All you need to know about surf fins

Surf fins are an essential element to define the behavior of your surfboard. In a previous post we gave you the basic guide about how many fins to use. So today, we will give you the guide on how to choose adequate surf fins for your surfboard.

Why use surf fins?

Surfing a surfboard without fins is complicated. Imagine trying to do a cutback without the grip in the tail of the board, it would be complicated. The first Polynesian surfboards didn´t have fins. Although these first surfers didn´t worry about tricks or complicated maneuvers.

How many surf fin types are there?

Today we have a great variety of surf fin models. Fins for longboard, single fins, twin fin, quad fins, FCS fins, futures fins, and a long etc. These have evolved and today there are so many fins that there are doubts on which to choose. This fact makes it harder for beginners to choose from this big catalogue.

Next we´ll try to explain the different variables that influence the behavior of our surfboard. If after reading this you still have doubts, try out our surf fin recommender. A recommender that we created to make your life easier.

Main characteristics of a surf fin

There are three principal characteristics of a surf fin to check when choosing for your board:

  1. The template of the fin is defined by the inclination, length and width of the base. Three basic sizes that the manufacturer will give us.Forma o Template de una quilla de surf
  2. Foil. The foil is just the shape of the internal face of the lateral.Foil of surf fins
  3. The flex of the fin depends fundamentally on two factors. Its shape and the material used.Flex of surf fins

What do I have to check before I buy my surf fins?

Here we´ll give you three things you need to check; the drive, the pivot and the hold.

  1. Drive. It’s the capacity the fin has to give acceleration and the capacity to maintain the speed while making a turn. The drive of the surf fins depend on these three aspects:
    • Width of the fin base
    • The surface area of the fin
    • The material used to make it

Generally speaking, the more base and more surface area, the more drive it will generate and the more capacity for acceleration when making a turn.

Surf fins drive

  1. The pivot is the capacity for the surf fins to making closed turns. This pivot of the fin is determined by the angle (sweep or rake) it has. When the angle the fin has, the higher the pivot.
    • Less pivot for small waves to make short turns.
    • Lots of pivot for fast waves and large walls. This type of fins let you make a wider bottom turnSurf fins pivot
  2. Hold. The hold would be how much the fin grips the wave, so the more hold would give you stability and less would let you move the tail with more ease.Surf fins hold

Which are the best surf fins for me?

Once we´ve seen the theory, we go towards the practical use. How do I choose surf fins?

Well, you have to ask yourself 4 easy questions:

  1. How much do you weigh?
  2. Which type of surfboard do you have?
  3. What type of waves are you going to surf?
  4. What´s your surf level?

How much do you weigh?

To choose correctly you surf fins, it´s important to know your weight. Just as your wetsuit, surf fins are classified by sizes. The brands will assign a weight range to each one of the sizes.

Which type of surfboard do you have?

Since these are a board accessory, the ideal thing to do is to get your surfboard first and then choose your surf fins. This is because there are different mounting systems and different fin configurations you should take into account.

  1. FCS fin system: it’s the most popular system. Most of the boards that are sold in the Spain use this system.
  2. Futures fin system: the most popular system in the US, it’s the second most used system in our country.
  3. FCS II fin system: it’s the latest one to appear in the market and there are more users every day. This is because you can mount and unmounts it without the need of using any tool.

You can learn about the different fin configurations here.

What type of waves are you going to surf?

Another important question is what kind of use are you going to give your surfboard? You should ask yourself, what kind of waves am I going to surf? Crumbly waves, fast waves with walls, beach breaks, Mediterranean waves, fast tubes like in Indonesia…

  • Small waves, like the waves we had this summer or in the Mediterranean, it´s better to choose fins with not much of an angle (sweep or rake). With these types of fins you will get more stability and maneuverability with your surfboard and you´ll be able to make closed turns easily.
  • Vertical and fast waves, the higher the inclination angle the better. With these types of fins you´ll be able to go faster and make wider turns.Funboard Mediterranean

What´s your surf level?

If you´ve just started, don’t complicate your life. It´s very probable that you won´t notice much difference between the different fins. If you already have an intermediate level, and you want to try new sensations with the same board, we encourage you to try different materials. The carbon fiber fins are more rigid than the plastic ones, making them more stable.


We hope that this has helped you as much as possible. If you have any doubts about which model is best suited for you and your objectives send us an email and we will help you. Visit our surf outlet to find cheap fins for your surfboard.

If you liked this article please visit our tag #surfbase where we will show you the different articles so that you can expand your surf knowledge. You can also subscribe to our newsletter.

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