Surfboard Fin 101: Terminology

Fin Talk: Terminology - Wake2o

Surfboard Fins 101: Terminology

When reading information on surfboard fins and trying to consider which ones are best suited to you, it can be difficult. All the terminology used can be a lot for a beginner to remember and even for someone that is a pro. We are here to make things a little easier for you and explain all the fin terminology.


The base is the bottom part of your surfboard fin that touches the board. The base of the drive determines the amount of drive. Considering the amount of drive you need is important for if you plan on doing maneuvers.

If your fin has a larger base, it will provide more drive in bottom turns. It is trial and error figuring out what base best suits you and your surfing, increasing your base will make a dramatic difference in the drive of your board.

If your board feels hard or stiff, you may need to try out a smaller based fin. Fins with a wide and long base provide more drive, compared to narrow and short based which offer easy turning sacrificing the drive.


This is the tilt of you fin, upright or laid back.

If a fin is upright it will be more pivoty leading to tighter turns and generating speed. Upright or Pivot fins are great for if you are a fan of nose riding as they have strong hold on the wave and offer great stability. The also allow you to do longer turns.

Less Rake = More Pivot

On the other hand if you have a surfboard fin with less/laidback rake, your board will be easier to turn. Therefore, making them perfect for pocket surf.

More Rake = Less Pivot


The area is the most important attribute when determining fin size. The size of your fins is critical and is based on riders weight. The more area your fin has, the more stability.


Soft vs Stable flex. The flex of your surfboard fins have the most weighting when determining the ride number. The more flex a fin set have, the less responsive. Unlike a stiffer set as they are more responsive making it difficult for beginners to control.

If your fin has a soft slex, they will help with generating speed as well as offering springy turns.

Stable flex fins provide solid turns and help you control your speed. The Future F4 fins have a stable flex.

Flex = Flex Distance / Height

Cant is the angle the fin is splayed in relation to the bottom of the board. No cant (aka 90 degree), will be fast but not responsive, meaning it will be harder to turn. Whereas, a fin with a lot of cant will be easier to turn but will lack speed.

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