Anyone else have something to say about this? I must say that this was always my experience as well but on a Ride-to-Work day one of the guys who you wouldn't guess as a rider showed up riding a Dawes with centerpulls. I sort of gawfawed him and he just pushed the bike over to me. When I rode it around in the parking lot they were the BEST working brakes I'd used up to that point. Smooth, powerful and easy to modulate.
Now I'll tell you, I've not been able to reproduce that on any of my bikes but obviously you COULD do so. And Grant Peterson talked about how good his old centerpulls were in one of the Rivendell Readers.
I think a lot of it has to do with the brake pads and the angle of the transverse cable. Although not quite the same as centerpulls, I noticed significant improvement in my cantilever brakes when I installed a wider yoke, and changed the length of the transverse cable.