Wildwater Designs

Creators of Innovative Inflatable Watercraft



 A bug paddler normally sits in the bug in an upright position (for better balance), and only lies back on the seat back when paddling hard, or when  relaxing.

Bugs are faster when paddled backwards, with the occupant using a backstroke style action, paddling alternately with each hand, and kicking with the feet.

In shallow water only the hands are used to propel and turn the bug, and the legs and feet are keep relaxed floating on the surface.  It is helpful to wear neoprene booties (as well as fins) to protect the feet and give them extra floatation.    Do not lock the knees straight to lift the feet clear of rocks, but bend the knees instead.

In deep water the feet, as well as the hands, can be used to propel the bug.   Kicking styles are the normal swim-kick, or a circular treadling action, which takes a while to develop, but is the most efficient.

The most basic method of turning is paddling in opposite directions with your hands on each side of the bug.   Another method is only using one hand in a wide sweep, from near the foot of the bug, towards the head.   Experienced bug paddlers can turn using only the feet, and can also use the pirouette to turn.

 Wearing short surf type fins, and webbed gloves greatly increases one’s speed and control and are essential equipment when running rapids.



 Ideal rivers for Bugging are ones that have a current that will transport you along, and you only have to propel the riverbug  to stay in the main current, avoid obstacles, and to play.

 Navigating a rapid is normally done facing downstream and propelling the bug against the current at an angle of 30 to 90 degrees, to move to the left or the right in the rapid.   Big waves or shoots are run straight on.

Look well downstream so you have plenty of time to get across to the part of the rapid you want to be in.   If it is a difficult rapid it is a good idea to inspect it first from the bank, so you don’t get any nasty surprises.   If you don’t think you can run it safely don’t be afraid to walk round it – we do it all the time.


When Bugging on fast flowing rivers, it is an important skill to be able to stop your descent, by getting into (catch) any areas of still water that exist at the side of the river, or behind large boulders.   These areas of water that are not flowing downstream, are called eddies.   Being able to catch eddies means you can descend the river in a more controlled way.   The boundary between the fast flowing water and the eddy is called an eddy line.   It is good to practise catching eddies, and eddy lines are a great place to play in a riverbug.    It is best to catch an eddy at its upstream end and if crossing the eddy line at right angles, lean upstream when entering the eddy and downstream when leaving it.


Bugs are like little bumper boats, and rocks can be pushed off with the feet or hands.   If you get swept onto a rock sideways lean downstream towards the rock ( hug it if necessary), and you should get swept off around the side.


If you are bugging rivers without experienced help, start with grade one and two rivers and only attempt harder rivers when you have developed your bugging and river skills to the point you are running rapids in full control.

Use local kayaking and rafting guide books to learn the difficulty of rivers and their general comments will also apply to bugging.


Unless you are on a flat water float trip, full safety kit should be worn, including buoyancy aid, helmet and wetsuit(if the water or air is cold).