Newbie - question about rudder and Perception Rhythm 11

I am a relative newbie who has fallen in love with kayaking after a summer using an inflatable. I am hoping I can rely on your collective expertise for some advice.

I live in central Ohio, so I probably will never be a hardcore paddler - the options here are limited to creeks, small rivers, and small lakes (although I would like to be able to paddle on Lake Erie someday). So I have decided for my first (non-inflatable) kayak, I don’t want to spend more than $800 or so. I would like a well-rounded kayak that is just as at home in a 2’ creek as it is (very close to shore!) on Lake Erie. I am looking at crossover rec/touring types, like the Dagger Axis 12 and the Perception Expression 11.5. I think if I want to have Lake Erie as an option I will need a skeg.

However I also have a lead on a used Perception Rhythm 11 - no skeg, but I was thinking I could purchase a rudder kit to help with tracking. Now I know as a new paddler, I am at risk of developing bad habits if I have a rudder, but I would plan to be disciplined and use it only as a skeg for now.

So two questions - 1) does this sound like a decent setup for my goals, and 2) can the Perception Rhythm accept the Perception rudder kit?

Thanks for any answers.

Have you read the reviews here? Sounds like a good beginner boat . I don’t think you need a rudder unless you are paddling in heavy currents or wind and that isn’t the boat for those conditions. You should be able to control that size boat with your paddle.
Don’t think I’d take it on Erie unless you are sure there will be no sudden weather changes. One good wave can fill it.

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I agree with String. Short kayaks shouldn’t need rudders - and if you’re in conditions that warrant one, the kayak is probably not meant to be out there anyway! I’d spend the money saved on the rudder kit on a good intro kayaking class.

As far as which kayak to choose - all should be great for how you intend to use. Most important deciding factor now should be how comfortable it is - do not underestimate how important this is! Even if you can’t demo paddle the kayak you can certainly sit in it - for a decent length of time - and make sure that nothing is poking you, your feet aren’t asleep, back starting to hurt etc.

Last piece of advice - when looking at a used kayak, inspect it carefully. Check the stern on the bottom for evidence of dragging. I have seen more than one kayak where the plastic in the stern was paper thin. This can be repaired but I’d rather not start out by needing a repair!


Thanks guys - appreciate the responses! I have been exclusively looking at kayaks with a skeg, because i am worried about tracking. Is that not a concern I should have with the type of water I’m doing? I got caught one this summer in a flash rain/windstorm (not in the forecast!) while out on a reservoir and was being twisted and turned all over the place.

Other than comfort, my main determining factor is my “beginner kayaking buddy” just bought a Perception Expression 11.5 and I want to be able to keep up with him (and go on any water he can go on, so I don’t have to sit out a trip)

Get a faster boat!
I kayak with a “student” of mine. She uses my kayak, pfd, and paddle but is 15 years younger and in good shape , as are many of the paddlers I know.
I just bought a much lighter boat made for speed so I can continue to enjoy group paddles.

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Skeg = ok, but not required. Rudder = no way on a shorty creek kayak. As another wrote, find and budget for some paddling lessons. It will be the best $$$ you spend regarding paddling.

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As noted, definitely look into lessons. Here is an excellent weekend option this coming summer:

Most recreational kayaks are designed to track well without the skeg. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general a rec boat is meant to be easy to paddle and forgiving. In a short kayak, any tendency to weathercock can usually be overcome with a bit of edging and a sweep stroke. (Hence the need for a good class or two!)


If it is a decent price (I would think under $400, based on online prices I saw), I would go ahead and buy it and use it. Then if you find it doesn’t work, I would sell it and buy the next kayak in your journey.

I don’t know if it has the basics in place to accept a rudder which would allow it to be a somewhat bolt in process, but even if it is, I probably wouldn’t install one. The purchase price on a rudder kit would likely be close to what you will pay for the boat.


I too think you can do fine in a small kayak without a rudder or skeg. The specs for the Rhythm 11 list the cockpit length at 38 inches, which is big but not huge like many small kayaks. You could make a spray skirt work with that to give extra safety for Lake Erie or other lakes with big motorboats. Speaking of lakes, I paddle Ohio too, but I’m based up closer to Canton. Some bigger lakes that I paddle and might be closer than Lake Erie for you are Piedmont, Clendening, Leesville and Charles Mill. Each is big enough to keep you occupied for a full day (or more) and they have 10 horsepower limits so you don’t have the hazard of fast motorboats and big wakes. Hoover is also low horsepower and probably closer to you, but I haven’t paddled there.

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Thanks everyone! Wolf, I have done Hoover probably 5 times and enjoy it a lot - lots of little “coves” to explore. I have also done the Scioto River, and Blackhand Gorge which was great. Thanks for telling me what is available up your way. The only reason I got caught up in this Lake Erie thing is because my kayaking buddy vacations up there and wants to do it…he promises he knows that section of Lake Erie well and it’s safe, but maybe I should put that trip off till later. I plan on taking some lessons on Hoover when time allows - there is apparently a good program offered there.