Paddleboard fins are an essential part of your paddleboard. Without a fin the board would want to turn away from the intended direction with every stroke. This zig-zagging would not only be very inefficient but quickly become annoying. Fins allows you to move forward in a relatively straight line when paddling on flat water as well as providing traction and control when surfing waves. As the number of fins or the size of the fin increase, you gain stability, but as a downside you also increase unwanted drag. The unnecessary drag is the main reason I rarely add side (thruster) fins to my boards.
Fins with the same surface area perform differently based on where the surface area is located. Fins having more surface area further back help the board travel in a straight line. Fins that are more vertical turn easier as well as adding stability like a sailboats keel. You do not have to stress too much as the fin box itself has fore & aft adjustment built into it allowing you to fine tune the board to the paddler.
Out of all the fins pictured above there are two basic styles to choose form. Traditional surf fins are great for surfing (surprise!) because they turn easily and have a fair bit of flex in the tip. Hatchet style fins are popular because they have more surface area and less flex so resist turning and track in a straighter line.
Surf Style Fins:
Surf style fins have the iconic shape that everyone imagines when they think of a fin. The wide base, narrow top and flex allows these fins to turn easily. I recommend a 10-inch surf style fin.
Glass filled nylon fins like this get you in the water for $20. This time tested classic foil paddles easy and provides good hold in both flat water paddling and for turns.
As SPECIFICATIONS: Depth: 10″, Base: 6.5″, Rake: 28° / MATERIAL: Glass Filled Nylon
Glassfins are machine cut from layers of solid fiberglass. These fins are stiff, and are widely used by pro level surfers because the integrity of the flex is maintained under immense force, and in the most extreme of conditions and situations. The FCS II Tool-Less Longboard System (blue bead) replaces the plate and screw used by most fins. Easily insert or remove your fin in seconds giving you the ability to adjust your fin position in the box mid surf.
The Volan glass and optimized weave orientation produce a very high performance flex pattern that extends through much of the body of thefin, rather than just the tip. All our Flex series fins are hand foiled to ensure proper performance, and a beautiful tree ring aesthetic.
Hatchet Style Fins:
Hatchet style fins are the best choice for 90 percent of my customers who paddle lakes and away from the surf. They will make your board more stable side-to-side and will track straighter. They normally have a wider base, wider top. The greater surface area coupled with how far away from the board this area is makes the board track straighter. This added surface area further from the board also makes the board feel more stable side-to-side.
This is 9″ Glass filled nylon SUP fin form FCS is a good choice for under $40. I do not recommend going any shorter than this fin on an adult SUP.
For a $60 you step up to fiberglass materials without too much marketing hype.
The high fin area makes for exceptional hold. This fin was designed for stylish classic nose riding and heavy footed turns. Ability to adjust your fin position in the box mid surf. Easily insert or remove your fin in seconds. No tools required. (This is my favourite fin on this list.)
This Palm Frond model produced by Dorsal Fin Co shows there is no limit to the number of styles you have to choose from. Good luck!
SUP fins mount in a fin box with a universal T-slot. There is a brass or stainless barrel on one end and some way of locking the fin fore and aft on the other. It doesn’t matter what end has the barrel and what end has the fastening point as long as the fin you choose has these to features.
This video from SUP Boarder is worth watching if you would like to know more about fins.Next Tutorial