I have always smoked with a backwoods smoker with water pan. Always had great results, but there are times that I can't baby sit the fire. I purchased a sm045 about a yr ago. So far I have very dissapointed with it,as everything I cook turns out very dry. My dad has a cheap master built and his stuff always turns out much better than what I can turn out with my cook shack, he does use a water pan. My owners manual says not to use a water pan, but Im thinking of trying it,as it has come to the point that I don't even want to use it anymore.