Boxy tail on fish


I’ve just finished shaping my fish experiment. The only minor concern I have is around the boxy nature of the curve in the tail when looking from the deck of the board going down to the rail edge - Pic attached (I only used 1 band in the shape of the top of the tail)

Most of my other boards have a fairly thin tail and I am interested in peoples opinions of this tail…

  • Do you think this will have an adverse effect on the performance of the board?

  • Do you think it is too boxy?

My rule of “if it looks like it will work” passes but I just want a second opinion before it’s too late to change… at the moment, as I havn’t glassed it will only take me a little work to fine tune the tail.

I’ve added a from above picture below also, as from one angle, the tail looks boxy (When looking at the foil) but from the top, it is they way I had envisioned it.


Should be fine in anthing smaller than armsreach overhead.

All the new tri fins have that blocky tail rail, for quicker release and instant go.

Fish should be used in smaller surf, so good rail.

I’ve even made some semi guns with blocky thick rails, and they worked well in DOH to TOH surf.

Surf hard off your back foot!

Looks a bit clunky to me. But you have to take that with a grain of salt; I HATE thick, boxy tails (too much lift, not enough slice/bite for my tastes). Even my retro-fishes have pretty thin tails with rounded top edges. Just MO.


If you don’t like the look take a rat tail surform, hold it at about a 45 degree angle and take down the stringer up in the crack. Reshape the curves to match the angle of the crack. Gives them more of a blade appearance. Check some of the photo archives and I think you will see what I mean. Looks like a fun board.Mike

just my opinion but, it looks like you are not done shaping to me,but its your board not mine so its up to you when its done

Hi Have,

What areas were you refering to when you said it doesn’t look like the shaping is done? I’m pretty happy with the nose, deck, rails (tucked under edge and deck), deck, bottom. The only thing I was unsure on was the tail.

What is your opinion?

Keep in mind that in reducing the size of the image to post, some unuasual bandings appeared in the image. These are not in the actual board :slight_smile:


Have, I’ve also included another angle on the board for you to look at to see what you think.


the shape looks pretty good i think ,its just i see the same thing you do, the tail…looks really thick and boxy…if it was mine id try to thin it out a little at least, and blend it in with the rest of the board…i like thick tails , but that just does not look like a finished board to me…in the tail the rest looks good, but what happened ? how did you end up with the rest how you want it, and then the tail not how you want it?

Yeh, I agree… ok how did it some out that way? Well, I decided to leave the tail till last so as not to damage it through the shaping process… lesson learn’t. I’m going to have another look at the tail tonight and decide what to do. The side on photo I posted was also taken a bit earlier than the completed shape so may exagerate the boxy tail a little.

Good eye though Have for picking up on it.


It’s a good idea to finish the tail last on the fishes because the tips are so easy to damage. One piece of advice I got from this forum, I think it was Herb Spitzer, was not to overshape a fish. I like to come back the next day and look it over, but don’t change anything too much. The board looks good and I bet it will ride good,too.Mike

Yep, I agree Rooster. I’m keeping the “don’t over shape” rule in mind. One last look at it tonight though :slight_smile:


Most of the surfboards that I have built had thick boxy tails and they worked good, but not great. A thick tail creates lift which gives the board good acceleration through your turns, but also causes quick deacceleration out of the turn because the lift in the tail forces the nose down. After reading Greg Lohr’s (probably misspelled) Theory of Pitch, I thinned down the tail of my last board and it has improved performance. It’s still not a great board but it is the best one from the 20 I have built. So, search the archives for Theory of Pitch, it’s rather thought provoking.


Small slow waves, thick tail

Fast bigger waves, you need a balance of control at speed, wave catching, and some ease in banking the board over…

I’m lightweight, but a back foot surfer, so I HATE thin tails with a passion, as they never came close to working for me.

Funny thing…former Design editor for SurferMag, and author of Essential Surfing, advocates thin tails…he’s reg, leans on front foot, never stomps on the rail, same size as me, and surfed (haven’t surfed with him in 20 years) light and delicate.

His newest shapes are Wpoint back, thin nosed, thick tailed, almost to Nugget concepts.

Thanks for your help everyone, your input is invaluable!

I looked at the tail again tonight and it still didn’t quite do it for me, so I fine tuned it a little to take some of the thickness out of it… I’m happy with where it is at now. I’ve taken some volume out of it but kept it thick still for some as the design was for a fair bit of thickness in the tail.

I’m a lot happier now with the flow in the foil and the look of the tail

Revised pics are attached. Lemme know what you think.



I really liek the look of your fish. I’ve just finished something very similar last night. However the butt crack on my board does not look any where as clean as yours. what tools did you use to shape out the crack ???


hey looks like you’ve got it now, the tail looks nice in the second photo

Oh man… don’t get me started on the tools I used :slight_smile: Shaping the tail was the most time consuming part of the board… don’t know if you know the history, but I finished my shape and then posted a question today as I felt the tail was too boxy. Most agreed and I fine tuned it tonight.

Most fish shapers recommend a beaver tailed rasp (SurForm) for the tail but as I didn’t have this tool, I made do with the following:

  • Small sanding block for flow of tail

  • Screen paper for blending

  • a small flat file wrapped in a small piece of 40 grit sandpaper

  • a small triangular file.

I found that shaping each pin was similar to shaping a rail, so I kept my strokes flowing and consistent just like I was shaping a small rail… this gave me a clean and consistent shape. For the Vee, I had much trial and error as everytime I got 1 side right, I’d ruin the other side of the vee with the file. I ended up masking taping the foam on either side of the stringer with about 3 layers of tape and just filing the stringer with the triangular file into the depth I wanted it. This left the foam intact and I then just had to blend it in with the rest of the tail using the screen.

It took me 2 hours to get it right :slight_smile: Glad you like it.


Tony summed up my experiences and impressions of boxy/thick tailed fishes.

I love fishes and have for a long time. I’ve ridden many iterations of them from multiple shapers (been custom ordering them for a while, I think since 1992 or so- a little bit before they became “the rage”. I’m too young to be a member of the original generation of fish riders, but I like to think I have learned much from studying relic boards and watching old footage of them flying in and around the curl).

My first one was thick and boxy in the tail and rode like Tony describes. That board was sold and I meddled with my shaper’s head to get what I wanted out of the next one. Since then my fishes have had much less volume and more down-railed (or 80/20 or even 60/40, with a definitive “peak/point” in the rail profile) and I have been much happier on them. They pack plenty of speed and glide, but the thinner tails are at home in the curl and barrel too.

Additionally, a shaper friend of mine took a journey into the “true” fish world a few years ago. His early fishes were thicker and boxier-tailed boards. He had me ride a few to get some feedback. My experience was again much as Tony described. He asked me to coach him a bit with the rails and this is what he came up with (pic below is from an earlier board with the “new” tail rails, so there has probably been some refinement, but a recent photo (I unfortunately deleted it) looked very similar) from my advice. He said that reducing the tail and rail volume changed everything and his fishes now ride like a dream- more bite, more drive, more maneuverability, more flow.

Now, this is not to say that thicker-tailed fishes do not work; there are plenty of “fish” that have thick tails with lots of rail volume that ride very well (“Zippi fish” and “Brom fishes” come to mind), but their outline templates have been greatly adjusted to incorporate more curve in order to take advantage of the high-planing characteristics of the thick tail and boxy rail. For a more “traditional” fish template I am convinced that thinner tails help sink and lock the tail in and down when the waves get steep, such as in the curl or when the wave bowls up, while the thicker mid-section of the board allows for float and flow by the rider shifting weight forward when the wave is not exerting as much power on the board.