I love my Nomad 8.5, and I don't work for Dagger
I had been paddling a Micro 240 for years, mostly because I was familiar with the design. I really think the Nomad will take my abilities to another level- it just feels like a confident design. Features I like:
1) Foot comfort: lots of room for a 6'4" guy with 11.5 feet.
2) Posture: I've heard this from other Nomad owners too- the cockpit somehow causes you to sit with your back straight, in an aggressive posture. Makes for more efficient paddle storkes and better vision.
3) I haven't done a self support, but the boat seems to paddle much the same when it's loaded with safety gear as it does empty (not when you pick it up, of course).
4) Good mix of downstream speed and acceleration, and very manuverable rail-to-rail. Not squirrelly at all in soupy water.
The only downside is the weight, which is negligible if you're running rapids you used to portage. I like the idea of a creeker with some heft, because you feel it'll knock its way through stuff.
Take Hobie up on the demo. I like the looks of the Jefe, but I can't see trading out the Nomad right now or in the foreseeable future. I did demo the Deisel, and I just didn't find it to be suitable as a pure Colorado creeker for me- I think it would be a good boat for big water V like you find in California or the Northwest, but we have so many rocks out here I think you gotta be careful with how much rail you leave out there...