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The tail (or back end) of the surfboard can come in many varied shapes. While there are many shapes, generally, these different styles all originate from several basic concepts. So what the heck does the tail of your surfboard actually do?
Well...it determines how easily you can catch a wave, and the turning ability of the surfboard. Nothing major. The main thing you wanna pay attention to (aside from the tail's shape) is the tail volume. A wider tail will allow you to catch the wave more easily. A narrow tail will provide better hold and control on a steeper wave, but may not perform so well in the smaller mushier stuff.
We are going to explain the fundamental differences between fish or swallow tails, round pin, and squash tails. Various tails suit different surfing conditions and will impact dramatically on the performance of your surfboard.
Squash Tails. Squash tails are square shaped at the back. This shape gives the back of the board more width or volume. This allows the surfer to perform more precise maneuvers and flicks as there is more surfboard under your foot to push against. The corners of the squash tail allow you to project your turns. This shape is generally considered to be the most popular tail shape for the modern surfboard. This is a great all rounder shape. You will get a nice stable ride but still be able to perform loose turns. This tail shape is suited to all standards of surfers. This tail shapes is great for everything from tiny waves to your multi-story monsters. A versatile tail shape indeed. These boards are very responsive. The rounded corners allow the surfboard to be looser giving great turning on the wave. Due to the versatility of this shape, it is a great option for the longboard.
Rounded Pin. A rounded pin tail is pointed at the back. This allows for very smooth cutbacks and turns. This shape of tail will allow for better grip of bigger and steeper waves. If you are planning on only surfing smaller messier waves, this tail shape is probably not the best choice. The rounded pin can be great for medium to larger waves and is ideal for powerful surf. The rounded pin tail ensures the lines of the rails (or edges of the surfboards) are smooth. This tail shape was enormously popular with the single fin surfboard. The rounder the pin, the looser the surfboard. A very versatile and smooth surfboard. This is the tightest holding of all the tail shapes.
Swallow or Fish Tail. Swallow or Fish tails can be found in all types of surfboards. However, they are most commonly found on fish surfboards, which can be great for beginner surfers. Fish tail surfboards can be easier to paddle and can have better drive on the smaller waves due to the greater area of volume in the tail. Swallow or fish tails have the best of the rounded pin and the squash tail combined. The gap in the V of the tail allows the water to flow freely between the two pins providing the surfboard with a better hold when shifting from rail to rail (turning on the wave). This gives the surfboard more direction and hold on the wave. A V in the tail, such as a fish, will allow the surfer to get through the choppy or messy wave more easily.