Longboard Fins Guide

How to Choose the Right Fin for Your Longboard

Longboard center fins are (of course) much larger than their shortboard fin cousins - and therefore are easier to notice the feel of the different design aspects. Just like shortboards - changing up the fin in your longboard will change up the way that your board feels, and if you've been struggling or getting board on your current setup - than a new longboard fin may just be what you need! Let's take a look at the common types that you'll see here at Warm Winds.

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TYPES OF LONGBOARD FINS

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FLEX FIN

Flex fins are exactly what they sound like - offering more flex that a traditional all around longboard fin. The added flex makes the board feel a bit looser and add a bit more liveliness and springiness to the board which can bring a whole new flow to your surfing.

The way it works is flexible fins tend to distort as they are turning through the water allowing the board to go faster through the turn - also allowing you to use more of your rail.

There are different levels of flex that you can get in these fins, and the amount of flex will impact the amount of drive a fin will give when you really lean on it. If you want more drive out of our your turns - a fin with moderate flex in the tip may be the trick. Of course - some people find these fins only work at their local breaks in specific conditions on the right board - so its up to you to experiment!

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CUTAWAY FIN

A cutaway fin features a narrower base than most longboard fins which translates to less drive out of your turns if ridden as a single. These fins are typically suited to riding with sidebites which will give you the extra drive and maneuverability - and therefore should be smaller than your single fin. This gives your longboard a more performance type of feel - allowing quick turns and more vertical maneuverability. Similar to a thruster setup on a shortboard.

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ALL-AROUND FIN

The all around fin is the perfect blend of rake and surface area - providing a stability that you can have confidence with and trust. It can be ridden as a single, in which case you would match the size (in inches) of the fin around the size (in feet) of your longboard. If you want to ride it as a 2+1 setup, ride it somewhere between 6 and 8 inches, depending on your board length.

The all around fin will feel great with longer sweeping turns and still provide plenty of hold in the tail while you cruise down the line. The fin will work in boards of all shapes and sizes and almost any surf conditions. Tried and true!

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STAGE 6 FIN

This type of fin is not hugely popular - but we figured it was worth a mention as it is an extremely unique fin designed by George Greenough that actually works really well! It sort of falls between the cutaway fin and the pivot fin - offering a balance of looseness and hold. The idea is that it puts the "working" part of the fin deeper in the less turbulent water - while keeping the base narrow and maneuverable but keeping the tip full to grab the water and keep the tail down. The result is a fin that has great maneuverability as well as nose riding capabilities.

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PIVOT FIN

The pivot fin is the ideal fin to go with if you have a noserider style board - having a wide tail with plenty of stability as well a wide nose so you can perch up there. The pivot fin has a lot of surface area which gives it plenty of grip in the water, allowing the surfer to walk around on the board without the feeling of the tail coming loose. It also is a very upright template which allows you to pivot the board when your all the way back on the tail for quick directional changes.

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D FIN

This is an oldschool fin that was popular back in the day when everyone was riding those bulky, heavy logs. Everyone has seen one of those pictures in black and white - the classic 50s/60s beach photo with all of the longboards leaned up against a dune - yup they all had a D fin glassed on.

Not the most versatile fin out there - the D fin is a bit tougher to turn than all of the above due to the extremely wide base, and not quite as stable as a pivot fin when your on the nose since it is not tall. These fins are designed for getting maximum trim and surfing straight down the line. Want to get back to the roots of surfing - toss one of these bad boys on your 9'8 log and just cruise.

VOLAN VS. TRADITIONAL BUILD

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When you are looking to buy a longboard fin that has some flex - you might come across the fin that you want offered in both volan construction and a traditional fiberglass layup. You'll also notice that there is a bit of a price difference between the two.


VOLAN

Volan fins not only look really pretty with their coke bottle green color and raw/unfinished look - but they also offer a lot of benefits that traditional fiberglass fins do not. Volan fins are typically hand laid up with high quality volan cloth that is thicker and stronger than traditional fiber glass. Since they are hand laid - they are optimized for flex throughout the body of the fin - not just the tip like traditional fins. This increase speed and projection through turns.

FIBERGLASS (E-GLASS)

Most of the fins you see (with the exception of plastic fins) are made up of Fiberglass, and in particular E-Glass. This has excelent flex charecteristics and performance longevity. This type of layup also allows the manufactures to use many different colors and artisitic patterns - and they usually come out pretty vibrant. From a flex standpoint - these fins typically flex mostly at the tip on a flex/all around fin.

LONGBOARD FIN SETUP

When you are looking to buy a longboard fin that has some flex - you might come across the fin that you want offered in both volan construction and a traditional fiberglass layup. You'll also notice that there is a bit of a price difference between the two.


2+1

A 2+1 setup will allow you to put in a center fin along with sidebites. This give the baord more drive and control through turns as well as more stability. Great for beginner to intermediate surfers and people trying to surf their board with more performance. Since you will be using three fins in this configuration - it is recommended to use a smaller center fin. For example, if your board is 9 foot - you should consider using a 6.5"-7" cutway, flex, or all around fin with your 2+1 setup.

You have the option on how to cluster your fins with a 2+1 setup by moving your center fin closer or further away from the side bites. Basically - the closer together your fin cluster is, the faster the board will turn and will feel more responsive. With your fin cluster spread out further, the board will feel more in control and allow you to perform wider and more drawn out turns.

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SINGLE

A single fin setup is what you will see on most nose rider style longboards and classic logs. These boards are not build for radical high performance turns, so having the side bites to increase maneuverability is not needed. A single fin feels loose and has more speed down the line. They are easier to turn quickly, but not as sharp and with less drive as with a 2+1 setup. Riding a longbaord as a single fin provides a loose and cruisey flow beneath your feet. As far as fin sizing, with a 9 foot nose rider, you would want a 9"-9.5" pivot, stage 6, or D-Fin.

You have the option on where to position your single fin on your board - since the finbox is likely larger than the base of your fin. Position the fin forward (towards the nose of the board) and you will get a looser feel through the tail. Position the fin back (towards the tail) to get more hold and control.