Surboard Fin Guide: How many do I need and what are the differences?

February 24, 2020

Surfboard Fin Guide | How many fins do I need and what kind?

People are constantly asking about fin setups.  How many fins do I need?  How does a single fin work compared to a thruster?  What size fin should I get?  We will attempt to answer some of these questions in a short and sweet format.  This is a basic fin cluster overview for any surfer that has questions about types of fin setups and what each cluster is aiming for.  Without the right fin setup, the outline and tail shape of a board may not perform as intended. Below, you'll learn benefits of each type of fin setup.


Single Fins: The Glider.  The single fin is designed purely for steering. It’s more of a rudder for directional turning than a fin setup to create speed. When you try to pump down the line on a single fin, nothing happens. This fin is for surfing in the pocket. Surfing a single fin can make you a better surfer because it will teach you to surf closer to the power source of the wave, allowing you to find the sweet spot more efficiently. A single fin has very little drag so speed is already on tap.

2 Plus 1 Fins: The Stable Glider. Riding a single fin with two side  fins is called a "2+1" setup. This configuration creates more stability for beginners while allowing a more experienced surfer to create speed where a single fin alone cannot. This is the ideal fin cluster for a beginner surfer. When a beginner is ready to move to a more intermediate level of surfing, the side fins provide thrust when pumping the board down the line or performing side to side rail turns. If the 2+1 setup is a removable fin system, the surfer can change between single and 2 plus 1 fin setups as needed.  

Keel Fins/Twin Fins: Top Gear. A Twin Fin setup uses a very large pair of side fins and omits the center fin altogether. This reduces drag between the fins. Twin fins are stiff down the line creating great drive. Compared to the the quad fin, these fins do not release or wash out during quick, twitchy movements. This setup is designed to carry speed through huge drawn out turns. The twin fin is built purely for speed!  

Tri-fin/Thruster: The Professional. For the most part, the World Championship Tour is the home of the thruster. Fast, responsive, and ripe with a variety of choices, the thruster is the first pick for most when it comes to performance. Three fins allow a surfer to pump water out the tail to create drive. The three fins also create incredible hold in powerful surf.  


Quads: The Engine. Four fins create the most drive immediately out of the gaits. It's like muscle car with incredible torque in first gear. For surfers that struggle to find drive and turn it into speed, a quad setup can be a great tool for adding speed and improving surfing ability. Speed gives a surfer the ability to tap into powerful surfing. The speed comes from each set of side fins working together to thrust water through the tail of the board. Like a twin fin, there's no center fin to create drag. 

Each fin cluster is not specific to one genre of surfboard.  Different fins on your surfboard allows intermediate and advanced surfers to think outside the box and play with different fin cluster configurations. We've set each of our models up with the most advantageous fin cluster for a wide variety of surfers. We use FCS compatible fin boxes and Futures fins on custom shapes to accommodate the widest range of fin shapes and materials possible. This gives any surfer the freedom to make a Degree 33 surfboard their magic stick!  

Be sure to check out our selection of fins or if you have other questions you can always call us at (800) 920-2363 or email


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