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Beginner Fin Guide – Fun With Fins

Beginner Fin Guide – an adventure with FCS fins

Do you have FCS fins or another removable fin system? If so, it may be easier and cheaper to experiment than you might think.

When you’re just starting out, you probably won’t be able to generate the speed necessary to feel the fin response. You also won’t have full control over your turns—YET! Don’t worry, once you get good enough (and you will) you’ll have a lifetime to explore different fin options.

Make your board a pseudo-twinnie for fun
Make your board a pseudo-twinnie for fun

As you advance, you can play around with different fin setups. Once you can stand up and ride across the face of a wave, a good way to start experimenting would be to remove the center fin from a tri fin setup. (Unfortunately, if you have glass on fins, a longboard, or a single fin, you won’t be able to do this.) You can also try out your friends boards if they have different fin setups.

When I was a beginner and first starting to ride on the open face, I accidentally lost the center fin of my 7’8” funboard during a session. I had FCS fins and I think the leash somehow got caught around the fin, yanking it out. (Make sure your fins are tightly connected!)

Unfortunately, the fin was not floating around nearby and I never found it. I thought I was screwed, but I continued my session on my newly christened twin fin setup. I found that the board still went straight, but was looser and more ‘skatey.’

Since the summertime waves I was surfing at the time were relatively weak and slow, the loss of the center fin gave the board more ease in turning. Boards don’t like to turn when they’re barely moving.

I had so much fun experiencing the difference that I didn’t even replace the fin for another month! I found that the board had a bit extra sideways movement without the center fin.

Remember, surfing is all about having fun, so don’t ever feel like you “should” have a particular fin setup, just because it’s cool or accepted. For example, FCS fins might seem like the most cutting edge technology because they spend tons of money on advertising, but there are a number of other fin systems that deserve a look as well.

Beginners should ABSOLUTELY check out Pro-Teck replacement fins. They are made as FCS Fins, Future fins, and Red X fins. Even experienced surfers should look into them.


  1. Hi I’m 37 and maybe a little too late to start surfing but would like to give it a go. I sent it Difficult for a tall girl to start surfing ???? at my age and my height? I’m 176cm tall so what size mini mal should I buy apparently the ones on eBay from China are really good to buy for a beginner anyone know more about it? and should I have a three fin or removable fins and how high should the surf board be from my heads heigh how many inches or feet should theboard be from my head for a minimal? Thanks

  2. Hi

    I ride a 7’10” with FCS-5 fins.

    I can build plenty of speed but I find turning is really tough. A mate suggested I replace the centre fin with a FCS 3. An suggestions?

  3. Hey,

    I got a 6.3 Webber Afterburner and I wanna buy some new FCS fins. I’m 75kg, what fins should I take if I want more stability and drive? Large or medium fins?


  4. I lost the middle fin on my tri-fin, by riding whitewater in all the way to the beach. I can still surf with two fins – good to read this post to know I’m not the only one!

  5. Hi I am planning on going out this weekend for the first time and I am going to use a tri-fin board. My sister had bought it for her boyfriend (A VERY NICE BOARD worth like $450 or somthing) when they broke up my sister took it back and it was just sitting in my rafters in the garage so I took it down and noticed it has a broken left fin i was wondering if i can just put the middle one on the left and surf that way? please email me and let me know thanks.

    [email protected]

  6. Right now I have a 9’0 surfboard with tri-fin system, 1 longer in the middle and two small. What will be the biggest difference if I bought a large center fin and removed the two small fins? Thanks

  7. would like to know what moving a centre fin forward or back would do to the boards performance, i have a tri fin 9’1 mal .
    thanks mick

    1. Generally moving it forward will loosen it up, moving it back will tighten it up. Great longboarder told me…when thinking about moving your fin around, first try it all the way up, and then all the way back. Note the difference, and start making small adjustments from there.

  8. no, fins provide stability which will make it easier for you to balance and stand up. Without fins the tail will slip out and it would be just like skimboarding. definitely need at least one fin

  9. I’m such a beginner that I’m not even worried about turning at this point, I’m just learning how to get up on the board in the water and go straight. Do you think it’s fine to ride a fin-less board until I get to that point?

  10. any information on how to put a glass bead on a retro wooden fin and the proper way to glass both the fin and attaching it to the board. I have a mid 1960’s Rick Surfboard that has a botched fin repair on it, and I purchased a retro fin and need some info!!!!

    Bill Nash

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