Surfboard Fins. Should you Spend $$$ on them?

There are lots of different kinds of fins you can buy for surfing, and they all claim to make your surfing better in special ways. But when you look at them closely, they’re not all that different. This makes you wonder.

Do surfboard fins make a difference in surfing?

Most surfers who are just starting out or have intermediate skills, might not notice how surfboard fins affect the way the board behaves. There are three main reasons why it might be hard for them to see the difference.

  1. Every wave is unique. They vary in shape, power, and length. This makes it challenging to determine if any differences are due to the fins or other factors.
  2. Novice surfers typically don’t perform forceful turns, which means they might not get the full benefit of the fins. They also often choose smoother, less steep waves, which don’t give the fins the opportunity to fully come into play.
  3. Foot placement changes every time you get up on the board. The board’s behaviour can change significantly based on your foot position. Therefore, unless your feet land in the exact same spot every time you pop up, it’s not easy to notice the difference.

If you’re curious about whether fins affect your surfing, try changing them on the same board and day. It’s best if someone else does the switch so you’re unaware of which fins you’re using.

Do Fins Help To Catch Waves?

Fins aren’t directly involved in catching waves. In fact, having more fins can increase resistance, potentially slowing down the surfer. Additionally, the weight of the fins at the back of the board may further hinder paddling speed.

However, they do offer stability during paddling, which can aid in wave-catching. It’s crucial to understand that fins don’t independently generate speed.

Choosing a single fin might be the optimal decision for catching more waves. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that the main purpose of fins extends beyond wave-catching alone.

For additional advice on catching more waves, you can find it here. Alternatively, if you’re looking to enhance your paddling, click here.

Why do surfboard fins are so expensive?

Despite being relatively small in size compared to surfboards, surfboard fins often carry a considerably higher price.

Fins are crafted from various materials, commonly including fibreglass, plastics, and occasionally more specialized options like carbon or bamboo.

After conversing with numerous surf shop owners and employees in Sydney surfboard shops, a prevailing view emerged: fins are frequently marked up significantly. This is often driven by effective marketing strategies, which highlight the potential improvement in surfing performance attributed to specific fins, often endorsed by popular professional surfers.

Independent fin manufacturers typically offer their products at a fraction of the cost of major brands.

Another factor contributing to the high price of surfboard fins is the limited competition in the market. Only two major manufacturers dominate the industry, and most surf shops, both physical and online, tend to exclusively stock these brands. These manufacturers also dictate the design of the fin boxes, which are integral to the surfboard, further consolidating their market dominance.

Consider the abundance of surfboard manufacturers and the limited choices available for fins:

1. FCS.

2. Future.

3. Glassed (fixed) fins.

While individuals can create alternative surfboard fins, they must conform to the specifications of these fin boxes, which are specific to each brand. This creates a highly concentrated market with limited alternatives.

However, it’s important to note that, particularly for beginner and intermediate surfers, the quality of fins generally has minimal impact on surfing performance.

This raises an important question.

Do Expensive fins make a difference?

Costly surfboard fins are unlikely to significantly enhance the performance of beginner and intermediate surfers. The high price of many expensive fins is often attributed to endorsements by renowned professional surfers or shapers, which inevitably increases their market value.

However, it’s worth noting that pricier surfboard fins can provide a psychological boost to a surfer’s confidence, particularly if they’re aware of the potential benefits highlighted on the manufacturer’s website. The impact of psychology on athletic performance is considerable across various sports.

Which is Better? FCS or Future

PROSHigh QualityHigh Quality
Can use old FCS 1 finsSecure fins
No Tools are required according to the manufacturerEasy to take it on and off
CONSDifficult to put on and off (some claims they had to sand the fins- see below)Tend to be more expensive
Can lose the fins If you do not secure the back screw
FCS VS Future Fins

The new FCS system offers the convenience of changing fins without the need for screws. However, it appears that Futures has a sturdier foundation. Upon the release of the new FCS (FCS 2) fins, some of my friends experienced incidents of lost fin sets. When they brought this up at the surf shop, the staff readily replaced the fins without any complications and suggested securing the back part of the screw, just as a precaution.

I’ve witnessed FCS fins becoming dislodged when a professional surfer was tackling steep waves during a competition. It was rather unexpected since the force was hitting the side of the fins, which isn’t typically the direction that would cause them to come off.

However, this YouTube video demonstrates that the incident might not be an isolated occurrence.

After looking through the comments on the official FCS video on YouTube, it appears that many individuals are encountering the same problem.

For this reason, I prefer future fins.


My name is James, the person behind With 15 years of experience in surfing, I am excited to help you on the journey to becoming a competent surfer.

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