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How to Buy Fins

Riders seem to spend more time buying decorative nuts and bolts than the fins they'll use with them. That's like buying a really fast motorcycle and not considering what kind of tires are going to keep you on the road. While advanced riders may already have a sense of what types of fins they prefer, the tips we've included below should help beginners and experts alike narrow down their selection.

Function

Fins keep the board traveling in the direction in which you point it and prevent it from freely rotating on the water. It does this using vertical depth and the shape of the foil, or profile, of the fin from front to back.

  • Wider foils move more water and create drag and lift under your feet
  • Thinner foils push less water and let the fin guide your board without resistance

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Depth and Base

Rocker and fin hole placement should be considered when selecting a fin depth.

  • Extra rocker pulls the fin up out of the water and compromises hold, as will a wider fin setting
  • Elongated bases address rocker problems, giving the water a snowy feel and giving shallow fins more surface area for effective cutting and tracking
  • Measure the rocker and fin holes in a complete board that feels comfortable to you and compare it to those in a new board you're thinking about buying.

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Conditions

  • Rough conditions call for a larger fin that will provide hold and control while you're bouncing around in the chop
  • For smooth, clear conditions, the maneuverability of a smaller, thinner fin is preferred by most boarders

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Styles

In general, a ramp style fin is a good place to start. It is considered the most universal of shapes, and seems to work for a lot of different riding styles. Having a few sets of fins can give you almost as much versatility as owning a collection of complete boards. A long base shape with different depths and foils offer a great deal of riding variety.

  • Sharper and deeper for choppy conditions or extra control in new maneuvers
  • Rampy and shallow for smooth, free-riding conditions

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