Surfboards come in all shapes and sizes and the same applies to surfboard fins.
Should you opt for one, two, three, or more? Is a single fin better than a thruster fin, and how does the question pertain to longboards?
In this guide, we'll take a quick look at the fin setup of a longboard and ask whether a single fin is better than a thruster.
What are Single Fins and Thrusters?
A single fin, as the name suggests, is a single large fin that sits at the back of the board.
In the early days of surfing, boards didn't have fins, and when they were eventually introduced, it was standard to use only one.
A Thruster or tri-fin setup, on the other hand, has three fins.
These fins are smaller, and they are all of equal size, as opposed to a 2+1 fin setup, whereby there is a single large fin in the middle of two smaller fins.
Single Fin or Thruster Fin Setup?
On most longboards, you will find a center fin box and two side ones, allowing for both a single fin setup and a thruster fin setup.
You can switch between the two as needed and the one that offers the best performance will depend entirely on your surfing style and the types of waves that you're surfing.
Benefits of a Single Fin Setup
A single fin setup allows you to gain more speed down the line as it produces less drag.
You will also be afforded smoother carves along the face of the wave.
You should find it easier to gain more speed and that's why most longboard fins adopt the single fin setup.
Benefits of a Thruster Fin Setup
With a thruster setup, you should find that you have more control on the wave as it facilitates tighter turning, with the additional side fins allowing for more maneuverability and a looser feel.
The same can be said for a 2+1 setup.
When to Use Thruster vs Single Fin Setups
The great thing about fin setups is that they can be changed!
You can adopt a thruster fin system to help you with tighter turns on tougher waves and switch to a single fin when you need more speed on smaller waves.
It's not about beginner vs advanced. It's all down to preference.
Just change your fin setup, see which one suits you best, and eventually, you'll discover which systems work better in certain conditions.