How to choose the right tail shape

Tails are one of the most easily recognizable design elements of a board, but with so many different tail shapes & variations how do you know which is best? And does it even matter? (Spoiler alert: yes it does)

So let’s look at the 2 tails you’ll most often see on a longboard – the square tail & the pintail – to see which may be a better fit for you.

square tail

The square tail is fairly wide with plenty of surface area & a straighter rail outline.

🖌️ doodles by @jesslowcher

The larger surface area means better planing along the wave face, especially on small, softer waves where you need to capture as much push from the wave as possible. The wide tail also creates a larger surface area for the wave to hold down the tail for noseriding creating more hold overall (see tip 5 if you’re not sure what I’m talking about).

The straighter rails mean it’ll hold its line better, but requires some extra effort to turn.


A pintail is at the other end of the spectrum having a curved rail outline, pointy tail, & less surface area.

🖌️ doodles by @jesslowcher

The smaller surface area means it won’t capture as much of the wave’s energy to push you along & also won’t have as much hold in the wave face.

It will, however, be much better suited to steeper waves (because the curvy outline will better fit within the curvy wave face) & be easier to turn/be more responsive (because the curvy outline is easier for the board to rotate around).

which tail is right for you?

The best tail depends on the types of waves you most often surf & the style of surfing you like.

If you want to get on the nose & stay there as long as possible, a square tail may be the best option.

If you want to incorporate more turns with a more responsive feel, a pintail may be better.

But also consider the waves you ride – the steeper the wave, the less tail you need.

other tails

There are of course other tail shapes (e.g. diamond tail) & variations (e.g. wide square tail or narrow sqaure tail), but they all rely on the same ideas about surface area & outline discussed above.

As a starting point, choose square or pin & venture off from there ✌️

🖌️ doodles by @jesslowcher

💬 I’m currently riding a narrow square tail & loving it – what are you riding?

🙏 Enjoying this series? Share the stoke & buy me a beer! 😄🍻

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