I was able to purchase several used kayaks over the summer and test them out (I later sold them, Craig's List is a blessing). The Specter 15 is the last boat purchased. I look for a utility oriented boat that I can paddle on small creeks/rivers, mid sized lakes or large lakes like Michigan. I use a boat for exercise but also to fish from and just spend time on the water.
POSITIVES: Being 6'3" and 240 lbs (size 13 feet) the specter has more than ample room. Under the fordeck seems like a cave with room. It is not heavy and unmanageable to lift(consider my size). It has a lot of storage space and could easily carry enough gear for an extended weekend.
NEGATIVE: It is a barge, read SLOW! I have paddled wide boats before, some are faster, some give the illusion of speed, this boat is just slow and lumbering. Additionally you will need a rudder. I went paddling on a small lake, very calm, and it tracked very poorly. I did notice that, even with my weight, the boat rides high in the water. I was thinking of putting 30 pound bags both fore and aft to see if it would track better with more weight (mind you with me there would be just over 300 lbs. in the boat). With the rudder it paddles fine as a barge, you will get no where fast.
In another review there is talk about how the hull plows through the water, as opposed to riding up over the waves. Make no mistake this boat pushes the water aside as you move through it. Perhaps with some people this will give them a sense of speed. I paid $700 used for it. Next year new plastic boats are supposed to go up by as much as 30%. As such used boats will increase in value as well. I probably will sell the boat or trade it in. If you want something a little sporty, whatever that means, stay away from this boat.I first started off kayaking with a Heritage Redfish SOT. I knew after only a few short weeks that I was hooked on kayaking and wanted to make the move to a SINK. I started to do all the research and finally saw a Dagger Specter on sale for $689 with shipping included.
The Dagger has been an absolute dream to paddle. I need to first say that you do need a rudder. The first time that I put it in, the kayak went in circles. I figured out that most of the problem was me using a paddling stroke that better suited a wide based sit on top. Once I work on my stroke, the Dagger kept a consistent line.
The seating is fantastic and I can go for about three hours before I need to stretch and get the blood going again in my legs. The cockpit is nice and roomy and I have plenty of leg room. I am five foot eleven and 190 pounds. The built in thigh pads give me plenty of control and I feel one with the kayak when I encounter large swells or small waves.
There is plenty of storage room and I plan to make use of it next summer with a few excursions down the Savannah River and Edisto river into the Ace Basin.
As far as speed, fantastic. I noticed that when I stop paddling, the Dagger keep going for quite a while as it cuts through the water. It is almost effortless paddling to get the Dagger up to speed. I took the Dagger out on a lake and found myself keep up with some small sailboats that were cruising around in a slight wind.
I would recommend the Dagger for anyone that is looking at moving up to a nice recreational kayak. The weight is bit much for lugging around, but the built in handles make it easy to carry. I can easily put the Dagger on my trailer but is a bit of a load if you have to make a long trek to the down to the water. That is the only reason that I gave the Dagger a score of 9.I just bought mine this season as an '06 leftover.
I've taken it out and overall the seat, thigh braces, and boat itself are great and I have no complaints about any of it. I could definitely paddle for a long long time and not get any sore spots on my backside. However, the one very minor thing I thought could use improvement were the rudder pedals. The plastic/plastic is only captured on half its length and the tolerances of cheap(er) plastic manufacturing create some annoying resistance in the pedal movement. You probably wouldn't notice this unless you're locked in so it's not a big issue and it looks easy enough to remove them/modify/replace with additional guides.
Overall, fantastic kayak and handles great. I'm getting a second one for my wife as she had no problems getting in/out and locking-in her 6'2" frame.I just bought my specter today (15'2'', polyethylene). I demoed the Perception Carolina, Old town Cayuga, WS Tsunami, and the Specter. I loved the Cayuga but the cockpit was extremely tight on the thighs and long trips would have been hell. If the cayuga fits anyone in the market, I would recomend it. The Specter outperformed the other two boats that I demoed and was close to the Cayuga. The cockpit was much more comfortable to me, so it was the best choice. Ive only had it out once on calm water, but I think it has good stability and tracking. It felt pretty agile to the other boats I demoed and it seems to have good speed and efficiency.
Again, the Cayuga outperformed all in every aspect. The Dagger was a close second, but much roomier in the thigh braces for me. That is why I am giving it a 9/10. That and the only color the dealer had was Orange.
I got mine for $900 with rudder. I would recomend the Specter and the Cayuga to anyone in this price range.This is the first kayak that I have ever owned, I have had a Grumman Eagle 17' since '95 and most of my adventures have revolved around the canoe experience. I am so glad that I finally ventured into the realm of the sea kayak...it has opened doors for me that could not be touched by my canoe. I live in the middle of a large chain of lakes in Central Florida and I have been able to get out and paddle on waters and in winds that I could not do alone in the 17' eagle. This kayak handles very well, is agile and fast and can handle my weight and more (6'4" 235 lbs). I have done some river runs, circumnavigated Key Biscayne with ease and, as mentioned previously, paddled the Harris Chain near my home in Lake County, Florida. (1-1/2 foot chop with strong north winds-very fun).
As a first kayak I am very happy with its performance in maneuverability, speed, stability and comfort. I will be taking extended trips in the future and have every confidence that I will have the ability to stay out for a few days on end with ease. I read the review of the Dagger Specter 15.5 airlite and I would assume this boat is not far off from the slightly larger and more expensive model, although I do not feel as if I have had any complaints or problems with the rotomolded plastic and neoprene hatch covers...even though its easier to pull a cerveza from a dual density hatch cover. I would recommend this boat for anyone...especially for the price.