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    Badfish Blog

    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.

    Tools

    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.

    Introducing the Selfie 14'

    Introducing the Selfie 14'

    After years of research, development, and product testing of many different shapes for an ideal self-support stand up paddle board we give you the Selfie! Hours in the shaping bay and 100's of miles on the river have been put into this design. Having a high-performance inflatable self-support SUP opens the door to new possibility of where you can go on a board. You can take the Selfie with you anywhere! Now Available. 

     

     

    The River Scout as a practice in decision making. 

    The River Scout as a practice in decision making. 

    Written by: Bradley Hilton The river scout is an essential part of the whitewater experience. Whether exploring new stretches of river with my friends on paddleboards, or guiding guests on a commercial rafting trip, I thoroughly enjoy the process of scouting rapids. It provides the perfect moment to keep your group calm, take a collective breath, and practice your best decision making skills. In my usual scout briefing, I like to bring attention to the fact that in life, decisions are not always made in the most efficient manner. We often consider and reconsider a choice for weeks or years on end. All the while, our tools for making that decision may remain unchanged. So why not just deploy those tools and commit? In the river, that’s exactly what we do.
    1. Approach a new challenge (rapid or obstacle).
    2. Bring all the subjective knowledge and experience you’ve acquired up to that moment.
    3. Gather the objective information available to you.
    4. Pay attention to your intuition, nerves, and fear.
    5. Discuss with your group, make a decision, and commit.
    This process should take anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Any longer, and your not bringing any new experience or information to the decision making process. You already possess all the knowledge, experience, and information available to you. In the physical and emotional body, this quick and effective way to decide and commit can be a refreshing practice. I encourage my guests and friends to take note of how it feels, and apply it to their lives away from whitewater. Stay tuned for my next blog, where I go into detail about the objective information I gather during a scout. To join me in person for this practice, visit bradleysup.com

    High Water Paddling and Surf Safety

    High Water Paddling and Surf Safety

    It's not often in Colorado that we are still seeing high water and river flow peaks in July...but here we are, July 1st, and the water keeps rising. Highwater has the ability to turn a mellow class II stretch into a raging class III torrent. Your homestretch can become almost unrecognizable. Rocks that are usually out of water are now big holes, bank erosion causes trees to fall into the river, and debris that have been flushed downstream may build up on any obstruction in their path. But, the higher river levels don't mean you need to avoid the river completely. Here are some high water safety tips to take with you next time you hop on your stand up paddleboard.

    • ALWAYS wear a PFD/lifejakcet....high water or not. Never underestimate the power of the river.
    • Stay up to date on any new hazards that may have appeared on the river overnight before hitting the water. A great resource for this is whitewater forums such as MountainBuzz.com, your local whitewater Facebook group, or your local rafting outfitter. Scouting the river stretch as much as possible is a great idea, as well.
    • During high water your usual eddys might be much smaller or gone completely. Keep this in mind if you know there's an upcoming rapid you might want to portage or scout. Don't hesitate to eddy out a little earlier than usual so you don't run the risk of running a rapid you didn't want to or miss your takeout.
    • The river bank can become a dangerous place during highwater. Trees and bushes on the river bank may now be in the river. Be aware of this when you're looking for eddys or places to get out. Get out in a safe eddy that is free of any strainers or other hazards.
    • Never go alone and make sure the group stays together.
    • When river surfing always make sure the last surfer has made it safely to shore.
    • When river surfing regularly look upstream for floating debris and have a whistle attached to your pfd so you're able to warn people on the wave of any hazardous debris moving downstream. (One loud whistle blow is the signal for attention, three whistle blows is SOS)

    Remember, the river is powerful and deserves our respect. Nothing is better than the knowledge you can gain from taking a <a href="https://swiftwatersafetyinstitute.com/">Swift Water Rescue</a> course. We recommend anyone who spends time on the river to take one to make sure you know what to do in an emergency situation on the river. Be safe out there this season and always look out for your fellow river users.