How to choose fins for surfboards? – Ultimate Surf & Skate
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How to choose fins for surfboards? How to choose fins for surfboards?

Posted on by Ultimate SurfnSkate Crew


Firstly, is fin choice actually that important to surfing?
There are different theories to the importance of fins on a surfboard, however, it is universally agreed that fins are substantially important when it comes to surfing, and it can account for up to 40% of the board performance.

At the beginning stage of learning how to surf, the goal is simply to get up and surf, it doesn’t matter that much to you, many beginner surfboard packages which we sell come with fins, and these will do the job for this period.  

Once you start learning how to catch open waves (aka. green waves) and get some turns in, it is time to look into changing your fins to make the most out of your boards!

Thruster, Quad, Single Fins?
Thruster Fins, Quad Fins and Single Fin setup are three of the most popular fin configurations.

Thruster fin setup is currently the most popular amongst all, thruster fins are great for a balanced ride, and it offers great control to help you push through turns without the fins releasing from the turn too early.  However, it isn’t as fast as a quad setup as there will be drag created by the additional center fin.

Quad fin setup has four fins including 2 large fins at the front, and 2 small fins (Quad rears) at the back.  Without the fin in the middle compared to thrusters, quads have slightly less directional control and pivot, but they are incredibly fast down the line.  Quads are typically used with the purpose of generating more speed, either in small waves to pump with speed and get around quick closing sections easily, or in large/hollow waves so you can generate more speed in barrels also with strong hold without having to work too hard.

Single fin or two plus one (single fin in the middle with 2 small stabilisers on the sides) setups are normally found on longer boards.  This type of fin setup will create low drag as there is predominantly only one fin, and it provides decent straight line control making it a reliable fin to learn with.

Difference in Shape?
There are many factors in fin shapes that can affect your choices, and it can get overly complicated and entirely subjective to the rider.  However, there are three main factors to begin with that are fin size, fin lex and fin rakes.

For fin sizes, larger sized fins are going to hold better giving what could be described as a tighter feeling through turns, and smaller fins will offer a loose response as you basically have less fin to push against in the water. Until you have a sound knowledge of fins, it is the best to opt for fins that fall in your weight range.  

Below is a fin size to bodyweight ratio chart referenced from FCS website, it is a good example to refer to when you are a bit lost in a variety of fin choices.


Fin flex is how much the fin effectively flexes or bends under pressure. Stiff fins don’t normally allow quick turns but will be more predictable than the flexy one, vice versa, the more fin flex there is, the more ‘loose’ feeling you will get throughout turns.

Fin rake is more or less how far the fin tilts backwards, a more pronounced rake is more conducive to large and drawn out turns, whereas a less raked  or more upright fin is better for rapid turns and quick pivots. (see below graphic)

FCS2, FCS and Futures?

FCS2, FCS and futures are the three main fin systems in the current market, please make sure you know the fin system on your surfboard when choosing fins, a wrong fin system wouldn’t fit the fin boxes on your surfboard.  (Only exception is that you can put fcs fins into fcs2 fin boxes with proper adaptors and screws).


Once again, fin choices can become very complicated and subjective with different performance features and surfing styles, it is always good to talk to our team to make sure you are choosing the right ones. Contact us


Firstly, is fin choice actually that important to surfing?
There are different theories to the importance of fins on a surfboard, however, it is universally agreed that fins are substantially important when it comes to surfing, and it can account for up to 40% of the board performance.

At the beginning stage of learning how to surf, the goal is simply to get up and surf, it doesn’t matter that much to you, many beginner surfboard packages which we sell come with fins, and these will do the job for this period.  

Once you start learning how to catch open waves (aka. green waves) and get some turns in, it is time to look into changing your fins to make the most out of your boards!

Thruster, Quad, Single Fins?
Thruster Fins, Quad Fins and Single Fin setup are three of the most popular fin configurations.

Thruster fin setup is currently the most popular amongst all, thruster fins are great for a balanced ride, and it offers great control to help you push through turns without the fins releasing from the turn too early.  However, it isn’t as fast as a quad setup as there will be drag created by the additional center fin.

Quad fin setup has four fins including 2 large fins at the front, and 2 small fins (Quad rears) at the back.  Without the fin in the middle compared to thrusters, quads have slightly less directional control and pivot, but they are incredibly fast down the line.  Quads are typically used with the purpose of generating more speed, either in small waves to pump with speed and get around quick closing sections easily, or in large/hollow waves so you can generate more speed in barrels also with strong hold without having to work too hard.

Single fin or two plus one (single fin in the middle with 2 small stabilisers on the sides) setups are normally found on longer boards.  This type of fin setup will create low drag as there is predominantly only one fin, and it provides decent straight line control making it a reliable fin to learn with.

Difference in Shape?
There are many factors in fin shapes that can affect your choices, and it can get overly complicated and entirely subjective to the rider.  However, there are three main factors to begin with that are fin size, fin lex and fin rakes.

For fin sizes, larger sized fins are going to hold better giving what could be described as a tighter feeling through turns, and smaller fins will offer a loose response as you basically have less fin to push against in the water. Until you have a sound knowledge of fins, it is the best to opt for fins that fall in your weight range.  

Below is a fin size to bodyweight ratio chart referenced from FCS website, it is a good example to refer to when you are a bit lost in a variety of fin choices.


Fin flex is how much the fin effectively flexes or bends under pressure. Stiff fins don’t normally allow quick turns but will be more predictable than the flexy one, vice versa, the more fin flex there is, the more ‘loose’ feeling you will get throughout turns.

Fin rake is more or less how far the fin tilts backwards, a more pronounced rake is more conducive to large and drawn out turns, whereas a less raked  or more upright fin is better for rapid turns and quick pivots. (see below graphic)

FCS2, FCS and Futures?

FCS2, FCS and futures are the three main fin systems in the current market, please make sure you know the fin system on your surfboard when choosing fins, a wrong fin system wouldn’t fit the fin boxes on your surfboard.  (Only exception is that you can put fcs fins into fcs2 fin boxes with proper adaptors and screws).


Once again, fin choices can become very complicated and subjective with different performance features and surfing styles, it is always good to talk to our team to make sure you are choosing the right ones. Contact us

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