Choosing the best surfboard fin setup for your board and style is important and learning some of the pros and cons of the most popular types can make the decision easier.
Everyone has a personal preference regarding surfboard fin setups but after reading this you’ll understand the accepted pluses and minuses of each fin setup and, hopefully, be open to trying something new!
The four most popular types of fin setups are the single fin, the twin fin, the three fin thruster, and the quad. The single fin was the first popular fin setup and the twin fin was released after that. The three fin thruster was made popular by Simon Anderson in the early 80’s and the quad has become very popular more recently.
The Single Fin
The single fin, out of the four most popular surfboard fin setups, has a serious cult following. Single fins are a common sight on longboards but an increasing number of shortboard and mid length designs leverage the single fin. Boards like the Haydenshapes Cannon, which has a modernised single fin design, captures the single fin feeling but has been adapted for the newer age and is more user friendly versus traditional single fins.
The single fin is great for holding a line but it doesn’t generate speed as easily as perhaps a twin fin, thruster, or quad. You have to take more of the energy that the wave gives you. Some people get on a single fin for the first time wonder why they can’t get up and make sections. Single fins are very fast once you get going but you’d have to take what the wave gives you and have less ability to generate your own speed.
The Twin Fin
The twin fin setup was introduced to be really quick and lively. That’s exactly what it is. The downside of the twin fin, although blazing fast, is that they are a little bit loose and tend to spin out a little bit if you’re doing a big bottom turn in bigger waves. The wrong twin fin setup paired with the wrong wave type on a twin fin or ‘twinny’ will tend to slide out from right under you.
The Rasta Torus Twin by Gary McNeil (Read the review…) is a twin fin design with cool torus channels running along the bottom of the board, which make this design hold and control a little bit better. You still get that loose, fast, lively feeling of a twin fin, but it has a little bit of extra hold.
The Three Fin Thruster
By far the most popular surfboard fin setup in the world, the kind of fin setup for basically all of the WCT surfers, all professional surfers, and is considered the most well rounded and balanced fin setup is the three fin thruster. The three fin thruster is essentially meant to take the speed and liveliness of the twin fin but with the hold and the ability to hold a line of the single fin. You have all three fins working in tandem to give you the best all-around ride.
This might not be the most popular fin setup, but it is my favourite! The quad is a favourite because it’s fast, just a little loose and perfect for hard carving turns. Not necessarily the fin setup of choice if you like (and can do) airs, the quad setup is best suited for the type of surfer who like going fast and like big power carves.
The quads are generally very fast and can still do tight pivoting turns. If you want to lay it on the rail and turn hard, quads are excellent.
Those are the four most popular fin setups: the quad, the three fin thruster, the twin fin, and of course the single fin. If you’re looking at changing a fin setup, try something new. If you’ve never tried the twin fin or single fin, go ahead and give one a go. Variety is the spice of life and you might be surprised! You might really enjoy it, especially now that shapers are making more and more modernised versions of these popular surfboard fin setups.
I’m proof of this – I had struggled with single fins but I wanted to understand what the single fin hype was all about. This single fin (Haydenshapes Cannon) and I have gotten along really well and I can’t stop riding the thing. It’s amazing!
OUTRO: Bask in the glow of enlightenment, grasshopper. You now know about the four major fin setups.