Surfboard Fin Guide

Surfboard Fin Guide

Here at Zuma Jay we are always trying to make choosing the right kit a little easier, with the help of our advice in the shop and online, Giving you more time in the water.


Over the last week we have been looking at how we can help you by making the surfboard fin buying process a bit simpler, and in turn quicker. Due to there being so many different fins on the market, all doing different jobs, it can be a minefield for the uninformed. So to help we have come up with a category break down system that will narrow it down to your exact fin needs such as, fin set up, fin size, and the desired performance you are looking to achieve with your new fins.




In this blog we are going to look into two of our most popular Fin systems from FCS and Futures. Aiming to provide you with a bit more knowledge to help you get the most out of your new fins. But firstly we are going to take a closer look in to what makes up the template of a fin.


So before we get brand specific lets give you a little information on the basics of fins. Its important to match your weight to the size of fin, but there’s more than just that to factor in such as Rake, Base, Area, Foils, Flex and Depth.



Area: The more area the more hold the fin will have. We have broken down the fins from XS – Large on our fin selector. The photo below shows that the fin on the left has a smaller area so will have a looser feel, while the one on the right has more hold due to the bigger surface area.





Depth /Height: One element of area is Depth/Height, Just like surfboards, fins have benefited from recent advancements in technology, and now height is just a component of area. The deeper the fin is the more leverage the fin will have when rolling onto the rail. This helps with stability and overall hold, just like increasing the area. Taller surfers might benefit from deeper fins, and shorter surfers might like less fin height.





Base: The larger the base the more drive the fin will have in bottom turns. Increasing the base will make a dramatic difference in the drive you feel out of your bottom turns. If the board feels stiff or hard to turn, putting in a fin with a smaller base, less rake, or more flex might free it up a bit.






Sweep/Rake: The more Sweep/Rake a fin has the longer and more drawn out turns become. The more upright a fin is, the more pivoty the fin feels. The further the tip overhangs the base the more rake a fin will have. Fins with a large overhang are considered to be lower aspect ratio and they will be more stable because the fin tip in the back corrects and holds the board straight. This is good when the conditions are heavy or you want to wrap sweeping cutbacks. Fins that are more straight up, higher aspect ratio, will allow you to change directions quickly and can be excellent for tight pocket surfing.






Foils A foil is a cross section of the fin that effects how water flows across it. Aeroplanes have different wing foils for different performance benefits, and your fins should too







Stiffer fins are responsive, but are more difficult to turn while flexible fins allow you to spring out of turns, but can be wobbly and kill your drive if they are too flexible. Flex can make the difference between a board being too stiff or perfect, or making a late drop vs rag-dolling down the face of a wave.





Futures Fins



Futures Fins began in a garage in California in 1996. Backed by industry leaders with over 50 years of surfboard building experience, the Longo brothers were able to use their engineering backgrounds to create products involving something they were passionate about, Surfing. Today our passion for surfing and our commitment remains the same, and since we are a family owned business we are much more concerned with impressing you, the board-rider, than any board member.” (


The System


Futures fin system has been design to give you the feel of a glass on fin with the ability to swap you fins in and out fro different performance aspects.


Futures fin boxes have been designed to be user friendly and strong. The system offers all the positive features of removable fins, whilst also providing the performance of glassed on fins.




To Save as much weight as possible while keeping the maxim amount of stiffness Futures has come up with the Truss Bass which is shown in the photo below.



Futures Fin Foils


Flat Foil

Flat foiled fins break free sooner, and are better at controlling speed. Often surfers prefer them in fast powerful surf where they do not need to create additional speed. If you have muscle memory from riding glass-ons, flat foiled fins will feel the closest.


V2 Foils

Drive in bottom turns, but breaks free in the lip like a flat fin. A V2 Foil is a V. Foil and Flat Foil blend. It takes the best speed generating attributes of the V. (at the base) and transitions into a flat foil in the tip for a controlled release in critical turn.


V Foils

Great for getting speed if you are having trouble finding it. Fluid rail to rail transitions. V. Foils are designed to maximize lift with a minimal amount of drag. Fins with this V. Foils will find speed that you did not know was there, or help you get that extra gear to really find drive in your bottom turns.



Tow Foils

Designed for stability at high speeds. Instead of maximizing the lift, this foil is stable with very little drag. The foil is convex on both sides with a small amount of camber or asymmetry.





Futures can take the same materials and use them differently in the construction of a fin to get different performance qualities. The Blackstix are designed with a springy twist in the tip, while the Techflex are designed to open out from the middle.


It is impossible to look at the shape, foil, and flex of a fin independently. They all work together to create the feel under your feet. The Blackstix for example are designed to feel lively and to generate speed when you might be held back by the conditions. The V2 foil carbon fiber base creates lift, and the tip has less carbon so that the tip is snappy and flexible. The tip is designed to rotate perpendicular to the stringer during turns springing back releasing energy at the end of turns. Picture pulling back a bow and then releasing the arrow at the end of each bottom turn. The Techflex on the other hand, has a flat foil instead of a V2 so we designed the fin to open out so the cant will increase as the fin flexes in the middle (where there is no carbon). This enables the fin to generate more lift. The carbon in the tip makes the tip extremely responsive.




Carbon and Kevlar

Carbon Fibre - Carbon Fibre has one of the best strength to weight ratios of any material. The energy you load up on a carbon fibre fin comes back in a burst of energy because of its Resiliency.




Texalium - Aluminized Fiberglass that is stiffer than fiberglass, but more flexible and springy than carbon.




Honeycomb - Lightweight hexagonal core. Gives the fin the feel of glass-ons. Engineered with a medium flex pattern, stiffer than Blackstix but more flexible than glass and Techflex.




Fiberglass - Stiff and tough for heavy conditions. Or surfers that appreciate very stiff fins.





Introduced to the Australian market in 1992 and released globally in 1994. “To this day FCS is the strongest, most successful, and the most widely used fin system in the world”.


Since its global release in 1994, 28 ASP World Titles and countless events have been won riding FCS. No other system in the world can lay claim to a single ASP World Title in either the men’s, women’s, junior's, or longboard divisions. The success of FCS is a testament to its advantages over other fin systems, this includes traditional fixed fins as well.”(



FCS has two different fins FCS II and FCS (X-2),


FCS II which is designed to accommodate all surfers; regardless of their age demographic, surfing genre, or the boards and waves they’re riding. Efficient keyless system for quick fin installation and release. The FCS II system requires no grub screws or keys to secure the fins to the board. Fins can be easily inserted and removed in seconds, allowing you to adapt your equipment to the conditions, on land and in the water.


Offering unparalleled strength, durability and bonding properties, FCS X-2 is the most widely used fin system in the world, and the chosen fin system by the world’s best surfers.

Patented H-pattern connects the only two structural parts of the board; the fibreglass skins on the deck and the bottom. The H-pattern effectively anchors the plugs in the board and creates a solid foundation for the fins to withstand extreme loading.




FCS Fins Foils



FLAT: A flat inside face combined with a convex outside face. The traditional flat sided foil offers an even combination of drive, pivot and hold and provides a very consistent, reliable feel over a wide variety of conditions.






INSIDE: A sophisticated hydrodynamic foil consisting of a convex outside face, a rounded leading edge and a concaved inside face. Inside foil increases the efficiency of water flow over the surface of the fin adding lift and reducing drag. The result is a fin with more options through increased hold and speed.






50/50: A symmetrical foil used on all centre fins where both sides are convex. Even water flow on both sides creates stability and control.





 80/20: Combines the performance of a centre and side fin offering increased speed, smooth rail-to-rail transitions and a consistent feel in a variety of conditions. (Ideal for all board types and rear fin placements)







Neo Glass

Lightweight, moulded fiberglass construction delivering pro standard performance. The high fiberglass content makes these fins stiff and responsive, and the engineered foils provide a consistent feel in a range of different conditions.

Performance Core Carbon

Dynamic RTM construction with strategically placed carbon compliments the template and sweep angle of the fin, and produce a bespoke flex pattern with remarkable memory properties. In the water this translates to immediate response when loading up the fins and driving through turns. PCC fins suit fast surfing and are favoured by power surfers who like to perform explosive turns on critical parts of the wave.



Performance Core

Versatile RTM construction delivers a consistent feel similar to a traditional fiberglass fin, but with the advantage of reduced weight. The stiff flex pattern extends progressively from the base through to the tip helping the surfer to maintain drive and hold through a turn. PC fins are reliable, very responsive, and can be used in a variety of different conditions.



Performance Glass

Performance Glass (PG) material characteristics and flex pattern are identical to traditional fibreglass fins offering a stiff base with subtle responsive tip flex, amazing aesthetics and proven durability. PG fins are the perfect transition fin for surfers moving from fixed fins to the convenience, accuracy and performance of FCS.


Ultra Light

This lightweight RTM construction draws on the strength of carbon to provide immediate response when loading up the fins and driving through turns. UL fins have a highly stiff flex pattern, for this reason they suit fast surfing, and are favoured by power surfers who like to perform explosive turns on critical parts of the wave.



Glass Flex

Injection moulding process ensures geometric accuracy and provides a reliable and consistent feel. These fins are ideal for novice surfers because the relaxed (subtle) flex of these fins can be engaged with minimal effort, and as the flex returns to a neutral position the fin produces a whip-like effect that propels the board forward, and helps to maintain speed and acceleration.




We hope that you have found this blog useful and if you have any question please give us a call (01288 354 956) or pop in and we will be more than happy to help,


The Zuma Jay Crew







Posted by ZumaJay

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