Surfboard Guide - The Fish
The fish surfboard revels in weak, small surf conditions and is suited for intermediate to advanced riders. Characterised by a wider outline through the nose, deck and tail, the fish typically has thicker rails & a flat rocker template. The main features are its twin fin set-up (2 fins) as well as its swallow tail. Typically between 4’-6’ feet in length, this board has plenty of volume.
Ideal surf conditions for the Fish
For many, the fish is the perfect summer board that’s capable of turning average surf conditions into a really fun session. Although not necessarily the first board you should pick for your quiver, the fish will always come in handy when smaller conditions prevail, especially in the flatter summer months. Optimal conditions would usually be anywhere from waist to shoulder high although they will perform in bigger conditions too. Tending to skip out (on the bottom turn) when the surf is hollow, the fish certainly likes flatter faced waves rather than anything too powerful.
Why you need a fish surfboard
Although this type of board can’t match the performance attributes of a shortboard, on its day, the fish will put the fun back in a session where other boards will fail. Thanks to its down the line speed – although not as manoeuvrable as other performance orientated designs, surfers will simply enjoy this board for what it is.
left pic: proctorsurf.com, right pic: surfsimply.com
The great thing about the fish is that as long as there’s a bump in the ocean you can paddle out and catch a few waves with relative ease. Where many surfers will turn their noses up at marginal conditions, the avid fish surfer will always get their surf fix, no matter what’s on offer. Where many low volume boards might struggle, the fish will glide into the smallest of bumps thanks to its unique combination of flat rocker and high volume template.
In the same way that your wave count will improve, surfers will also notice improved down the line speed where a shortboard simply can’t compete, flying through weak crumbly walls and maintaining good projection onto the next section.
Improve your surfing
Now that you’re surfing more, your board riding skills will also improve. You’ll learn to ride the waves in a different way (than you would on your standard board) which will help your surfing no end. There is an art to riding shorter, flatter boards and a good surfer will learn how to adapt their regular style to suit the fish’s characteristics.
Surf more & keep fit
Getting stoked to surf summer slop means you’ll also remain fit (where others won’t). Your improved fitness will mean you’ll be more ready than anyone else when decent conditions return. Just don’t forget to dust off the shortboard when the surfs finally pumping again!
Due to the board’s wider tail and fuller template, the fish will not perform in hollow, sucky surf. The board is designed for marginal slower conditions and tends to skip out when put on a tight arc or pushed hard on a critical bottom turn. Boards like this need to be nursed through turns somewhat. And with bulky rails and added volume - the board loses in the overall performance rankings - especially compared to the standard shortboard.
Modern day Fish
Since the Fish’s initial conception in the 70’s, although the basic shape has remained, a new variety of boards have hit the market providing plenty of choice for the modern day surfer. The overall outline, tail, nose and fin set-ups continue to evolve and improve. Although plenty of traditional twin keel style remains, a new niche has evolved with a variety of shapes guaranteeing a higher wave count as well as increased performance in less than perfect surf. There's no better example of this than by the style guru himself, Rob Machado.
Watch as Mr Smoothy puts on a show on his modern day GO FISH...