How to choose a fish surfboard

How to pick out your ideal Fish surfboard

Thinking of ordering a fish surfboard but don’t know where to start? Here are a few pointers.

Fish surfboards were invented in the seventies and since then, they have had numerous variations. The original shape and its variations have been popular since their invention, which makes it hard to choose which way to go

Different types of fish surfboards

Retro fish surfboard, a brief introduction

Forever popularized for its deep swallow and wide outline, the original seventies fish are still alive and are becoming quite popular nowadays. Especially because of pro surfers trying new boards and different outlines.

Initially designed for kneeboarding by its inventor, Steve Lis, these boards caught the eye of other surfers due to their unique shape, small size, and wide twin keel fins.

Steve Lis in 1973 with one of his first models  — Credit: Bolster
Steves Lis drawings (early ’70s) — Credit: Unknown

For these boards to work with modern surfing, they had to go through a few modifications. Not so much in outline but in fin placement and angle, and most importantly, rocker curve. Nowadays, a good retro fish shaper has to work with the limitations and the advantages of this style of board, especially when shaping them for international waves that might not be so perfect and easy to surf. Our retro fish models: Classic TwinQuad Fever, and Curvalicious models were developed for versatility, they are considered agile and maneuverable for a classic fish, ideal for weak to medium waves and pealing fatter waves, and great for drawing classic lines or even some modern ones.

Since these boards have less rocker than usual, with a wide tail, they are not considered ideal for heavy barreling waves.

The Twin keels have a more classic approach feeling, a bit “stiffer” compared to a quad, this happens because the space between the front and rear fins of a quad helps disperse water. This makes the Quad fish feel a little loser and more progressive but lacks the drive of the even keels.

Surfer Daniel Rangel on our 5’4″ Curvalicious model.

Modern fish

The modern fishes came along sometime during the nineties, being popularised around 95/97 by Lost Surfboards and their Round Nose Fish. They were small boards but with wide noses and two fins, they had a similar surfing experience to the boards of the day but with a look that was never before seen.

Réplica do modelo Round Nose Fish de 1997 — Foto:
1997 Round Nose Fish replica —  Credit:

In the Lost Surfboards movie “5’5″ X 19 1/4”, starring Cris Ward and Cory Lopez, you can see them surfing these types of boards in all kinds of conditions, from the Hawaiian North Shore power to point breaks. This helped break the stigma that only long and bigger boards work on big waves. since then, boards started to get much smaller.

With time, the outline has changed a little by adding more area to the tail, we prefer to bring the wide point further back, making the boards work better in weaker waves. The addition of wings helps break the outline and make the tail thinner giving the board more agility and maneuverability.

The result was a great small wave board that also works in stronger waves, that is exactly what we’ve done in our modern fish model.

How to choose the ideal size for a fish surfboard

For beginners, it’s recommended to surf a board up to 6 and 12 inches taller compared to the surfer’s height.

For intermediate and advanced surfers, we recommend surfing these boards 3 to 5 inches smaller than your height and adding 2-5 liters more than your normal shortboard.

Differences between modern and retro fishes

They might look similar but they are completely different.

The retro fish is wider and has less rocker than its modern counterpart, which makes it easier to surf on fatter waves and is ideal for more fluid and relaxed surfing. The modern fish has a narrower tail, more rocker, and is more maneuverable, it has a flow closer to modern performance boards.

Fish Surfboard in PU or EPS/XPS (Epoxy)?

Surfboards made with polyurethane blanks are laminated using polyester resin, and surfboards with an EPS or XPS blanks are laminated with epoxy resin.

For an authentic retro fish experience, we recommend going with a Polyurathane blank for it is heavier and more predictable underfoot, the weight will help contribute to the classic lines the fishes like drawing.

The EPS/XPS blanks are less dense than their heavier PU counterpart, making the boards lighter and more agile, this could be considered less predictable for some surfers. It works great on modern fish and high-performance surfing.

Where to buy the best fish surfboard.

When it comes to ordering a fish, we always recommend talking to a shaper so he can help you figure out what board is best for your ability and build. We, at 1974 Surfboards would love to help you, just get in touch!


Want to surf with a board that makes it easier to catch waves, has lots of drive, and speed, and is great for a relaxed fluid surfing experience?

Pick the Retro Fish.

Want a board with good buoyancy for smaller weaker waves but without letting go of the agility of a performance board?

Pick our Modern Fish model.

Are you starting out and want a board that’s not a log? Or want to transition from a longboard to a shortboard?

Pick our mid-length fish.

Still, got some questions? Ask our shaper whatever you want, we will be glad to help!

Get in touch.


  1. 6,1 and 175lb riding 7,4 x22 big fun board. Can now catch waves going right and left, riding the face and getting turns in. What’s my next fish board size?

    • Hello Joel,

      Thanks for your comment, does your surfboard also show the volume?

      It is ideal after the surfer improves its skills to reduce the size and volume, so the surfboard can be more sensitive to do turns and respond better under the feet. But the changes can not be too drastic and out of the comfort zone of the surfer, ideally, the outline of the surfboard should still be rounded and “filled” to provide greater stability, a longer fish is ideal because it provides that great stability at smaller lengths, and it is an agile surfboard model.

      We strongly recommend our Spearfish model (link below), please feel free to get in touch using the contact form at our CONTACT US page (link below), or reply to this message, so we can further assist you with the ideal dimensions and volume for this surfboard.

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