Need Creeker Boat Recommendations

-- Last Updated: Dec-16-06 7:15 PM EST --

I am in the market for a creeker kayak. I am 5 feet 9 inches and 168 lbs of pure muscle and flab.

Sing asked a question about creekers in 2003 (see, I did my Archive homework):

In central Illinois, there are many low class rivers to run with a kayak :-) Nothing like waterfalls or anything--maybe a couple low head dams if I inadvertently miss a "Stop" sign on the riverbank. Width varying from 6 feet across to 25 yards across.

I want the boat to have two features: (1) tracks fairly well, so that I can paddle open water to and from the creeks (I think this eliminates planer bottom, white water rodeo boats) and (2) be as light as possible for the many logjams and portages. Hell, sometime easier to just stand up in the shallows and chuck the thing across the logjam to the other side. Anyhow, plenty of stumps and logjams here.

Thoughts please. Anyone own a creeker that they particularly like? Thanks in advance, as always.

You need a Pungo

– Last Updated: Dec-16-06 7:38 PM EST –

In ww lingo, creeking is knarly steep decents, drops and other death-defying stuff.

For what you describe, a Pungo really is probably fine. Of course, if you don't want to be looked down-upon, get a cool old-school ww boat. Preception Dancer, Prijon Invader or other from the same vintage.

If you want a new boat, look at the Pyranha Master TG, it has a skeg even, or the Acro or G:3.

There is one new boat that comes to mind that is a sort of do everything go with the flow Kayak for pool and drop type rivers of the central Illinois floodplain. It’s not fast and it’s not pretty but you could really relax and have an enjoyable safe (wide) ride. It is built somewhat like an old school whitewater boat (plenty of rocker) wrapped in rec boat sheep’s clothing. It’s called the Approach It has a full bulkhead lengthwise up front to prevent the front deck from collapse in a pin situation. it also has a rear hatch for some minimal storage for a day trip. Best part is, it also has a skeg for those long boring pools that will help it track on those windy days when the wind is (always) in your face. It’s a nice all around boat for people who just want one boat in the garage.

There is nothing out there that even comes close to a grab and go kayak right now. It would handle class III easy…check it out.

Your Prijon Calabria would probably
work fine for most of what we paddle around here. Chuck_IL’s friend Sarah paddles her Calabria on Stoney Creek and it’s about as twisty and narrow as our streams get and also uses it on the Middle Fork and Salt Fork and others.

As for the weight when it comes to portaging, the Calabria is tough enough that you could just drag it around the log jams. My Wildfire got dragged several hundred yards around log jams last summer.

A more whitewater or river runner type boat may be better for more technical runs like the Big Pine in IN. My Old Town Castine got me through it, but the Castine is a little too hard tracking to be ideal for that river.

It will be great to have you join us of some of our river excursions. Twisty river paddling really is a different animal than paddling the big lakes. I think you’ll like it.

You might give the Calabria a try on the Saline, Salt Fork, Middle Fork or other local river just to see if you already have a boat that will do what you want to do.

On the other hand, of course you need a new boat for twisty rivers and creeks. If you get one that you really like, I’d like to try it. I still don’t have a boat that I’m thrilled with for twisty river trips.

Have fun searching.

What do you mean “low class” rivers
in IL?

You said “In central Illinois, there are many low class rivers”

That’s just really degrading LOL!

That Dagger Approach does look like
it would be adequate for much of the small river paddling that we do around here. I had a lot of fun running the local rivers in my Perception Keowee I, but it definately was slower than most of the other boats in the groups I paddled with and that could take it’s toll on those 12 mile and longer trips.

Having a skeg for traversing the pools could be quite handy in a boat with that much rocker. I didn’t see the skeg mentioned in the boat description, did I miss it?

Anyone tried one of these?

I’ve had a Dagger Approach since spring. Nice old-school style yak and great for “nutritional over-achievers”. I use it for fishing some of the class II-II+ runs here in southern Ohio, creeks like the Elkhorn in KY and the Greenbrier/New in WV.

For streams like you describe - hopping in and out of the yak for portaging around log jams, low-head dams, etc I’ve been using a Perception Sierra (also known as the America 11). It works fairly well because of the large cockpit, but I’ve borrowed a fishing buddy’s Liquid Logic Manta Ray 12 sit-on-top and recently got to try a Manta Ray 10 from my local dealer and clearly both are much easier to negotiate the terrain you decribe. There are a lot of SOTs to choose from. You may want to look into one as an option. Good luck on your quest.

Except for the tracking,
any el cheapo plastic rec kayak works good.

The smaller it is the less it will weigh.

We use our nine foot plastic Keowees for the Nantahala, and all the I-II rivers around here.

I think they are 39 pounds

As far as tracking, I’ll paddle it in the open ocean for miles on end.

As far as I am concerned tracking is up to the paddler.



Not The Same Types Of “Creeks…”

– Last Updated: Dec-17-06 6:12 AM EST –

I think the sundance will work for ya. ;)

I already decided and bought the boat. It's the Booster 50 for upper class runs but not true "creeks" as understood by the hairboaters here.

I've decided that I am getting my noggin pounded enough without getting into creekin'. Perhaps in the future, or never... Think I want my waveski gun first.

Happy huntin'! Remember, "pitoning" is not a skill you want to learn, unless you're rockclimbing. :)


it’s there (the skeg)

a Tracking creeker?

– Last Updated: Dec-17-06 7:08 AM EST –

Using the skeg as a brake?

Central IL "Creeks…"
are different from ours and require a different hull design.


thanks Sing
I know the NPMB boys seem to wait in the woods for our version to come-up to snuff.

Thanks for that link N.T.
That’s a fuller description. Nice color selection too.

Many river miles in my Kowee I also.
But I always had to work harder than the paddlers in the longer boats on those 12 to 15 mile day trips. It is a hoot on the twisty streams and can get into about any nook or cranny. The front edge of the coaming on mine got crushed when the business end of a 4" branch slid over the bow and got stopped by the coaming before crusing my ribs. I havn’t repaired the coaming yet.

The Keowee seat sucks and needs some mods.

I think that many people use the Keowee’s successor, the Swifty for this purpose also. It’s also slow.

Since you did mention kayaks may I suggest a small, light and versatile canoe? Think about the conditions we encounter on central Illinois streams. Lot of low water on occasion. Much easier hopping out of an open boat in shallow riffles or when you get stuck on a rock or log (if not too deep). Or shifting your weight forwards or backwards if you stay in your boat. Easier entering or exiting on muddy or steep banks. Much easier handling a single stick when you get in really tight spots between logs, up against banks, etc. Plus, being on your knees is a great advantage in leverage while maneuvering or pushing off something. Also, you have a little more height to see what is up ahead.

Compared with canoes, I have seen many more people in kayaks get into trouble in these type of situations. Granted most were in boats that were unsuited to the conditions.

If you want to paddle stuff like the Middlefork of the Vermillion, you would not have much trouble in just about any kayak. But, if you want to mess around and get into the upper watersheds of many of Central Illinois streams then you will be encountering more twisty, overhanging tree trunks and branches, submerged deadfall plus logjam situations that would be a pain in a kayak.

And think too about the weather – it does suck in central Illinois much of the year. Hot, humid, cold, blowing, etc.

So, if you want to consider an open boat, I would second the Bell Yellowstone. I also paddle a Wenonah Sandpiper that is smaller and lighter. I’d probably pick this one over the Yellowstone for the really small stuff. The new Wenonah Argosy might also fit the versatile category. All these boats have fairly shallow draft which will allow floating over spots that shorter kayaks may hang on.

Some of the new kayak/canoe sit on top hybrids might be something to consider.

Also, Prijon makes a nice hybrid kayak that might be better than the Dagger cited earlier. Can’t think of the name. Look it up, you’ll know it when you see it. Plus, my consultation fees are jamming the meter right now.

Have fun.

Prijon Combi 359 Tour
The Prijon model I referred to above is the Combi 359 Tour. I saw one of these paddled on Big Creek in MO last spring. The owner had no problem maneuvering through the two rock gardens. If I wanted a kayak for the local stuff plus some milder WW, I would be attracted to this boat. It does also come in a WW version.

Dagger Zydeco
Would fit your needs.

Light, at 34 to 38 lbs (depending on the year), tracks well, easy to handle, pleasure to paddle.

Good suggestion. The Combi would be perfect for what he describes.

I have a CombiTour that does indeed work well in the circumstances described. I have had it in up to class II+,III- and it performed well. Although I usually end up swimming with it in the more difficlt classes, I think it’s more indicative of my shortcomings than the boat. The hard chines do tend to catch waves and get put over if you are not quick and proficient with your bracing skills.