Submitted: 07-21-2003 by JC
Some people have rated this kayak in categories for which it was not intended... This boat is an attempt to be the best compromise of tracking and up to Class III handling... And being a hybrid, it will do many things fairly well, rather than any one thing extremely well. I feel that a few of the low ratings here are because the buyers mismatched their needs. Having said that, here are my opinions:
Tracking - 9: tracks as well as could be expected for this length and design (of course, put the skeg down!)
Maneuverability - 9: turns as well as could be expected for this length and design (of course, put the skeg up!)
Speed - 5: plows a little, but who cares? There are better options if you want to stick to lakes and estuaries.
Stability - 8: fine once you're in
Seat - 4: ditto with the previous poster's comment that it would really be nice to have a WS Phase 3 seat. This one is just too hard on my skinny butt. I added some padding, which helps.
Value - 10: paid $470 WITH TAX at Galyan's when they were running a deal a few months ago. Beat that!
Few more observations: I've noticed no leaks from the bulkhead. I imagine Dagger has addressed that issue, as ours (we got 2 of 'em) have a ton of silicone glue around them. If they did leak, they would still be easy to plug up.
Also, I've had no problem with knocking the skeg ball out, mentioned by some other reviewers. I think this might help some folks: put the string OVER THE TOP of the hook, so that the ball hangs below the hook. And if you STILL knock it out, then you can always tie a loop in the string, and use that loop instead of the ball. As noted by some of the other reviewers, you may on rare occasion need to adjust the string length of the skeg. I have a suspicion that the string length is not checked very well. In any event, I did have to adjust one of ours (which wasn't difficult).
One of our black rubber hatches has oxidized to nearly gray. That doesn't hurt anything, but looks pretty cheesy (and didn't deter me from buying it anyway).It has enough space for camping, and is a pretty good fit for my 6', 170 lb. frame. I fish a lot, with no problems. But I only carry one rod.
In summary, this kayak should NOT go barreling down a class III-IV river (most people should abandon trying to do an Eskimo roll in it), nor circumnavigate Lake Superior. There are better options than the Dagger Blackwater 11.5 for those situations. But for a value-conscious and jack-of-all-trades type product, it does very well. I'd give it an overall 9 except that that seat is just too uncomfortable. Many people will have to do some customization of that seat.