We have two Flashfires, one black-gold (kevlar carbon) the other white gold (kevlar etc). We use them exclusively as pond-small lake boats for freestyle and Canadian-type paddling. We have other boats for rivers and whitewater and wouldn't even consider these for those types of water. For a paddler looking to really amp their technique, balance, and add some different skills, they boats are wonderful. They are quite pretty, with nice wood and lines; and for the above type of paddling, perform really well. Some complain that they do not free-spin or lock at gunnels like Loonworks boats. The free spin is greatly improved just by widening the boat by about an inch over factory--it's amazing how much more this brings out the ends when heeled. We have added custom kneeling thwarts as well, which really make a difference.
So for our use, they are a joy to paddle and like a feather to carry. A good used boat is also about half the price of the Loonworks.WOW !!! I'll even say that backwards. !!! WOW
I had planned to resell the Flashfire when I first bought it. I picked it up as it was a Bell and I had to make the trip right past the sellers door any way to pick up my Wildfire. I had kind of indicated I would sell it to a friend. Welllll. Sorry "...Lady" it is no longer for sale!!! We'll have to fine you one of your own. I have had the chance to really paddle my Flashfire in most all conditions now. I love it more and more every time I take it out!
I weigh 220 pounds and thought the little 13' length and narrow hull would not be stable and could not handle the load. Even after talking to free stylists that put more weight than I do in a Flashfire I did not think it would work. I just figured that they were so good (and a little crazy) in canoes that they could get away with it, but not me. What a surprise! The Flashfire is very, very responsive, very stable and handles the load very well!
To date I have logged over 20 hours in the Flashfire in extremely different conditions. I have not found a single place I would not take it again. My friends have paddled it and been very impressed as well. I have taken the Flashfire through class I and II rapids repeatedly. Handles like a dream, especially for a non white water (WW) boat. She enters and surfs the holes with ease. A WW open canoe instructor friend of mine tried it and stated that it was better than his WW Mohawk in class I and II rapids. I paddles across a small lake in high winds quartering into white caps the whole way. No problem.
Over half of my time in the Flashfire has been going up river in a good current in a shallow river. Handled great. Turn, draw, ferry and hold with the greatest of ease. Very seldom had to walk is as the Flashfire's tremendous maneuverability allowed me to hold, move, backtrack and get into the right spot to continue on up stream.
On the flats the Flashfire paddles true and straight with the minimum amount of correction. I recently paddled a Rendezvous which had to be fought constantly to keep straight. The Flashfire maneuvers every bit as well and better, but tracks much better as well. (I must make a small disclaimer statement here. I do not like canoes that must be leaned to turn so I am not comparing this canoe to ones that track like they are on rails which I consider a defect.)
Faults? The only one I may have found is that while surfing the holes the tops of the waves would sporadically come over the gunwales. Is that really a fault? I do not think so. One should expect to get wet while playing in a hole. The low sides were a god send on the high wind lake.
Accessories needed: If you are to use the Flashfire as I do you will need a splash cover to keep the water out as you have the time of your life. My splash cover is in the planning stages as I plan to have even more fun, to get more daring in Baby, my Kevlar Bell Flashfire.