After reading several discussion on the subject I thought I might add my comments.
So I took my daughter, her husband and her kids to Rocheles. A son 10, a son 8 and twin daughters 6. These kids are about normal size for their age. We rented 2 Two seaters (Old Town Heron) and 2 single seaters (Old Town Otter). Put the 2 adult men in the two seaters with the little girls in the front. Put the boys 10 and 8 in solo 9' rental kayaks. And my daughter was paddling my kayak HYBRID with an ONO paddle. HYBRID is pirogue like, constructed of balsa and Kevlar 14' by 28". Weighs around 40 lbs and draws very little water. I also took 2 of my good paddles for us adult men to use. The paddles that Rochelles provides are quite frankly of very poor quality, typical rental, heavy short and ineffective.
Rochelles put us up at "the point" above the bridge. Flow was 300 CFS. We managed to get up stream about a mile. The 10 year old did fairly well, did not require any help all day, but the 8 year struggled. We ended up towing him part way. (I noticed that his kayak dog tracked even when towed.) However the 8 year old paddled all the way downstream by himself. The 8 year old struggled to keep the craft going straight pretty much the whole trip. I have paddled this same model kayak and it tracked OK for me but the 8 year old is to light to get effective keel.
When we got back to Rochelles we let both of the boys try the kayak HYBRID with the 230 CM 23 oz ONO paddle. The 10 year old paddled some distance up into that white water coming out from the bridge before he was forced to turn around. He had no trouble getting the kayak turned and back to the landing. Then we put the 8 year old in the kayak HYBRID (this is the boy that had struggled earlier). He struggled a bit, at first, but he got HYBRID going upstream some distance, not quite as far as his older brother, turned it around and brought it back to the landing in good order. For both boys HYBRID was their best kayak experience of the day.
So lessons learned:
Kids as young as 8 can handle a kayak at least a limited distance in good conditions.
Kayaks of poor quality are going to be frustrating. They don't track well and they are hard to control.
Kids can handle longer kayaks than you might think. You might not think an 8 year old could handle a 14 foot kayak but he did. It was his best kayak experience of the day.
A good paddle might be even more important for a kid than for an adult. Both boys handled the ONO paddle far better than the rental paddles they had spent the day with.
Seems to me that an SOT would be a far better choice than a SINK as far as paddle reach is concerned.
300 CFS on the Brazos is just fine for going up or downstream.
Edited by RealBigReel (08/31/16 01:19 PM)
My kayak STRIPER2. I don't go too fast but I go pretty far.