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Selecting a Tail Pad

by Ben Preston on June 13, 2017[edit]


The amount of tail pads out on the market currently is crazy! And with more brands coming out daily, it really gives surfers an awful lot of options to choose from. More often than not when we treat ourselves to a new stick and instantly become creatures of habit, reverting to the attitude of “yeah that will do..” And I guess your reading this and thinking, “well actually i just grab the one i like.” In-fact there’s more to it. Each pad has its own purpose, and the design of them actually benefits your surfing.

Unfortunately with tail pads we don’t have the liberty like fins to change them out regularly. So we’ve compiled a little insight list to give you some clues in what to look for when buying a new grip.

The Four Essential Components to Tail Pads

Kick – The degrees in the kick ranges anywhere between a mellow 20 degrees right up to vertical and steep. The steeper the kick, the easier it is to jam your foot in place to blow the back of the wave out. If its vertical and performance surfing you like, a kick between 45 degrees to vertical is perfect for you. If it’s a pad you need for a fish/retro board, a mellow flat tail pad is your answer.

Arch – The amount of difference in arch design alone is incredibly broad. However it all comes down to the size of your foot and how much movement you like to have. If you’ve got smaller feet, the need for a pad with a small to minimal arch would be best. However if you’ve got a big foot, then look for something with a longer, higher arch that nearly runs the length of the tail pad.


Pieces – From one piece to five piece, they’re designed to effectively be usable on most boards. One piece pads aren’t as common nowadays as they were a good 10+ years ago however they have made a come back recently for their durability. For a while the two piece pads were seen as the weird uncle to the three pieces. Typically featuring no arch and a mellow kick, these pads are great if your throwing something down on the rear of your fish. 3 pieces are the most common grips, allowing for an even spread of grip and versatility for all board models. 5 pieces are effectively the 3 piece grip but with two tabs that sit above the main area of the tail pad adding extra grip in bigger swell.

Traction – The grooves themselves are more often than not shaped like diamonds, some feature multi layered grooves, others a single layer groove. Circular designed traction are also starting to make an appearance amongst some manufactures. However the basic rule of thumb is the rougher the grooves, the greater the traction. This provides maximum resistance against slipping and maximum grip, but will still allow you to move your foot about when needed. A single layer groove generally is a straightforward design that allows both grip and movement. A multi layered groove looks like a diamond with another diamond on top. These are the grippiest of the grippy. Once your foot’s down it isn’t moving anytime soon. And if it does, it’s against its own free will.

So What’s The Best Tail Pad For Me?


More often than not it’s personal preference of what works best for you. However, consider the board your wanting to apply it too as the basis for your decision.From there;
  • how many pieces do I need?
  • Does the kick have a high enough support or do I need something with less kick?
  • Consider the arch and how your foot would relate to it
  • what kind of waves are you looking to use your new board in?
  • Do I need something with ultimate traction? or something that lets me shift around freely

Once you’ve answered these problems apply the pad and your good to go. Just remember you don’t want to be playing around with them too much or you’ll lose your sticky adhesive. The unfortunate thing is once its down, leave it. We’ve seen guys try use the old hair dryer and paint scraper trick to remove it but in all honesty, if you can go to that much trouble to remove the tail pad.. We think it’s time for a new board!

To find out if your riding the right board, CLICK HERE


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