Fins: get the right set for each type of wave

Fin setups are designed to get the most from different types of waves. What is the best fin setup for a small mushy wave? With what set of fins should you paddle out in big surf? It can be hard to pick the right fin setup for the right wave, but this chart will help.

More than 95% of surfboards have five common fin setups: single fin, twin fin, thruster, quad or five fins. Futuristic designs and innovative functions are being experimented with all the time, but, for the most part, shapers still work with the classic five setups.

When Simon Anderson developed the thruster - three fins - he was changing surfboard performance forever. Nowadays, the thruster is the most popular fin design for surfboards because of its behavior and performance in fat or hollow, small-to-big surf.

Nevertheless, there's more to life than thruster surfboards. You can improve your performance on deep, fast waves riding a quad surfboard. Or, if waves are really small, why don't you enjoy a retro single fin summer session?

Hydrodynamics is a science. There are many variables to consider when choosing the right fin setup for a wave. The fin itself has several components that change the way you are able to surf your standard local break. Base, cant, depth, flex, foil and sweep of fins all influence the way your surfboard will perform on the face of the wave.

The optimal fin setup for a wave type is as follows:

WAVES & FIN SETUP Single Fin Twin Fin Thruster Quad Five Fin
Small Fat Waves                                                                                
Small Hollow Waves                                                                                
Medium Fat Waves                                                                                
Medium Hollow Waves                                                                                
Big Fat Waves                                                                                 
Big Hollow Waves                                                                                
Giant Waves                                                                                
           
 SCALE                                                                                 
  Perfect Adequate Fair Avoid Don't Use


Print this chart and consult it whenever you're unsure about which fin setup or surfboard you'll be paddling out with in a determined wave situation. Use caution, though. This wave and fin setup chart applies to standard surfboards and should only be taken into consideration as a rough guide.

Learn how to choose the best surf fins.
Futures of FCS? Take a look at the surfboard fin dilemma.
Discover the best surfboard fins in the world.