What’s the best SUP Fin?

One of the last things we consider with paddleboarding is how the fin impacts the overall experience. It is the equivalent of the tires on your car or bike; it’s what makes contact with the water. And like those tires, each one serves a purpose, making “what is the best” a bit harder than you might think. So today, I thought we’d take a look at understanding how the fin works and how the right fin can improve your SUP adventure.

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 1.52.53 PMThere are basically four components to a fin: The base, the tip, leading edge, and the trailing edge. Each of these parts plays a role in how the paddleboard reacts to your demands and the conditions you are experiencing.

The directional

The base and the tip of the fin basically control your ability to move the board from side-to-side. The leading edge or the rake, the part that will meet those underwater obstacles like kelp and lake weeds impacts your speed. Obviously longer fins will slow you down somewhat as it hits this submerged jungle. And while this may not be an issue in your area, it may be in some other locations you try.

The larger, longer fin can be adjusted either forward or back. But be cognizant of what you are getting into. Shallow water is not good for longer fin set-ups. Also the size of the rider should be considered. In this case, a bigger rider will need a bigger fin. Generally, most SUP boarders want speed, stability, and tracking. Of course a lower profile fin will help with speed but that might not be the best fin for your size or the water you’re in. In this case, adjust where the fin is positioned on the board so you can come as close to achieving all three at the same time.

The thruster

This is generally referred to as the three fin set-up, allowing the SUPer to remove fins based on skill level. Removing the center fin will greatly increase the speed but at the same time decrease stability in a wave situation. Think of it this way: a large fin will give you stability in flatwater but not in choppy water. A small center fin will give the ability to turn quicker but may make the board harder to handle.

The fin makes the ride

While this discussion could go on for a couple thousand more words, and it will in other posts, it is important to understand how personal the fin is to each rider. Stronger paddlers will enjoy a longer fin while a more graceful SUPer might get the best results with a shorter fin.

Fortunately, fins are relatively inexpensive, allowing you to buy two or three to take with you and changed out depending on who is using your board, what the conditions might be, and what you are trying to do with your board. A fin like the FCS 9” Touring SUP fin is a great all-around fin, especially if you’re sharing your board with some less experienced SUPers.

But you might find the FCS 8.5” Slater Trout SUP fin one of the most fun fins money can buy. No kidding, it does it all. It maneuvers, tours, races, and even surfs.

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