly annoyed by paddle drip, there’s just no other way to get around it. Neither would be my first choice as a fishing boat, they aren’t manuverable enough and too tippy for fly fishing and playing large fish. But you already have SOTs for fishing. For the use you describe there are other boats better suited IMHO. The Pungo for example or just about any of the larger cockpit kayaks or the new fishing hulls like the Native. There’s also the Old Town Pack, very stable and now comes with a fishing accessory pack.

mostly disagree
Rapid and Spit have excellent final stability. Its tough to heel them past the shoulder. That however is as far as one needs to go. You can edge the canoe on the outside of the turn do a sweep and then plant the paddle in a post position and whip a turn just about in place.

I have a low seat and getting out is a different mechanism… spin around then kneel backwards and exit as from a canoe you are kneeling in. Charlie and Joe offer three seat heights. The high seat would offer more oomph to get out and you would never miss the lack of a rear deck.

Wet ride…no. But it is a matter of your favored paddling technique. A high angle stroke will result in drippage.

Headwaters,just how much time in
either boat have you had? No, they are not intended to be sea kayaks, but you can’t take your dog and your camping gear in a sea kayak either.

I don’t fish ,but the RF would be a great fishing boat and will blow the doors off any Pungo ever made for speed.

spitfire kicks rapidfire’s @$$



Who sits on their kayak back deck
while entering? I don’t.

My Sawyer Starlight seat is 4" off the bottom and I find it quite easy to get in and out of.


– Last Updated: Jan-08-09 7:04 AM EST –

OK - granted I can't speak to what boats work for playing large fish. My ocean fishing has all been in something flatter bottomed with a motor.

But - even with my time in canoes being reserved to when I was young (lots) and short bouts more recently again since I want to add one to the fleet sometime this year, I have trouble with the idea of a canoe being hard to get in and out of. Not. Granted that in some kayaks, especially with ocean cockpits, it may be necessary to stabilize on the back deck. But in a canoe I just get balanced over the sides and step lightly to/from the center line - it's as easy as a kayak and sometimes faster. As to heel, I can't imagine that the OPer wouldn't be able to get all they need for the stated purpose by sliding over to sit off center in the boat. So maybe it doesn't create the same kind of turn as bringing a Pintail up on edge - but I haven't encountered anyone other than WW canoeists who need that kind of turn.

Again I have overall pretty limited time in canoes myself against this crowd, but the PBW canoes in particular are darned nice boats and not even in the same universe in terms of performance as many of the traditional big old canoes.

I am 6’5" tall, got a bad back and
stiff joints and getting in and out of the RF is easy compared to a SINK.

yes and no to your generalizations
As an enthusiastic Rapidfire owner, I question the statement that someone coming from a “performance sea kayak background” will be disappointed with just about any sit on bottom canoes. I do have performance sea kayaks that I also enjoy paddling, especially in the ocean. I when I mention performance sea kayaks I’m talking about 16’-19’ narrow and fast kayaks with small cockpits-not Pungos, which do have good attributes but are not sea kayaks. I consider rec kayaks decked canoes, which is what they were called for 150 years. They are not true sea kayaks. A long narrow pack canoe like a Rapidfire is also different than a sea kayak, with its own pluses and minuses. One of the reasons I enjoy the Rapidfire is that it is very fast for a canoe and will keep up with sea kayaks at normal paddling speeds. I like not dealing with the spray skirt, pump ect. that one usually uses with Sea Kayaks. I carry the canoe to the shore, put on my life jacket and paddle away. Again, the Rapidfire is much faster than most other pack canoes or decked canoes.

At 6’ tall, the Rapidfire is easier to get into and out of than a true sea kayak with its small cockpit. I can state that with certainty: I paddle both types of craft and having damaged cartilage in the back of both knees gives me sharp focus on the ease of getting in and out. With pack canoes or kayaks I have to be in 6-8 inches of water to get out.-then both are doable without hurting my knees.

If one knows how to turn it, the Rapidfire turns fine. I use an extended paddle technique (usually with an Aleut paddle) to turn it and find the Rapidfire turns easily. Those who have Freestyle skills turn it easily with a single blade paddle. Too much finesse for me, I just make small turns within my stroke and larger turns with my Aleut paddle extended.

Paddle drip is an issue with all sit on bottom double blade canoes. The degree of an issue depends on many factors. Canoes with partial decking are dryer, but still have drip issues at times. With a strong wind from the wrong direction the drip issue will be much worse. Some paddles are worse than others. The Aleut paddle I use drips more than most, especially when I’m honking along with a higher angle stroke-I like it for other reasons. Paddles with different shapes, lengths (longer is dryer) and with drip rings can be dryer. A shorter paddle and high angle stroke, while more efficient, will be wetter. In the summer, paddle drip help me cool off. I keep a sponge in front of the seat and squeeze it out about every 15-29 minutes. Late spring and fall I just wear waterproof pants and do the same drill with the sponge. I have PBW covers but haven’t used them enough to rate them-the drip issue, while real, doesn’t bother enough to use the decks. In colder times I wear waterproof pants and modify my stroke to reduce drips on me. In very cold times, late fall or early spring, I just take one of my kayaks and avoid the drip issue totally.

I don’t fish out of kayaks or canoes. My guess is that fishing would be easier in a wider decked canoe or better yet a wide sit on top. Too slow for my paddling interest but more stable for fishing due to the increased width.


Its the coming of the geriatric kayak!

Hey something has to keep us going tripping into our 90’s!

Fishing stability
I’ve happily fished for small stuff with an ultralight spinning rig out of my 22" wide Avocet RM. You do have to pay attention, and it has been very exciting the few times I’ve had a big smallmouth on, but you don’t need a barge to have fun fishing.

I had been looking for a comfortable,
fast , light boat for years. Got one.

And I had been looking for something
I could double blade without the skirt and the miscellany that invariably accompanied me with the sea kayak…

And with 35 steps up and down a cliff to launch lighter was righter…

That 50 lb Bou gained weight every year.

RF keeps up with a pack of sightseeing kayakers no problem… I cant keep up with my husband however when he is in his WS Shenai in racing mode.

For a ocean crossing I would not take the RF but I dont think thats in the OP plans. RF will never see Mantinicus.

Something funny about this

– Last Updated: Jan-08-09 2:19 PM EST –

I haven't paddled either of these canoes, but I DO have boat that probably qualifies as sit-on-bottom (the seat is about three inches above the main portion of the hull, and perhaps 5 inches above the deeper centerline), and though it is tender enough when getting in and out to scare the crap out of a newbie, I can't imagine there being any merit to your statement that it will be harder to get in or out of the two canoes being discussed here than a sea kayak. In my experience, kayakers have much more trouble entering/exiting their boats in situations where you can't brace against the shore with a paddle or to put your feet down into shallow water. In a sit-on-bottom boat, getting out is just a matter of putting your feet under yourself and standing up into a low, bent-leg stance and stepping out. There just isn't anything about the process that should cause a person to think twice about whether a kayak might be easier - it won't be.