Submitted: 04-21-2010 by RKBerta
I have had a Dirigo 106 for about 4 years. I bought it primarily due to its stability as all of my family uses it and I primarily use it for fishing so speed is not an issue nor is tracking. In fact I value the advantage of the short kayak for maneuvering in tight locations.
The pluses...huge cockpit opening gives lots of room for fishing gear, seat adjustments for back tilt and seat tile are adjustable from deck...even when I use a spray skirt. Note however that the latest version no longer has this function (big mistake to eliminate it). The older style seat was better than the latest version in this regard. Large opening hatch and dry bulkhead in back is excellent. Dry well in front "dash" is great for cell phone, wallet, keys, etc. Very durable three layer hull construction is step up from standard roto moulded hulls...much more rigid.
Negatives....sits high and since it is short and smooth bottom it doesn't track as straight as a longer kayak but once you learn how to paddle correctly this isn't really an issue. Bigger issue is that the short length/high height makes it a bit more susceptible to wind weather vaining. The short length makes it more susceptible to getting wet from waves crashing over the bow. Where I paddle (lake) we often get very high winds in the afternoon...25-30 mph and the chop from that will get you wet...that is why I will use a spray skirt those times. For me the stability is very important for my family as it includes three kids down to a small 10 year old. I don't want to worry about a tippy kayak when they are out using it. It can handle some big waves...my wife got hit by a 3' power boat wake last week (don't you hate those thoughtless jerks) that I fully expected her to get dumped...no problem. If you want a fast kayak that tracks straight as an arrow...this one isn't it. I also own a new Hurricane Tampico 135 which is a sports car in comparison but there is no way I would put my 10 year old into it until he gets a lot more experience.
For fishing it is excellent although if I were only going out in warmer waters only I would probably have gone with a sit on top. I have a friend that has the same Dirigo as mine and also a Hobie sit on top. He prefers the Hobie for warmer water (we live in Michigan so cold water lakes are an issue part of the year). We have often paddled together and both Hobie and the Dirigo paddle about the same speed and track the same way.
The foot pedals are a nice design and can be adjusted when in the kayak...something that often can't be done on other kayaks due to the restricted opening.
Final comment about ALL kayaks...do not go by the stated weight of a kayak for comparison purposes. I have yet to find ANY kayak that weighs what the specs say...my Dirigo weighs 49#...not the 43# in the specs.
I would rate this as a 9 or even a 10 if you are mainly going to use this as a recreational kayak...but I knock off a point or two due to the latest seat. If you can find the older version with the deck adjustable seat knobs I would get that one first.