Is it me or my boat ?

I have a Fluid Detox kayak that I bought used last year. I’m in a beginner white water class and seem to be having more difficulty than others. It seems my boat catches every little current and spins. I listen to my instructors and am making some progress. I also tip over a lot. It just seems so unforgiving, and not all that comfortable. Does anyone have experience with this model ? Are there any other brands/models that might be recommended for a a new kayaker ?



What size of model s, m, L?
You did not say which model you are paddling and what your weight is, that might be an issue. Also that boat has kind of an interesting combination of rails and rocker, to make it a play boat/creeker hybrid. A short boat with a lot of rocker and catchy rails might give a beginner trouble. Best to ask your instructor what their opinion is, also you might check if they have a down river boat that you could try. If you are paddling a tight river where you need to maneuver you might want to stick with a short boat with lots of rocker if not a down river type boat might be more friendly to learn in. Tons and tons of models available. It’s a very old boat now but I think the Necky Jive is a pretty decent beginner boat, if they are not beat, they are pretty decent boats to learn in.

Size and Capacities
Sorry about that. It’s a large with recommended capacity of 160 to 250 lbs. I’m about 5’8" and 220 lbs. 52 years old, not in top notch shape, but fairly active and able.

Some of the reviews I’m reading by experienced paddlers are saying it’s a blast to use because of the neck snapping rails that allow it to catch eddys. Very responsive and fun once you get used to it.

rent or borrow
Rent or borrow another boat just to see. I doubt anyone here can say for sure what the problem is so try another boat.

It’s probably both
you and the boat. But whitewater canoes and kayaks with fairly flat bottoms and sharp chines tend to have a steeper learning curve. The sharper chines make it easy to trip over eddy lines until you master edge control. You will need to learn to control the edges or they will control you.

The Fluid site claims a paddler upper weight limit of 230lbs for the large Detox and you are just about there and quite possibly a little above with your gear. I have not paddled the Detox but it looks as if it has a relatively low volume stern. It is quite possible that you are putting enough of the stern into the water to submerge the rear deck if you don’t concentrate on keeping your weight forward.

I would suggest trying some boats with a bit more volume and a rounder hull, perhaps some creek boats. You might also look around for an old school river runner with a displacement hull to start out with, then go back to the Detox.

Brace and read the river
two things I notice many kayakers fail to do. Locally, it seems the AMC promotes rolling before learning river reading and bracing skills, leading me to shake my head while others yell “woot, nice roll”. Learning to read the river will allow preparation to respond to the river. Good thing to do is find a playspot and practice, practice, practice…eddy turns, peelouts, controlled surfing etc…Boats have something to do with control of course, but handling skills are paramount.

An opportunity

– Last Updated: May-30-16 11:06 AM EST –

I just talked to a shop owner about one hour away and he's open today. (Memorial Day). He recommends the Dagger Mamba. He will rent me his boat, an 8.1 which I'll be pushing the weight limits on. He has the 8.6 in stock. I'm seriously considering renting the 8.1. He said I could have it for a week. If I like it enough maybe I'll buy the 8.6.

Like I said, I'm 220 lbs,
8.1. 150 to 220 lbs 77 gal
8.6. 175 to 260 lbs 89 gal

That's a pretty big difference. ...

Thanks Everyone for the input, I'm getting a bit frustrated on the river. Keep the responses coming if ya got em !!!

Thank You !!!

The larger Mamba would be good.
It’s a good boat. A favorite of a lot of river paddlers. Pushing the weight limit in a white water boat makes you sink the tail, which can be fun for experienced kayakers but no fun for beginners, so don’t judge the mamba by the shorter boat if you end up having similar issues.

blade in the water

Think you’re too heavy(imho) for an 8.1
Sharp edged, flat hulled kayaks are ok for teens/pre-teens who are light and full of energy, but look in the USED boat section on any site…for soft/old-school boats. Progress will come a lot easier.

can you move the seat forward in the
fluid boat? Will you have enough room for your feet after making adjustments? I’m not sure how fluid sets their boats up or if the seats are even made to move- but worth a shot. A few inches can make a big difference

think about getting your strokes more forward in the boat, make sure you’re sitting up straight, with chin up, and keeping your weight up over the bow

mamba is a solid boat choice- I’d go larger than smaller if your starting out and getting frustrated with your current learning curve

Jackson Zen Large
I did try moving the seat all the way forward, it moved about 2.5 inches. I still got pretty clobbered. But yeah it made sense to try it.

I stumbled across a trip company/kayak shop that’s right where we’ll be putting in on Sunday. This guy had been putting people in boats for about 27 years. It seems he understands me situation. He recommended I demo the Jackson Zen Large for Sundays trip. I’m getting burned out on this entire issue and the way I figure I’ve got nothing to lose. If I like it I can buy a new one from him. He looked up the fluid detox online and said the straight vertical sides would make it a difficult boat for a beginner. Hopefully things will work out. The outfitting on the Jackson looks far superior to what I’m working with on the fluid.

Any thoughts on the Zen ?



moving the seat
can help you engage the front of the boat. I’ve seen a number of beginners struggle because their weight isn’t where it needs to be- more cab forward.

I personally like big boy boats- except they can be harder to roll which is a real disadvantage.

If you don’t like your learning curve then another boat might be the ticket. Demoing is a great idea. Sounds like you’ve exhausted the changes you can make to your current boat.

I just browsed a ways down Boatertalk’s

– Last Updated: Jun-01-16 1:05 AM EST –

list of Riverruners(beginner boat) in their GearSwap section. There's a used Mamba 8.5 for ~$300 (in Merced, CA). Boat's got your name on it...imho.

unfortunately op’s profile says pa

Ditto on the Mamba
I had some similar issues with other whitewater river runners and am of similar size. The larger Mamba will be a great learning platform, but then start looking at more of a River Runner/Play combo as another way to advance your skills.

Used the large zen today
We did a 9 mile stretch. I’d call it class 1,class 2. Decent current, some rock gardens, piers.

Nice thing is I got to run the same stretch in my Detox and with the Zen.

The Zen with instantly adjustable bulkhead was a plus. Way more comfortable overall. More predictable, I still went down once or twice but not as fast and not as hard. More forgiving. I’m able to paddle a straight line easier. That’s my novice opinion. The shop owner put the seat all the way forward for me, then one of my instructors moved it to middle before I used it. I plan on moving it full forward next week.

I can spend the next 4 or 8 weeks looking for the “perfect” boat or I can buy local, use this model and learn now. This kayak that seems to work well in my limited experience. I’ll probably end up buying a new one from him unless one like this or a Mamba comes up used locally.

Next week should be interesting, taking on a little tougher water.

Thanks Again Everyone for the responses. I’m interested in what you have to say,


a seat ?
ditch seat n sit on the hull

YEAH but the one
at Merced comes with 5 gallons of water…