Why ride a fish surfboard?

When you first see a fish surfboard, you may be left wondering, “What a strange looking shortboard?” When you look beyond the design, you will notice that is has quite some volume; short, thick, wide, huge tail and that noise… then it hits you that the board actually looks like a fish!


Steve Lis holding his fish surfboard in 1970

Steve Lis holding his fish surfboard in 1970


Backtrack to 1970, there is a revolution taking over the surfing world. Practically every surfer is coming up with a custom surfboard design. The shortboard was running wild. Wave riding is limited to one’s imagination. Then came Steve Lis, and the fish surfboard was born in his garage. And the rest is history… The fish surfboard has really come of age with numerous variations in existence today. When choosing a fish surfboard, you need to consider what you really need from your fish and to some extent, your style of surfing. When you put all this into consideration, you will find yourself opting to buy several boards.

Why should you get a fish board? Small waves, yes speed It is the first day of the summer, you are very excited to hit the beach. On reaching it, you find small waves. Ankle biters! Draggy. Choppy. Very small waves. There is no way you are riding a shortboard on such waves. So your only option is a longboard, but what about the speed?

Riding a small wave on a fish surfboard

Riding a small wave on a fish surfboard


This is where the fish comes to save your summertime. Fish surfboards achieve amazing speeds even when you are stuck with small waves for the day.   Cruise like you are on steroids Fish surfboards have a significantly larger volume (I am thinking of all that when compared with shortboards.) How does volume help? More volume means more buoyancy. More buoyancy makes it easier and faster to paddle. And did I mention the little rocker? Yeah, fish surfboards have a little thing called a rocker that makes paddling a lot easier.   Catch me if you can Is catching waves is the only thing on the menu? Once you outgrow the rookie tag, most of surfing will be paddling. Congratulations, you have outgrown wiping out. But that’s not where the fun is.  

Catching waves is the real deal. Even with the small choppy waves, you can still catch some waves with a fish surfboard. Fish board may be shorter than a shortboard, but it is wider and thicker like a longboard. This means that you can catch smaller waves way faster than with both the shortboard and longboard. According to Surfer Today, small waves give you a good opportunity to try out surfing tricks and maneuvers.

Can you pull a rabbit out of your hat? Besides going fast in small waves, a fish board holds the possibility to do most surf tricks with much ease. Well, I must agree that the shortboard still remains the favorite for doing tricks, but the fish board gives you better maneuvers especially on smaller waves.

Shortboards are better in performing tricks than Fish surfboards   

Are you ready to handle a fish board? Here is the checklist:  

  1. 0-100: What is your skill level?
The novice badge – the most recommended board for a beginner is the longboard. The reason being that longboards are more stable. More stable than a fish surfboard. I personally think that fish surfboards make a good beginner board. Reminds me of the arguments in biker channels on the best beginner bike 250cc or 600cc. The explorer pro – when you become a pro of the longboard, the next likely choice of board will be a shortboard or a fish surfboard. A fish surfboard will be excellent if you want to experience more dynamics on the wave. Or maybe you just want to surf on a low tide day.  
  1. What is on the menu?
If you surf in perfect waves, you know the huge and hollow ones, you are better off playing with the shortboard. But if you are looking for fun in smaller, sloppier and choppy waves, you will struggle with shortboard. Most of your energy will end up being paddled away. For waves below 6 feet, the fish surfboard will give you a better experience. Anything larger than comes with the risk of pearling coz, No rocker!  
  1. What are your goals on this beach?

Are you after high performance? I am sorry to break your heart, the fish surfboard is not your best option. It may catch smaller waves and make it easy to maneuver, but the shortbread is still the undisputed king of pro surfing. in case you want to know all the science that is involved, ready The Physics of Surfing by Adam Weiner   In a nutshell, the fish surfboard will give you the most of your local break. It gives you the ability to go to the beach, even when the waves are not on their best behavior. I think the fish surfboard is the best transition board from the simple longboard.  

Want to design your own fish board? Are you looking for the best board for beginners?

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