Fin System Guide
Removable Fins Guide — FCS Fins, Future Fins, and more
Are Future fins better than FCS? Are O’Fish’l fins any good?
There are so many different fin manufacturers these days that it can be very difficult to figure out which one is right for you.
Once a fin system is in place on a board it’s nearly impossible to change it, and people don’t buy new surfboards every week. At best, surfers are at the mercy of word of mouth and advertising.
Here I have broken down several fin companies into potential pros and cons. Remember: everyone has their own priorities about fin systems and what they want out of them. Take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of all the fin systems here, and then check out each company’s website for more information.
Happy fin hunting!
Currently the world leader in surfboard fins, FCS has led the charge with a strong push towards hydrodynamic testing.
Most new surfboards are manufactured with FCS plugs.
They have the widest selection of templates.
Arguably one of the weakest connection systems.
Future fins is one of the leading contenders in the market. Their company uses a combination of an improved connection system with a number of different materials and designs.
Excellent selection of materials and designs.
Same hex key as used with FCS.
Tend to be rare.
Red X markets their technology based on the fact that they have the strongest base system of all the removable systems. A stronger base yields a better ride and more drive. They also allow you to adjust the fins forward and backward, increasing the range of customization.
Ability to move fins forward and backward.
Common flathead screwdriver is all that is needed to tighten screw connection.
Several cutting edge materials.
Tend to be rare.
Not the biggest selection of templates.
O’fish’l is one of the most innovative in terms of connection. Instead of a metal screw (that can become stripped, ripped out, or corroded), O’fish’l fins are connected via a plastic “Z Clip” that is designed to protect your fins and boards by falling out before your board or fin does.
Tool-free connection system.
No metal parts.
Fins come in 4,6, and 8 degrees.
The connection system is not the strongest.
Z Clips easy to lose.
Tend to be rare.
Shaper Ted Kearns (http://www.tkshapes.com) uses O’Fish’l fins in all his boards. Here’s what he has to say:
Nice site. I would like to add to your comments on O’fish’l. I have been building boards for over 20 years and just in the last few years have had unreal success with O’fish’l. I have tried all systems, and ofish is by far the easiest to install during manufacturing, the lightest and strongest. My customers love the snap-in.
For the most part, it outsmarts most people and they get frustrated. That is why people think the system “sucks”. All the parts are manufactured with virgin medical grade plastic and the tolerances are unreal. The fins fit tighter than any other system even w/ out the clip in. Losing z-clips excuse is kind of a cop out. You can lose those keys also.The clip will not come out of the box unless you remove it. At least the clip is replacable when it wears. If a screw strips, you must rout out and replace the plug or box. Also the fit of the boxes in the board makes the tail weight lighter than any other. Less resin = lighter tails.Sorry I blabbed on, but I feel like usual, the majority of surfers are brainwashed by magazine hype.
I noticed in you description of O’fish’l that you stated the Z-clip is designed to break. It is not designed to break, but when the fin hits you while surfing, it is bumped out, causing less injury and damage to the box. Other than that your description is good. Fins also come in 4,6,and 8 degrees. This option has been a godsend for me, so I can really dial my fins with different bottom contours. Thanks again for your time. Ted.
Thanks for the feedback Ted! I’ve corrected my description about the Z-Clip.
Lok Box promotes the fact that their base connection is easy to install for manufacturers and shapers, has the ability to move the fin forward and back, and also has the ability to protect a surfboard from injury when the skeg strikes a solid object. The connection system features a tapered insert to ensure base stability, and a metal finlock that will bend on heavy impact and release the fin.
Protection from hard collision.
Ease of installation.
Fin adjustment ¼” forward and backward.
Ample fin selection available, including keels.
Not commonly installed.
Held in by one screw only.
A lesser known company, Pro Box markets its fins based on the fact that you can change the position of the fins, as well as the cant angle. (Cant is how much the fin is angled away from a directly perpendicular 90 degree angle to the base of the board). This type of customization seems to be wasted on most surfers who simply don’t want to bother. Pro Box also allows you to use FCS -fins with their connection system.
Ability to use FCS and Future Fins.
Several pieces to deal with.
Overall I would recommend either FCS or Future Fins, however Ted Kearns recent feedback has me looking more favorably at O’Fish’l. Obviously FCS is much more common–almost every off the rack surfboard comes with the FCS system.
FCS has also come out with their new FCS H-2 model which work extremely well. Unfortunately, you can’t get this model for Future fins.
Futures definitely have the stronger connection system of the two since the entire base of the fin is connected to the board as opposed to the FCS two tab locking system. Even so, I prefer the fact that FCS is constantly on the cutting edge of fin technology.