Fins, tekkie or sport, standard or modded?

Having been diving more years than I can care to remember I am always a little intrigued behind the choice of fins and always look at the style and colour chosen by my fellow divers on a charter boat.

Readers will know that I still think that the Scuba-pro nova seqwing is the most over-hyped fin...ever and you should read to find out why:

But what other fins do I use, what do I think of the fins and the associiated bits and pieces, ok fin springs and what modifications do I carry out before using them 'in anger'?

First thing is first, I use springs rather than rubber straps, this is a bit like the never ending DIN versus A clamp argument with both sides have angry divers telling the others that they will die, horribly! Try posting a simple question on one of the many on-line forums and then sit back ad watch the unfolding armageddon.

I use springs because I prefer them, I believe that they last much longer than rubber straps, I have no evidence one way or the other and can only say that I have never had a spring snap in 3,500 dives, I am sure that divers will say that correctly maintained rubber straps are as good I cannot disagree. I also like their simplicity, no ratchet clips or snaps just a simple spring that you pull over your heel and the fin is in place.

There is a down-side to springs and that is cost. Having stumped up say £85 for a pair of turtle fins you need to pay another £50 for springs and then 'throw away' the rubber straps before getting in the water! Whilst this is a pain with fins which are marketed for sports divers when you are buying fins sold as tekkie or, god help us, DIR then it really sticks in the craw.

To be blunt there is no economic argument to use springs, you will not save any money as it would be cheaper to replace the rubber straps every year but it's not all down to economics, some would argue what cost a fin that comes off mid-dive as the rubber strap snaps? Others would cry 'tackle tart', the use of fins is down to your choice. I use them but I'm not evangelical.


My 'tekkie' fins

A last point on springs, please ensure that the springs you (may) buy are suitable for your fins, not all springs fit all fins!

There is a whole argument about having heavy or light fins but before I open that can of worms the most important thing is the 'fit', a fin that doesn't have a good size footpocket will cause no end of problems as you will find it 'difficult' to work against a current.

In the past I have used heavy rubber fins, both the Baever and Turtle versions and unfortunately whislt inexpensive I did find that the Beaver fins did not have a 'long' foot-pocket. This meant that you were only applying pressure from the from half of your foot when finning hard, fine for bimbling in areas of low or no current but a bit risky to use in the North Sea! The foot pockets on my usual fins, either the Turtles or a 'cheap n cheerful' sports diver pair, the TUSA Imprex tri-ex  are spot on, nice and long so that the entire foot is supported and you can really 'push on' if you encounter any unexpected currents.


My sport fins

My advice is to try the fin before you buy and make sure you are wearing either your rock boot or a representative wet-suit boot, this is an area where I really do recommend that you 'try before you buy', the foot pocket fit is a personal thing and its important that you buy a fin that is comfortable and allows you to 'work' should the need arise.

Most fin reviews discuss in detail how 'effective' the fin is in moving you forward and talk about how the water is channelled down the fin to maximise blah, blah, blah......

The only time that I would consider buying a super duper maximum propulsion fin is if I was doing a timed swim a la PADI divemaster/instructor certification and in that case I would probably plump for a free-diving fin as these guys really do need to optimise movement on minimum energy consumption! I feel that any review based on swimming in a pool or pond, on the surface without gear is 'interesting', but is it really valid?

My advice on the blade would be based on the following factors:-

i) If you think that your legs aren't the strongest then go for a softer blade (or splits);
ii) If you go seal diving go for splits to maximise the chances of 'fin nipping' interaction; and
iii) The more add on features the more chance of failure, simplicity rules:

There you have it, make sure the foot pocket fits comfortablty, pick a blade to suit your level of fitness and bear in mind that any special features are just another failure point.....what else?

Aaaaaah, another knotty conundrum heavy or light?

This really only applies to dry-suit diving and guys worring about their legs becoming buoyant and causing the fabled 'reverse polaris', you can see from the details below that the old fashioned tekkie fins are heavier and denser so of course they will add weight to your feet and alleviate your concerns over an incident. One area to keep in mind is that you will need to adjsut your weighting should you decide to change fin style.

TUSA = 1900g
Turtle = 3200g

In summary going 'tekkie' means adjusting your weighting by about 1kg or if you wear ankle weights you could think about binning them.

I have always thought that most guys with a phobia about floaty legs have picked it up during their formative time doing some dry-suit training and then from 'old hands' like me who used the early orange and black typhoon dry-suit. To find out how 'floaty' your legs are occasionally look behind you on a dive to see what has been kicked up, try to think if you occasionally make contact with the bottom when finning and if your buddy has  a camera a few unposed photos are also useful.

The only reason for floaty feet is air migration within your suit so make sure that your suit fits and your suit feet are the correct size, if necessary then buy some gaiters, these reduce the chance of air migration whilst the pressure on your calf lowers the chance of cramp, ok more expenditure but if your suit is just 'wrong' it has to be cheaper than a tailors bill! 

Finally personalisation, whilst my 'sport' fins are standard, well apart from the springs I do carry out one simple modification to my tekkie fins.


The bottom of the fin sprayed white

All reader will know that 'proper' divers only wear black, don't you? Well that is fine but in reduced visibility you can loose your buddy in a very short time so for that reason I always get a tine of Halfords white 'plastic bumper' spray and paint the bottoms white. Ok the paint cracks and some will drop off but you will see from the photograph above more than enough stays in place to act as a nice easy 'locator' for your buddy in low vis.

Another mod which you might want to consider is to draw a big eye-ball on the bottom of your fins, various scientists have shown that sharks don't like their next meal to look at them so any of you guys with any phobias which are made worse if you are a bit narked you could think about it......

In summary my 'tech guru', Andy Abery of Waterfront Scuba uses the same type of sport fins as me and you would be hard pressed to find a guy who has done more real deep, dark dives over the years and he uses them 'cos they are comfortable!

So for all you wannabe tekkies try to ignore the peer pressure and choose based on comfort rather than the de rigeur black and if the big rubber fin is the most comfortable then it's great, if not so what?

Richies Ratings : None! : You pays your money you takes your choice! 

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