My review of the Ladybug as Canoefred, misidentified my boat as being made in 1981. It was made in '84 and wighed 40 pounds. I replaced it a year ago with another fiberglass 'bug in even better shape. This boat was made in 1985 and weighs in at 36 pounds. I intend to keep enjoying it as I progress further into my 70's. I paddle it single blade and find it continues to be a fun boat to play in.
I bought a 1981 Lady Bug in fiberglass last fall without having paddled it, based on its reputation as a sport canoe. I have a Hemlock Kestrel which is a great tripping boat, but a little straight tracking for playing around with freestyle moves. The Lady Bug turned out to be all that I had hoped for. It spins much more easily and yet will track fine if you have some paddle skills.
At 13' 8" length, 26" width at the gunnels, the boat is good for a small to medium sized paddler. The sides bubble out to a 29" maximum and back in to 27" at the water line, giving the boat its famous secondary stability. While very maneuverable, the boat will move along well to keep up with other paddlers.
My only reservation is the boat's weight. It tips the bathroom scale at about 40 pounds which is about 7 more than my Kestrel. Both boats have all wood trim, a look I favor in a canoe which I love to maintain at the start and end of the season.
I am in my late 60's and while I can still load it on and off the car, I will continue to enjoy this fun boat.
These Curtis canoes have my favorite shape of float tanks - flat on top so the blade of the spare paddle can rest on it with the handle on the front thwart. This makes that space usable, rather than wasted, as with curved tanks. No deck plates, so no water can get trapped and rot the ends of the gunwales.
I'm 5'6" and 160 lbs and have owned and sold Sawyers Loon, Summersong and the 13'4" solo, kevlar Bell Wildfire, Carbonlite 2000 Mad River Slipper, kevlar Ultralight Wenonah's Voyager, Advantage and Whisper and still own Bell's black gold & white gold Flashfires, royalex and black gold Yellowstone Solos, black gold Merlin II, kevlar Bucktail and kevl ar ultra light Magic, Mad River Monarch, Grumman G-129 Solo and royalex Wenonah Sandpiper and the Curtis Lady Bug just may be my favorite of the bunch for both single blading and double blading - a great all purpose canoe, but I wouldn't use it for whitewater, since I don't have good whitewater skills.
I single blade it with ZRE Medium bent paddles of whichever length is appropriate for whether I'm sitting or kneeling or on a lake or on a river. I also use a ZRE Medium straight shaft with it. The Lady bug is a joy both sitting and kneeling the way I have it set up. Very efficient and maneuver's great heeled to the inside or outside of turns.
This little canoe screams with my 225cm Epic Relaxed Tour kayak paddle - my lap times on our local city pond are very similar to my faster sea kayaks. It's crazy to me how quick this boat is. It will easily keep pace with kayaks of similar length.
The 29" max beam width and 26" gunwale width make this canoe a good size for smaller to medium size paddlers with moderate loads or simply paddling for the joy of it without any load. The relatively low shear of 16.5" bow and 15" stern help reduce the effects of wind on the boat. The 1-3/8" symmetrical rocker helps it track well when level and turn quickly when heeled over a bit. It's a pleasure on twisty streams & rivers.
If there's one thing I'd change about this Lady Bug, it would be to have the infused carbon/kevlar gunwales that are available on many of the modern high end canoes, rather than the wood gunwales, since I often leave a canoe on my car for weeks at a time, whether it be rain or shine and don't like maintaining the wood gunwales.
The Lady Bug has been out of production for several years, but the manufacturer's write up and specs can be found in the "Photo Album" at the Hemlock Canoe website. The current production solo canoe that the Lady Bug is likely most similar to is the Flashfire, which was originally produced by Bell, then Placid and now by Colden Canoe. Colden also possesses the mold for the Lady Bug, but hasn't made any, yet.
I hope this review was helpful. There isn't much information available about this canoe, so I thought I'd contribute a little.