While there are countless types of surfboard fins available to you, the set you’ll be able to use on a particular board will be dictated by your fin system – or how the fins attach to your surfboard.
Aside from certain adapters and home modifications, there is not a commercially available fin box system that has a universal fit that can take fins made by different manufacturers out of the box. However, there are plenty of fin makers – Wave Arcade included – that design and produce fins that work in a variety of different systems.
So, before you buy some new fins, flip your board over and take a look at your existing fin system.
The major fin systems you’ll find are described below.
Glassed-on surfboard fins are fixed to the board and are not removable or adjustable.
Glassed fins were the standard as fins became more and more common. While you lack the ability to swap, glassed in fin do have the benefit of a solid base that offers good drive. Another benefit of glassed-on fins is the lack of the added tail weight added by the fin box system itself.
Changing, repairing, or otherwise adjusting glassed-on fins will require some cutting, sanding, and fiberglass work. Probably not something you want to do on a whim.
Single Fin Adjustable Boxes
Single fin removable and adjustable fin boxes were the first to become commercially available.
The ones that are still widely used today were developed in the late 60’s by Bill Bahne of Fins Unlimited.
Bahne Boxes, sometimes referred to as US Boxes or standard fin boxes, typically feature a 10.5” channel with a grove for a pin that is affixed to the fin to slide into. The fin is attached with a screw and square plate.
Single fin boxes can be adjusted forwards and backwards to affect the looseness or drive your fin will give you.
You’ll find Bahne Boxes offer some of the widest variety of fins from different manufactures.
Single-Tab Fin Boxes
Single tabbed surfboard fin boxes feature a single channel that accept a rectangular based. Depending on the system, fins are fixed in place by either hardware or screwless clips and pressure.
Futures are certainly the most common single-tab fin attachment system. The other brands listed below will be far less common if you’re looking at boards at your local surf shop.
Futures Fin Boxes
Futures fins boxes are some of the most popular and commonly found on new surfboards.
The Futures fin system comes with channels in two different depths (½” for center fins and ¾” for side fins), which vary depending on the placement on the board.
The fin box channels feature a tab that corresponds to a grove in the fin base and a slot for a grub screw that accepts an Allen head/hex head driver.
For Futures fin systems, the fin’s cant (lean angle) is built into the fin itself rather than the box.
LokBox Fin Boxes
The LokBox fin system features a single channel that locks the fin in place with a flat head screw and a locking washer.
LokBox fin boxes give you the ability to adjust your fins forward and backward by about ½”. Like Futures, LokBox fins have their cant built into them.
ProBox Fin Boxes
The ProBox fin system is one of the most customizable systems available. ProBox systems include inserts that allow you to change the cant and forward/backward position of your fins. Fins are held in place with hex key grub screws.
O’Fish’L Fin Boxes
O’Fish’L fin boxes, which are no longer in production, are a single channel fin system that features a tool-less connection.
Fins snap into place and are held securely by notched groove and a z clip. Despite being completely tool-free, the fins fit extremely snuggly in the box. Cant is built into the fins for O’Fish’L boxes as well.
Red X Fin Boxes
Red X fin system is another less common single-tabbed fin box that allows for slight forward and backward adjustment. Fins are attached to the box using a flat head screw.
Dual-Tab Fin Boxes
FCS is the most common and popular dual-tab fin system, which began with the original dual tab design that later evolved into a screw-less system.
The original FCS fin system features two slotted plugs that correspond to two tabs on the bottom of the fin. Fins in the original system are held in place by two hex key grub screws that screw in at an angle and keep the fins snug.
FCS systems have fin cant built into the boxes themselves rather than the fins.
FCS II Fin Boxes
The FCS II fin system features a screw-less, click in design. Fin tabs are fixed in place by a ball and rod system built into the fin box.
The FCS II system also features grub screw holes that allow you to use original FCS fins in the new boxes.