Start Here: Before picking your fin, ask yourself, how do I want to be surfing?
Nailing down your surfing goals is the first step in choosing the right fin, which will ultimately help you be most successful in the type of surfing that YOU want to do. For example, if your goal is to noseride, you’ll generally want a more upright fin, like a Pivot fin.
How do I choose the right type of fin?
The answer to this question again depends on your answer to the first question listed above! Here are the three most common types of longboard fins, and a bit about the types of surfing they support.
Pivot Fin: This fin is ideal for those looking to practice cross stepping or hankering for some more toes on the nose time. With a sizeable base and plenty of length, pivot fins also allow for more responsive turns.
D Fin: The D-fin is an older fin style ideal for those looking for an old-school feel or riding bigger boards. If you are surfing long point breaks like Malibu and want total control, this could be the fin for you. The large surface area of this fin helps with drive down the line to practice a noseride, but also makes it more difficult to turn.
Flex Fin: The flex fin, created by George Greenough in the 1960’s and inspired by a tuna fish fin, is great for performance logs, bigger turns in the pocket, and for those who are interested in pushing their limits in bigger waves. Flex fins typically have more “rake,” which refers to how far the front edge of the fin arcs backwards. More rake is designed for more drawn out turns. These fins are also great for midlengths!
How do I choose the right sized fin?
As a general rule of thumb, you can take the length of your longboard and use that to size your fin. For example, if you have a 9’6″ log, try starting with a 9.5″ to 10″ fin.
PRO tip: Depending on your size and the board’s, you can play around with trying a slightly bigger/smaller fin (try starting with 0.5″ differences). A smaller person usually can more easily turn a smaller fin.
Where do I place my fin in the fin box: further forward, centered, or back?
There’s no hard and fast answer to this question. Our general recommendation is to learn by doing, play around with it, change the placement for a session or two and see how it feels. Fin placement within the fin box can alter the sensation you’ll feel when riding a wave.
When placing the fin further back, the board has a very stiff feel. It will give you lots of hold in big waves but make it harder to turn. This also creates more balance for noseriding.
When placing the fin further forward, what you gain in maneuverability you lose in stability. This placement moves the pivot point forward, making the board turn more easily but with a very loose feel.
Remember there is no one-size fits all when it comes to fins! Try different setups in varying conditions to find out what works best for YOU.