For someone who is just getting into surfing, fish surfboards may sound unusual. After all, the name itself appears “fishy.” You’ll get curious even more when you see it. Even long-time surfers still find fish surfboards fascinating. Why? Let’s discover as we search to find out the best fish surfboards.
Table of Contents
Best Fish Surfboards
The long list we had would’ve been overwhelming for you, especially if you are just starting out. To help you expand your board lineup with this revolutionary surfboard, we narrowed down your selection to the top 6 best small wave surfboards, fish surfboards.
- 5’8 Mahi Fish Shortboard by South Bay Board Co.
- NSP PROTECH Fish Surfboard
- Liquid Shredder Fish Foam Surfboard
- Scott Burke 5’2″ Fish Soft Surfboard
- Goplus 5’5″ Surfboard
- Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer
#1. 5’8 Mahi Fish Shortboard by South Bay Board Co. – Awesome little ripper
The 5’8 Mahi Fish Shortboard is an instant classic and a great board for all-around surf. This fish surfboard is a combination of power and performance making it a beast of its own. It comes with the classic fishtail that lets you draw out bigger turns and fly down the line with the reduced shortboard experience.
While it is perfect for any surf, it starts to show its knacks in smaller conditions. Its shallow rocker acts as a single concave all the way through the bottom. If you’ve heard of Razzo, a popular surfboard by the same manufacturer, you will perceive the similarity. It has the single concave that runs through the full bottom to the V-exit. This gives you more release in drawn-out turns.
At first ride, you will observe that paddling insane foam volume sets paddling a breeze. This won’t do any harm to the fish surfboard’s performance since it cuts down the line with great speed. These happen all while it lets you enter waves swiftly.
The 5’8 Mahi Fish Shortboard has a soft-top deck. This makes it safer and more comfortable to ride. It features a fingerprint-textured deck to aid you in surfing with it wax-free.
Made with bamboo layers and single I-beam stringer, 5’8 Mahi Fish Shortboard is a rigid board with slight flex, making it not overly stiff. The nose’s performance thruster supports you to really stick it to the rail and ride it firmly in smaller sections.
Packed with really cool features like the pre-installed GoPro mount on top, this is the board that both amateurs and professionals will enjoy.
This is not a cheap foam toy that was made to look like a surfboard. It is a great value for your money as it is well-made and wisely-engineered. The rubber top that is not irritating to the skin is what we like the most.
|Great for novice surfers and for just catching smaller waves||Slower and less responsive than a hard-constructed wake surfboard|
|Easy paddling with its added volume||Additional volume drops overall performance capabilities
|Perfect for all-around surf
#2. NSP PROTECH Fish Surfboard – All-condition ripper
NSP designed its PROTECH Fish Surfboard with a new shape that is exclusive to them alone. It is stable and wide, and with a flat rocker are fast, fun, and affordable. This has to be your board for ripping and surfing in all swells.
This baby that is designed with Boxy rails and bottom concaved into V can bear waves from 1 to 6-ft. It can be used by beginners and experts. Its performance delivers power, down the line speed and full drive over the dullest of sections.
Create a pivot point for snappy turns with the slight hip behind the front. The rails increase the overall volume and tolerant nature of this model. Speed and vigor are guaranteed with its tri-fin thruster that’s strong enough to hold out the line.
One feature of PROTECH Fish Surfboard is its carbon flex tail that is strategically applied at the back end of the rails. This part provides increased durability. This technology makes this surfboard more reactive than conventional construction as it provides unmatched flex response in turns.
Going back to the nose, PROTECH Fish Surfboard is intended to have a wide nose. This is for added buoyancy, stability, and faster padding. Such allows easy pass into the smaller waves with nippy acceleration.
PROTECH Fish Surfboard includes 3 pieces of m7 fins, while you can always go for the upgrade that promises grippier turns and more performance. Of course, you can always add the optional accessories like surfboard bag and ankle leash.
A salesman from a surf shop recommends this fish surfboard for its features. One of which is the little hip that breaks up the flow of water to help the board push into turns more easily with less effort.
|Eco-friendly; uses Green Epoxy Resin||More expensive than other fish surfboards
#3. Liquid Shredder Fish Foam Surfboard – Your novice retro fish surfboard
Liquid Shredder Fish Foam Surfboard is a highly maneuverable foam board built from a highly-advanced technology combined with superior expectations from the company’s engineers. The cool twin fin carves up those waves as the swallowtail shape lets the board get more hold and traction.
If it’s for a grom that you are looking for, one that can support up to 95 pounds, Liquid Shredder Fish Foam Surfboard is the best option. This lets you paddle with ease as its width and longboard style nose catches the waves early.
You can get surf those slower portions and still sustain and keep control in and out of your turns. The well-rounded nose provides this fish surfboard a lot of steadiness and stability when paddling. Liquid Shredder Fish Foam Surfboard’s deck is rather durable and will keep your little rippers safe out in the water, especially if they’re just starting out.
Liquid Shredder Fish Foam Surfboard is perfect for beginners, but experienced shredders will surely have a blast riding this board too!
|Made from EPE deck, EPS core, PP hard slick bottom; heat laminated||Owner manual states a different specification for the surfboard causing confusion
|Perfect for novice surfers with 2-5’ waves|
#4. Scott Burke 5’2″ Fish Soft Surfboard – Your river surfing go to
Perfect for kids or teens that are just learning how to surf Scott Burke 5’2” Fish Soft Surfboard has the shape that works well on the waves. This allows for nice flowing turns. While it isn’t fancily made, it costs 25% less than most surfboards, so smashing it into things won’t make you feel like you are crashing your most precious board.
You will appreciate the nose rocker since it is a huge help in keeping you on top of the wave when coming down the face. If it’s a wave at the park you are looking to ride, Scott Burke 5’2″ Fish Soft Surfboard is a good fit.
One of the downsides you will encounter is that the fins that don’t have much snap. While there are decent fins sold separately, it may be sill to put in the effort to enhance this low-rent board. Overall, however, the Scott Burke 5’2″ Fish Soft Surfboard is a terrific entry-level surfing board for fast waves like river parks.
Jeff tried Scott Burke 5’2″ Fish Soft Surfboard in 2017 and reveals through his experience that it is one of the best fits for faster river waves. Its width and lots of nose rocker creates the ideal blend of stability, maneuverability, and helps prevent pearling.
|Relatively cheaper than most surfboards||Plastic fins short on snap
|Board can hold up to 180 pounds
|Molded-in laminated wood stringers
#5. Goplus 5’5″ Surfboard – Beginner Board for Kids and Adults
With colorful selections, Goplus 5’5″ Surfboard gives you the cool and pleasing experience of shredding a swell on a hot summer day. They come in blue, green, and pink, and are made of durable materials such as XPE (Cross-linked Polyethylene Foam), EPS (Expanded Polystyrene), HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene), Wood Strip.
Goplus 5’5″ Surfboard is lightweight and is easy to tag along. Take it to the pool, water park, river, or sea and you won’t tire yourself doing so. Thanks to its materials, this fish surfboard has a good impact and weather resistance. This makes it difficult to bend, distort, and fade.
Its fishtail design adds flexibility and stability to put up with different wave conditions. It features a leash that comes with the package, as well as a wristband to keep you from being swept away by the waves.
|Excellent buoyancy and strong load-bearing capacity||Poor packaging
|Made of high-quality and durable materials
|Dynamic designs and colors
#6. Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer – The waves bandit
Endorsed by a famous surfer/vlogger, who hasn’t heard of Wave Bandit by Ben Gravy. His personality is clearly imprinted on the board with its funky skin graphics displaying his logo. If this is good enough for a vlogger who videos his rides, then it must be good.
Not just the fresh design but the egg and fish-tail shape of this board create the ideal board for your learning times.
This beast has an impressive 5-star review on Amazon, most of which claim that this board is ideal for surfers with different experience levels. Wave Bandit features a dual composite core and twin wood stringers. This helps to easily slice through water and rise above waves.
Wave Bandit is sturdy at its cheap price tag. Certainly, it lives up to the company’s tagline “Surf’s Up Everywhere!”
Richard, a surfer who is a follower of Ben Gravy’s vlogs thinks this is the sickest surfboard. Designed by the person he looks up to, he didn’t even think twice about buying it. And, even after so did not regret it. For him, this is the board you all have been waiting for.
|High-pressure resistance core||Need to wax the soft top as there’s no coating in place
|Streamlined fish shape
|Easy riding for beginners
Our Top Pick
Consumers nowadays rely so much on the reviews left by fellow consumers at retail sites. This information helps them decide whether to buy or not and which one to pick. Reading along with the reviews above and seeing the stars rating, you will have an idea of what our top pick is.
Based on the researches done on all 6 of the fish surfboards, 5’8 Mahi Fish Shortboard by South Bay Board is our top pick. The easy floating and paddling at optimum speed make it the best fish board in the market.
5’8 Mahi Fish Shortboard is well-engineered and with its dimensions, it is a working rip miracle since it lets stable transitions hassle and trouble-free. The whole board is constructed with the finest materials too.
The durability and toughness come from the highly advanced development used which includes I-Beam Stringer and EPS closed-cell foam. Add two layers of 6oz resins, you are sure it can tolerate not just waves, but pearling too.
The traditional look of bamboo added with the enhanced gripping with stronger texture is another feature most consumers prefer this board over the others.
Let’s not disregard the reviews done by consumers who gave 5-star to Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer. Wave Bandit is a part of Ben Gravy’s Catch Surf Collection. Wave Bandit has been represented not just by Ben Gravy himself but other pro surfers too.
The characteristics of his boards are at par with most of the fish surfboards reviewed, but perhaps what makes this board interesting and gaining a 5-star rating is the fact that these consumers can see the boards in action through Ben Gravy’s blog. The videos clearly visualize what consumers may expect, therefore leaving them feeling the need to try it out and giving it a 5.
Pros and Cons of Fish Surfboards
- Speed in small waves
- Fast, Easy Paddling
- Wave-Catchability in mushy, less powerful waves
- More possibility of maneuvers than a longboard
- Slower than shortboards because of volume
- More difficult to learn on than longboards
What are Fish Surfboards?
Fish surfboards or swallowtails are what they call those boards that are wider and thicker than the traditional shortboard. Surfers commonly use them on smaller and softer days where extra paddling is needed.
It was originally designed in the early ‘70s as a board that can be used as a kneeboard or a stand-up surfboard. It was thought of when many surfers were smitten with the idea of “total involvement” surfing. They believed that possibly, knee-riding was the best way to be totally involved with the curls.
Fish surfboards have their own design characteristics, each of which for a designated purpose. The nose of the swallowtail on the front is a slight mix of pointy, sharp, and rounded. This design allows the board to be more stable and less maneuverable. Fish combined the ideal attributes of two different things by having just a slight point on a wide nose.
The width and thickness of fish surfboards are designed to make it float better since the wider and thicker it is, the more buoyant it can get. Having the right buoyancy makes it easy to paddle and catch waves. If you compare it with a shortboard, fish is better for their low volume.
The pitfall for the wide and thick board is it is a tad slower than shortboards. But, another feature, which is the rocker solves this part. The rocker is the curve of the board. The striking bottom rocker makes the board easier to turn, at the same time making it slow. The curved bottom, on the other hand, lets the water travel farther than it can if the board was flat.
So, as we are aiming for speed, fish has a very little rocker. This is so the water moves swiftly underneath the board.
Swallowtails length is short. While shortboards mean instability, hard paddling and catching of waves, the fish’s short length combines well with the width and the thickness of the board. This means you get the buoyancy of thick board with the shred-ability of a shorter board.
The side of the surfboards or the rails as they call it, as with most aspects of the board perform the same – the bigger it is, the better it floats. For fish surfboards, big thick rails aid with floatation aspect but with reduced movement. Its short length and wide tail neutralize speed.
Fish surfboards have different fin systems. This makes it special as it is able to combine different fin set-ups to get you the specific feel of the board. There are three fin systems fish offers – quad, twin, and tri. Quad is the most fun and energetic. With its fins up the board, it easily adjusts to tight turning radiuses.
The twin or dual fin setup sets out a slight difficulty in controlling large surf as they don’t provide much grip. But, gets you the speed and the looseness to feed your adrenalin. The tri-fin is the improved version of the twin fin. If the twin is loose and fast at the double fin, imagine what it can at triple. The effect of the center back fin decelerates the board down while adding stability. Plus, with the rail to rail turning, it gives more controlled maneuverability.
Fish surfboard sounds are exciting and fun. But, be cautious about trying it out especially if you’re a brand-new surfer. Arguments, whether the experience is required for swallowtails use, have always been there. Some say it is a suitable learner’s board. Note that, fish boards are less stable than longboards, requiring you a considerable amount of balancing. So, think about that.
Is A Fish Surfboard Right for You?
The fish surfboard, since the revolution in the 70s that introduced it to the world, has sustained itself to be a necessary board in scores of surfers’ ride. But, how do you know if it is right for you?
Fish surfboards are all about speed and flow, with that dash of style. It can be a super fun everyday surfboard as they are exceptionally versatile. They are perfect for anything knee-high mush to hollow overhead barrels. Defined by their short wide outlines, even rocker, and fishy swallow tail shapes, they can also be considered funboards and hybrids.
There are about three basic questions you need to ponder on to find out if fish surfboard is what you need to bring on your next surfing trips (and the others to follow).
How Skilled are You?
If you are a brand-new surfer and are still trying to get the hang of the art of balancing, you may want to steer away from fish surfboards. Fish are less stable than longboards since they are designed to get the water flowing steadily to gain that speed. Brand new surfers’ best choice would still be the longboards.
Many attempts of riding the longboard, stumbles, and crashes will make you the experienced surfer enough to try out something new like fish surfboards. The transition from longboard to fish will help you start carving to become more dynamic on the waves. A seasoned surfer can also get an easier shot at having fun even when the waves are too slow and mushy for shortboards.
What Waves Do You Ride?
Waves will not always be perfect. They could be huge and hollow, small and mushy, and those that go up to 6-feet high. The combination of perfect ones and shortboards can get you barreled. Same as when you ride a smaller and mushier wave with a shortboard where you may find yourself struggling to snag every single wave.
Shortboards and mushier waves will drain your energy from so much paddling. This combination will leave you pumping ceaselessly to keep on the short-lived wave.
Fish is your perfect addition to your board rack for that adrenaline-filled, fast, and fun mushy surf. But, don’t think about bringing it with tall waves. Fish surfboards have almost no rocker, so you just might risk pearling, diving, or jumping upon take off.
What Do You Want to Achieve in Surfing?
Do you aspire to be the next Kolohe Andino? Want to rub shoulders with Kelly Slater? If their tactics that include intense cutbacks and aerials stoke you up and you are looking for superior surfing experience, trying them out with a fish surfboard is not ideal.
The biggest advantage of a fish surfboard is to get into smaller waves. While it offers breaks for swift maneuvers, it isn’t close to what shortboard has to offer.
However, if you are the hobbyist who loves weekends with sand and waves and doesn’t care about the board sliding out from underneath, a fish surfboard can be your lifelong companion.
But, is it the board for me?
The fish surfboard is a cool and great addition to your board rack. They can expand your experience in the water. Heading to the beach when the waves aren’t perfect – bring a fish surfboard. Transitioning from beginner to intermediate – use a fish surfboard.
Fish surfboards still need you to paddle as you do on your longboards, but at least, you will be able to integrate an expansive collection of movements.
Just a reminder and this goes out with any boards you may use, do not overpower waves. Be one with the waves.
Take a few moments to watch this video and see what this guy has to say about ripping with fish surfboards.
Fish Surfboard Buying Guide
Never miss out on the ideal fish surfboard to buy with the following points. These are what you should consider before swiping your debit card on the surf shop’s POS.
Compared to when the fish surfboards first came out in the 1970s, there are so many sizes to choose from nowadays. Mind you, there are up to 8-ft long fish surfboards. Which size to buy? It would be best for beginners to use boards that are broader for learning. Along the way, when you’ve established your balance, you may transition to the classic fish surfboard that is shorter.
Remember that the thicker and longer surfboards are, the better buoyancy and maneuverability they offer. You may also consider your built. If undecided, you may consult the surfboard size calculator.
Remember to get the right board according to the condition of the water you will be riding. Think of where you will use it to ride. Places like Hawaii and Australia have higher and longer waves. With that, you may consider shorter ones so you can move easily and swiftly. However, keep in mind that no matter how perfect the waves are, if your experience isn’t adequate, you may want to stay with the longer boards.
As mentioned, no matter how perfect the waves are, your experience will still determine the right surfboard for you. It doesn’t matter whether it is a cheap surfboard you bargained at a second-hand shop or the fanciest one you snagged online, if you can’t balance and dance along with the waves, they wouldn’t work according to how you want them to.
Never get caught by a wave with a heavy surfboard, especially that that you can’t handle. The weight of the board should be determined by your experience as well as the wave you want to conquer. Your speed limit is significantly influenced by the board’s weight.
Your Fitness and Strength
You don’t just stand on the board when you surf, you ride with the waves. You do stunts, you jump, you slide, you dance with the curls. The board you should get is the one that can take care of you when you get tired from doing these tricks.
This is the reason most amateurs would rather go for longboards. Longer ones are forgiving when you get tired and slow.
Again, it doesn’t matter whether your board is the most expensive. If it doesn’t work with your built and experience, it wouldn’t let you enjoy the ride.
Features make a surfboard expensive. But, choose the features that you really need. You may check retail and online shops that sell affordable surfboards bursting with features. Make sure that the board you are getting doesn’t make you spend unnecessarily, especially when you can get it a better price from a different store.
While you are still learning, a not so beat up, a used fish surfboard can work for you. But, make sure they are durable enough to ride waves with them. The better ones have their bottom with a heated laminated surface. This process allows for better speed and the board’s responsiveness.
Make sure the board is well-cushioned and sealed when buying. These standards of packaging will keep your board from getting delaminated.
Fish Surfboard Size Chart
While we mentioned the surfboard size calculator, it might as well teach you how to do that based on the rider’s physique and experience. Look at the chart below for reference;
You may hear about retro and hybrid fish surfboards. They are practically the same but here’s how to tell them apart. Retro fish surfboards are shorter with twin or quad fin set up. This is the original fish. The hybrid fish surfboard as the thruster setup for fins and could run higher in length, sometimes up to 7-feet. Its increased size and triple-fin setup make it less loose than the retro fish.
Reasons You Should Surf with a Fish Surfboard
- You wouldn’t want to start progressive and aggressive. You should choose to surf where it is more horizontal than vertical. Once it gets steeper, and you prefer to surf in the open face than pockets, Fish is the best board.
- The waves are slow, weak, and mellow. You will have more fun with fish surfboard considering shortboards will just keep you pumping and humping around.
Fish surfboard combines various features of shortboards and longboards, that results in an exceptionally unique board which is ideal for smaller and lower quality waves. Mixing all these qualities together makes the fish surfboard fast, loose, and stable – totally unlike most surfboards. As one surfer said, “In good waves, you can surf anything. But a board that works in bad conditions is a keeper, and that board is the fish surfboard.”
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Why should I get a fish surfboard?
Fish surfboard also adds a little variety to your surfboard rack to help you surf in settings otherwise un-surfable. You still want to shred during mushy days, right? A fish surfboard will make the crowds jealous of you as you do that.
Q: Are fish surfboards not ideal for bigger waves?
Q: How to transition from a fish surfboard to a shortboard?
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Torsten Bird is a talented and adventurous waterman from Western Australia, passionate about surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, hydrofoiling, skimboarding, snowboarding and skateboarding. Torsten has spent countless hours mastering his skills and his dream is to one day represent Australia as an Olympic athlete. Follow Torsten’s adventures on Instagram.