If you’re new to surfing, you may have seen these strange looking shortboards with the dual-pointed, split tail.
Upon closer inspection, you notice it’s nearly twice as thick as any other shortboard you’ve seen, and wider as well.
Plus, it probably didn’t come in the standard tri-fin set up.
This is the fish board. Developed in the early ‘70s, these boards were originally designed as hybrid kneeboard-surfboards.
The idea behind making these boards was, and you’ll love this, how can we make a board that lets us go deeper into the barrel?
We’ve put together the best fish surfboard reviews in order to help surfers find the right board for them. Because we believe that every surfer who is in tune with mother nature deserves to get as deep into the barrel as possible.
Our Favorite Picks
#1 Best Overall: Gold Coast Surfboards - 5’8 Hybrid Soft Top Fish
#2 Gold Coast Surfboards - 6’8 Hybrid Soft Top Fish
#3 Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer
What Is a Fish Surfboard?
To begin with, let’s get the basics down. What is a fish surfboard shape? At first glance, it looks like a fish. With the wider midsection, pointed nose, and split tail, all you’d need to do is draw on a little eyeball and mouth and you’d have yourself a real fish.
The specs range in size and shape much like shortboards. You can find 7-foot fish boards and 5-foot fish boards, it all just depends on what you’re looking for. If paddling out is a struggle, fish boards might be the right board for you. Fishes are great because they have more volume, so they’re more buoyant, faster, and can get catch waves easier.
Most boards come with the quad-fin set up. Although each fish surfboard template is different. Some come with twin fins, others with five. Four is the magic number though.
In our humble opinion, the best fish surfboard for sale is the 5’8 Hybrid from Gold Coast Surfboards. Its dimensions are 5’8 by 21” by 2.75”, giving it a 38L volume which can support surfers from young groms up to 200lb grown surfers.
It’s a hybrid board in both design and material. With a wax-free foam top and a traditional fiberglass bottom, this board combines the best of both worlds. The fiberglass bottom will give the board the extra weight and sleekness to catch speed and shred sections. While the soft top is great for learning on smaller waves.
With the quad fins, skinnier than average midsection, and rounded nose, you’ll find that this board still performs like a traditional shortboard, but with the rideability of a fish.
#2 Gold Coast Surfboards - 6’8 Hybrid Soft Top Fish
Another great board from Gold Coast Surfboards, this hybrid soft top fish comes with dimensions: 6’8 by 21” by 2.75”. This 45L board will give you that fish surfboard speed you so often see.
If you take a quick glance at the #1 Gold Coast board, you’ll see that the width and thickness are the same, but this board is a foot large. What that’s going to do is turn this board into a bullet. With its egg-shaped design, this board is less about harsh bottom turns and silly spray off the backside. It’s all about that high-performance speed.
It comes with the thruster fin set up and a wax-free top, so you can paddle out as soon as you get to the beach. If you’re looking for speed, this is your board.
#3 Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer
Coming in three different sizes (six total sizes; only three are fishes), the Wave Bandit Performer Ben Gravy edition, is the perfect fish surfboard for beginners. Especially if you want to learn how to ride shortboards and are tired of those massive 8-foot starter boards.
The three different sizes are:
5’6 by 21” by 2.875”
6’ by 21.5” by 3”
6’6” by 22” by 3.125”
The Wave Bandit is a Catch Surf brand board that covers surfers in all stages of their careers. For these fish surfboards, here’s what you need to know. These soft-top surfboards come equipped with two wood stringers and a dual-composite core to give it that stiff feel. Often a complaint for foam boards are that they are slower and bend easily. That’s why Catch Surf has poured a lot of energy into developing the stiffest soft boards on the market. And they really work!
Each Ben Gravy board comes with the signature pineapple head with sunglasses on a bright neon background.
P.S. Ben Gravy wanted to personally let you know to always wax responsibly. Yes, these soft-tops do need wax.
#4 THURSO SURF Lancer 5'10'' Fish
The Thurso Lancer comes in at 5'10 by 20" by 2.75" which gives it 33.6L volume. With these fish surfboard dimensions, you might think you’re getting a sleek board. But what makes this fish surfboard stand out is how wide this board stays from tail to nose. It has the wide egg shape that will offer a comfortable ride.
Easy to pop-up and helpful for balancing, this board is designed for beginners who want a shortboard to learn on. Or if you’re in need of a board that you can shred on smaller weak waves, this is also a great board for that. With its twin fin set up, this board is perfect for smaller to mid-sized waves.
#5 Rock-It 5'8" Albert Surfboard
If you’re looking for a starter board the Rock-It 5’8 will be perfect. Coming in at 5'8 by 20.5" by 2.5," you’ll have a great time learning on this floaty, stylish board. It has a twin fin set up for easy rideability and its thin shape will help build speed while you paddle.
For stiffness, this board comes with two stringers and a layer of cloth fiberglass on the bottom. This helps to avoid any drag in the water that could slow you down.
The board is light as well! So any young groms who are looking for their first short board to take out, can carry it with no problem.
If you’re looking for a board that you can grow in skill with, this board is for you. Its dimensions are 6’8 by 22” by 2,” so it’s on the taller side of shortboards.
For smaller to mid-sized waves, this board will offer you the buoyancy to catch them with ease. And for larger waves this will give you that fish surfboard performance with easy, smooth turns and the ability to cruise through sections.
Plus, this board comes with a stomp pad built into the back, so you can throw tight snaps and carve the wave smoother than butter.
#7 JK Surfboards - The Big Boy Fish 7'3"
This epoxy fish surfboard has dimensions 7’3 by 22” by 3.” It’s closer to a small longboard than it is a shortboard, but in large swells this board will be able to hold its own. With a board around seven feet, there are a few different ideal conditions.
In smaller swells, this board’s size will be advantageous. The extra length and thickness will make catching waves easier. For mid-sized and larger waves, paddling out will be more difficult, but the longer board will give you the speed you need to ride these waves.
With the five fin set up, you’ll have maximum control over turns and carves. This is a fun board to take out in any conditions and is great for beginners and seasoned veterans alike.
Pro's & Con's of a Fish
When looking for your next stick, the first question to ask yourself is whether you want a fish, a standard thruster, or a longboard. Going for a fish board has its ups and its downs.
Fish Surfboard Size Chart
If you’re in need of some fish surfboard sizing then you’ll need to pull out your handy, dandy fish surfboard size calculator. This is where you punch in your weight and out pops the perfect dimensions of fish surfboard.
Of course, the size of the board also depends on what size wave, how tall, and how skilled you are, but having a board that matches your weight is helpful.
90 - 130 lbs should go for a board size between 5’8 and 6’4
130 - 160 lbs should go for a board size between 5’10 and 6’8
160 - 180 lbs should go for a board size between 6’3 and 6’10
Above 180 lbs should go for a board size no less than 6’9
Above 200 lbs should go for a board size no less than 7’6
Again, this is just a rough outline. Finding the right board size for you takes time and a lot of trial and error. Also, keep in mind that the thicker and wider the board, the more buoyant it will be.
Retro Fish Surfboards
If you’re trying to travel back in time and find the perfect surfboard for your shaggin wagon, then you need to pick up a retro fish board.
With its classic pointed tail and extremely wide chest area, these board will have people wondering if Woodstock happened last year. Great for cruising on waves, retro fish boards are what gives fish surfboards their nickname “the short longboard.”
Hybrid Fish Surfboards
The idea behind a hybrid fish surfboard design is to combine the best elements of both traditional shortboards and the fish. To break this down further, traditional surfboards are loved for their maneuverability.
They can turn, snap, and launch into the air. Fish surfboards are loved because they can catch waves a second quicker than other shortboards and can easily ride out tough sections. The hybrid fish surfboards are then the ones that allow you to pop up faster, drive through sections, and still be able to produce the repertoire of tricks that surfers love.
How To Surf A Fish Surfboard?
Surfing a fish surfboard won’t be much different than any other board. Here’s one way to think about it: You’ll have more maneuverability than a longboard and an easier time catching waves than a shortboard. With a longboard, you typically let the wave take you where it wants to go, and you casually turn to ride it optimally. Even though a fish surfboard is thick, you’ll be able to direct the board how you want to surf. With a shortboard, you’re often held back by wave choice. A fish has a larger range of possible waves and performs better on smaller waves.
Fish Surfboard History
Developed in the ‘70s by Steve Lis, the fish surfboard was originally intended to be ridden on the knees. People thought that the wider base and thicker material would be able to better handle waves that barrelled. As more surfers tried them out, the fish surfboard developed into its own class of surfboards.
What is the Difference Between a Thruster, Quad, and Five Fin?
This is a good question, especially when most shortboards come as a thruster and most fish surfboards come as a quad-fin. Each fin set up, including the single fin and twin fin, comes with benefits and downside. For smaller waves, less control is needed to ride, so the fewer fins you need. For large, fat waves, you’re going to want as much control as you can get. For this, the more fins, the better.
Here is a complete wave-to-fin chart so that you’re never unsure which fin set up to use. You’ll notice why the thruster and quad-fin are the two most common fin set ups. They have the most versatility.
Soft-top or Fiberglass?
It used be that soft-top surfboards were only used by beginners, and that as you progressed in skill you would switch to a fiberglass. This isn’t the case anymore. With the rise of a new generation of soft-top surfboards (thanks mainly to Catch Surf—king of soft-tops), that stigma is completely changing. Fiberglass boards still offer more in terms of performance riding, but soft-tops are quickly catching up.
Are Wax-Free Boards as Sticky
This point is a debated one. Many boards offer Wax-Free tops now and it has surfers conflicted. For some, they just like the feel of wax beneath their feet. For others, not having to clean the board all the time is a relief. As to whether or not they’re as sticky, some say yes, some say no. It’s really up to the individual.
Our #1 Pick - HYBRID SOFT TOP FISH