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Ultimate Guide to Fish Surfboards

Every surfer needs a surfboard that replicates the flow, the style, and the smooth glide of a classical template surfboard. A fish surfboard is a perfect choice, as these retro-inspired shapes bring you right on back to the good ol' days of surfing.

There are, however, a plethora of different kinds of surfboards that fall under the category of a fish. The best fish surfboard for yourself depends on a few personal characteristics, including your surfing style, the waves you ride, and your body type. So if a fish surfboard has been on your radar, just as it should be, we've got some solid information in store!

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What is a Fish Surfboard?

Mostly Twin Fins with some hybrid models, including a quad fin set up, the major characteristic of a fish board is the tail.

The fishtail (shaped like an upside-down 'V' outline), often referred to as a swallowtail, offers more surface area from rail to rail, allowing for lift and speed through turns; a shape that will never expire.

The fish surfboard traditionally has a wider outline and fuller rail, similar to a Fun Board. These characteristics make them easy to paddle, forgiving, and fast down the line. In addition, with varying fin configurations like the twin keel or quad fin set up, the Fish Surfboard has unique performance characteristics that make them a must have in anyone's quiver.

Because of their classic template, Fish surfboards generally feature very little rocker and thick, rounded, and full rails of which meet a nose that, although is still pointed, is also very round.

Usually shorter than a standard shortboard (although they do come in a variety of sizes) and wider, this creates a shape that floats exceptionally well, that glides effortlessly down the line, and that still ensures performance in the pocket is never hindered.

fish surfboard

The Different Kinds of Fish Surfboards

There's not just one type of fishtail surfboard, as a fish can come in a variety of sizes and styles. Therefore, the best fish surfboard for you depends on exactly what you're looking for.

A Retro Fish Surfboard

A retro fish surfboard is the original fish, the classic twin keel designed in the 70s a favorite to this day.

If you seek a shortboard that floats extremely well on small, mushy days (as well as big, clean waves) and that allows you to glide down a face with effortless style, then a retro fish surfboard is a go-to choice.

These types of fish boards are shaped with classic outlines (little rocker, super-wide, and thick rails) and usually with a twin fin set up. This shape is meant for a stylistic approach to surfing that still allows for impressive performance in the pocket and in the barrel, as long as you know how to control this unique board.

A do it all kind of shape, this surfboard brings you back to the roots of surfing while also allowing for progression.

The Sugar by Chilli Surfboards s a modern take on the classic retro twin fin shape.

A Performance Fish Surfboard

Although a fish board is synonymous with style, these surfboards were originally shaped to outperform the classic pintail shapes in steep, hollow waves with aggressive faces.

A performance fish surfboard has one primary attribute that helps it excel in powerful conditions: Speed.

Usually a quad fin set up, these performance shortboards are shaped just like any other poly or epoxy shortboard in terms of material. They are, however, usually more aggressive on the rocker, a little less wide, and a little thinner than a retro fish surfboard shape.

red baron fish The JS Industries Red Baron.

Hybrid Fish Surfboard

A hybrid fish surfboard is one of the best options for a surfer's quiver.

The reason being is that this type of fishtail surfboard shape is suited to ride nearly any type of wave condition and size with impressive prowess. From mushy and soft faces to speeding barrels, a hybrid fish surfboard really never lets you down!

They are quick and responsive to aggressive turns, they allow for stylish and drawn-out cutbacks, and you can speed right through hollow sections with ease.

To further allow for a range of versatility, a hybrid fish surfboard is often shaped with the option for either a quad, a twin, or a twin with a dragger fin set up.

hypto krypto twin The Hypto Kypto Twin a slightly different take on the popular Hypto Krypto from Hayden shapes

A Fish Surfboard FunShape

Although a standard fish board is generally a foot or two smaller than your average shortboard, there are still fun shapes shaped with a fishtail.

This type of shape is excellent for beginner surfers looking to master their first turns, as the tail shape offers easy rail to rail transitions and control over the fins, or is great for an experienced surfer who simply wants to take it easy on some ankle-biters.

Foam Fish Surfboard

If you are entering your journey into the world of shortboarding, a foam fish surfboard is a perfect choice.

Offering extreme amounts of floatability, you can paddle a foam fish surfboard out in small waves and still rip it up. This provides the best methodology for a new surfer to learn the basics of shortboarding on small waves that are not intimidating, and these skill sets will transfer into all other aspects of your surfing.

If you want some more info on the best beginner surfboards, then check out our latest article so that choice may be directed by knowledge.

The Best Conditions for a Fish Surfboard

The best conditions for a fish board depend on how you like to ride and what kind of fish you have in your quiver!

The truth is that, other than XL waves, a fish can handle nearly any type of condition.

A retro fish is perfect for waist to overhead peelers, whether mushy, barreling, choppy or clean. You just have to understand how to maneuver this thick and wide shape on an aggressive face, and that takes practice.

For extremely fast, barreling waves and for standard hacks and hucks, a performance fish adds an enticing variety to how it responds to radical maneuvers and will absolutely shred to pieces chest to overhead waves. The steeper the wave, the more you will appreciate the speed of these boards.

A hybrid fish will act as your most reliable surfboard, perfect for a stylistic approach to all types of surfing and wave conditions, anything from waist to overhead high.

For the beginners who wish to ride small, 1-2 foot peelers and progress their shortboarding into larger waves, a soft-top fish surfboard is the way to go, and a fun shape fish is set for a good time on ankle biters to chest high waves, either clean or choppy.

The Fish Surfboard Buyers Guide

Take the information from the above types of fish surfboards to try and determine what kind of fish feels right for you, and check out the line of Fish Surfboards available on to find the perfect fish-shaped surfboard.

Whether it is a Retro / Classic or a Hybrid / All Rounder, you are sure to find exactly what you need from the selection of leading surfboard shapers that can dial in the perfect fish for your surfing needs, so check out some of our favorites and most popular fish surfboards below!

Customize and order your Fish Surfboard through one of our leading shapers directly on Use our Board Engine to find the perfect Fish Surfboard model for your ability and surfing needs:

fish surfboard One of the most popular fish surfboards on the market, Panda Rocket Fish