What are the Best Fins to Use on a Surfboard?
Back in the old days all surfboard fins were glassed in, meaning they were part of the surfboard and couldn't be removed. When you broke a fin, you broke the surfboard, so in the early 90’s three Australian surfers invented the fin control system (FCS). This allowed the broken fin to be easily replaced with little out of the water time. That's why they had the tabs as the weak point, so you don't break your surfboard.
These days we don't really think about fin systems for not breaking your surfboard, it is more about changing the feel and performance. That's why we see the brand Future Fins, no weak point to break, but they say has more of a feel of glassed in fins.
Below Are a Few Tips on Surfboard Fin Designs
The following basic rules can be used as a guide to selecting a second set of fins to tune your board, or to complete your fin quiver.
- Surfboards with a lot of rocker may require a fin with greater area, more depth or sweep. Alternatively surfboards with a flatter rocker require a more average or smaller size fin.
- Surfboards with a lot of rail (eg guns or long shortboards) require less fin area.
- Surfboards with deep channels in the tail also require less fin area.
- Surfboards with wider tails require more fin area than those with narrower tails.
- A smaller fin, one with less sweep (more upright) or more flex, will loosen a stiff surfboard.
- To give a loose board more drive, a bigger, more swept or stiffer fin selection will work.
- To make a board more forgiving, select a fin with a high amount of flex, for more responsive choose a stiffer fin.
- A particularly strong or powerful surfer should use a bigger and/or stiffer fin with more resistance area.
- If you are feeling a little under-gunned and want a small board to work in bigger waves, use a larger more swept set of fins.
Changing fins can change the way your board feels, and can freshen or improve your surfing.
Don't be afraid to customize fins to meet your needs by experimenting with different side and center fin combinations.
Longboard Fin Placement
In general, moving a fin forward (towards the nose) will make the board looser (easier to turn), moving the fin back will make the board stiffer, giving a more drivier effect.
Below are 4 basic longboard fin types and what they are used for. There are plenty of longboard fin shapes outside of these, but these are the general templates.
This fin is a common well balanced template that makes it great for turns and gives more hold in the tail for noseriding and drive through turns. Probably the most common shape you will come across with a balance of rake and surface area.
The fin above has a wide base and a thinner whippier tip giving more flex and ideal for drawn out turns. The flex tip also makes the board feel a little looser and gives more of a lively feel.
This fin has a more upright shape great for nose riding, ease of turns and good for bigger surfers.
This fin shape is called a cutaway and is perfect for high performance turns and nose riding.