There is science behind the madness of fin selection. Like all tools, fins have evolved over time - refined into very specific work and function. This article is intended to make selecting the right fin for your size, weight, conditions a heck of a lot easier to grasp.
So why do fins matter? Would you put crap tires on a high performance sports car? Would you put skinny street tires on a jeep built for off roading? The same logic holds true when selecting surfboard fins. You need to know what you're driving and the conditions you'll be driving in.
The two videos below break down finology and educate you on what you need to look for in a fin and why it's going to perform different than another fin type.
The great thing about discovering your "magic" fins, is that once you find a set, you're probably going to be using that fin set with each replacement board. So you get a ton of mileage out of one set of fins. Personally, I've had the same set of fins for 4 replacement boards. A pretty minor investment when you start amortizing the cost of fins.
What We Ride - Huggy Bear
Wave conditions: 90% Beach break, pounding to mushy 2' - 10' faces
Main Board: 6'2" performance shortboard
For all around beach break
I have two sets of fins I like to ride. My main set is the Futures Fins Tokoro (similar to the AM1) and the second set is the EA Techflex (similar to the WCT, F4 and John John fins) for step up conditions. I like a fin with a little more drive (wider base) that you have to work a little harder when pumping. Once you get a few pumps, you can really start to feel the acceleration. Also, I tend to like a fin that has a little more hold than release. I can still easily push the fins free when needed but I like the security of not sliding around a lot on the wave face.
Huggy Bear's Recommended Fins
What we ride - Jeff
Wave conditions: 85% Beach break, 15% Pointbreak and reef
Main Board: 6'0" performance shortboard
For all around / beach breaks
The Blackstix JC1 are my go to fins when I need to generate speed when the surf isn't pumping. The V-foil creates
momentum coming out of the turns but is also loose enough to release the tail when needed. Great all around fins for Oregon's diverse wave conditions.
For larger surf
The Honeycomb WCT are my favorite fins when the surf pics up and I need to control my speed rather than creating it.
Super loose and great for surfing in the pocket of the wave. The honeycomb construction gives them enough flex to generate speed when needed, but the steep rake makes them turn on a dime.
Another big wave fin option is the Techflex EA. When the waves get big and I need fins to match the power, these are my choice. They are stiff enough to hold up to the high speed generated when drawing out big arcing turns. A great combination of drive, looseness and flex, these are great all around fins when the surf is solid.
My choice for reef and barrel
Techflex WCTIf you are lucky enough to ride fast reef breaks or solid beach barrels, these are your fins. When I travel this is my go to set-up. The techflex construction is stiff enough to manage your speed and cut through the face of faster waves. Loose and high performance, it’s no surprise they are called WCT.
Jeff's Recommended Fins