Surfboard Fin Types - a Comprehensive Guide


Surfboard Fin Types - a Comprehensive Guide


Surfboard Fin Types - a Comprehensive Guide

There are so many surfboard fin options available to surfers these days, it's really important to talk to the experts when deciding on what fin design is right for your surfboard.

The team at Freeride Surf Skate stock a wide range of Shapers Fins covering 3-Fin, 4-Fin (Quad), Twin Fin, 6-Fin (Combination of 3-Fin + Quad Rears + Stabiliser) and Longboard fin options.

Shapers fins are available in three different bases - Dual Tab (Two small tabs using Screw-In System), Shapers 2 Base (Click In System with one rear grub screw) and Single Dingle Tab (One solid single base with single grub screw.

Let’s begin by stating the obvious, "not all surfboard fins are the same". Your body weight, different size waves you will be surfing and different shaped boards require the use of various fin templates (Shapes).

Firstly, choosing the right fin begins with figuring out what size fin will best suit your body weight.  Below is a guide to help you with this:

Fin Size             (KGs)

Xtra Small        Up to 50    


Small               50-60


Medium           60-75


Medium Large 75-85


Large                85-100


Xtra Large         100-110


XXL                    110-Upwards


So choosing the right size fin is your first decision. This above chart will identify this.




Next you will need to identify what fin box (base) your surfboard has been fitted with.


It will be either FCSII, FCSI or Futures.


FCSII is a modern dual tab click in system. The fin will clip into the box and require no grub screws.


FCSI is the older dual tab system requiring the fins being held in the fin box with grub screws.


Futures is a single tab box system. The fin has one large base that drops into the box and takes one single grub screw keep the fin solidly in place.




Now let's look at the technical stuff.


You know your weight and what size fin will be right for you.


Now let’s look at the underside of your surfboard and determine how many fin boxes it has and how you want use the setup.


If your board is a short board (5'0 - 7'0) it will be fitted with a 3-Fin (Thruster) 4-Fin (Quad) or 5-Fin (Can be ridden as 3-Fn or 4-Fin) box system.


And finally your board could be an Mid Length (7ft-8ft) or Longboard (8'0 -'10'0) in which case it will set up with single box and potentially two small side boxes called Side Bites


Single Fin

Single fins are typically found in longboard configurations and older traditional surfboards. The single fin setup is ideal for surfers that want a more relaxed surfing experience, turning is limited, meaning it's ideal for fast, straight shot surfing offering control, stability, and predictability on your board. Most single fin boxes allow you to make adjustments to fin positioning allowing forward and backward movements for different experiences.


Twin Fins

Also known as dual fins will make your surfboard not only more playful and fun but manoeuvrable. Twin fin configurations, however, are not ideal for large wave riding and typically found on shortboards to enhance the riders speed. Dual fins also offer a longer more drawn out turn and skateboard-like feel.


Thruster / 3-Fin

These are by far the most commonly and widely used configuration and can be found on all boards shapes and sizes. The who outer fins are closer to the middle of the board, these are angled towards the boards centre or "Toed-in" and can be flat on the inside in order to increase water tracking and speed. The inner cantered fin is asymmetric fin which means its the same on both sides. Thrusters perform extremely well as they add control, , and stability whether you're a seasoned professional or a complete amateur.


Quad Fins /4-Fin

Quad fins are the perfect fin configuration for smaller surf, offering greater speed by channelling the water to the end of the board which offers a much better acceleration. The two outer fins offer great stability whilst the two inner fins offer more of the speed. Quad fins are great for generating drive through your turns.


5-Fin systems

This is becoming a more commonly used system due to its flexibility. 5 fin systems are not designed to have all 5 fins used, but offer you the option to have a quad fin setup, thruster setup, twin or single. The fin positioning allows for your own configuration based on your desired surfing style. Typically the better setup for those who surf in varying surf conditions and styles.


2+1 Fin

Typically found in a longboard the 2+1 fin system allows for 2 fins on the outer sides and a single fin in the centre. The difference in this a pose to a thruster is the larger centre fin box allowing the larger longboard fins to fit and be adjusted to the surfers desired positioning. A popular option for eggs, funboards, SUPs, and Logs.


Fin Dimensions and Shape


This is where you may need Freeride's knowledge and experience with surfboard fins to help you out. The team know this stuff back to front.


But firstly the below rundown will help you understand the important measurements such as sweep, toe, base length, foil, flex, height, and cant are all just as important as one another.


Sweep ( Rake )

When looking at the sweep or otherwise known as the rake of a fin, is how far the front edge of a fin arcs backwards. Rake is the measurement that determines how far back a fin curves in relation to its base. This is what propels the board, the smaller rake fins will offer greater speed and will be more predictable but less ideal for short, fast turns. Large rake fins offer you a "squirrelly" yet playful experience whilst letting you make tighter turns.



Often defined by the manufacture of the board, the toe or splay of a fin system is the angle of which the side fins are in relation to the boards central stinger. Often side fins are referred to as "Toed-in" with the front of the fin angled towards the middle of the board. This allows water to pressure the outside fins which will ultimately increase your responsiveness.



The widest point of a fin is the base, giving the fin strength and is often the part that sits flush with the base of your board once installed. The length of the base will affect the boards responsive behaviours in turns. The longer base creates trajectories for water to propel past, which creates gives you a faster ride. For sharper, more manoeuvrable fins go for a shorter base.



Foil is one of the more important aspects of your fin, referring to the shape of the outside and inside faces of your fin, thinnest near the tip of your fin, and thicker near the base. Altering the flow of water over the fin surface has a direct impact on the performance of your fins and board. Your central fin will always be symmetrical and convex on both sides, this is often referred to as "50/50", this offers even distribution and stability. Outside fins are typically convex on the outside faces and flat or curved inwards on the inside. The flat inside creates a solid balance of control, speed and manoeuvrability, whilst a curved or concaved inside maximizes lift and minimal drag, more ideal for speed and fluidity.



The fins flexibility or lack of flex significantly impacts the way your board reacts, a more flexible fin offers a more playful and fun experience, where a stiff fin will offer you greater speed on hollow waves. Higher end fins come with both soft and stiff flex patterns being stiff at the base and softer at the tip.



This is the measurement from the base of the fin, to the tallest point at the tip, The varying heights of fins is designed to change your boards stability and grip through turns. If you're looking for control and to surf in a more relaxed manner a taller fin is the way to go, shorter fins don't give grip the water like taller fins, meaning more experienced riders can manoeuvre the board more freely.



Cant is the degree in which the fin sits in relation to the boards base, for example, a fin that is straight up/down has a cant of 90 degrees, this makes your ride faster by carving through the wave more freely. Anything outside the 90 will increase the boards responsive behaviours through turns. The less cant allows for greater acceleration and drive.



Ok. So you are confused? Choosing the right fin for your surfboard is not as complexed as it sounds.


Begin by figuring out the type and size waves you surf the most.


Additional Observations that help with your decision:


  • A stiff surfboard or big wave gun fitted with smaller fins will provide a much more freedom in your ride.
  • Hybrid surfboards that are built wider, softer, and looser will be faster and need a larger fins with more sweep.
  • With Longboards your fin location in relation to the tail or back of your board will affect the feel which creates a loose feel, further back will offer you more control and hold.
  • If your board has a wide tail, it will work better with larger fins
  • With Shortboards there are three fin options you might consider. A neutral fin will do all the work in all size wave conditions. An all-rounder you might say. A more upright pivot shape fin will loosen up your ride, and allow sharper quicker turns. And finally a rackier fin will give your board more drive and hold especially when the waves get serious.


But if you need to check in with Freeride on surfboard fin advice contact us through the LIVE CHAT on our web site or check in with the team instore.


Shapers Australia for over 20 years has been the at the forefront of product development for surfboard manufacturing. Arming Shapers around the world with the Tools, Materials and Surf Hardware to make the highest level of performance surfboards possible.


Shapers Australia is a unique Australian owned and operated company specialising in the development and supply of quality surfboard shaping, glassing and manufacturing supplies along with a host of surfing related products. Shapers Australia has been servicing the surfboard industry for over 20 years, giving both Australian and International customers the opportunity to conveniently source an extensive range of surfboard shaping, sanding, measuring and glassing products from the one company.


Shapers Australia is dedicated to the research and development of professional surfboard design products and we continue to work with Shapers to create goods that are more efficient, responsive and effective then existing products. The Shapers Barrel is a classic example of a highly successful product, designed and introduced by Shapers Australia that has totally superseded conventional methods. Shapers Australia supplies hundreds of surfboard shapers around Australia, from the biggest names in the surfboard industry to smallest of local shapers.

By Freeride Surf Skate