3 types of longboard fins explained

A fin makes all the difference, but with so many types of fins out there how do you know which to use?

Well, one thing I encourage you to do is experiment 🧑‍🔬

There’s no one right fin for everyone – personal preference, the waves you’re riding, & how the fin works with your board all come into play.

So with that in mind, let’s look at 3 types of fins to help guide your explorations:


All fins have a trade off between stability & manoeuvrability & at one end of the spectrum is a rudder-style fin.

This fin has a wide base, stands up straight & tall, & has a full outline – think large surface area with lots of hold (great for noseriding).

rudder | wide & upright · lots of hold · pivot-style turns | 📷 @jesslowcherphotographer

The drawback is that it’s harder to turn & generally prefers a pivot-style turn.

It also creates a lot of drag (again, good for noseriding) but in bigger waves it feels like you’re dragging something behind you. So I only like using this fin when it’s smaller or I’m in the mood.


At the other end of the spectrum is a sweeper-style fin.

Where the rudder is tall & upright, these fins have more “sweep” or “rake” w/ a wide base, but quickly narrowing tip.

sweeper | wide base & narrow tip · balance of hold & release · sweeping-style turns | 📷 @ramboestrada

The wide base provides hold & the narrow, sweeped tip provides maneuverability & release (not drag) allowing for more carving-style turns.

The drawback is less hold, but these are generally really versatile & probably the most popular fin out there (ie. the “4-A”).


Somewhere in the middle is a pivot fin. These have a wide base & are still relatively upright, but w/ some sweep & some narrowing towards the tip.

It has more maneuverability than the rudder, but is more pivot-y than a sweeper. It also has a good amount of hold w/o being too rigid.

pivot | wide base & semi-upright · balance of hold & release · pivot-style turns

This type of fin is actually my go-to as I really enjoy the balance of hold & stability & it suits the type of surfing I enjoy doing.

There’s endless variations of these fins plus other designs, but hopefully that helps guide your explorations 🤙.

💬 What’s your favorite type of longboard fin?

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