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    Badfish Blog — Gear

    Fins for River SUP

    Fins for River SUP

    The use of fins on standup

    Soft Flex Center Fins in 4.5" and 3"
    Rivershreds come standard with a 4.5″ Soft Flex center fin and 4.5" click fin side bights. We do sell a 3" version of the center fin if you want to have a shorter option for shallower rivers as well as 2" Click-Fin side bights. Click-Fin side bights are a cool new way to change the fin configuration on your paddleboard. Click-Fins slide in and click in place and can be secured with stainless steel grub screws (See video below). Click fins on your Rivershred give you a lot of options. You could paddle with just the center fin if the river is shallow or you don't want to worry about hitting the side bights. Or you could add the side bights when you want additional tracking or if you know you are going to surf, but the important thing to remember is just because your board came with three fins doesn't mean you have to put three fins everytime you paddle. Make fin choices based on conditions and what type of paddling you are doing that day. The I-SK8 comes with three Click-Fin boxes and three 4.5" Click-Fins. With a surfboard you make decisions based on surfing performance. Putting all three fins in will make your feel "stiffer", in other words the board will not turn as quickly. This is a good thing when you are learning or when you are surfing a new wave as the board will not want to slip out on you and will feel more predictable under foot. When you want the board to feel "looser" or turn more quickly you can start by removing your center 4.5" Click-Fin and replacing it with a 2" Click-Fin in the center box. If you really want your board to be loose so you can surf like Miles Harvey you could pick up a couple sets of 2" Click-Fins and surf only 2" fins. The point with surfing is that fins radically change the way the board surfs so you can play around and find the set up you like for your weight, your style and your wave. https://vimeo.com/217423466 River Surfers and SK8's are set up with a tri-fin or thruster fin configuration because the boards are meant for park and surf paddling and a thruster gives your board more speed and agility while surfing. Riding your River Surfer tri-fin will give you more bight and make your board feel “tighter”. Taking out the center fin reduces drag and gives your board a more “loose” feel allowing for tricks like 360’s and Shuv-Its. Check out these two river surfing videos featuring Badfish Pro Mike T for basic and advanced river surfing technique tips as it relates to fins. We only recommend using soft flex fins with your River Surfer, but it should be noted that experienced river surfers do use glass flex or “hard” fins. Composite fins give you many more options for sizes and types of fins and are higher performance, but increase the risk of damaging your board when and if you hit a rock. Paddling Finless Many experienced river paddlers choose to paddle on the river finless. The benefits of paddling without fins are obvious…nothing to hit rocks. The downside is also pretty obvious….the board won’t paddle straight. Advanced paddle strokes allow you to compensate somewhat for this lack of steering and in more technical rivers you are never going straight anyway, so in some cases paddling finless is an excellent choice. I recommend practicing on river runs paddling finless by taking off your center fin (and side bights if you have them) at some point on a river run and try some basic river maneuvers finless. The more you practice, the more forgoing fins will be an option for you when the river dictates. Fins are evolving for stand up paddling in a river so share your ideas and tricks with us too. See you on the river. -Mike Harvey, Salida, CO

    Pro Kayaker Dave Fusilli & the Rivershred

    Pro Kayaker Dave Fusilli & the Rivershred

    Kayaker Dave Fusilli has been having some fun on the Rivershred over in Washington. You can see his kayaking skills translate fluidly to the stand up paddle board. Our company is owned by whitewater kayakers. It's where our love for the river began and we're so happy seeing other kayakers tapping into what we love about SUP.

    Tips for Choosing River SUP Fins

    Tips for Choosing River SUP Fins

    "What fins are you running today?" This is a common question us whitewater stand up paddlers often ask each other before getting on the river. Some of us geek out on this topic more than others. But your fin choice can have a huge effect on your paddling experience. The anxiety around making the best choice is somewhat warranted. Fins are important! So, let's get you well versed on the subject so next time someone asks you, "What fins are you running today?" You can answer with something like, "Well, it's more shallow than it is deep but can also be pushy in spots so I'm going to go with a 4.5" gummy and 2" side bites." Instead of, "I don't know, what are you running today?"

    What is a fin?

    A fin is a hydrofoil that is attached to the underside of the tail of a board that helps with directional stability. Meaning, the fin is going to help your board stay pointed in the direction you want to go, as well as, offering up some resistance against lateral waves. Running with no fins might make it easy for your board to turn but when its time to go straight you'll find it very challenging to stay on course. Unless you're paddling extremely shallow rivers you'll probably always be running some kind of fin set-up.

    Types of fins and when to use them...

    Fins come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing which fins to buy can be overwhelming, fortunately when it comes to paddling rivers it is pretty straight forward and simple. It's when you get into flat water racing and surfing that fin selection and technology becomes understandably much more complicated.

    4.5" Soft Flex Center Fin

    4.5 inch SoftFlex Fin

    We use to make and carry 6" center fins, but we found that 4.5" in almost every whitewater situation is enough center fin if you are able to include side fins in your configuration. Whitewater stand up paddle boards tend to have more volume and width (to make it more stable in rapids) than non-whitewater boards. Having a lot of fin can make it more challenging to maneuver the board and set-up your angles. You'll notice we call this fin a soft flex fin. That's because it is made of a flexible rubber to make it more forgiving when hitting rocks as well as more durable. We recommend sticking with flexible fins in river situations if you want them to last any reasonable amount of time.

    3" Soft Flex Center Fin

    3 Inch Center Fin

    This fin is a great choice for lower volume, shallow rivers. It's important to remember, the shorter the fin the looser the board. The board will be easier to turn but you may have to work a little harder to keep your board paddling in the direction you want it to go. For lower-volume rivers this isn't much of a problem. It's the big pushy stuff where having that extra fin really comes in handy.

    4.5" Soft Flex Click Fin Pair

    4.5 Inch Softflex Click Fin

    Now, let's get into side fins, also known as, side bites. These side fins come in pairs and live on the right and left side of the center fin. The side bite fin boxes are fixed a few more inches toward the horizontal center line of the board. In most cases, if your whitewater board has ample tail-rocker (which it should), these fins will sit a little lower in the water than the center fin because they don't have that rocker to give that little extra lift. These fins are great to use in conjunction with your 4.5" center fin in big water where directional stability is very important. Weight may also be a factor in deciding which fin set-up is best for you. A bigger paddler may have an easier time maneuvering a longer fin set-up versus a smaller paddler. It's always good to experiment with different configurations and see what works best for your style and size.

    2" Click Fins

    2 Inch Soft Flex Click Fin

    These little guys here don't seem like they would do much, but a little can go a long way when it comes to fins. When running a 3" center fin these can be helpful in adding a little extra bite when paddling shallow rivers. Or, using these in configuration with your 4.5" center fin when you don't necessarily want to go as big as the 4.5" side bites. If, for example, the river your paddling is pretty technical and you need to make a lot of quick moves in a rapid that could be a perfect set up. Another option is using only the 2" side bites and no center if you find yourself paddling a very shallow river, because something is usually better than nothing. Smaller paddlers paddling on 9'6" whitewater boards may opt for these fins more often than 4.5" side fins so less power is needed to lay into the rails of their board to make an eddy turn or change their angle.

    Fin Hardware

    Center Fin Screws

    Center Fin Screws

    We recommend stocking yourself on some back up center fin screws because you will lose them.

    Grub Screws

    Grub Screws

    Grub screws are used in your side fin boxes. Your side bite fin boxes are click fin boxes (if you're paddling a Rivershred), meaning you can click your fin in without having to search for a fin key and secure them with the grub screws. In a pinch this is great when the frequent disappearing fin key is nowhere to be found. BUT, we recommend using the grub screws that come with the fins when you can. All it takes is a couple blows to some rocks to pop those fins right out.


    Fin Keys! Fin Keys! And More Fin Keys!

    Fin Key

    The precious fin key! Get lots of these! Keep one on your key ring, in your lifejacket, in your shoe, under your car mat, around your neck, on your dogs collar. You never know when you're going to need one and they are never where you thought you put them. That should get you started! And remember if you have any questions about fins or gear you can message us directly on our website or e-mail us at info@badfishsup.com.

    Rivershred Review with Mike Tavares

    Rivershred Review with Mike Tavares

    Team rider Mike Tavares gives us a rundown of all the Rivershred specs and what makes it so effective in whitewater. This is Mike's signature inflatable stand up paddle board and if you've ever seen him paddle you know the man knows what he's talking about.

    Rocker is one of the most important features on a board. We made it our mission to achieve consistent progressive rocker form tip to tail in the Rivershred. There are a lot of whitewater boards out there that say they are designed for whitewater but tend to be fairly flap. You may notice some river boards will have some kick rocker at the tip and tail while flattening out rather quickly. But if you see whitewater rafts or kayaks, you’ll notice that they have very little, if any, flat spots. This enables them, like the Rivershred to move with ease through whitewater, it makes it easy to maneuver, and will pop right up and over those waves.

    Click here to learn more about the Rivershred. Also, use our dealer locator to see if you can check one out at a paddle shop near you.

    How to Choose a River Surfboard

    How to Choose a River Surfboard

    -Written by Mike Harvey From the minute Zack shaped his first surfboard in his garage in 2008 Badfish has been about creating boards that make river surfing possible. A decade plus later we have a lineup of river surfing specific boards that we think can meet the needs of almost any river surfer. However with all those options comes a bit of confusion about which board will best meet your needs. We answer questions almost every day with some variation of “which board for me?” in the subject line. I actually really enjoy that part of the job and then hearing back from stoked people who had a great session on their board and felt like it opened up a new world to them. As much as I am happy to keep answering those emails this post is intended to try to clarify some of the strengths and weakness of each surfboard and offer some guidance about which board might be right for you. That said if you don’t get the answer here feel free to email us at customerservice@badfishsup.com and we will get back to you with advice.

    Zach Shaping a Badfish Surf Board

    A couple of general points to consider about our surf lineup. In river surfing often times the right board comes down to a question of where you are going to surf the most and how you want to surf, more than a question of rider weight. Yes rider weight is a consideration in board choice for river surfing, but not the only consideration which is why we don’t provide rider weight limits on our website.

    The first question you have to answer for yourself when considering a river surfing board is inflatable vs. epoxy (or “hard” board)...

    Pros of Inflatable Surfboards In general the advantages of inflatable boards are durability, the user friendly nature of the board and convenience. Inflatable boards are very difficult to damage in a river. I will stop short of calling them indestructible because I don’t want someone to take that as a challenge, but inflatable boards are very tough. Inflatable boards have softer, rounded, rails so when you are first learning to river surf, inflatables are more forgiving and you are less likely to be rudely tripped up by mis-weighting a rail or standing “Frankenstein Style” with straight legs. Inflatable boards are super easy to travel with, everything fits inside a backpack that comes with the board and you can easily fit other gear in with the board for a trip on a plane or in a vehicle without a roof rack. For those of us whose river surfing season ends in the fall and we start riding our bikes or getting ready for ski season an inflatable saves precious garage space. You can store them deflated all winter.

    Cons of Inflatable Surfboards The downside of inflatables comes down to performance. Short inflatable boards, when inflated to 17 PSI are very stiff, you won’t be bouncing around out there, but when you turn a surfboard on a wave the rail bites in the wave face and provides power and speed. All inflatable boards have rounded rails which reduces their effectiveness in this way. On smaller, foamier waves rail bite doesn’t matter a whole lot. However on higher volume or higher performance wave an inflatable will not feel as snappy in and out of turns. The thinner the board the more the rail will bite so for example a ISK8 at 2.75” thick and pumped to about 20psi will feel better underfoot when initiating a turn compared to a 5” thick IRS.

    Badfish Team Paddlers Enjoying a Wave

    Pros of Epoxy Boards Performance is the reason why you would want a traditionally constructed, epoxy surfboard. With an epoxy surfboard you can vary the rail thickness and shape to ensure the back 12”-20” will bite into the wave and give you power into and speed out of your turn. An epoxy board is stiff and all the energy you are putting into your turns are being translated into the board for maximum shred output!

    Cons of Epoxy Boards Durability is the major drawback of an epoxy surfboard in a river environment. We make our epoxy boards with the same layup Zack had developed for our team riders over the years…that is to say light. A lighter board is simply more fun to ride, but the lighter weight comes from less material, which ultimately means these boards can be dinged if you are not careful when you are in the river. That said it is actually quite easy to fix an epoxy surfboard with readily available materials and there are thousands of instructional resources on YouTube so you don’t have to be intimidated about the process of ding repair if you want a higher performance board.

    Shore Launch on a Badfish River Surfer

    Which Model is Right for You?

    IRS The Inflatable River Surfer was our first (and the first in the industry) river surfing specific SUP when we released it in 2015. While we are on version 2.0 now of the IRS it remains a very popular board because it is hands down the easiest board to learn on. We call the IRS the “Gateway Board” because once you get on the wave with the IRS we know you’ll be back for more. The IRS makes getting from the eddy to the wave much easier than any other board. The width, rocker profile and shape combine to make the IRS to go to first river surfboard. While originally intended to be surfed with a paddle the IRS is probably more often ridden without a paddle. If you have never river surfed before stop reading here. This is the board for you. If you are a more experienced surfer who is new to the river, this is still probably the board for you because you can learn on this board and you’ll always keep it in your quiver to loan out to friends or introduce new people to river surfing.

    Badfish River Surfer Salida Colorado

    ISK8 The inflatable SK8 was dropped late summer of 2017. It was the first, and at the time, only inflatable river surfboard on the market. The idea was to take what Zack had learned creating the SK8 and put it into an inflatable package. The ISK8 is only 5’9 and 2.75” thick and is surprisingly high performance. With 3 removable fins you can change up the ride by adding shorter fins or eliminating fins all together. The ISK8 is a favorite inflatable surfboard among kids riding less powerful waves or bigger riders on more dynamic waves. If you want a more aggressive, shortboard feel in an inflatable package then the ISK8 is the right board for you. If you weigh less than 145lbs the ISK8 is going to work well on a variety of river waves. If you weigh up to 200lbs the ISK8 can be a great board on a steeper, faster wave. For example I am about 188lbs (sounds better than 190) and I love the ISK8 on tighter, faster waves.

    Badfish Team Rider Mike T on a Sk8

    Wavo The Wavo is the newest offering in our surf lineup. The Wavo is based on the concept in ocean surfing of an “egg” (Wavo-Juevo…get it?). An egg is a short longboard. Friendly and easier to paddle and catch waves on than a shortboard, but more turny and fun on the wave. The Wavo has become an instant hit. At 6’2” and 3.75” thick it sits nicely between the IRS and ISK8 and has a unique shape that gives it a different ride than any other board in the lineup. Early reviews on the Wavo people find it to have enough volume to float bigger riders in small waves, but fun and responsive on the turn. Smaller team riders or those with Ninja skills like Miles or Hannah are using with a paddle as a SUP. For me I was amazed when we were testing this board that I could pop to my feet on a tiny wave and for most people the Wavo will be surfed without a paddle.


    Surfer carrying a Badfish river surfer board

    River Surfer 140 The 140 stands for 140 liters for the volume of this board. The River Surfer is the first board Zack designed when we started the company and is the foundation the entire Badfish brand is built on. The River Surfer remains the highest performance river surfing Stand Up paddleboard available. The 140 is based on the original length and width of the first boards Zack built (6’11”x31”) but this board has been through more iterations than any board in our lineup. The 2018 version is based on the board that Zack made for himself to ride and as the rest of us slowly tried it we realized this board was Z’s magnum opus. The River Surfer has a “winged” in tail that makes it turn like a much narrower board, without sacrificing the volume you need for river surfing. If you are a larger river SUP surfer or are surfing flatter waves this is the choice for you.

    River Surfer 104 The 104 is a smaller version of the 140. 6’4 x 28” wide. The 104 is very popular with our smaller riders or people that want a higher performance, whippy SUP surfer and don’t mind the extra challenge getting out of the eddy.

    5’0 SK8 The SK8 series are river surfing specific shortboards. They are meant to be surfed without a paddle and are the result of literally over 100 different shortboards shaped over the years by Zack. The concept was a board that ripped, but had significantly more volume than traditional surfboards to open up shortboard surfing in spots that have never been ridebale on an ocean style shape. The 5’0 SK8 has 48 liters of volume. Most surfboards around the same size are under 30 liters in volume. That added volume acts in place of the lift and speed you get from the push of an ocean wave to help the board plane out on smaller, less powerful, river waves. All of that is to say choosing the right SK8 has more to do with where you will mostly surf than your weight. For me at around 190lbs I ride the 5’0 on tighter, faster waves like Bend, RRP in Denver or Boise.

    High Volume 5’0 SK8 The HV 5’0 is a truly unique shape. I often compare it to fat skis. When fat skis first came out they may have looked weird to those of us who grew up on skiing skinny, straight boards, but once you got them out on a powder day…life changing. The HV has added volume for float, but a drop rail around the tail so that you can initiate a hard turn. For many of our team riders this board becomes an instant favorite as soon as they try it, regardless of their weight. Zack describes the extra energy he gets out of turn by saying that having all the volume to push against creates more speed out of the turn. This is the board he rides almost exclusively.

    5’6 SK8 I think of the 5’6 like a shortboard with a longboard’s soul. The 5’6 is 62 liters and is a great choice for bigger riders or people riding flatter waves. The 5’6 is a great choice on a lot of river waves where the additional glide makes it easier to get to and stay on the wave.

    To summarize…picking the right river surfing board ultimately comes down as much to how and where you want to surf as it does your size. Consider your local conditions at least as much and you’ll end up with a board you are much happier with. Don’t be shy about reaching out to us and see you on the river!

    Glenwood River Surfing Highwater