The California Board Company 6’2″ Fish (affiliate link) 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.