16' RX version, rigged for solo use.
This canoe was purchased and outfitted for poling, though at the last minute I did weaken and fitted a seat. As a base for poling it is proving to be excellent. Some might prefer something with more initial stability when standing up, but I like the lively feel of it, and there is enough width in the centre to take a comfortable stance. The secondary stability is superb: I often dip the gunwales to squeeze through narror gaps between rocks and it feels even more solid there than when upright.
The real beauty for poling though is that 4" of rocker, which is a lot for a 16' traditional canoe. This amount of rocker makes for a slow, relatively poor tracking hull, but for me this is not important when poling. What is important is that the stems do not catch in the current. This feature means that the need for trimming is less significant than in other canoes I have poled and permits some very tight turns to be made, and powerful ferry glides too.
I recently used the boat for a flatwater trip. This would never be a first choice canoe for flat water. It is very poor on the flat, the very high ends and that 4" rocker are completely counterproductive.
I have paddled it (as opposed to poled) a bit of class 3 and as a solo rig it works very well. No other 16' canoe I have paddled is as responsive, and the ride is smooth, predictable and dry. (The same cannot be said for paddling tandem: tandem folk would be much better served in the Rogue. The Prospector's narrow ends give a wet ride tandem unless you come off the seats into the centre of the boat)
As a poling canoe I'd give it 9 /10 (the ends are excessively high really, otherwise it would be 10.)
However, rating it as an over-rounder, only 6 or 7 because of that awful flatwater 'performance'. But I love this canoe for what I use it for, and it is seeing more and more use!I recently purchased a Wenonah Prospector 16' Kevlar flex-core canoe. I opted for all wood trim as opposed to aluminum. I felt it looked better on a Prospector. I was looking for a canoe that I would primarily paddle solo or with one or both of my kids, they wouldn't be paddlers, just passengers, they're both real young. I also wanted it to be a tandem, sometimes my wife will be along as well. Alot of the time she is in a sea kayak, so solo paddling with one or two kids would be the main use.
I have a Bell kneeling thwart installed in place of the stern thwart. This places you closer to center than paddling from the bow seat with the canoe reversed. I've paddled on the Green River in Utah for a day paddle as well as a few days paddling on other reservoirs in Utah. Paddling from the kneeling thwart with about 40-50 lbs. of gear in front of me between the carrying thwart and the bow seat, really seems to be the best way to paddle this canoe in up to 10 knot winds. I had absolutely no problems at all keeping pointed in whatever direction I wanted to go. The Prospector 16 is listed in Wenonah's catalog as having 4 inches of rocker. Paddled from the kneeling thwart is the way to go in windy conditions. The kneeling thwart is mounted at a height of 11.5 inches from the floor of the canoe. This seems to be a good height for me. I'm 5'11" tall, 32" inseam. and weigh 200 lbs. My weight is equally distributed between my butt and knees at this height. I'm using a 1/2" foam pad to kneel on. From the kneeling thwart, I'm using a 58" straight paddle. I have experimented with paddling from the bow seat with the canoe backwards. The "front" edge of the seat is 9.5 inches high. I sat for the most part. I tried kneeling from here and could do it, but I would want to raise the seat up a bit if I plan to paddle from here. I had the same gear as previously mentioned, in front of me, on the other side of the carry thwart. The wind was around 10 knots, and it did effect the canoe a bit, and want to blow the bow down wind. I would recommend paddling from a kneeling thwart, although both positions work. From a sitting position I'm using a 54" straight paddle. It seems to me that what length of paddle you use, depends mostly on if your going to sit or kneel. I suppose I could split the difference, and just get a 56". From either position, sweep strokes as well as j-strokes work very well. As I stated, my preference is to paddle from the kneeling thwart. This puts my knees on the floor about 12" behind center. Only minimal effort is required on windy days to keep my canoe tracking straight. I usually paddle on my right side, I slide over on the thwart a couple of inches, to be closer to the gunwhale. this only leans the canoe slightly. Practice your j-strokes, and you can easily make a rockered canoe track straight, and you still have all of the advantages of maneuverability. A canoe with no rocker at all will actually resist your corrective strokes. That's why I mention the fact that it only takes minimal effort to keep everything straight. On the day I paddled on the Green River, there wasn't any wind to speak of, it was relatively flat water, but moving very fast at 12,000 cubic ft. per second. It was a bit of work to paddle against the current, I experimented with paddling at angles to the current to cross from one side of the river to the other. A rockered canoe really shines when it comes to maneuvering around the river. I tried to same thing going down river, and found it just as controllable, and less work of course. When leaning the canoe in the currents, I found the Prospector to really stiffen up. It seems to have a very good secondary stability. I wanted a tandem canoe that would handle well as a solo canoe. As well as be versatile enough to paddle everything from class 2 rivers, wind blown lakes, and still water with no wind. And still be able to serve well as a tandem.I can't give any feedback on paddling tandem, as I haven't done it yet. I can't imagine any real shortcomings there. Although, if I were going to strictly use a tandem canoe only as a tandem, with kids and a bunch of camping gear, then I would look for an 18' Wenonah Champlain, Bell Northwoods or a Souris River Quetico 18.5. The 16' Prospector fits the bill for me,and handles all of the above mentioned conditions very well. I rated it an 8, because paddling a tandem as a solo is a compromise compared to paddling a dedicated solo canoe. I really had my eye on a kevlar Wenonah Rendezvous 15'8" solo, they're only available from "Canoe Colorado". But I needed the extra room for kids. The Prospector was my choice, I'm very happy with it.Garcreek has it right. In royalex it's a top contender for family playing, learning traditional paddle strokes, river running and northern tripping. For extended tripping exceeding several weeks or more go with the 17 foot model. Beautiful hull design - somewhat like the Novacraft designs - truly superior. Excellent handling down-stream. Excellent in the foam. Excellent handling solo or lightly loaded into C3 (get a spray cover to play in the rough stuff or to trip) and a fun but very buoyant playboat empty. Paddle it empty solo from the center with the rail in the water Bill Mason style, center up and cross-sweep into an eddy or into shore with ease - beautiful handling. Empty solo don't do windy lakes until you know the tricks - you'll get blown all over the place but this canoe will do a good job loaded if necessary. Very seaworthy, surprisingly stable in a broach (again, very good hull design).
The best handling US made tandem river boat yet. A joy to trip, to fish from, reasonably fast and good lookin' enough to take your lady out for a date. For the Boundary Waters and extensive lake use get another boat. This one will do it but not as light or fast as some others. But, if you can have only one boat to do it all, this is it.
As a vote for moving waters, just plain paddling fun, and tripping in the North.This is the best all around canoe on the market today. It paddles great solo, tandem, loaded down, and is some whitewater. It has just enough rocker to really make it handle in up to class 3 rapids. The best place for this boat in in the hilly parts of the country especially the southeast.
The only slight problem that I see is on long, flatwater trips on lakes. It really gets about a 7 on a scale of 1-10 on the flatwater and that is why it is not a 10 overall. It really is a 10 for 90% of people. I guess that you can't have it all.
At $1099 MSRP for the Royalex lay-up, I think it is the best value on the market. I have had mine for 2 years now and I use it so much that it has paid for itself already and I still have a lifetime to use it.
You can mark my words that the Prospector 15', 16', and 17' will be talked about years down the road as being some of the best boats ever. I suggest that you go out and get one ASAP so that you can be as happy as I am.
I could go on and on about this boat and I really mean it.