Advanced Whitewater Kayaking River Feature Terminology

Know How to Identify Different Whitewater River Features

A Kayak Flips Over on Lower Coliseum on the Cheat River Canyon
A Kayak Flips Over on Lower Coliseum on the Cheat River Canyon. Photo © by George E. Sayour

A whitewater paddler’s knowledge of whitewater kayaking river features obviously should not stop at the basic whitewater river features terms. Within every features there are varying degrees and nuances that distinguish between even features of the same type. This is a list of those more advanced terms that are used to describe whitewater kayaking river features.

Whitewater Ripples or Riffles

Boogie Water

Eddy Line


Horizon Line

Rooster tail






Undercut or Pinning Rock


A strainer in whitewater refers to an obstruction in the water, usually a collection of debris or tree branches, where the river is constricted while flowing through it. Strainers strain the river from things that are floating or submerged in it, including swimmers. Stay away from strainers.