The Fish Surfboard; what are they and where did it all start? Unless you have lived and breathed surfing for a period of time, this term fish surfboard may be completely alien to you. So here is a brief but detailed summary on everything you need to know about fish.
The very first Fish Surfboard would have been shaped into a PU foam blank some where in the 1960’s, and are still tearing up waves to this day. Some of the basic elements of the Fish has branched off over time, but the Fish is still used for the same waves, famous for its ability to make fun out of even the most sloppy conditions.
The Basic Anatomy of the Fish hasn’t changed a great deal since its birth, I’ll explain its key features and the pros and cons of its design. So really what makes a fish surfboard a fish surfboard? To simplify it really only needs two things. A swallow tail which looks like a W in the tail of the board and an exceptionally wide plan shape generally with the widest point around 3/4 of the way up the board.
So what do these features do and why are they there? In a nutshell the Fish is really a regular short board they has had its nose cut off and rounded (to give the board a tighter turning arc), and then to compensate for this lack of foam they have added a lot of width and usually some extra thickness. So most fish surfboards tend to paddle as good if not better then a regular short board 6″ longer.
So what does an exceptionally wide and short board to for you on the wave? Well like I said before shorter boards are always going to produce tighter turns on the face, then having an exceptionally large wide point produces more curve in the out line of the board. These two things combined offer a highly manoeuvrable board that excels in small waves. The added width gives you stability and paddle power while the curve in the plan shape + shortness offer tight turns.
Coming onto the negatives, one of the only real draw backs is that it is perhaps to manoeuvrable in big waves. As you are surfing larger waves you are obviously moving a lot faster and need to draw big lines in the face of the wave. When riding fish surfboards in large waves they tend to be very ‘skatie’ and don’t have a great deal of hold when moving very fast due to its thick rails which become hard to bury in the face to keep you from skating all over the place. When I say big I mean big though, depending on the exact board you can usually get away with riding well over head surf with out to much trouble.
In conclusion the fish surfboard can work for light beginners but tend to be a bit sensitive for most people starting out. Fish’s are perfect for intermediates that still need a forgiving board but have the basics down and want to start putting in some turns. Also experts that want a fun board for small waves can have an absolute ball! The Fish Surfboard is perfect from knee hight to over head.
In conclusion if you find the waves in reality tend to be fat, full and crowded why not get a head start on all the people riding tooth picks and get back to why you started surfing, for fun!