All you need to know about Surfboard Fins and how to tweak your ride - largest selection, lowest prices, fastest shipping through the security of Amazon checkout, shipping and returns

FIN FACT - Legendary waterman Tom Blake (some say second only to Duke Kahanamoku) invented the first surfboard fin in 1935, along with the first waterproof camera, hollow surfboard and sailboard.

Fin Materials

Molded Fins - Made using a composite mix of materials. Many of these fins have more flex. At this time, molded fins are the most common. FCS calls them Glass Flex or Composite. Futures uses the terms Natural Composite and Composite.

Fiberglass Fins - Layered glass fins have a solid flex, much like the old glass-on fins. Usually they have a stiff base and a selection amount of tip flex. These are most popular for surfers who like the old-school glass-on fins but want the convenience of removable fins. FCS calls these Performance Glass (PG). Futures stays with the term fiberglass.

Resin Transfer Molded Fins - RTM construction is more high tech, using advanced technology that began with aerospace research and development. Usually this method sandwiches the glass with a layer of honeycomb foam to reduce weight. The high RTM performance and appealing appearance make these fins most popular. FCS calls them Performance Core (PC). Futures refers to them as RTM or HEX.

Surfboard Fins 101

A surfboard fin is a foil (seeFoil (fluid mechanics) ), specifically, a hydrofoil that is mounted near the tail of a surfboard such that it is more or less perpendicular to the bottom of the board. The fin provides lateral lift (See Lift (force))opposed to oncoming water as a surfer rides a shoaling ocean wave, and also stabilizes the surfboard's trajectory, and as a result of the effects of the foil, fins are used (along with the bottom of the surfboard) as control surfaces by the rider. Surfboard fins were thus an important advancement in the maneuvering performance of surfboards. Surfboard fins may be arrayed in various number and configuration, and many different shapes, sizes, and materials are and have been made and used.

Surfboard Fins were invented in Hawaii, along with the surfboard itself. They are now more or less universally used on surfboards.

Types of Surfboard Fins

Glass on fins are fins that are permanently connected to the surfboard through fiberglass. This type of fin was mainly used on older model surfboards. Glass on fins are broken easily and are hard to repair. You rarely see these types of fins today because a different type of fin has replaced them.

Removable Fin Systems are most common types of fins used today, removable fins are surfboard fins that can be unscrewed from the surfboard and be replaced by different fins or be moved about the board for a different setup in maneuverability and stability.

Flexible fins fins are used on most rental boards because of liability. These fins are much safer than a hard fin because they cannot cut you. However it does lose some of the performance.

History of Surfboard Fins

Tom Blake (one of surfing most influential fathers) invented the first fin used on a surfboard. Although Blake’s first fin was most like attaching a keel from a boat to the bottom of the board, Blake’s finding started the development of the fins in use today.

From Blake’s first fin, people, perhaps most famously Bob Simmons and George Greenough, have modified and invented new types of surfboard fins. Simmons was apparently the first to use more than one fin on a surfboard. Greenough made the fin flexible and took inspiration from thefins of fish(allegedlytuna) and dolphins. Bob Simmons used a twin- keel design on innovative wooden boards of his own design and manufacture in the 9'-10' range, which he rode in large surf at Windansea in California.

In the 1970s, multi-fin systems became much more widely-used, in competition and by average surfers, as top professionals likeLarry Bertlemann and Mark Richards enjoyed competitive success maneuvering shorter boards with twin fins in smaller surf and tighter radius turns.

It wasn’t till the 1980s that Simon Anderson invented the popular thruster set-up (three fins - two on the rail 10-12 inches from the tail end, one center fin 3-5 inches up from the tail) which stabilized the board compared to the twin-fin set-up, and provided more control and lifting surfaces in an effective configuration. The design was an immediate competitive success for Anderson, inasmuch as he immediately won 2 very famous surf contests using "thrusters," and the entire surfing world quickly followed his lead. The thruster is the dominant fin configuration to this day, in both recreational and competition surfing.

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Fin Terminology


Base - The base refers to how long the area is where the fin touches the surfboard. The base contributes to the drive, lift and acceleration of the board.


Depth - Depth refers to how far the fins dips into the water. Short fins will not hold as well as larger fins and may cause you to slide in some surf. Long fins can feel slower. A big fin is approximately 5 inches or greater. A small fin is approximately 4 1/4 inches or less.

Area - The Base and the Depth determine the overall area of the fin. Your fin area needs to be large enough to hold the board on the wave but small enough to allow for controlled turns.


Sweep - The sweep of the fin refers to how far a fin is angled backwards. The further the fin sweeps backward, the longer or more rounded your turns will be. A straighter fin allows tighter turns (FCS example: upright fin = TC Redline and a highly swept back fin = YU).

Cant - This is the angle for how far your fin leans to one side.

Toe - The toe is the angle of the fin. If it is parallel to the board's stringer then there is a 0° toe angle to the board. The board shaper permanently sets this angle.

Foil - Fins, similar to airplane wings, are foiled or curved. Usually the middle or back fins are foiled on both sides but side fins are foiled on the outside and usually flat on the inside. Now some fin developers have recently used a slight foil on the outside fins (FCS offers a range of fins with inside foil). Giving a fin foil creates areas of high and low pressure which move through the wave to hold you in by moving away from high pressure to low pressure. This is a rule of hydrodynamics.

Flex: Stiffer fins drive harder. Softer fins can offer less performance.

How to Install Fins

10 Rules to Choose the Right Fins

These 10 rules will help you select the right fins to tweak your board and make surfing more fun:

1) If your board feels too stiff, use smaller fins or fins with less sweep or more flex.

2) If your board feels too loose and lacks drive, use bigger fins, a stiffer flex fin or a fin with more sweep.

3) Lighter surfers require less fin area to provide enough hold on a wave.

4) To make a board more responsive, choose a fin constructed of stiffer materials.

5) Boards with long rails and close fin clusters (known as guns) require less fin area (even guns used for giant surf use small to medium fins).

6) Boards with much rocker should use fins with more area, depth or sweep.

7) Boards with deep tail channels need less fin area (small tips can increase the release out of turns).

8) Boards with wide tails need more fin area than those with narrow tails (fishes).

9) Small boards in big or powerful waves need larger or more swept fins.

10) Different sized fins give the surfboard different capabilities. Switch out fins to experiment with your board and its performance.

FCS versus Futures Fins

FCS offers the largest selection of fins, with over four dozen models in half-a-dozen materials which are available here.

FCS is just a larger force in the industry and used by more shapers and surfers. FCS lists among their clients: shapers Al Merrick, Rusty Preisendorfer, Matt Biolos, William 'Stretch' Riedel, and pro surfers Kelly Slater, Jack Robinson, CJ Hobgood and many others. It's hard to argue against such surf luminaries.

Futures Fins offers some advantages. Their design uses only one screw, which makes them simpler to install than FCS. Some say they also fit more tightly and secure in the box.

Futures Fins also offers a wider selection of fin foil patterns. Their special high tech material used in Black Stix offers a unique flex. Because they have not been adopted as widely by the industry they can be difficult to find but we offer a good selection here.