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First, the weight is fabulous! with the wood rails, at 38lbs, its lighter than our kayaks. The kevlar is quite durable, taking only minor scratches so far on our sandy and sometimes rocky Florida rivers. It carries a ton of gear, and seems to like being loaded down. This year I mounted a electric trolling motor to the stern, bought a cheap used battery, and have had even more fun! Two dogs, 3 people, and towing 3 other kayaks in the holiday boat parade. What a blast!
Downsides: Does not like the wind, especially when solo. You definitely need some ballast up forward when solo. Otherwise, its pretty tippy.
My biggest surprise is the canoe's seaworthiness. I feel more comfortable in this canoe than I have in my other flatwater canoes, especially when in wind and waves. There is something somewhat mystical about seeing the water passing underneath, through the natural kevlar.
It is a winner!
Overall I am pleased with the purchase and would recommend it to others. Just know that if it is windy, you may struggle a little if you are solo.
It's more stable than your usual canoe. I'm not going to shoot out of it with this dog, because I know he will knock himself out to get the bird, and maybe me as well. The tests in warm water were very encouraging, but not enough to risk death in cold weather conditions. Smaller dog or bigger boat for that!
Although it is slow compared to the average width canoe, it paddles easier than other boats in it's class (flat-bottom rec canoe) - notably (since I have one to compare), the 16' OT Camper. It tracks well when paddled tandem and not bad solo either if you do your part, while still quite easy to turn.
Wenonah advertises this boat as "relatively flat bottom", and I would put emphasis on the "relatively". It doesn't handle entirely like a flat-bottom but it does have a very shallow draft and lots of initial stability. Rocker is minimal (listed as 1.25") but it is definitely there. What you get is a very stable boat - easy to stand in even on moving water - but very maneuverable and easy to paddle, although not with a lot of speed or glide.
I have taken this boat down river through 1 foot and larger wave trains with surprising ease. It is a darn good poling canoe for shallow and twisty streams. It's shallow draft, exceptional maneuverability and surprising secondary stability make easy work in such conditions - so long as the current isn't too pushy. Upstream tracking is a bit lacking when compared to my Penobscot, but one can compensate in suitable flows by resisting the urge to advance too quickly.
I mention the Fisherman's secondary stability because Wenonah only talks about it's primary stability (which it has in spades). While it's not the boat to go around standing on it's gunwales, I can easily and predictably balance it high on one side (due, I believe, to it's soft chine) to carve aggressive turns, quickly side slip or negotiate a narrow passage while standing with my pole.
This is not a boat to cover large distances on lakes or for anything above easier class II. It is easily pushed about by a stiff wind (though not as easily as my Camper 16). But if you expect to spend a lot of time on tight-twisting channels in not-so-pushy water or extremely shallow water - the Fisherman just might be what you want.
I give it a 9, because although I think it's a good design and Wenonah does a great job of putting it together, and even though the Fisherman in royalex is pretty easy to carry as it is, I would like to see them use a contoured carrying thwart like those on Nova-Craft canoes.
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