Whitewater and Flatwater

Hello everyone,
I looking for some suggestions for a first time kayak.
I would like to pick up a kayak to run some rivers that can be slow moving at regular intervals but could also handle class III Rapids.

I was looking into the Dagger Katana, Pyranha Fusion II or Liquid Logic Remix. The Katana seemed to be the best based on research, but am wondering about its feasibility on class III Rapids.

Anyone have any other suggestions or thoughts?

Thanks for taking the time to read!

I have seen people using Katana and Fusion on Class III. I have a Fusion and like it a lot. The Remix has a leaky rear hatch, which would worry me. Other options? Jackson is doing a limited run of the Karma Traverse 10. Prijon has the Munga (but I have never personally seen it and do not know if it can do Class III). Another option if you just want to bomb down Class III rapids might be a rock gardening boat like the Dagger Stratos 12.5 or the P&H Virgo.

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Flat water can be done reasonably safely and effectively by a first time person without lessons.

White water, even class II, pretty much requires lessons and pretty early on you will need to learn how to do a roll.

Keep in mind that a kayak that is excellent at one type of water sucks at the other type of water. So you will be getting a kayak that is at best average in both types of water.

The way you get back in after flipping in flat water and white water is usually different. In white water, basically you would swim to shore. In flat water, you need some additional skills and equipment yo get back in and drain the boat without going to shore. Sounds like your flat water might be slow moving waters, ion which case you would be close to shore, so could just swim to shore even in flat water situations. But if you could see yourself going to places where you would be paddling farther from shore than you can swim, you would want to get a boat with bulkheads and enough flotation, along with a pump and probably a paddlefloat.


Thanks for the response!

I have read that the outfitting on the Katana might be slightly better and the skeg is more preferable on the Katana. But I also have concerns regarding the Katana’s rear cover being dislodged. I have read some concerns regarding the Traverse’s skeg line and its potential to wear out/not be as durable.

Do you have any thoughts specifically on the pros and cons of the Katana, Traverse and Fusion? It seems as if I probably can’t go wrong with either. They both seem to handle class III and preform reasonably well on flatwater.

It seems the Katana has slightly more rocker and is a little more robust. Would you say the Katana handles slightly better in rapids and the Fusion slightly better on flatwater? Or basically negligible in difference?

I am around 6’1 and weigh roughly 190 lbs. I was looking around the ~9ft length kayak as many seem to say the 10ft+ feels too big. Would you agree with that?


I used to own a Pyranha Fusion which my daughter now has. I have paddled a Liquid Logic Remix XP10 a few times.

I think either would be quite capable in whitewater. If you were paddling any crossover kayak on Class III whitewater I would recommend putting a float bag in the rear compartment.

Of the Pyranha Fusion or the XP10 the Fusion would be my choice for any flat water paddling. Obviously, it is not going to be as efficient as a longer kayak but the XP10 felt quite sluggish in comparison the times I have paddled it.

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Last point first: I paddle a 10 ft Fusion M at 6’5", 230 lbs. It’s a Mark I, so it has the string skeg. I much prefer string skegs, but that’s personal preference. The advantage of the Medium over the Large to me is less volume, so less water to drain in case of a swim and a more nimble boat. The downside to the Medium is that you’re closer to the top recommended weight. I think you will need a 10 ft boat at your size in all of those choices. I don’t believe any of the three mentioned boats will lose their hatches in Class III. The Fusion hatch cover by far requires the most patience to put back on after opening. However, the rear compartment is bone dry. Outfitting is also a matter of personal preference. I could never get comfortable in the Traverse. That surprised me, because I have five Jackson boats (Monstar, Superfun, Villain, Rogue, Journey) and they are all very comfortable. This may help your decision:

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Hatches do sometimes come off any boat. putting a strap over the hatch is an easy addition which would prevent this. And putting a float bag inside the hatch is another easy safety measure.

I found this blog post where the pictures shows a crossover with added straps to ensure the hatch wouldn’t blow:


FYI you can get a hard hatch cover for the Traverse from the manufacturer if it concerns you. I could see the point for rock gardening or harder ww. But for Class III? I haven’t seen it, but maybe some people do it.

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Thanks for the great information.

Concern for losing the hatch is only from a couple reviews that have said the hatch has blown off after hitting a rock/tree. All have said that they have drilled a latch to keep the rear hatch secure. This is an easy fix, but if it has happened to multiple people it might point to a design flaw. Or maybe this would happen to every crossover kayak; I am unsure because I am just a beginner.

I tried to check out the reviews on your link but am unable to see the individual reviews? Do you need a subscription?

@Peter-CA Ah thanks! I didn’t know if this was a design flaw of the Katana or if it could happen to any kayak. I planned to put float bags in both the front and back; and if buying the Katana: fully securing the rear hatch

I guess it could be a called a design flaw. Basically, it is due to different materials shrinking at different rates. When the hull, which is polyethylene, is made, it is put into a mold and heated to create the shape of the boat. As it cools, it shrinks. Seems this shrinkage varies based on environmental conditions, so each boat is slightly different sized. The rubber-like hatch covers don’t shrink the same, so don’t always fit just right.

The early plastic sea kayaks almost all used a 2 layer hatch cover system - a neoprene form fitting cover and a hard shell strapped on top of it. But most people seem to prefer the rubber hatch covers for ease of installation, even though there is the issue of them possibly coming off. Not really an issue in flat water - only when you get to waves hitting them and such.

Some manufacturers, primarily British ones, use 3 layer plastics for the boats, and this seems to have less of an issue. The Pyranha is a British manufactured boat, but I don’t think it is 3 layer plastic.

In more advanced water, the safe route is to just add straps and/or float bag to ensure the worst doesn’t happen.

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I do recall hearing that many bif larger Tyan average paddlers prefer the Fusion M over L for some reason, but i could be wrong.

You pretty much have to look at each model separetely, comes to length. Just because 10’ may be right size for one model doesn’t make it right for all models.

Given you are entering the sport, I would highly recommend taking a class before buying. The classes should provide all the gear you’d use for the class. And you will learn a lot about boats that will help you on your boat search, along with lots of good info on paddling safely and effectively.

Now Flatwater and whitewater classes are very different. Assuming you only want to do one or the other, you should think about whether you’re paddling would be more white water or flat water, and then go for a class in that area.

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Aw man, that is unfortunate. I am a beginner as well and there’s no way I’m ready to pull the trigger on buying a kayak, even if I’m pretty sure of my future goals. Those goals could change in six months, or even one month.

If I were you I’d do the drive to those other places to receive instruction without needing your own equipment. Seems like it would be worth it in the long run. Even if you have to stay one night in a hotel, that’s a lot cheaper than buying a kayak!

You might mention what area you’re in, and maybe some kind soul might volunteer to loan you the equipment, or maybe point you to local groups that might.

so I own an xp10, have paddled a pyranha fusion, and have plenty of friends who have paddled katanas- I’d say all three of those boats are better at ww than flatwater, my xp10 is particularly slow, but incredibly stable- the fusion and pyranha are better outfitted, I’m really not a fan of the outfitting in my xp10- the back of the seat is unsupportive, I like the rachet system used by pyranha, and give the nod for hip padding and seat pan to dagger.

I paddle mostly a 12r

(the link won’t copy well, just go under products and then kayaks to see the 12r.)

A 12r is my solution for a ww boat and a flatwater boat all rolled up into one boat. It would not be as good for overnights- no hatches so it would be harder to pack and just a guess but I think extra weight would change it more than the xp, but it is a good bit faster (less tiring) on the flats but not “ultra fast” as the ad suggests- in fact the boat is a little on the heavy side to load on the car. It paddles a little bit like a jackson rogue only longer and quicker. Crossover boats do what they advertise. Frequently though, as paddlers progress, they want a higher performance boat for either ww or flatwater and end up getting a boat designed primarily for one function. I used to run my xp10 down the new river gorge and lower gauley. Perhaps a bit more than what it was designed for but all of the crossover boats are capable. Crossovers are going to be more difficult to roll- mostly because the fit is not as good. My 12r rolls pretty good so that’s another reason why I go that route.- Now a days, I’m pretty much a class II-III guy, with some flat water thrown in.

The term “Class III rapids” is thrown around casually by a lot of paddlers.
Most casual kayak paddlers will avoid them.

For example, the Nantahala and Fifebrook (two famous training rivers) each have a serious Class III rapid at the end of the run. And a lot of people walk them.

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I’m going into my third season now w/ my Katana 10.4 & I absolutely LOVE it. Although I can’t speak to as a comparisson w/ the Jackson, I recall when I was researching prior to my purchase, it was amongst the Katana, Traverse, & the Liquid Logic XP10.

In the end Dagger’s reputation for for top flight bomber quality rotomold hulls, & best in class outfitting & ergonomic adjustments won me over.

The Katana— like I’m sure is the case with all of these crossover hulls—seems to more or less plow water @ the bow when paddled hard, w/ pace in flat water. But such is to be expected from an essentially overgrown whitewater hull.

In moving water (class l,ll) w/ the skeg dropped, the Katana tracks straight & true & displays pleasing responsiveness even when loaded w/ enough gear for 3 days & 2 nights overnighting on the river.

Last May was my first time paddling the Katana in WW class lll (St. Francis River, Missouri). Full disclosure, this was also MY first time paddling WW(!!). That said, I had an absolute BLAST.
Although my Katana 10.4 was DEF the “big bus” on the river that day, I was hitting all of the instructed lines, catching eddies, performing attainments, ferrying, & the like … so far as surfing goes well, it’s hull is def more of the displacement type than the planing sort. But let’s be honest, these crossover type yaks, aren’t really the type of boat you’d paddle if that is your sort of thing

bri guy it’s so great you are getting out there and having fun, the St. Francis is still a river I would like to paddle but have yet to do it. Any boat that gets you out safely and you can have fun in, is a good boat! Don’t worry about the hippest newest model, wear that Katana out!


THX for the good words!

… that said, believe you me, after that first spring clinic last May w/ the Missouri Whitewater Association, I. Was. HOOKED!!!

I DEF went down the rabbit hole jones’n for a WW specific hull. Every since then, I’ve been DROOLING over the new Dagger Code or the Pyranha Scorch, or a Dagger Rewind or Pyranha 9r … :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

Yup - once that bug takes hold it can be tough to get rid of. Good news is once you have the gear it lasts for a long time. Bad news is eventually you will need a play boat, a surf boat, a creek boat, and of course a flatwater boat for those times that the rivers aren’t flowing. Buy used - its cheaper :wink: