When you see surfboard fins, you might just think they look cool. But they’re critical in helping you ride waves. Without them, you’ll have a long day of wiping out in the ocean.
What are the fins on a surfboard used for?
Surfboard fins are designed to give you more control and stability. They help you to change directions better by allowing you more balance when shifting your weight side to side. They make all the tricks pro surfers do possible. Therefore, surfboard fins do make a difference, and it’s important to pick the best one that’ll keep you shredding the waves and having fun.
With these factors in mind, here are the 10 Best Surfboard Fins for 2020.
The SBS Surf Fin can give you just the control you’re looking for. It gives great stability for flat water paddling, turns, and noseriding. It’s also versatile in being able to attach to surfboards, longboards, and standup paddleboards. Best of all, it’s easy to install.
SBS offers a free “no tool” fin screw and plate set. This allows you to attach the fin to your board without any tools.
The fin also comes with a cover to keep it protected whenever you’re not using it. In addition, if you use the SBS surf fin for paddle boarding, you can paddle multiple times on one side without going in a circle.
Cons: The SBS surf fin isn’t compatible with inflatable stand up paddleboards such as the Bali Solistice and the AquaMarine SPK2.
A broken fin can mess up a good surf day. If durability is important to you, The Ho Stevie! Fins are one of the most durable fins on this list. It’s made of fiberglass with a polymer. This gives the fin more flexibility than the average plastic fin.
The company that sells this is even willing to replace it if it does break. The Ho Stevie! Fins are also thinly shaped, helping you have less drag while surfing. These are a great bargain at only $20.
Cons: The Ho Stevie! Surfboard Fins aren’t the best for riding the biggest waves. It also doesn’t give as much explosive speed when you’re pumping.
When you’re an elite surfer, you want fins that’ll let you really shred the waves. The Surf Squared Thruster Fins are exactly the ones to let you do it. They have a light honeycomb construction which increases performance and speed.
It’s the same construction used by most pro surfers. The Surf Squared Fins are compatible with any board that has Futures fin boxes. They work well with most surfboards and can handle most conditions.
Cons: There’s not much downside to these. Some question whether other fins are faster, but you can definitely get a lot of speed with these.
The twist and turns you see surfers make are some of the best parts of surfing. The FCS ARC Tri Fin Set is great for getting that maneuverability. You get two larger side fins and a small back fin. The small back fin allows for more quick releases when you’re making those turns on the waves.
It’s designed to be like a fiberglass fin but comes at a reduced weight. The combination of the fin set allows you to have more drive in your surfing. It’s great, particularly for larger surfers.
Cons: The only downside is it’s a little more on the expensive side at around $85.
For the longboard surfers out there, the BPS center fin may be the best you can have for your longboard. It’s one of the easiest ones to install and remove from your board. Like the SBS surf fin, it comes with a free no tool fin screw and also a wax comb.
The BPS fin can fit US and Universal style fin boxes. Once you have it on your longboard, you’ll be able to glide and nosedive the waves easily. It works well for both the knee-high waves and the over-head waves. With its fiberglass nylon design, the BPS center fin not only makes your longboard perform well but also look good in the process.
Cons: It bends easily. If it’s bent while in the sun, it may stay bent.
If you’re a more casual surfer, you don’t need much for your fin to make you happy. As long as it fits, gives you some control and looks good, that’s all that matters. The Prosea Flashion Surfboard Fin comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and templates.
It has a unique look being made with fiberglass, carbon, and bamboo. But the Prosea Fin doesn’t just look good. It works great in many conditions such as beach breaks and point breaks. You can get good power on your bottom turns while still snapping off the top. Best of all, it works on any board type, and it’s easy to install.
Cons: They’re not as light as other fins like the Futures. This means you’ll have less drive and your turns may not always be as tight.
The Dorsal Thruster Fins are a great low-budget option at 20$. Now you might think at this price you’re not going to get any quality. But you can still do a lot of good surfing with these. The Thruster set gives you a moderate amount of flex that helps you have smooth transitions through your turns.
It’s a fin set that any surfer can use, from the beginner to the pro. It’s best mostly for surfers who are between 100 to 180 pounds.
Cons: These fins are more fragile than other fins.
These versatile side fins can fit any surfboard, shortboard, funboard, and longboard that use FCS style fins. It’s another good low budget option at $15. The BPS side fins give you power, drive, control, and stability. A great combination of traits to have for a good surf session. The side fins come with a BPS combined wax comb, hex key, and bottle opener.
Cons: These fins are thinner than FCS fins. They’re also very sharp on the edges, so be sure to sand them.
When a fin has been NASA researched, you know it’s going to give you good speed. The Naked Viking Surf Fins uses foils that are based on fluid dynamic research from NASA. Because of that, the fins give you more speed when you’re making turns on the waves. You get quicker burst getting out of your bottom turn and going down the line. It also uses a honeycomb core which gives it less weight than most surf fins.
Cons: The Fins are very sharp and have cut people before.
The South Bay Board FCS thruster set gives you almost everything you need as a surfer. It’s made with fiberglass and polymer, making it durable to withstand the waves. That’ll keep you surfing as long as you want. They fit any FCS and FCSII fin boxes.
The thruster set comes with a fin key and 8 screws to keep your fins secure. When you put these on, you’ll have more drive in your board to really get the speed you want in your surfing.
Cons: It’s a bit pricier than other fins on this list, but with everything it gives you, it’s worth it.
The process is different depending on the type of fin you have. But let’s go over how to install two of the most common ones. The Future fins and the FCS fins
FCS: For FCS fins, your surfboard should have two holes that allow the fin to slide in. When you slide the fin in, you can take your fin key, and tighten the screws. Be sure not to overtighten them so you don’t strip the threads.
The rake of the fin should be pointed to the tail, the curved side should be pointed to the outside of the surfboard, and the flat side should be pointed to the inside of the surfboard.
Future: The Future fins have a groove cut out in the back. If you can’t tell which side is the back, it’s located in the direction where the top of the fin curves back. Boards that are compatible with future fins will have a long box.
You put the back part of the fin in the middle of the box and slide it back until you feel ir slotted in. Then you push the front of the fin down.
Use your fin key or screwdriver to tighten the bolt, but again, don’t tighten it too much so you don’t break the plug. The video below by Zed from Zed’s Surfing Adventures educates you on how to attach fins to a surfboard. Check it out!
You can, but it’s much more difficult. Only the expert surfers can really manage surfing without surf fins. If you’re a beginner or intermediate surfer, you need surf fins to help you make turns and get speed. But even most expert surfers get fins and choose to only take them off their surfboard in certain conditions. Check out these tips on how to surf if you’re new at this.
Surfboards don’t generally come with fins. You have to buy them separately and attach them to your board.
Consequently, it all comes down to what you really want. Do you want more quickness in your turns? Your best bet is the FCS Arc Performance Tri Set or the Naked Viking Surf Thruster fins. For anybody shopping on a bargain, the Ho Stevie Polymer Surfboard Fins and the Dorsal Surfboard Thruster Fins are the best deals out there.
For the best drive and the most durability, go with the South Bay Board Fins. Whichever you choose, once you get some quality surfboard fins, you’ll be shredding the waves in no time. Picking a good surfboard is as important as picking good surf fins. Learn how to choose a surfboard that is ideal for you and check out the top 10 beginner surfboards.