Longboard Fins 101

Longboard Fins 101

In the same way that the tail of a surfboard should be a clue about the intentions of the board design, the shape of a fin says a lot about the way the board is to be ridden.

A fin on a longboard and the shape of the tail must align in their intent, otherwise you will have a fin and a surfboard that are working in opposition to each other.

To better explain this, we broke up our longboard models into two categories: Square-Tails and Curvy-Tails.  

Fins for square-tailed boards:

You will commonly see fins that stand nearly straight up and down on boards with square tails. The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. To provide enough surface area for holding the tail in the wave.
  2. To provide a defined vertical axis for pivoting turns.
A ​pivot turn​ is when you step back on the tail of the board—​slowing it down​—and proceed to swing the board as though the fin were the hinge on a door. (See the “Huck” fin template on the image above.) By slowing the board down and pivoting off the tail, the board is more easily set up to prepare for a noseride.

We recommend pivot-style fins on:

  • The Lumberjack
  • The Logistic
  • The Walks on Water
Here is Drew Meseck demonstrating a pivot-style turn—utilizing a drop-knee approach to get his back foot as far back on that tail as possible:

The tail is buried and the nose is lifted as Drew slows that 9’6 Lumberjack​ down for a proper pivot turn.

Once you are comfortable getting back to the tail of a board, the pivot fin is surprisingly effective. And the length of the board allows the surfer to regain speed in a new direction once the turn is complete.

Appropriate fins for square tails would be the Huck Fin or the Log Rhythm fin.

Fins for curvy-tailed boards:

You will commonly see fins with more of a sweeping shape on round-tailed surfboards. That sweep is called “rake”. The reason you want a fin with​ rakeon a surfboard with a curvier outline, is they work in tandem with the outline. As you lay the board over to one side, the curve of the outline allows the board to change
direction while maintaining speed.

The rake of the fin acts like the rudder of a ship, banking through an arcing turn.

We recommend fins with more rake on:

  • The Surf Thump
  • The Sano Special
  • The Joy
  • The Pinwheel
  • The Cash-Yew II
  • The Pleasant Pheasant
Pictured here is Nathan Adams demonstrating a rail-initiated turn on his ​9’7 Sano Special​:

Compared to the photo of Drew, Nate’s nose isn’t lifting out of the water to stall, he is laying the board on rail using that fin and outline to make the turn possible.

We have a recommended fin that accompanies each of our longboard models, so you don’t need to try to match the correct fin and board together, but when considering a new fin for an old board, or when chatting surfing in the parking lot, these basics should come in handy.

See all of our longboard fins.

Read more

First-Time Surfer Cheat Sheet

First-Time Surfer Cheat Sheet

You Need A Small Board in Your Quiver

You Need A Small Board in Your Quiver

Closing the Loop on Surfboard Manufacturing

Closing the Loop on Surfboard Manufacturing