Tom’s Guide to the Best Twin Fins

A lot of boards today come with a 5 fin option, allowing surfers to choose between riding a thruster or quad set up, but what about a twin? Perhaps no fin set up can break the straight line better than the twin fin.

Best suited for a fish or swallow-tailed shortboard, the twin feels freer without the stability of a center fin. With no trailing fins to hold it back, the Twin’s two extra large fins give it just enough stability and allow you to draw completely different types of lines.


A Quick History Lesson

Steve Lis-Style Twin Fish from the Seaside Shop

Steve Lis-Style Twin Fish from the Shop

Stories of yore go back as far as the 1940’s with the innovative Californian Bob Simmons shaping a few of his signature style boards with two keel style fins on them. About fifteen years later and near the same stretch of coastline,  fin master, George Greenough experimented with twin keel-style fins on his short, wide “spoon” kneeboards. Right around the end of the 1960’s, the La Jolla Surfboard company looked back to some Simmon’s design for inspiration and began producing boards with two large keel style fins. Steve Lis’s fish model with two big fins, a swallowtail and tons of foam in a short package also became extremely popular amongst kneeboarders around this time.

But for true Twin Fin regalia, no one could ever forget Mark Richards! The four-time world champion (79′-82′) MR carved his own lines on twin fins and every wave he surfed did not go unnoticed. I really first remember the Twin Fin watching Mark Richards in the movie “Free Ride” back in 77′ or 78″ and was blown away by his surfing. Richards is probably the all-time most gifted and celebrated twin rider but there were others at this time like Martin Potter, Dane Kealoha from Hawaii and Danny Kwock in Newport, CA also surfing twins really well.

In recent years, I’ve been impressed with Dave Rastovich’s twin riding and I know he’s looked back to some of the old fin design masters like Dick Van Straalen for his designs. Today, I feel like the quad sometimes overshadows it’s close relative the twin for its added speed, but going faster doesn’t always mean more radical, especially when you consider how free surfing the twin can be. Isn’t that what real surfing is, cutting loose?


My Favorite Twin Sets

There are more twin fin templates available now than 10 years ago but not as many as it’s close relative, the quad and to be honest I would like to see more. For now though, here are the twin sets I find to be the coolest.

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Captain Fin Christenson Keel Twin Fin SetCaptain Fin Christenson Keel 

This is a classic keel style fin not too far from what you’d see back in the day on a Steve Lis fish. I would totally get this for any retro style fish board. These fins are meant to feel fast and loose. This template is available in both FCS and Futures versions so no matter what fin box you have, you can try these.

Shop the Captain Fin Christensen Keel Fin

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FCS II Fins MR PC Twin + 1 Fin SetFCS 2 MR PC Twin + 1

This is the slam dunk of twin fins. MR, in my opinion, was the best twin fin rider there ever was and this is a great set for anyone who wants to try a twin for the first time. It’s a high-performance twin set with an optional “stabilizer” fin that you can place in your center fin box to give it more control. If you’ve ridden thrusters for awhile and want to try a twin, this is my pick as the best set to start with. If you have a board with the older FCS plugs, they still make a version of this fin by popular demand.

Shop the FCS MR Twin + 1 Fin Set

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Futures Fins Akila Aipa Twin Fin SetFutures Akila Apia 

This set is designed by Akila, the son of Ben Aipa from Hawaii who made some ridiculously good twin fins back in the day for some of the Hawaiian rippers like Buttons. This template reminds me of an 80’s style performance twin fin that is designed to track well.

Shop the Futures Fins Akila Aipa Twin Fin Set

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FCS 2 Power Twin Fin SetFCS 2 Power Twin

This is a very stiff fin, and would be good for any surfer who wants to really push their twin super hard. With a more upright, raked template and fiberglass construction this is a solid twin for someone who wants the feel of glassed on twin fins. Which would hold no matter no matter how much you pushed them.

Shop the FCS II Fins Power Twin Fin Set

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Futures Fins AMK Keel Fin SetFutures AMK Keel

This would be a smart pick for anyone looking to ride a keel fin in bigger surf. These fins have a lot of hold to them but also allow you to surf more vertically than a classic style keel. If you like surfing keels but want something more high performance, this is a good one. Shop the Futures Fins AMK Keel Fin Set

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Captain Fin Especial Fin SetCaptain Fin Especial

Finally, the Especial is another set I’ve always liked as they remind me of the glass-on fins of the 70’s and 80’s. Like the MR set they come with a stabilizer fin which you can put in to help push the boundaries of your twin by giving you more hold when the waves get bigger. You’d be surprised how many different types of boards these fins will work in. Plus they look cool.

Shop the Captain Fin Especial Fin Sets


Final Thoughts

Nowadays there are a lot of cool twin fins out there, and more coming out all the time. If you have any questions about these fins or fins in general, feel free to email us at support@cleanline surf.com or give us a call at 1-888-546-6176.

SHOP OUR FULL SELECTION OF 40+ TWIN AND TWIN + TRAILER FINS 

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Born in Portland, Oregon. Tom started surfing in Southern California in 1976. He first began working in surf shops in Hawaii, back in the 90's and has been here at Cleanline longer than anyone can remember. Tom likes to ride vintage surfboards, especially any long, heavy single fins from the sixties, but still enjoys shortboards.

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3 thoughts on “Tom’s Guide to the Best Twin Fins

  1. Hi Tom,
    Which board would you recommend for 2+1 Fins similar to the MR ones above?
    I’d like a twin fin board but also like the idea of the stabilising fin at the back.
    Cheers
    Alec

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