FCS PC-3 vs. PC-5 – Fin Size Matters

This is sort of a review, sort of a comparison, and sort of some advice for fin choice in general. I say that because fins depend on you – your ability level, weight, height, etc. Even the size of your board comes into play. Keep all this in mind when reading on below…

 

The reason I am comparing these fins to each other as well as on their own is because of something I learned the hard way – fin size matters. Before I knew what I was doing on a surfboard, I rode almost exclusively the entry-level FCS M-5 thruster (medium size fins), and sometimes as a quad with G-X trailer fins. Down the road, I acquired the PC-5 thruster set and began riding this (same size as M-5 fins). Just in the last year did I finally try the PC-3 set and I can confidently say that these small size fins are the right size for me (I’m about 5’8” 140lbs).

It took me years to realize it but I had been riding the wrong size fins for almost my entire surfing life. Side note – I have found that keeping a journal really helps in all board sports to get your setups dialed in exactly as you like with things like fins, board dimensions, etc.

So, I rode “-5” medium size fins for a long time but they were too big for me. This hurt my progression and my ability didn’t improve that much because I could not make the board turn as fast or as hard. Switching to the PC-3 and the smaller fin size was like putting performance tires on a car – suddenly, I could get the most out of my wave-riding vehicle. This definitely gives me more confidence in the water.

 

Photo Jun 10, 7 02 58 PM
FCS PC-3 thruster | 5’3″ LIB x …Lost Puddle Jumper

 

The Review

These two fin models from FCS are arguably some of their most popular. They are relatively cheap, solid fins ($82 from FCS directly) with good response and drive through turns. Both feature what FCS calls “performance core”, and FCS says they are lightweight performance fins (can’t argue there). They are both sold as quad and thruster packages, but this review concerns the thruster versions.

Once I found the right size fins, the PC Series became my favorite fin. I have been riding them on a 5’3” LIB x …Lost Puddle Jumper – the PC-3 thruster is my go-to setup for this board. I can get so much power and response out of these fins, it really opens up the possibilities for me. Speed is definitely not an issue, but a quad is still faster with these as side fins. That said, the thruster is good enough to get barreled.

The PC Series material is definitely snappier than the old M Series I had been riding for years. The snap is more aggressive as well, so a hard bottom turn is essential if you want to get these to release a bit. That is kind of the fun of it though – you really have to lay into it sometimes. If you do it well, the rewards are priceless. This forces you to work on technique and perfect every step – the drop, your line, the bottom turn, etc.

That said, I could never get this out of the PC Series when I rode the PC-5 due to the size. The PC-5 felt much less responsive and much less snappy. Even if I laid into turns on these fins, I never felt the flex doing any work to help me out. That’s really why size matter when it comes to fins – when the size is right, the fins respond and you can actually feel the flex working. That’s how it should be.

Overall, I would recommend the PC Series fins for intermediate-advanced surfers who want something predictable and responsive. They are priced right and widely available. I would say these fins work best in rippable, punchier waves where you want to go hard off the lip – the snap and response really helps these fins come into their own here. Don’t be afraid to really lay into these fins, as they will respond.

Just make sure you have the right size.

Gear Review: FCS Mark Richards TFX Fins

So, first thing’s first. These are some carbon FCS twin fins with MR’s name on them. I have the tri set, which includes a small third fin for some extra drive and control. I’ll talk more about the differences between two and three a little later. I have been riding these fins for about a year at this point on my 5’6″ Pyzel Pyzalien. The Pyzalien is a sick board. It’s a little shorter, fatter, and thicker than your standard shortboard since it’s a “stubbie” basically meant for summer surf. That said, I’ve ridden it in waves a few feet overhead and it still works although the speed wobbles get intense if the face is bumpy.

I would not recommend riding these fins in 8 foot waves though, at least not on the Pyzalien. Any twin fin setup is going to make a board feel loose, so combine that with the Pyzalien’s nimble shape and you have a really rippable, but sorta twitchy setup. In head high waves the twitchy-ness is manageable and adds to the fun. Anything smaller than that and these fins are exactly what you want. I would describe the feeling like riding a skateboard on a wave just because of how nimble and fast these fins make a setup feel. Turns become almost effortless and the speed is immense.

As for the difference between two and three of these fins, I’ll put it like this. With two fins in you may get more speed but you’ll slide around way more, especially when you don’t mean to like during hard bottom turns. Three fins holds much better and the speed and drive are just as good. Unfortunately, I think the three fin option is a few more dollars but I would say it’s worth it.

The bottom line: I would recommend these fins for a small wave board, but they’re good up to head high. The main thing with the TFX fins is that they will make your setup feel pretty loose, which I like but some may not.