How to Change & Install Surfboard Fins

If you’re new to surfing or have never experimented with your fins before, changing fins may not be as easy as it seems.

Overtime, saltwater, sand, and other debris can bind your fins to their box and make changing them a little difficult. Metal hardware (grub screw, flat head screw, and plates) can also be prone to stripping and rusting, which can further hinder removal and installation.

If your fins feel stuck or difficult to remove, use some of the tips on this page before your decide to destroy your fins or your board.

Before getting into the specifics of removal steps for the top fin systems, here are some general tips that will make your fins easy to install and remove in the future:

  • Rinse with fresh water and dry your fins and fin boxes periodically after a surf to prevent salt and sand particles for building up around the fin’s base.
  • Avoid over-tightening your fin’s hardware – this can lead to a stripped head or a damaged fin box.
  • Wrap a towel around especially tight fins – this will give you a better grip without hurting your hand or the board.

Changing Single Fins

Single fins are held in their box by a plate, a screw, and a pin. To remove a single fin, loosen and remove the screw from the front of back of the fin.

Once the screw is removed, you should be able to lift the end of the fin out of the box.

From here, you’ll simply need to slide the fin in the box until the pin reaches the opening in the channel. If it’s tight, give it some light taps until you are able to remove it.

How to install a single fin:

  1. Line up the pin.
    • Line up the pin with the notch in the center of the fin box and slide the pin into its channel.
  2. Line up the screw hole and plate.
    • Line up the hole in the base of the fin with the screw plate inside the fin box.
  3. Insert screw.
    • Insert the screw and gently thread it into the plate.
  4. Position the fin in the box.
    • Move it forward for a looser feel, back for more stability.
    • Single fin positioning will have a noticeable effect on your surfing.
  5. Tighten the screw.

Changing Futures Fins

Futures fins are kept in place with a notch and groove at the back of the fin and box and a grub screw at the front.

To remove Futures fins, unscrew the grub screw – you do not need to unscrew it all the way out of the fin box. It’s better if you don’t.

Use some pressure to pivot the fin from where the grub screw was holding it up towards the back of the fin box. Once you lift it up, you’ll be able to remove it.

If it won’t budge, try holding the tail of the board steady, wrap a towel around the fin and apply a little more force.

To install Futures fins, line up the groove with the notch in the fin box, lower the fin, and tighten the screw.

Changing FCS II & Original Fins

Original FCS fins are held in place with a grub screw holding two tabs in place. The FCS II system accepts original FCS fins with grub screws as well.

To remove these, simply unscrew the grub screws and remove the fins. If they won’t budge, some slight wiggling/vibrations should free them.

FCS II fins are held in place with a notch hear the front and a ball/rod mechanism that hold them if with pressure. To remove FCS II fins, apply some pressure up towards the front of the fin box to disengage the ball/rod and remove.

To install FCS II fins, insert the front of the fin into the notch in the plug, and apply downward pressure to the back of the fin until you hear it click into place.

To install original FCS fins, simply insert the tabs into the fin boxes and tighten the grub screws.

Which Way Do Your Fins Go?

To avoid winding up on someone’s Instagram feed and to be able to use your fins for what they’re designed for – you’ll need to install them correctly.

If you’re unsure, just remember:

  • The sweep of your fin points towards the tail. (i.e. The tip of the fins faces backwards.)
  • Rail/side fins are angled outwards (towards the rail) if they include a cant.
  • Rail/side fin foils are typically flat or thinner on the inside of the fin than the outside.
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