Unflattering Info

It seems relatively easy to find people who love a certain manufacturer, but I’ve found it difficult to find info on negative aspects. Does anyone have anything to say about Dagger? Specifically about the Specter or Catalyst line?


bad reviews vs good reviews
I’ve been really impressed with how helpful and well mannered (most of the time) posters are on this message board. I think there are a lot of dedicated paddlers adding their knowledge to questions and if they are like me they resist dwelling on negative reviews since one guys ambrosia is another guy’s poison…in other words a kayak I hate may very well be the perfect kayak for someone just getting started . Who am I to shoot down a product that might be perfectly suited for you? By giving a positive endorsement to something I hope to add it to someones menu of options. That being said sometimes a product simply stinks to high heaven and you will find those reviews in the product review section of p-net instead of the message boards. You’ll read over and over again from posters that in the end you need to test paddle something before getting your wallet out but man that’s impossible in most areas. There is a growing trend from good retailers to help you choose a boat and then offer a trade if you don’t like it over the first 30 days. Keep in mind that most shops can no longer afford the insurance to host demo events as it went through the roof last year I’m told. Unlike cars or electronics much of what makes a canoe or kayak click for you is subjective. You can’t measure the ohms and watts and 0-60 times since the individual paddler is such a huge factor. So I glean what I can from other posters and mix it with what appeals to me on other levels.

Can’t complain about that boat, it’s a good step towards a touring boat, but still in the rec. class. Easy to paddle. I got one last year, but sold it to my buddy and went for a longer boat.

Most reviews are pretty worthless
A good indication is to look at the rating. If it’s “10 of 10”, it generally indicates that either:

a) the reviewer is a novice and doesn’t know any better,

b) the reviewer is so excited about paddling and their new boat that they’re not really reviewing the boat, but just expressing their excitement


c) the reviewer is more interested in patting himself/herself on the back for being so smart and buying the perfect boat, than in providing useful feedback.

There are few - if any - perfect products on the market and if a review doesn’t contain any negatives, it’s a good bet that it’s worth about what you paid for it.

Catalyst 12.8
I bought my first kayak and I didn’t really know what to look for, because I had like no experiece in kayaking. I wanted something that would be good on flat rivers and on fairly large lakes.

The woman who owned a kayak shop near me suggested a Catalyst 12.8, because it’s stable, it tracks fairly well, it’s short enough to be maneuverable, and is light weight. In short, it’s a good all around boat. And it was an excellent kayak for me to learn on. And it is stable … I never even came close to tipping it over, and I took it out on some pretty choppy water and some very windy days.

I like my Dagger very much, but I’m planning on trading it in for a longer kayak. Mine came with a one-year trade up option, which is the only reason that I would consider trading this soon. I found that I spend most of my time on large lakes, where a longer touring kayak would be a little better for me.

~ Arwen ~

Opinions vary!

– Last Updated: Feb-09-05 4:42 PM EST –

I have found many less than favorable boat reviews here. On my last boat review, I not only waited several months, but until I was able to both paddle & race the boat in a variety of conditions. I truly believed the boat did exactly what it was designed to do & a bit more, so I was pleased to rate it a 10. With over 20 years of paddling in mostly marathon/long distance kayaks, I realize one type of boat can not possibly be everything to everyone.

I have noticed names of paddlers here that have given 9/10's, with a wealth of paddling experience. Many reviewers post their paddling experience along with comments. I would hope the reviewer would be excited about paddling in a new boat & just as excited with their decision, especially with so many options today. I would agree there are probably few perfect boats out there, still, I know there are a few that do go beyond design criteria & customer expectations.

Check this site
Local Dealer writes brief comments about boats he sells/paddles.

Search for: specter


Hope this helps!


Yes, I have Specter
And it developed cracks in the combing where the seat back straps bolt to it. I called Dagger about this problem and they did not wish to do anything about it and My boat was only four months old. The Rep acted as if I was making it up. I also emailed the dagger tec dept twice with no responce back. Dagger service BOOOO!!! Pee uuuuu! It’s sad I like my boat and was able to come up with my own fix. I have sence that I don’t stand alone and Dagger has come up with an after market Band-aid for the Problem.

Did you not have a local dealer to stand
up for you on your problem? I know some must buy boats far from home, but a dealer can be really helpful in getting a company to pay attention.

Many, many factors
P-net is a wealth of info, so search for past topics that can help you make a decision. In regards to the reviews, most things are subjective. Try to focus on reviews from those who are close to your size and resemble your paddling ability. A paddler’s experience will greatly effect how s/he feels about any boat. Keep in mind that somw of the reviews do not take into account the boats design mission, and this can impact the review. Watch for warning signs such as “I hate my new Pungo 100, it performed poorly on my month long expedition around Alaska, didn’t handle confused seas well, and felt like a bath tub with 300 pounds of gear on board…” My point is that someone who paddles 300 days a year in an Explorer may not like a rec boat. Don’t let anyone else tell you what to paddle, do your research and make the choice that is right for you.

price justification
no one wants to admit to being ‘had’ or having made a bad choice, therefore it is human nature to glorify whatever it is you bought…that said there are some 10 of 10 ratings that acknowledge that yes we as humans can do nothing perfectly and that includes designing, manufacturing, marketing, delivering, etc.

I’ll stand by some of my 10 of 10 ratings, not because its the best (i’m still waiting for God to come down and layup a composite for me) but because a particular manuf. was at least thinking out of the cube.

Comments on Specter 15.5
… I test paddled the Spector 15.5 last summer, and you are welcomed to read the review I posted here on P-Net. I was looking for, and ended up with a 17’ 10" composite touring kayak, and test paddled this for reference. I was hoping to save some money by buying the Thermoformed Plastic kayak, but I was not impressed by it. It seemed to be an OK recreational kayak, but speed was slow compared to what I bought.

… I noted how the bow curled-up and pushed water like a snow plow, instead of cutting thru the water. I never saw a rec or touring kayak do that before. I believe the Spector 15.5 would be a nice kayak for an occasional recreational paddler. Not a serious touring paddler.

… Note also I e-mailed Dagger with my comments on this, and never heard anything back from them. I guess they don’t like negative comments.

Good luck in your search! :slight_smile:

Most of the review material appears to be flawed by inadequate time spent with the boat, lack of paddling knowledge, post-consumption rationalization, etc. However, like panning for gold, if you sift through enough of the dirt, you can find some valuable nuggets, usually in terms of finite information (e.g. a hatch tends to pop off, a hull tends to warp, etc.). Even with the best of factors coming together for a review, “results may vary.” Paddlers with different technique, size, paddle length, etc. will have various outcomes. Therefore, there’s no substitute for your own test-drive.

People are rating their favorite boat
For the most part, people are reviewing the boat that they bought. Out of the zillion models that are available, they chose that one. Perhaps tracking is very important to them, but stability is not. But to a great extent, they’re reviewing a boat that they already decided was the best (in their price range). In some instances, they discover that the boat wasn’t all they’d hoped for.

So you’ve got to read between the lines. They might give it a 10/10, in spite of the fact that it tracks like a pig, which they really don’t care about, or that there’s very little foot room, but that doesn’t bother their size 5 feet.

Personally, I think we should all trade boats for a week and then write reviews.

Dagger… Wha-Hoo!
I think Dagger must hire former MTV script writers as admen. Dagger has obviously aimed their marketing hype at the teenage/early twenty something “X-treme” adrenaline crowd. And what a bunch of hype it is – Geezle! Read their ad copy and you’d think just walkin’ by a Dagger yak you’d have to twist your ball cap sideways, make that clueless “devil sign” with one hand while you grab your crotch with the other and shout out “Wha-Hoo!” at the top of your lungs. Dude!

Boat Reviews
While I agree that the overall ratings of boats are perhaps inflated here at PNet, I do agree that it is important to remember that the reviews are, for the most part, for boats that the reviewer liked enough to purchase.

I read carefully between the lines and also look for long term reviews; this has provided me with a wealth of information and allows me to go to my local dealer with a list of one or two boats that I want to demo.

What is also very helpful to me is to contact the reviewers, especially those who posted a while ago, and ask specific questions. Sometimes, I simply write something along the lines of:

“Thank you for posting a comprehensive initial review of your CD Scirocco on

2/11/02. I am looking at purchasing a Scirocco and wanted to know if you

still liked the boat now that it has been nearly 3 years since your initial


It is a testament to the quality and dedication of this internet community that I almost always get very thorough and helpful responses to these requests. I wound up purchasing the Scirroco and, after a few months, I will post an initial review much the same as I did with my Necky Manitou. I also look forward to answering any specific questions those who read my reviews might have. I would hope that those who read my reviews can see between the lines and look at my profile so that they can determine how appropriate my comments are for what they want.

That’s advertising your weaknesses.
You see it all the time. If your product has a problem set up an ad campaign claiming a strength in that area. In Dagger’s case, they have rarely been an innovative company. Their designs draw heavily from previous designs of other companies after someone else has already taken the risks. And they are often detuned compared to their competition. The Meridian is the best example of this in sea kayaks. Dagger WW boats are not “rad”. They are cookie cutter boats. So they claim the opposite in ads. Bleck!