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  1. #1
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    More Fin Questions

    I need some fin advice from shapers or anyone who plays around with different shortboards and fins...

    Basically, every shortboard of mine is very similar. They may very by an inch in height, and they all have standard thurster setups, with either FCS or Future fins. Prettty standard stuff..

    In the past, I have not always liked riding boards that are wider, 19"+ or thicker boards. But I really want another fish/shortboard hybrid. Something with a little more width. Maybe a 5"11 or something with a wider nose than my standard shortboard. Maybe a swallow tail instead of the round and squashes that I always ride...

    So here is the fin question: Is there a different kind of fin setup for these shorter, wider boards, that will allow you to kind of whip the tail around like you can on a standard shortboard with a thruster. I feel like the reason I didnt like the wider boards is because they were harder to swing around through turns and I felt like I had to keep really centered on the board and I wasnt able to lean on the rails really hard and make sharp turns...

    So, in my head, I would think that if I am on a 5"11x19x2.x with a three fins thruster setup, I could put a longer middle fin, and put two smaller looser fins on the sides. In theory, that would keep the tail somewhat centered, but with a little ankle tweek, the board should still be squirly enough to swivel around the large middle tail fin...

    Hopefully that made sense. But basically I want to know if anyone has a really successful fin setup that you can bury a rail and swing it around more through your turns like a standard thruster shortboard can...

    Any advice?

  2. #2
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    seeing as my narrowest board is 19.25" wide & & my average, everyday boards hover in the 20" wide range, i think i may be able to help.

    if i'm understanding you correctly, you want to be able to break the fins out & slide the tail, kind of like a tail whip kinda thing. smaller fins would deff. be the way to go on that, but i don't think you'd want to put a larger center fin in, as that would stiffen the entire board up (depending, of course, on the size difference between center & side fins). for example, if you usually ride a fin similar in size to an FCS m-5, then try an m-3 size fin instead. if that proves too slidey, try just swapping out your regular center fin for a slightly smaller one...again, take your m-5 center out, slap an m-3 center in.

    the find set up that i've found works best w/ the modern fish style boards (& i know a lot of guys who like this set up on things like biscuits, rockets, pods, etc...) is a twin w/ trailer set up. both futures & fcs has a fin set for this...i think futures calls it the T1 & in fcs it's the MR-TFX or something similar. both feature side fins close (but not quite) to the size of fins a regular twinnie would use w/ a smaller center fin. this set up gives you lots of drive, but the smaller center fin adds stability to the board & gives you that kind of "training wheel" effect of having something there on the board, to make you feel better about riding something different. this is the set up i revert back to if i'm not riding a bonzer.

    hope that helps.

  3. #3
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    Larger rail fins will give you more of a pivoty type turn... maybe what you're after. Larger trailing fin will give you more drive and stability. If what you're looking for is a board for smaller/weaker surf, but you still want to be able to snap turns, there are a number of things you could consider...

    A quad. If you've never tried one, it's a great change of pace, and they work great on mod fish. Again, slightly bigger fins up front.

    Plenty of curve in the planshape. You can get away with more width up front and through the middle if you keep it really curvy in the tail. Keeping the wide point back, you can pull it in to a mini swallow if you want, but a rounded square or thumb works great, too.

    An exaggerated hip or bump, or wings. Creating a release point around your back foot will give you more snap.

    Plenty of tail rocker. You can flatten the entry, add width in the nose and middle, and maintain a typical tail rocker to keep it loose.

    Full single concave rather than the typical single to double. Singles flatten the rocker through the middle for lift and drive, and are more responsive than doubles in small surf.

    The trade-off of all of these, except for the concave, is a loss of planing speed, particularly if your "back-footed" which you most likely are if you only surf modern shortboards. Keeping it foiled a bit thicker helps moderate this, but once you're up and planing, thickness matters less, particularly in the tail.

    Don't get me wrong, you can have a lot of fun trying different fin setups on a "normal" thruster. But if you're bored with your off-the-rack thrusters, talk to a local shaper and consider a custom.
    Last edited by LBCrew; Jun 10, 2010 at 01:54 PM.

  4. #4
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    Yeah< i am going to my shaper for my next board. He has made me pretty much the exact board I want again a few years ago. It was a 5'10x19.25 ( I forget the thickness, but it was pretty thick).... But the model he made me before was eps/epoxy.... So, I think I am going to do the same setup, with a swallow tail. He did the standard FCS fin setups.... So, I guess it does make more sense that to get the sliding, whipping tail, it would be with two larger side fins and the smaller middle fin...

    On my shortboards, my 5'10 etc, that i ride in really goo, clean mid sized surf has FCS FG3's (the red ones with figure eights...) My larger shortboards, all 6'0-6'3, I load up with the FCS FG5's (Blue with figure eights... ) So, ideally, I could slap the two FG5 side fins on and throw the red FG3 middle fin in and get that effect.... Thats makes perfect sense.


    And as for the quad... I will certainly try one some day... But since I am so comfy doing everything I do on shortboard with a thruster, I am still afraid to go to something completely different.... Some day.... some day.... =)

    I am just afraid of having a lack of focus going down the line and in barrels with a quad setup.....

    P.S. This hybrid fish board is more for good surf than small surf. More for surfing the cliffs in the summer when its big than surfing when its really small. Although, the board does really well in small surf. I use these fish hybrids when the surf is good, but you need something different. More for the larger, mushy stuff....

  5. #5
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    when you say, "lack of focus," what exactly are you getting at? are you concerned that a quad won't hold as well in the face as a thruster would? or you wouldn't be able to pump to generate speed as much?
    i will say that i prefer swallow tails for quads rather than round, squash, or diamond tails. i've just felt like i don't get the drive or responsiveness out of quads w/ those types of tails like i do out of the swallow tails, esp. quad fish. i've ridden quite a few quad fish of different persuasions (a fishcuit style, a Lis-style fish, & a speed dialer type) & loved them all. conversely, i've ridden a couple different round tail quads & felt that they were lacking. but that's just me.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by njsurfer42 View Post
    i will say that i prefer swallow tails for quads rather than round, squash, or diamond tails..
    I started riding those sucky quads back in the 80s and thought they were a step backwards from the thruster. But about 3 or 4 years ago, I went back to quads and I'm totally hooked. My daily driver is a battail and my East Coast gun is a double wing swallow both with the McKee placement specs. I agree with what you said... I prefer the extended rail line with quads for small to medium surf. I think 90 percent of thrusters are squashes for a reason... they work great. My big wave board is a mini swallow for a touch more control. I chose that over the typical pin or rounded pin because I wanted to keep that straighter rail line through the middle, then bump it down in the tail with wings that are placed to work with the fins. The Fish took a big leap forward with the quad setup, too. Pavel has them DOWN.

    Gotta admit... Stretch Riedel has been a huge inspiration for me over the last 5 years, and McKee has corrected a lot of what the 80s quads were doing wrong.

  7. #7
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    My comment on a fear or "Lack of Focus" with a quad setup kind of refers to 2 situations. In good, faster hollow surf, I rely a lot on my middle thurster fin to hold my line, so stall into a barrel etc... I can feel that middle fin lock in and keep the board in the slot for as long as I can hold it... I am afraid of using the quads because I pump fast and I would assume that if my two side fins poke out or release while I am pumping, I feel that the tail and rails would slide out alot... Like I said, not sure because I dont ride quads...

    But here is the lack of focus I get with my 5'10x19.25 swallow fish/shortboard hybrid... The thing takes off really fast... If you get could speed, the bottom turns are east, but if you dont have enough speed and force, it is really hard to bury the rail and make a tight angle on the turn... The board seems to flatten out and almost slide back and flatten out on the flats and slide right out... Now, while I surf powerful enough to prevent that from happening on the bottom turns.... Where the board would REALLY crap out is during bigger top turns... You go into a turn like a roundhouse the same way I would on my short board, and after you swing the thing back around, the board doesn't come back to you... Rather it slides out and flops onto the top of the wave, rather than allowing the rails to dig deep and cut like butter, it would kind of slide out... With my shortboards, I use my leg strength to pull the baord under me... Im goofy, so basically when I go into a sharp roundhouse top turn and I want to snap the board back around, I use my right arm to stall the turn and dig my right arm intot he top of the wave face and then use my body weight to swing the board by under my center of gravity... With the fatter boards, I am not as good at getting the board back to center underneath me... When doing radical turns, they have a tendency to die out and slide....

    So, my original question was, could I still get away with trying my standard thurster setup and use Larger side fins and a smaller middle fins, so the turning would be a little more loose and enable me to swing the board back....

    I guess I am saying this: I can make really good turns on these little fish/hybrids only with a ton of power and throwing my body weight into each angle of the turn... But typically shortboarding does not require that... The board take much further positions out from under your center of gravity, but allow you to correct it without totally wiping out...

    And my assumption has always been that if I have this problem with a thurster setup, it would be magnified using a quad, because at the top of the turn, the two outside fins will both release out of the water completely, thus sending your little fish launching into whatever direction its moving and flopping out from under you... I just envision that middle fin in my head as that last center of gravity that holds through the turns... Which is why I pictured the middle fin as being the anchor, making me think that maybe if I used two tiny side fins and a longer middle on those boards, that the middle fin would act as an anchor to slow down the turn, but keep the board locked in a bit more centered under me, rather than it just sliding out and releasing...

    Wow, that was long winded, but since this is technical stuff, I wanted to try and explain my thinking...

    I know there are a ton of quad enthusiasts, I just want to mess with the thurster fins setups before I completely bail on the idea... I am soo used to shortboarding, I just want the same thing everyone does: A shorted, wider board that handles like a shortboard =)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zach619 View Post
    My comment on a fear or "Lack of Focus" with a quad setup kind of refers to 2 situations. In good, faster hollow surf, I rely a lot on my middle thurster fin to hold my line, so stall into a barrel etc... I can feel that middle fin lock in and keep the board in the slot for as long as I can hold it... I am afraid of using the quads because I pump fast and I would assume that if my two side fins poke out or release while I am pumping, I feel that the tail and rails would slide out alot... Like I said, not sure because I dont ride quads...

    But here is the lack of focus I get with my 5'10x19.25 swallow fish/shortboard hybrid... The thing takes off really fast... If you get could speed, the bottom turns are east, but if you dont have enough speed and force, it is really hard to bury the rail and make a tight angle on the turn... The board seems to flatten out and almost slide back and flatten out on the flats and slide right out... Now, while I surf powerful enough to prevent that from happening on the bottom turns.... Where the board would REALLY crap out is during bigger top turns... You go into a turn like a roundhouse the same way I would on my short board, and after you swing the thing back around, the board doesn't come back to you... Rather it slides out and flops onto the top of the wave, rather than allowing the rails to dig deep and cut like butter, it would kind of slide out... With my shortboards, I use my leg strength to pull the baord under me... Im goofy, so basically when I go into a sharp roundhouse top turn and I want to snap the board back around, I use my right arm to stall the turn and dig my right arm intot he top of the wave face and then use my body weight to swing the board by under my center of gravity... With the fatter boards, I am not as good at getting the board back to center underneath me... When doing radical turns, they have a tendency to die out and slide....

    So, my original question was, could I still get away with trying my standard thurster setup and use Larger side fins and a smaller middle fins, so the turning would be a little more loose and enable me to swing the board back....

    I guess I am saying this: I can make really good turns on these little fish/hybrids only with a ton of power and throwing my body weight into each angle of the turn... But typically shortboarding does not require that... The board take much further positions out from under your center of gravity, but allow you to correct it without totally wiping out...

    And my assumption has always been that if I have this problem with a thurster setup, it would be magnified using a quad, because at the top of the turn, the two outside fins will both release out of the water completely, thus sending your little fish launching into whatever direction its moving and flopping out from under you... I just envision that middle fin in my head as that last center of gravity that holds through the turns... Which is why I pictured the middle fin as being the anchor, making me think that maybe if I used two tiny side fins and a longer middle on those boards, that the middle fin would act as an anchor to slow down the turn, but keep the board locked in a bit more centered under me, rather than it just sliding out and releasing...

    Wow, that was long winded, but since this is technical stuff, I wanted to try and explain my thinking...

    I know there are a ton of quad enthusiasts, I just want to mess with the thurster fins setups before I completely bail on the idea... I am soo used to shortboarding, I just want the same thing everyone does: A shorted, wider board that handles like a shortboard =)
    not to stay focused on the quad thing, but what you're talking about is a common misconception w/ quads. the fact that the 2 rail fins release & come out of the water actually (& apparently counter-intuitively) allow turns to be tighter & allow the board to stay on rail better through the turn than a thruster would. think about it: the center fin of the thruster is only 1/2 engaged during a full rail turn & the outside fin is completely out of the water. the only fin that's really 100% engaged is the inside rail fin. now on a quad, you've got 2 fins that are 100% engaged &, if it's a well-designed set up, working together to drive the board thru the turn & generate the speed & power needed to complete the turn. tom carroll as switched to quads almost exclusively. the problem, i think, lies w/ the fact that, like you said, you're fully committed to surfing thrusters. the feeling is slightly different & you're not used to it & have never given it the time required to become used to it. as a fully committed bonzer rider, i understand where you're coming from. it can be very disconcerting the first of couple waves on a board w/ no center fin after you've been used to having that center fin there (the effect, obviously, is amplified w/ a bonzer...that big rudder hanging down there...), but after a wave or 2 i generally adjust & get used to the feeling. but i like messing around w/ different feelings & fins & designs. some people aren't into that.

    to answer your original question in brief: the answer is yes. you can use a smaller center fin to loosen the board up w/out sacrificing much in the way of speed & drive. you may even want to consider a g-1000 center fin w/ the fg-5 sides. but experiment w/ the fg-3 first. if that still feels too stiff, then seek out a g-1000 center fin.

    & not to make things more complicated, but maybe your problem stems not from fins, but from rail volume. do you tend to get your fish/hybrids w/ fuller tails than your standard shorties? if so, that could lead to some of the things that you're describing in turns. the rail isn't being set, so the board is sliding out & you would need to apply more pressure & power to the board to prevent that from happening. just a thought.

  9. #9
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    OK... I have a better understanding of what you're experiencing. You could certainly try to change out your fins, and I would suggest doing that because my guess is your problem is related to something you can't change. I would be shocked if you measured your tail rocker on your fish hybrid and it wasn't significantly flatter than what you're used to on your standard performance shortie. Measure at the tip, and at a foot up on both boards and compare. Also consider to what degree bottom contours come into play, paying attention to both rail rocker and stringer rocker. Flatter tail rockers will tend to push water, particularly through the exit part of the turn, rather than flow through it. That bogging, flattening, flopping sensation is, IMO without seeing the board or seeing you surf, is the back third of the board scrubbing off speed rather than flowing fully through the turn, because when the board is on the rail, it follows the curve of the exit rocker. Flatter rocker, flatter turn. Curvier rocker, curvier, tighter turning radius, that holds better speed through a tighter turn. The flatter tail rockers work well when you're not trying to make that sharper turn. If you have a wide open face, and you're doing big, open turns, flatter tail rockers are best. But for pocket turning, curvier tail rockers are more energy efficient.

    That being said, your rocker is going to determine, to a large degree, the parameters of your board's performance in those turning situations. Changing your fins will only allow you to make adjustments within those limits. But... find a surf shop that will let you "test drive" a bunch of FCS fins and see what works best for you. Good luck....
    Last edited by LBCrew; Jun 11, 2010 at 11:17 AM.

  10. #10
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    Yep. . .

    Just gotta love tech talk.