Best Thruster Fin Sets of 2023

Best Thruster Fin Sets of 2023

There are endless possibilities when it comes to shortboard fin configurations, whether it be twin, quad, or thruster. Thruster setups have quickly dominated the industry since they were introduced in the 1980s. Quickly, virtually every competitive surfer had a thruster attached to the bottom of their board.

Thrusters more or less give you the best of both worlds with the pivoting capability of a single fin and the speed/ hold of a twin. In this review, we will go over 10 highly sought-after thruster fin sets. Hopefully, it will help you make an informed decision about choosing a setup that best complements your riding style.

All Around - Balanced Thruster Fin Sets Reviewed

High-Performace Thruster Fin Sets Reviewed

We take pride in our vast selection of innovative tri-fin sets that cater to a variety of surf styles, technological preferences, and board sizes. Get ready to discover the latest revolution of game-changing thrusters that will elevate your surfing experience to the next level for 2023.


Brief History of Thrusters

Up until the 1980’s, the surf industry primarily consisted of single and twin fins. Simon Anderson, a pro surfer out of Australia, kickstarted an innovation that would change the surf industry forever. Little did he know that this idea would take over the industry within two years of being introduced.

Occasionally, tri-fin setups were used beforehand; however, Anderson was the first to create an actual thruster setup, including three fins at the same height. The two side fins were flat and directed toward the nose, while the center fin was foiled on both sides. Such a simple concept, right? But, at that time, many surfers were getting pitted on their single-fin shortboards, and they felt no need to change. Gerry Lopez, AKA Mr. Pipeline, was one of these humble single-fin rippers getting barreled like nobody's business (check out his recent film, The Yin & Yang of Gerry Lopez).

Once thrusters were introduced and gained popularity, board shapes were reimagined. In fact, many surfers could ride the same waves but on smaller boards that maneuver like Travis Rice's big mountain snowboarding.

As you’ll see below, many pro surfers now have their own thruster fin set model.


All Around - Balanced Thruster Fin Sets

Surfer duck diving a wave with his shortboard that features a tri fin set.

Futures Fins John John Florence Alpha Tri Fin Set

Futures Fins John John Florence Alpha Tri Fin Set

Surf a championship template with the John John Alpha fins. With a neutral template, C6 material, and flat foil, these fins are predictable as well as lively. I’ve been intrigued by these fins ever since I started surfing shorter boards.

The C6 material is unique to Futures and is a molded carbon that is air infused. Because of the C6 material, they’re able to add/remove carbon in specific parts of the mold to improve strength and performance. The fins are also textured on the back to eliminate chatter while surfing at higher speeds.


FCS II Performer PC Tri Fin Set

FCS II Performer PC Tri Fin Set

The Performer PC has a neutral sweep and is an all-around fin. With a blend of carbon tissue and ultralight AirCore construction, you can achieve fast acceleration from the get-go with smooth turns.

These fins excel in any condition with a balance of speed, flow, and response. The foil is IFT (Inside Foil Technology): efficient at water flow, adding lift, and maintaining speed through turns. The Performer PCs are a top seller and available in four different sizes.


KS1 Endorfins Futures and FCS II Tri Fin Set

KS1 Endorfins Futures and FCS II Tri Fin Set

Designed by 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. The Endorfins are unique in that they float in water. If you’ve had a fin fall off during a session, you understand why a floating fin is useful. The fins are built with carbon inlays and a recycled P.E.T. core. The P.E.T material, along with 90% of the core being injected with air, makes this fin set incredibly lightweight.

With a slightly smaller center fin, you can make quick maneuvers with less drag. The fin template is not incredibly stiff, but it offers more hold the harder you push, as well as a bounce-back reaction out of turns. So if you're looking for a fin setup that acts like a cheat code in the water, these might be your new favorite.

Another key feature is sustainability. With the required fin box screws and floating capability, these fins are less likely to end up at the bottom of the ocean. In today’s day and age, sustainability is key, and Kelly Slater is committed to offering a product that will keep our ecosystems thriving.

Check out our full review of the Endorfins KS1 Fins.


FCS II Performer PC Carbon Aircore Tri Fin Set

FCS II Performer PC Carbon Aircore Tri Fin Set

The FCS II Performer PC series is built for all-around performance with a balance of speed and response in a wide variety of conditions. Flow is key to a good surf session, and the Performer PCs will help you access the flow state no matter what the swell offers.

With the IFT foil on these fins, you can expect lift and hold while reducing drag. If you need a set of fins to help you increase speed throughout flat sections, this could be a good option for you. The Aircore construction is an added feature that is lightweight and offers a more user-friendly flex.


High-Performace Thruster Fin Sets

Surfer performing an aerial on his shortboard that features a tri fin set.

Futures Fins Machado Pivot Blackstix Tri Fin Set

Futures Fins Machado Pivot Blackstix Tri Fin Set

The Future Blackstix fins have been a staple fin set for years. Designed by style master Rob Machado, this set is a large-sized thruster in a Pivot template category. The outline of the Blackstix is influenced by the response and drive of a twin keel. With less rake but an extended base, you can get a lively feel without having to compromise stability.

The V2 foil on the outside of the fins is shaped like the concave on the bottom of a surfboard. It helps with generating speed while switching from rail to rail. Also, you can’t go wrong with the cosmic colorway unique to Rob Machado's fin sets.


Captain Fin Co. Dane Reynolds Futures Tri Fin Set

Captain Fin Co. Dane Reynolds Futures Tri Fin Set

Dane Reynold's signature thruster fin set has a straightforward template with a flat foil on the side fins and a 50/50 foil on the center fin. The side fins are also slightly longer than the center fin, which cuts down drag while enhancing maneuverability. With a honeycomb construction, this tri-fin set can be used in anything from mushy small waves to big clean waves.

Reynolds is one of the best free surfers in the industry; he used to compete but decided it wasn’t for him. He is now a savvy businessman and does a lot for the industry. If you’re interested in checking out his graceful power surfing, look up his Youtube channel: “Chapter 11 TV”.


FCS II Al Merrick PC Tri Fin Set

FCS II Al Merrick PC Tri Fin Set

The AM PC Aircore Tri fins are recommended for any surfer wanting to progress. With a decent amount of rake on the side fins and a smaller center fin, you can access speed without sacrificing maneuverability.

I’m stoked at how well the Futures AM PC pair with my high-performance shortboard. The board has a deep double concave and rocker out the nose, and the fins perform exceptionally well because of the extra hold they provide. You might not be able to snap turns aggressively, but you can definitely gain enough speed for big tight maneuvers across the wave face.

These fins are a favorite in the PNW due to their stability and speed in poor-quality waves with flat sections. Feel free to check them out if you want to take your surfing to the next level.


Futures Fins HS2 Generation Tri Fin Set

Futures Fins HS2 Generation Tri Fin Set

A unique blend of carbon and fiberglass layups on the HS2 fins target surfers wanting speed while still maintaining control. The thruster fin setup has a V2 foil that supports efficient water flow and enhances overall speed.

With a wider base and an upright template, you’ll be surprised at how fast these fins are. These Future fins also have a snappy feel about them. If you want to smack the lip like Filipe Toledo but hold a line like Dave Rastovich, then check out the HS2 Generation fins.


Futures Fins Mayhem Tri Fin Set

Futures Fins Mayhem Tri Fin Set

The Future Mayhem tri fins were designed by the famous shaper Matt Biolos of Lost Surfboards. If you have ridden a Lost surfboard, then you’ll know that these fins are no joke. With the honeycomb construction, the Mayhem’s are described as an all-round fin that can be used in anything from clean waves to choppy waves. The base has a slightly longer profile to improve stability and drive. Due to their high-performance characteristics, these fins are suited for surfers using performance shortboards.


Futures Fins John John Techflex Tri Fin Set

Futures Fins John John Techflex Tri Fin Set

If you're looking for a trusty set of fins to enhance your surfing experience, look no further than the John John Techflex fins. These fins, ridden by the world champion John John Florence himself, come in sizes small, medium, and large. The medium size even helped John John win back-to-back world championships!

Their stable and predictable feel makes them ideal for high-speed surfing, while their springy and responsive nature is perfect for smaller waves. Personally, I've had great success with these fins on my CI Rocket Wide. Don't hesitate to check out these fins for yourself and find the perfect size to elevate your surfing skills.


Relevant Fin Blogs


Final Thoughts

And there you have it – the 10 Best Thruster Fin Sets for 2023. From John John’s affordable Alphas to Dane Reynold's aggressive thruster tailored to big powerful waves, there’s a fin set for all the different surfing styles! I hope this review was helpful and informative and that you have a better idea of which fin setup is right for you.

Why not grab a new thruster set up today and see how it can take your surfing to the next level? After all, getting into the right gear is one of the most important factors to progressing further as a surfer. So go ahead – explore your options and let us know which thruster set stands out to you.

If you have any questions, you can always call us at 1-888-546-6176, drop a comment below, or send an email to support@cleanlinesurf.com

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