Riding a Fish Style Board

February 13, 2024

Riding a Fish Surfboard

The fish style surfboard was invented by San Diego kneeboarder Steve Lis in 1967 and continues to revolutionize surfing. Many say the fastest they've ever gone, and the most fun they've ever had while surfing, was on a fish surfboard. Nevertheless, many can also attest that learning to surf a fish is hard. The goal of this blog is to help you overcome the initial difficulties of riding a fish, so that you can see why your fish might be your favorite board. 

1) Make sure you are riding the right size board 

A true fish should be 1-4 inches smaller than your standard shortboard. For most, this puts your surfboard within the 5'6-6'0 range. If you are unable to pop up on a board this small, you will want to opt for a long, midlength fish, like our Easy Rider.

2) Have the right expectations

For any surfboard, the design of the board dictates the style of surfing that can be performed on it. Because the fish only has two, or 4 fins in some cases, with no center pivot fin, you can expect loads of speed, with not a lot of control. Most people who do not like riding a fish have a faulty expectation that the board should have more control, and won't slide out when pushed hard. Imagine if you bought a 10' longboard, and expected to be able to turn vertically in the lip. You will set yourself up for bad sessions because your expectations didn't match the qualities of the board. The same goes for a fish; do not expect it to ride just like all of your other boards, but cater your surfing to match the characteristics of the board.

3) What type of surfing should be done on a fish 

Riding a fish takes style and finesse. The board is designed for easy turning ability and speed, but can easily be over powered if you push it too hard. For this reason, focus on the boards speed and quicker turning ability, and do not try to put all of your weight into every turn. Utilize the speed of the board by opting for high lines, floaters, and smooth arching cutbacks. Also, because there is no pivot point, the board will want to go down the line rather than vertical. This is why fish board excel in drawn out point breaks, reef breaks, and make-able beach breaks. So next time you are riding a fish, be selective and go for waves that have a long open face. Don't try to destroy the wave as you would on a performance shortboard, but seek ways to flow with the wave.

4) Overcoming common mistakes 

As mentioned briefly above, the most common mistake while riding a fish would be sliding out during your turns. While a board like a longboard requires you to put a lot of weight in your turns to activate the rail, a fish only needs a slight lean to get it to you. 

The next mistake is digging your rail. Because a fish generally has a wider nose and parallel outline, you can dig your rail if you are not drawing out your turns enough. On a cutback, as an example, don't try turning in too tight of a radius, but extend the turn. This will not only help you not to dig a rail, but it is also good style. 

Another mistake is riding the board in waves that are not suitable for it. Smaller waves are usually better for a fish, unless you are an expert level surfer. Aim for the 2-4 ft range, and make sure the waves are not too steep. If the waves are too big or steep, you will have little control or you will slide out. 

Next, some will not expect the board to turn so quickly, which causes them to misplace their turns or accidentally turn out of the wave altogether. To increase control in this area, focus on drawing out your turns by not leaning so hard from rail to rail. For example, when you take off on the wave, sink the rail slightly and set your line. If you turn too hard up the wave face, the board is so responsive that it might cause you to turn up and out of the wave. 

Last, if you are still sliding out on your twin fin, you might want to opt for a quad. Quad fish boards, like our Codfather, offers a similar amount of speed, with increased control. 

5) Keep Practicing 

Although the loose feel of a fish will feel foreign to you in your first few sessions, with practice it will become second nature to you. Watch other surfers riding a fish and learn from them, and keep referring back to some of the quick tips in this blog. 

If you are interested in riding a fish, or want to learn more about the diverse range of fish boards we have available give us a call directly at (800) 920-2363, or email us at


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