They're not for everyone - why dont you like Fish!?!

Im really keen to here what those of you who dont like fish, do like… and why?

what do you surf on and in? also how do you surf and for how long have you surfed?

Like I said… fish aint for everyone!

I am not a huge fan of fish but I would like to qualify that statement.

Everything is valid. I bodysurf, have fish, longboards, shortboards, love it all.

Right now, I am into a more vertical snap type surfing than my fish seems to allow.

The tail seem to slide a bit more than I’m looking for. My fish isn’t a “keel” type but a 5’8" stub nose tri.

Maybe that doesn’t qualify?

I love the speed down the line but I surf a dumpy beachbreak type wave. I need to get to the bottom and come off hard, straight up to feel like I’m getting everything I can out of the wave(most critical turn possible in most critical part of the wave). My 5’8" seem to drift out farther towards the shoulder on bottom turns than I like(at the moment).

I typically ride a thin, 5’11" tri-fin and I have been surfing 36 of my 42 years here on Mother Earth.

thats what I call a response!!!

thanks for your opinion Riddim!



I’ll just address the “traditional” fish (short, thick, 2 fins, crack, wide point forward etc etc):

For me (and I speak for myself alone) I just can’t quite get the hang of surfing a floaty twinnie. I’m sure the newfangled quad fish have different characteristics, but the looseness of twin-fin “traditional” fish (and an old T&C stinger) I’ve surfed doesn’t jazz me as much as does the ability to sink the tail and rail of a thruster. Maybe it’s just the buoyancy I don’t like. Or maybe I just spent too many years with a center fin…

I do appreciate the ability to paddle into waves (especially in crowded conditions), and I have seen some excellent surfing done on true fish. Problem is, I’ve seen better surfing done in the same session by folks on more “modern” thrusters.

No reason not to have one, though, if you’ve got the room. Just another challenge.

I don’t like the 100% text book perfect fish. (especailly the one in the 1977 board design book) I find that with a tail that wide it just kinda slips around. While I admire people who keep the straight pure board line running(Derek Hynd) I prefer a mixed breed

I do like twin fins, and modernized fish, but a straight from 1977 fish is just too much foam for a quick beachbreak. I am right now shaping a fishesque board(infact i just walked from my garage to the computer to find what material to use for making a semi permanent template) it is 5’5"x 2 3/8x19 5/8 with a 8 inch buttcrack 15 3/4 tail wide point at center and a 14 1/4 nose. Chip after I get some more done i will post photos for you.

The waves where I surf most often are long, sloping ramps, not walled up at all. They really just call out for longboards, at least 19 out of 20 days. Even on a longboard, and even on a bigger day, its never really a turn & push drop-in, but more like bicycling in, kind of like San O or Canoes. And then the ramps are such a low slope that the most fun way to surf them is with footwork, trim, speeding up & slowing down while maintaining a line, maybe a little cutback & setup for the inside noseride section… not really with a lot of turns. Don’t surf a fish there for the same reasons that nobody surfs thrusters or small eggs or quads or … etc.

I have a fish and its most fun on a wave that pops up out of nowhere, even if its small. Turn around & almost no-paddle. But I just don’t ever surf it because I don’t go to waves like that very often. And when I do, I’ve been surfing my single fin Nugget because its (IMO) more turnable than a fish. If I want straight-line speed, I have longboards that do that very well, even at a beachbreak…

Bill Stewart gave me what he called the most fun board he’s ever ridden - a 6’4" S-Railed Fish. It’s EPS and Epoxy with a stepped deck. Not old school, but a modern hybrid thing. Thinner and narrower than a Keel.

The first couple times I surfed it, I felt like the tail just slid out and I couldn’t generate any speed. I struggled just to stay in the waves. On my third day on the board, I moved my weight forward about 3" and tried surfing off my front foot (more like snowboarding)… Magic! All of a sudden the board screamed. Everything held in place. Super fast… whippy turns… really fun.

I loved my fishy boards back in the 70’s. They just require a different approach than single fins and thrusters.

Interesting- I actually love riding fish and find I’m trying them in the sorts of waves I would think them not suited to. Originally I thought they were best in exactly the sort of waves Benny’s talking about as they basically started out filling the niche of a longboard for me. I guess both style of boards love good trim and can be ridden in an old school skateboard style, ride them like you’re hitting the banks at Kenter Elementary (R.I.P.) On a longbaord you play with footwork and positioning on the board, on the fish I’m playing with lowering and raising my center of gravity to generate spped/stalling, and I just find them more fun to turn- I really like riding little boards. Everybody’s comments here are on the money though, especially Riddim. The fish just wants to drift out on the bottom turn and I know Neal Purchase, Rasta, Daniel Thomson, Malloys et al can haul their fish through all kinds of insane turns and hacks, but I don’t surf that well! I tend to surf dumpy beachbreak a lot and that first turn can be a killer, so if you’re not nailing it, the session can become frustrating with lots of drop and straighten out in the whitewater while the wave runs away from you (hit it good and it’s sooo much fun with all that down the line speed though.) Of course I’ve now discovered the starfin so there’s a whole new world opening up to me…

… good question , and a good ‘thread’ , “Riffy” !

Well, despite my username , I certainly don’t ride a “traditional” fish 365 days a year .

I find the waves here lately more fun on a mat .

At other times , a mal would be more suited and more fun.

And , then , in winter here , when it’s bigger , hollow , and bumpier , I find a third fin helpful on my ‘prawn’ fishy type board . [If I choose to ride it then , that is !] I’d prefer the 6’8" banksy thruster for those conditions , really , though …narrower , more rockered , more suited to our waves then .

BUT , that being said …

on those “in-between days” [which we get a fair few of here , when the wave sometimes offers a bit longer rides , and may be a little fat] , the twin keels feel nice on my “prawn” , or the twin fins on my “bushfire fish” [or one of any number of fin configurations , actually , if I want a different feeling on the same boards !]

The short answer is , I guess , “horses for courses” [trying to match the board needed to the day’s conditions ] . Because I now have everything from a 4’1 mat , and singles , twinnies , thrusters , 4 , 5 , ?6 fins? , to a [broken] 9’ mal to choose from , sometimes it can be a “tough” decision [?!]



and yes , the ‘slidyness’ of the twin setup in my fish/es took / still takes a bit of getting used to , as did / does timing the takeoffs , on 5’8 x 21 1/2" and 5’11 x 20" fish , as a 46 year old competing against …15-20 year olds on 6’ thrusters , and 40 year olds on 10’ mals [?!]

Great thread, and these last few posts have me wondering–

wow, Kendall, do you have some pics of that board?!

consafos and chipfish, so you guys are both riding the StarFin and both on fish right now?! How’s it going?!

consafos, ch(b)eers for mentioning the mecca–that makes me want to skate


?your name is gregoir ???


well it’s my avatar , but being summer and too shallow …the star fin will have to wait ! [till autumn / ?“fall”? to youse guys ?]

as an example , today I “ambrosed” it , riding my 7’ single fin , lying down …finless [too shallow for my 7" fin , too small to bother wasting valuable half seconds standing … shoulda seen the looks the boogers were giving me …hilarious !! [but I got the last laugh , cos I got a few fast , "makeable "zippers !] And the water colour and temp and texture was absolutely …B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L !!!

 cheers !  


cap’nn kirk …please let me know if you use the starfin in your fish , eh mate ?

…I’ll be keen to hear how that setup goes , in winter waves . ******I LOVE single fin fish ! ***** [A lot more than the twin keels ones I’ve tried ]



Unfortunately… actually fortunately… I’m in Kauai and the Stewart is in San Francisco. I’ll be back in Nor Cal next week, so if you still want to see it I’ll take photos of it then.

You can see it - at least the deck - here:

Click on “shortboards”, then click “S-Railed Fish”. The website doesn’t show the stepdeck or fin setup.

I surfed the crap out of that board in Costa Rica a few weeks ago. It catches waves easy, and goes super fast. On nastier rip-tidy OB days, it’s a bitch to paddle (but so is any other short board when you’re getting old and fat - I just waive at the 14 year olds as they paddle past me).

Yeah Kendall–I’d really like to see it–always good to see 2D renderings of 3D magic–you know, for what it’s worth

BenChipper, iterations of Greg–the other day, Gregory came out as gregroy–the absurdity, innit

So wow, you like the fish as singles…

sorry for brief hijack–carry on


at a risk of taking this further off topic (ish), where does the origin of the ‘fish’ board lie? to re-phrase that, the oigin of the concept/name?

i remember my dad talking about ‘fish’ shapes when he was building kayaks meaning a boat with the wide point forward of the center. a design feature common with the fish surfboard, but when did the deep swallow tail get included in the definition?

i really fancy making a fish, and this thread is giving me a far deeper insight into the true nature of the design. so much more than the usual ‘very loose/fast/fun’ description!


I’d love to see the bottom and a rocker shot, if you can do it. thx

I know what you mean!

Im shaping one now straight off the lis template but Im considering a completely different fin set up to try and make initiating high speed turns more positive and move the turning point to the centre of the board so that there is more steering/turning ability on steep sections.


Nice Avatar Ben! Sorry to disappoint but my fish is a glassed on twin keel ‘textbook’ fish, no fancy tomfoolery with fins on that board for me. I’ve not surfed any form of modified fish either so my observations are very much from a traditional standpoint-I’ve tried slight differences in length and how pulled in the nose is for the most part, but that’s my range of experience. I get RiffRaff’s idea of playing with the design elements on a fish style board though- can you keep as much of the positive aspects of the design while cancelling some of the negatives? I think you need to go at it Chipfish style Riff- get a basic trad fish board with plugs & boxes all over and start by playing with the fin set ups until you find what feels closest to your ideal, then tweak the board elements like widepoint placement, rails etc until you have your redesigned fish. (Kind of me to suggest you spend months finessing design and shaping several boards isn’t it?) Janklow, the starfin has thus far only been on the Horan board and I’ve hardly surfed that owing to several weeks of atrocious luck with the equation of surf size + tide + time to surf. It’s KILLING me.

In the shortboard revolution of the late 60’s and early 70’s, most boards (here in Hawaii) had the wide point forward of center, and the round pins or straight pins were most popular.

The fish was a product of kneeboarders, who usually ride shorter, wider boards. I think the deep swallow allowed the tail to bite like a pintail, but also to allow having a short wide board.

I surf on the southside of Oahu where almost every spot has more longboards than shortboards. I find that the fish has better paddling than a short thruster, and the five fin I use has just as much tail sinking power as a thruster without the negatives. It’s a good board to ride on head high to slightly overhead days because I can take off behind a longboarder and ride the sweet spot of the wave. I can turn much tighter than a longboard, so I can ride up and down in the curl and stay out of the way if the longboarder decides to make a hard cutback.

I also ride longboards, and short eggs when I want to cruise, or if the surf is less than headhigh.

yeah… I think you are right…

I was going straight out the box with a wild fin idea but now Im starting to back it off…

I might ride the stock standard lis design for a few weeks then tweak it with my fin ideas… there’s no point making changes and not knowing the result.

has anyone had a fish with chanels in the bottom?

what did it ride like?

I ususally ride my 9’4" or recently the 6’10" single fin pintail I shaped for my wife… both are awesome fun but I want another board to add some more veriety to the quiver…

after the fish it might be a 6’6" egg or something… but Im considering a finless design for that one so lots more research to do…


I grew up in the seventies. I’ve been brainwashed to belive that a real fish must be six feet or shorter. I can’t ride a board that short. I’m having fun on my 6’5" disc but the rails are really fat and the board is wide…

Here’s a fishy story…

Ben Shipman shaped this incredible fishy board. Not sure the length 6’2" or 6’4". It had wings,swallows, a turbo channel thing down the center, twinzer type fin set up…He posted some amazing photos before we glassed it. Board got painted red and black. I wanted this board. This board was the most complex bottom I have ever glassed and the whole thing crystalized! I almost cried. Ben was mellow about the whole ordeal. We finished the board. Super cool wooden fins ,four of them glassed on Twinzer style. First surf session the board hits Ben in the head. Every session after that had a problem…broken leash ,board washed into rocks, feet cut,ect . The board got sold before I got a chance to ride it.

It ends up that the guy that bought the board loves it and he’s a friend of one of our customers that has a traditional Shipman fish. Everyone’s happy. I’m still brainwashed…fish must be less than 6’.

Have a great day