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Guide to Fish Shapes

June 29, 2024

Guide to Fish Shapes

The fish revolutionized the sport of surfing since its conception by San Diego surfer Steve Lis in 1967. The boards ability to generate speed, flow through mushy sections and turn with ease are still unparalleled today. 

Similar to other types of surfboards, certain fish shapes have evolved from it's earliest template. The goal of this blog is to answer four questions: (1) what is a fish surfboard (2) how do they ride? (3) what are the different kinds of fish boards? (4) who should ride a fish? 

What is a Fish surfboard?

Three qualities make up the fish surfboard. First, a fish will always have a swallow tail. This allows the tail of the board to stay wide, but with a bit more control than a squared tail. Second, a fish will always have either a twin fin or quad fin set up. If there is a fin in the center point of the board, it is not a fish. Third, because the goal of the fish is to surf with speed, the fish will always retain a bit more width and thickness than other boards. 

Apart from these features, a shaper can be creative as to other design elements. Consequently, some fish boards will be longer or shorter, more high performance or more retro, twin or quad, etc. 

How does a fish surfboard ride? 

The varied ways in which a surfer can describe the complexity of riding a fish can be boiled down into one word: speed. There is no type of surfboard on the market that can go a quick as a properly made fish. The biggest reason for this is because by eliminating a center fin, drag is removed. Pair this with a good amount of volume, along with lower to mid entry rocker, and the board will quite literally fly. 

The second aspect to note about riding a fish is a very loose turning ability. This comes as a bi-product of having a board that has no center fin more pivot. Thus, the fish likes to move down the line and be put on rail with flow.  

Last, the often repeated assumption about a fish is that it is a board that you will either love or hate. This may be true if you restrict the type of fish to only one kind of board, but thanks to years of experimentation and ingenuity among experienced surfboard shapers, this is no longer true. So although these are two of the most baseline characteristics of a fish, there are a multitude of other ride feels that can be attained when considering the vast array of fish designs on the market today. 

What are the different kinds of fish boards? 

1) Retro Fish 

The retro fish is the original fish design which has not changed much from its origins. Retro fish boards usually have lower rocker, and are thicker and wider than other kinds of fish board. Also, to stay true to the fish origins, these boards also work best as twin fins. This means they are very fast down the line and meant for flowy stylish surfing as opposed to radical surfing.

If tapping into surfing's history and surfing with style are appealing to you, we recommend going retro. 

2) Quad Fin Fish 

For some who find twin fins difficult to ride because of their loose feel and easy ability to slide out, a quad fin fish might be the better option for you. By adding two rear trailer fins, the board will have more hold, control and pivot compared to the standard twin. Although the quad is a bit slower than a twin, they are still extremely quick because of the lack of a center fin. 

As for the outline of a quad fish, there isn't one type of fish that fits a quad. Both retro and modern fish boards can be ridden as a quad.

So if you are a more powerful surfer, or if you want a bit more control without sacrificing all of the best elements of fish surfing, the quad fish is a great fit for you. 

3) High Performance Fish 

High performance fish boards are thinner and a bit narrower than all other types of fish surfboards. To achieve performance without just becoming a shortboard, a high performance fish might have a thicker center point, with tampered rails. Thus, paddle ability and momentum remain largely unaffected. Furthermore, the tail might be a bit more pulled in which allows for easier ability to turn without slide out. 

The biggest difference between this type of fish and others are the range of maneuvers that can be done. Other kinds of fish boards are usually restricted to carves, floaters, and top turns; but a high performance fish can also snap, blow tail, air, and ride the barrel to an easier degree.   

If you are an advanced surfer who would like to blend fish and shortboard qualities in your surfing, you cannot beat the high performance fish. 

4) Long Fish 

The long fish has been gaining tons of popularity recently as people are looking for longboard-like stability with the turning ability of a midlength. Because of this combo, this type of board has a pleasant and unique ride feel. When the wave gets slow, the board carries tremendous speed and momentum without needing to pump, but when the wave gets steeper, the quad fin set up allows the rider to turn. The speed of a long fish is also incredibleThis type of board is a great all arounder for lower end intermediate surfers all the way up to expert level surfers. 

Who should ride a fish? 

A fish surfboard is a perfect board for any intermediate to advanced surfer who wants to experience a new level of performance and speed especially in waves between 2-6 feet. A more advanced surfer can ride it all, but they might want to opt for a high performance or retro fish, while a surfer more on the intermediate side should consider a long fish for easier paddle ability, or a quad fish for an easier ability to control the board.

Last, because there are so many different types of fish boards that you can choose from right here at Degree 33 Surfboards, we recommend that everyone adds a fish to their surfboard collection. The addition of a fish to your quiver is a sure guarantee for more fun in everything from summertime mush, to clean winter peelers. 

Fish Surfboards by Degree 33

We offer every type of fish in lots of different constructions, which means there is a fish that is suitable for everyone! For retro and quad fishes, check out our Retro Fish twin and Retro Quad. For the high performance surfers out there, check out the Rocket Fish. For a longer fish, be sure to check out the Easy Rider. 

The Easy Rider Fish in Hybrid Epoxy Soft Top Construction is a real Epoxy board without the wax!

If you would like assistance finding the right fish board for you, email surf@degree33.com or give us a call at (800) 920-2363




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