The California Board Company 6’2″ Fish was the second shortboard in my quiver, and a common first-timer board for river surfers. It’s short enough that it fits on quite a few river waves without catching the incoming green water, and it has enough volume that popping up to your feet doesn’t feel quite so impossible for a newbie. And did I mention that it’s cheap? Because it’s about as cheap as you’re going to find for something suitable for river surfing at $75 (though occasionally you’ll see it listed for $100).
It’s no handcrafted river board, but since it’s a foamie you can smash it into rocks and into river bottoms without worrying about doing ding repair every evening, and that’s a boon, particularly when you’re starting out.
It doesn’t boast true fin boxes, but it does have a screw-in thruster setup that you can run as a thruster, twin, or single-fin, depending on how you want it to feel underfoot. It has enough rocker that it’ll still fit onto some steeper waves, but if you have too much of a trough you’ll want to start looking for something even shorter, with even more rocker. Overall though, it’s a significant performance upgrade from a SUP or something like the Taquito, and a nice (cheap!) way to expand the quiver.
4/16/18 Update: It looks like the original fish may be out of production. CBC’s Replacement is about twice as expensive, and early reports suggest it isn’t twice as durable. It also weighs in at around 6′. There is also a 5’8″ Version for about the same money.