This relatively simple pulley system is a must for anchor control when fishing from a fishing kayak. I must admit that I was a bit queasy when I first started drilling holes in my new Jackson Kayak Cuda 12, but after thinking about my typical fishing situations and devising a quick disconnect float strategy for river fishing, the actual installation was simple and almost anti-climactic.
It worked great from the very beginning. My only question now is whether I will install another system on the other side of the boat.
When I first used the PFD I must admit that I had some initial misgivings in that it seemed so much more bulky than my other PFD's. However, after a little time wearing it while fishing, I started discovering its advantages. It goes on easily, is simple to adjust, mates especially well with my high back kayak seat, and can be outfitted easily with the most common fishing tools and boxes that I use. It doesn't even seem that bulky any more. But, for a finishing step - actually trying it out in the water - I find it to be the most secure feeling and stable PFD that I have ever tested.
Although I investigated other, fishing-specific paddles, I kept going back to the Camano due to the fact that my fishing plans involved some fairly long paddling. So, I went with the 240 cm straight Camano. I was amazed in the improvements in the paddle over the ones that I had previously used. For light weight, great comfort, and efficient paddling due to almost infinite offset adjustment capability, I don't think I could have made a better choice!
As to the details of the boat itself, I would have preferred to have skipped some of the Jackson choices of outfitting. Case in point would be the rocket launcher rod holders and the GoPro camera base, as well as a couple of the other features. For that reason I giving the boat an 8 score as opposed to a higher one otherwise.
This is a well made boat with almost infinite outfitting adjustments. It is the most adjustable boat I have seen, with very comfortable footrest, thigh pads, and seating. There is even enough front to back adjustment on the seat to make a significant difference in the trim of the boat. Spend the time up front and be picky about every aspect of the setup and you will be rewarded with as comfortable a ride as you can find anywhere. I set mine up to my preferences with standard adjustments without having to use any of the generous supply of padding and shims that come with the boat.
If you're looking for a solid boat to do big water down river, this is it. You're not going to do a lot of playboating, but surfing and hole shots are solid. Combine that with its stability and ease of rolling, along with its speed and turning ability and I got pretty much what I wanted. I can cover a lot of rough water, carry some extra gear, stay comfortable, and do some surfing and other fun things while I'm at it. Not a bad deal.
As one other reviewer stated, the sliding seat can be a bit of a potential hazard when carrying the canoe over your head, but that can be easily eliminated by clamping a simple spring-loaded woodworking clamp to the rail just behind or in front of the seat when it is in either the full back or front position. This will secure the seat when you are carrying the canoe.
As an all around flatwater solo canoe, I find it hard to imagine a better boat, especially when carrying a heavy load.
I got the kevlar ultralight layup, which seems lighter than the manufacturer's stated weight. Now loading is a snap! I decided against the carbon version because it is not supposed to be quite as durable as the kevlar models.
But on to the paddling - - this boat is fantastic! I've never paddled anything quite like it. Even an old guy like me can make it move along pretty well. Of course it won't turn on a dime, but it turns much better than I expected it to. It handles better in winds than any canoe I have ever paddled - tandem or solo. I haven't had it in any really rough water yet, but I've been in enough power boat wakes to become very confident in its stability in such conditions. The jury is still out as to just what kind of waves might cause it to start taking water.
The design of the slider seat is great. It has one easily movable clamp to limit backward movement. This leaves the seat free to move forward easily for the quick changes in trim that you need on a solo canoe. To move further back, you just move the clamp. I do wish I could adjust the height of the seat too, but I can see that such a capability would be difficult to incorporate into the design of the seat assembly. So, I'm OK with it the way it is.
Tracking of this canoe is really good. You can never get away from stroke and switch on a solo, but this is the best I've paddled. A boat like this really deserves a good paddle, so a good bent shaft paddle is in order.
Stability of the boat has been a very pleasant surprise. In fact, that stability has brought about a negative for the boat. I quickly determined that I could fish from it. The negative part is that when I have a decent fish on, the fish can pull the boat too easily. I've had a couple of pretty funny escapades resulting from that. I should stop fishing and get back to my paddling! But, that's a pretty good indication of how easy it is to move the Advantage in the water.
So, my final conclusions are that this boat is more than I expectd. It is fast, tracks very well, has good initial and great secondary stability, not bad in turns, handles wind beautifully, and so on - - - . I have had some experience in solo boats, so that obviously has helped me adapt to the Advantage pretty easily. It may be a little hot for a beginner, but someone who will be patient and methodical in learning the boat will have a lot of fun with it. Part of the fun for me has been smoking the tandems and kayaks I have encountered. The other part of the fun is paddling a well-designed, well-made product.
One final comment - - a tip actually. For those of you who might occasionally encounter a bit of discomfort due to bringing toys home a little too often, I had an easy sale on this one. Being a recent cardiac surgery patient, I stressed the light weight and easy loading of the Advantage to my wife. That's awful! Sometimes I have no shame! But, I do have an Advantage.
First of all the, skeg can make a huge difference in tracking. Granted, good paddle and lean techniques can make it unnecessary. But, if the form is off a bit, the skeg really makes flat water paddling easier. River tripping could be improved if the skeg could be raised and dropped from the cockpit. That way, it could be dropped in flat water water and raised in rapids, where it might interefere with maneuverability or be yanked off while dragging across a rock.
I second the backband comments already stated by other reviewers. In initially discussing the potential purchase of the kayak with a dealer, he wanted to include a new backband in the purchase - at full price. If no one likes the backband, then perhaps Dagger should just leave it off completely so buyers do not have to buy two of them.
The most perplexing thing I have experienced is that my Crossover is developing cupping in the bottom of the hull, right under the cockpit. There was some cupping evident when the boat was new, but it has gotten progressively worse. The dealer explanation of the problem - I had left it in the sun. The dealer advice on how to fix it - leave it in the sun and the cupping may so away!!?? First of all, the boat has never been left in the sun (I store it in a garage), and secondly, how can the same action be both a cause and a cure? The FAQ link on the Dagger web site has a statement that pretty well goes along with the dealer line. I'm not particularly a happy camper on this one.
The Crossover is not the only Dagger product I have bought. My experiences with their products is "almost, but not quite".