Swift Mattawa or Shearwater

Hi Folks,

Need some good feed back on this one. I recently retired and moved back to up-state New York. I have really missed the adirondacks. I have not canoed in many years although I spent many hours in canoes in my youth. I need a canoe that will be used for fly fishing lakes about 80% of the time. Most of my canoe time was in ceder/canvas canoes set up for 2 or more people. I would like to get a solo although the ones I have paddled were not really stable enough for fly fishing. I have read the Shearwater thread which seems to say the Shearwater will work for fly fishing. The Swift Mattawa is set-up as a tandem but a center seat or kneeling thwart can be added. Will this canoe make a good solo canoe and fishing platform? My weight is 165 and I am 5 ft 7 inches tal, weigh 160 lbs. Give me some good ideas on this folks. I am not locked in on the Swift but I do like the quality and I must have some wood. Thanks. Brian.

is a great boat for light tandem or solo use. Recently sold mine which I regret. My Osprey by Swift was another great vessel. While I did not fly fish, I used both for angling and enjoyed them a great deal. I like the feel of Swifts boats and they do make a durable craft.

Mattawa comments
Keep in mind that the Mattawa is an asymetrical design. It’s not designed to be soloed “backwards” from the bow seat. If you’re going to solo it you’ll be doing so from a wider part of the canoe; IMHO some Canadian stroke skills would be helpful.

You have more Swift dealers per capita in upstate NY than anywhere else in the US. Take your fly rod and your favorite paddle over to one and try it out. I haven’t met an unhelpful Swift dealer - in my experience, if you want to try a canoe, they’ll do what it takes to get you in it.

I really like the Mattawa. I think it’s well designed and solidly manufactured. Again, in my opinion, it has its place and its uses … just make sure they’re the same as yours.

Swift solo canoes
Swift has made several solo canoes over the years; currently offering the Osprey and Shearwater. At your size Osprey will be larger than needed and lighter to carry than Shearwater. Both are narrow enough and tumblehomed enough to allow cross strokes and a vertical paddleshaft for onside forward strokes, the things that make solo canoeing the hardest and best game on the water.

Mattawa is a fine tandem for two compact paddlers. It is a flared boat with significant volume. Soloing it requires standing heel, Canadian style, technique. Cross strokes are out - one can’t see the water on the offside - Matawa is a great little tandem but quit limited for solo paddling and pretty frustrating for those progressing as modern solo canoe paddlers. compact It

just a thought,

If you want to stand up in your canoe to fly fish, think about getting a set of stabilizer floats- there was an add at hte top of the page

from spring creek, showing a fisherman standing in his boat. Might be of interest to you. Think they wold work on solo or tandem boat.

Shearwater and Osprey
I have both and at your weight and height CE is right, the Osprey is more than enough canoe for fly fishing unless you want to get up and walk around, in which case the Shearwater is more stable. My Shearwater in expedition kevalar with wood trim weighs 48# and my Osprey with wood trim weighs 40#. In my estimation the Osprey is better suited for the multiple portages per day you might encounter in the ADK. Another advantage of the solo canoes is they are less prone to windage than most tandems are.

Good luck and have fun!

Hemlock Kestrel or Peregrine

– Last Updated: Apr-11-07 7:46 PM EST –

I'd look hard at Dave Curtis' Kestrel or Peregrine. The business is Hemlock Canoes, website is www.hemlockcanoe.com, and Dave Curtis has been building solo canoes used in the Adirondacks for something like 35 years or more. I've got a Peregrine in Ithaca if you're interested in taking a look but Dave and Carol Curtis hold weekly demo paddles on Hemlock Lake during most of the year. I love my Peregrine and am very secure and comfortable fly fishing from it on the Finger Lakes, smaller local lakes, Upper Saranac Lake, Follensby Clear, Floodwood, etc.

I'm pretty big and spend a lot of time alone on the water so I've also got the Spring Creek stabilizer floats which I sometimes use. I don't think it's possible for me to flip the canoe with them on. I can stand and cast if I choose.

This combo gives me a really lightweight canoe to put on and off the car rack and a rock solid fishing platform. It's fantastic.

Peregrine is hugely faster, too
Peregrine is one of the faster solo canoes, too, much faster than the Shearwater or Mattawa. For a straight out ADK lake tripper the Peregrine shines, IMHO.

other boats
If we can suggest other boats, try Bell’s Merlin. It is Yost’s 6th iteration in the jenre of a basic solo tripper, while Peregrine is based on his third.

fishing boat
I think you’ve got to go meet Dave Curtis at Hemlock Canoe since he’s so close to you.

I’ve got a Peregrine and a Merlin II and used to have a Shearwater (and would get another) and can tell you that the Shearwater and Peregrine are more stable and roomier than the Merlin II for fishing, but the Merlin II is certainly a fine all around solo as Charlie says. They are all magical boats…the Shearwater has the ultimate stability and capacity and comfort (sliding seat is nice feature for comfort) yet it outhandles the Merlin II or Peregrine by a mile and spins on a dime and it’s the dryest boat with the highest volume/capacity (take a friend!). The Peregrine is amazingly stable for such a quick and fast cruiser…more stable yet also faster than the Merlin II but does not turn quite as tight. Also way lighter than a Shearwater for a strong boat. I recommend against lightweight kevlar if you get a Shearwater and I also recommend that you avoid the skid plates if you can becasue they make noise.

I hope that you are not standing up to fly fish, or that you have a fine sense of balance if that’s your plan. Any solo is hot (tender) compared to a true tandem.

The Mattawa is a sweetheart and I’ve paddled them and would love to own one…it’s a whole different trip. Not really a fishing boat in my opinion. Not even more stable than a Shearwater really…and shorter!

I think that both the Peregrine or Shearwater sound about perfect for you; both paddle effortlessly and the Peregrine is more narrow and slinky/sexy and the Shearwater is still hot but more mellow, roomy and comfy and more fun to freestyle. Stability is similar with slight edge to Shearwater.

Give the solos time.
Just got in from mowing the grass, and was thinking out there that whitewaterweenie needed to weigh in on this thread :-).

Lots of good advice here. I too am assuming you are flycasting from a seated position. If most of your paddling was done in tandems it may take a while for any of the solos to feel steady enough to you. Take some time though and you’ll get comfortable enough to fish from them. I’m thinking a couple of trips, not weeks or months.

I agree, with some of the others that at your size the Shearwater may be a bit more boat than you need. That translates into more boat to get pushed around by the wind which can be a bane to a fisherman as you know.

I love my Shearwater, and it fits my size and what I do nicely, but I think whitewaterweenie and others who have suggested the Peregrine are pointing you in the right direction.

Reply to all the great postings

First let me say thanks to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts with me. I still have not decided but I have narrowed things down. The Swift Shearwater is still in the game, sounds like a great canoe. I did take the suggestion several of you made and contact Dave Curtis at Hemlock Canoes. Dave has a new canoe in the works that he thinks will be exactly what I am looking for. This new canoe is 15 1/2 ft and is going to be offered as a solo or set up for 2 smaller paddlers. He said he has had many requests for a solo canoe that would also meet the needs of the fly caster. Go to the Hemlock Canoes site for more information on the new model.

Again, thanks to all of you. Brian.