Fins: get the right set for each type of wave

Fin setups are designed to get the most of 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 a big wave surfing day? Sometimes, it's hard to pick the right fin setup for the right wave, but this chart will help.

More than 95% of the surfboards have five fin setups: single fin, twin fin, thruster, quad or five fins. There are new laboratory experimentations and adaptations with futuristic designs and innovative fin functions but, in essence, surfboard shapers work with five fin 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 and hollow, small-to-big surf.

Nevertheless, there's more to life than thruster surfboards. You can improve your performance in a 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 and there are many variables at stake, when choosing the right fin setup for a wave. The fin, itself, has several components that change the way you surf your standard local break. Base, cant, depth, flex, foil and sweep of fins influence the way your surfboard perform in the face of the wave.

The optimal fin setup for a wave type goes 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 whenever you're unsure about which fin setup or surfboard you'll be paddling out with, in a determined wave type. Caution, though. This wave and fin setup chart applies to standard surfboards and should only be taken into consideration as a rough guide and advice.

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.