Why is the SCUBA community snickering at split fins? If any of you are on social media, you may follow a scuba page. (Hopefully ours!) If you’re like me, you’ve seen a snide meme or entire threads of divers chanting with torches at the online doors of any diver who admits to wearing split fins in the chat forums.
If you are new to diving- there are two general classifications of fin style- Split Fins (have a split which can be found in varying lengths from the tip down through the center of the fin) or Paddle aka Blade Fins (No splits)
So what’s the deal with split fins? Is there a difference?
Split fin power is caused by the speed at which the diver kicks as opposed to force of the kick. We are mostly talking about flutter kicks here, folks. Split fins cut through the water with much less resistance than a paddle fin. They are usually a little lighter and can be easier to handle, as there isn’t much power behind the kicks of the fin.
However, these few split fin pros come at great cost! The design to decrease water resistance, made split fins incredibly wimpy in comparison to paddle fins. The paddle fin, aka “blade fin”, pushes enough water to tow other divers (your buddy, perhaps?) and shifts the water in ways that allow a diver expert maneuverability that split fins cannot begin to compare with. For this reason professionals, such as rescue divers, prefer a paddle-style or blade-style fin.
Let’s discuss the advantages of paddle fins.
The big “P”. I am referring to PROPULSION! The blade or paddle fin is made with a very stiff rubber giving divers more power than it’s opponent behind each kick. This is a working fin! Professionals need to use a paddle fin in order to go further and to bear loads- other divers, lift bags, etc. These propellers are perfect for any type of water body and for performing any kick. Long dives, short dives, a blade fin does it all.
The right fin will enhance the entire dive experience. It will extend your bottom time by conserving energy. There is a fin (or three or four) out there for everyone, depending on what your dive plans are and your level of experience. Take some time to think about where you are and where you would like to go- both literally and figuratively with your dive certifications and make fin choices based on those factors.
To conclude, maybe there IS a place for split fins in the scuba community that doesn’t require you to put them on in the dimly lit, smoke filled corner of some nameless SCUBA park when nobody’s looking. However, it is not a fin that you’re going to grow into as you level up through SCUBA, especially if you have any desire to promote to a professional level. A paddle fin is simply a harder working- more versatile choice. If you feel like you have been working too hard while diving, talk to Columbus Scuba store staff or your favorite instructors for tips on scuba fins (and kicks!) that are a best match for your needs.