Fins are the subject of endless magazine articles, pages of forum discussions and hotly debated YouTube videos in both paddle boarding and surfing.
Opinions differ just as much as the results of paddle board fin tests.
The optimization of paddle board fins is not only something for professionals who want to tickle out a few thousandths. Normal paddle boarders can get a lot out of their paddle board with the right fin.
The fin does not fundamentally change the riding characteristics of a board. A short wave paddle board will never become a touring board. The fin gives your paddle board rather a fine tuning and improves the properties that matter to you.
In my article I will give you the most important knowledge about fins, introduce paddle board fins that are perfectly matched to you and show you how to attach your fin.
While multiple fins are commonly seen on surfboards, paddle boards usually only have one central fin.
First, here are some important facts about paddle board fins:
- Fin position: The further forward the fin is placed, the more turning your board will be.
- Fin area: The larger the fin area, the more grip and riding stability the fin provides. Negative is the low acceleration of the board as well as the worse turning ability. Touring paddlers and heavier paddlers should prefer a large fin. Race fins are particularly suitable for this purpose. Light paddlers and those who incorporate a lot of turns and twists should rather go for small fins.
- Thickness of the fin: Thick fins make you slower than thin fins. However, thin ones are less robust. Of course, the paddle board fins should not break and can also sometimes put away the collision with obstacles. Ultimately, it is a question of material. More about that later.
- Length of the fin: A large fin surface improves the directional stability. However, a large fin also provides frictional resistance and consequently slows you down. Small fins reach the highest speeds in theory, but are wobbly when running straight. A compromise must be found here.
Later, I’ll go into more detail about the shapes and materials of fins.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Different Paddle Board Fin Systems
- 2 Overview of Common Paddle Board Fin Shapes
- 3 Paddle Board Fin Materials – Which Are the Best?
- 4 Attaching Paddle Board Fins – How to Attach Fins Properly
- 5 FAQ
- 6 Conclusion
The Different Paddle Board Fin Systems
For paddle boards, two systems have prevailed. The US box comes from surfing and is one system. On the other hand, there is the plug-in fin system in inflatable boards.
The Best Paddle Board Fins Us Box System
The US box fins are very numerous. This fin system has existed for a long time and accordingly there are already many good fins on offer.
- SAFETY FLEX SOFT 4.6" FIN - under most conditions this...
- FOR LONGBOARD , SUP AND INFLATABLE SUP ( inflatable sup...
- GREAT FOR SURFER AND ADVANCED SUP : surf dumping shore...
- GREAT FOR BEGINNER AND KIDS : 1st time surfing can be...
- TOURING FIN 9" : for US Box / center box, fin screw...
- HARD NYLON PLASTIC almost as hard as fiberglass but...
- SUITABLE FOR most longboard / (stand up paddle) SUP /...
- GOOD CHOICE FOR : replacement or alternative when you...
The Best Paddle Board Fins for Plug-in Systems
The plug-in systems for fins are somewhat less common.
At the same time, the systems of well-known brands are compatible with each other. So Naish fins fit on Naish boards but also on boards from Aqua Marina, Fanatic, Red Paddle, BIC, JP Australia and co.
No-name fins are unfortunately not always compatible. The following models are also fins for Aqua Marina boards. In the vast majority of boards of the popular entry-level brand fit the linked fins.
- EXCLUSIVELY FOR...
- ACTS AS STABILIZER: The water fin acts as a stabilizer...
- HYDRODYNAMIC DESIGN: The center water fin features a...
- SURFBOARD STYLE: The SUP paddleboard center water fin...
Overview of Common Paddle Board Fin Shapes
Shapes are an important element of fin construction. The different construction methods are surprisingly far apart. There are sword-like fins as well as hump-shaped center fins or curved fins.
The shape is by far not only an optical detail. The various shapes are a result of complex simulations designed to improve handling characteristics.
Because of the many factors involved in the calculations, deviating variables (such as a different test subject) can lead to dramatically different results in paddle board fin tests.
In the following table, I present common construction methods and roughly describe the corresponding characteristics.
SUP fin shapes
|Dolphin||The curved dolphin is the standard shape for paddle board fins. Most fins are shaped this way. Essentially, the shape is a great compromise. The medium surface area and watershed edge provide decent speed and a good straight-line ride.|
Seaweed and other vegetation rarely stick to the fin due to the curvature towards the tail. The Dolphin is a great all-around shape that is deservedly the most widely used model.
|Wing||This fin shape is typical of touring boards. In straight-line performance, these fins are hard to beat. However, the longer edge slows you down slightly. Equipped with this fin your board is top suitable for flat water. Rivers are not so good to ride with |
the wing fin.
If you want to equip a touring board with a fin, the Wing models are top. It is best to choose a short model (less than 9 inches) that does not have a steep angle. You can expect more speed and less seaweed gets caught in the fin.
|Daggerboard||The daggerboard shape is the uncompromising focus on straight-line riding. This is accompanied by a loss of speed. For clean turns you should shift your weight backwards.|
The daggerboard is suitable for heavy paddlers, who mainly focus on straight-line riding. However, I advise a model with a shallow angle, otherwise so much seaweed will get stuck.
|Race Mid-Fin||This type of fins are very short. The short water cutting edge offers very little resistance, which is why – provided the right board – high speeds are achieved. These short fins are especially suitable for long race or touring boards.|
Paddle Board Fin Materials – Which Are the Best?
The material significantly influences the stability, robustness, durability and weight of your fin. In my opinion, the weight plays only a minor role for beginners and advanced paddle boarders. The few grams more or less under the board you will hardly feel in the water.
Unlike backpacks, fanny packs and anchors, where weight is really important, you should rather pay attention to robustness. Otherwise, an awkwardly placed stone can cost you a lot of money.
In any case, you don’t need super-light, highly modern fins. I recommend materials such as carbon, nylon, fiberglass or hard plastic / PVC. Fins made of these materials have become widely accepted. Most recreational models are made from one of these materials.
Honeycomb fins can also be exciting. The very lightweight models are robust but also flexible.
Attaching Paddle Board Fins – How to Attach Fins Properly
Attaching a fin is usually not a big hassle. If you are skilled, it takes maybe 15 seconds to half a minute. It’s still an annoying activity though, so I’ll briefly list the necessary steps here. Maybe I’ll save you some frustration that way.
Attach the Paddle Board Fin to the Us Box
- Place the threaded plate of the fin through the wide recess in the fin slide. Push the plate first into the front part.
- Insert the fin with the rear end first forcefully into the fin slide.
- Now fold the fin down completely.
- Place the threaded plate exactly under the fin mounting hole and tighten both.
If you lost the screw, my mini guide to paddle board fin screws will probably help you.
Are paddle boards with one or three fins better?
In principle, there is no better or worse option. The important thing is that you choose the fin construction according to your ability as well as your interests. A long, single fin provides stability for your board and offers you a particularly low resistance. This allows you to gain speed.
A 2+1 fin set is perfect for SUP surfing, for example. In addition, you can make the driving characteristics particularly flexible. However, with three fins you will hardly get as high a speed as with only one fin, for example, when river sailing. Learn more about paddle board fins.
Does a paddle board have the fin in the front or in the back?
In general, SUP fins always sit at the back and thus belong to the so-called tail of the board. Your paddle board also gains in glide quality the further back the fin is placed. If the fin is placed further forward, the more maneuverable and agile the board is. Learn more about paddle board fins.
Which paddle board fins are suitable for Aqua Marina boards?
Aqua Marina fins are perfect for the manufacturer’s boards. They are also made of modern technology and combine light weight and high strength. Most of Aqua Marina’s paddle boards use the plug-in fin system.
Since the plug-in fin system is used across manufacturers, fins from other paddle boarding brands can also be used in Aqua Marina boards. Learn more about paddle board fins.
Fin is not fin – that much I should have made clear. There are different models for different needs. To help you find your way through the jungle of pros and cons, here’s this little conclusion.
- Can you stand on the board effortlessly, but your board is too slow for you? Try a short center fin.
- Do you paddle long tours where it’s mainly straight ahead and more stability is good for you? Then go for the long centerboard fin.
- Are you looking for a compromise or do you want to equip your first paddle board properly? Choose the all-round fin with its dolphin shape.