Help me choose specific kayak (slow, shallow river)

I’d have asked on a hunting forum since this will be for getting to hunting spots, but most people are after stability, weight capacity, gear storage, and I’m not. I once built a skin-on baidarka that’s barely wider than my 12" wide waist, so I’m used to tippy kayaks. That one is too long, and too fragile for a rocky river. I’m simply trying to get up a shallow river with low to moderate current efficiently. I don’t need much weight capacity and prefer a light kayak, I’m 140lbs and my gear is about 20lbs. River is about 15-25yds wide and only winds every 3-4min of paddling.

I borrowed a friend’s Perception Swifty 9.5 last night on the river, and found a few things I didn’t like:

-Going downstream was fine, but going upstream had me doing drift turns constantly like a drag racer. Just couldn’t stay straight and was wasting lots of energy. I assume this means I’d want something with better tracking.
-I could go narrower for sure
-More effortless paddling would be great, hoping narrower and longer would equate to this
-I could go longer
-Didn’t like how leaned back I was, couldn’t get up and over the paddle to have efficient power stroke and my shoulders got tired holding the paddle out in front of me. I got on my knees in the thing and that allowed me to be more upright.

Please help.


Also, I should say maybe it’s best to recommend me some generalities. Does a 13-14’ kayak sound about right? I’m on a tight budget, so will be looking on FB marketplace for one used. I also don’t want to break down and cry if it gets stolen. I’m sure someone could recommend the latest and greatest, but that would be new and expensive, so generalities would be best.

11 to 13 foot poly kayak no wider than 26" should do the trick. Perception Expression 11.5 is a great value (has a retractable skeg) at around $1000 new, and there are good deals on closeout Current Designs Kestrel 120s (under $800, most places). Don’t spend time or energy on a flat-bottomed boat like a Swifty unless you like seeing the river from all different angles in the course of one stroke.

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Thank you, just happened to find an expression 11.5 locally for $125! Couldn’t pass that up. Looking forward to trying it.