Abyss Scuba Diving

The Great Dive Fin Debate: Split Fins Vs Blade Fins


The Great Dive Fin Debate: Split Fins vs Blade Fins

Fins are one of the most essential pieces of equipment for a diver. They provide power and propulsion, helping the diver to move through the water more efficiently. Scuba fins also help to control the direction and can be used to make sudden turns or stop abruptly.

Diving fins have come a long way since their early incarnations were made of materials like wood and bone. Today, diving fins are generally made of plastic or rubber and are designed to provide propulsion and direction when swimming underwater. While diving fins come in various shapes and sizes, they all share one common goal: to help scuba divers move through the water with greater ease.

The history of scuba fins

The history of fins can be traced back to the early 1700s when two thin pieces of wood were used as rudimentary fins. In 1933, a French inventor patented the first swim fin, and in 1948 Luigi Ferraro designed the first full-foot fin. Fins first started out as basic, simple stiff plastic, composite or rubber blades. This basic fin is known today as paddle fins.

In 1964, Georges Beuchat introduced the vented fin, which was designed to reduce kicking fatigue by allowing water to flow through the blades of the fin. Vented fins quickly became popular among scuba divers and remain so today. In 1997, Nature's Wing patented Split Fin technology, with its unique and distinctive twin blades, represented the first major breakthrough in fin design in over 30 years.

The latest designs in scuba fins are more than just boring, normal blade systems. Some of the newest and most innovative types come with pivoting blades that allow water to channel through them better and use multiple materials on fin blades for increased flexibility; there's no wonder these innovations have been met with rave reviews from divers all over! One design even merges two uncommon features-a foot pocket enclosing only one side (to create space) while leaving the wearer’s toes free so they can walk around wearing shoes without worrying about getting sand lodged between their toes or having too much pressure placed onto any specific area due its unique open feature which spreads out weight evenly throughout the entire heel. 

Split Fins vs Blade

If you're new to scuba diving, you may have noticed that people use different types of fins. For example, some divers use blade fins, while others use split fins. Both types of fins help you move faster and more easily underwater, though each type has unique advantages and drawbacks.

Split fins work similarly to your fish's tail but with an additional feature. The slit in the center of the split fin generates a vortex that helps divers achieve more powerful thrusts and swim faster underwater. This also makes moving through the water easier by allowing forward momentum during both downward and upward strokes!

The slit in the center of the fin generates a vortex

Blade fins, on the other hand, are usually longer and wider than a split fin, which gives you more surface area to push against the water and uses more air. The paddle fin enables you to frog kick and the full range of diver kicks, giving you a much greater ability to maneuver while diving.

So, which type of fin is right for you? It depends on your diving goals. If you want to swim faster, split fins are the way to go. Split fins are also better if you're more interested in air conservation. Ultimately, the perfect answer may be to have both a pair of split fins and a pair of blade fins, depending on the diving you intend to do.

The main difference between split fins vs the blade fins is propulsion power, air conservation and kicking style. Let's explore the other characteristics of each type in more detail.

Power & Speed

As we mentioned, the blade fin is designed to give you more propulsion power with each stroke. The blade is usually longer and wider than a split fin, which provides you with more surface area to push against the water. This extra surface area means more force is exerted by the legs during a flutter kick, but it also means that you'll use more air than split fins.

Split fins work like a propeller: the slit lets water flow smoothly on the upward fin stroke, resulting in a foil shape from both sides of the blade. This shape allows you to move forward through the water by producing the right lift.

Air Consumption

As we mentioned before, blade fins use more air. That's because the blade fin is broader and longer than split fins, which creates more drag. This extra drag means you must work harder to move through the water, which uses more air.

The theory behind split fins is that they help create a vortex in the water, giving you more speed. Another advantage of the split is that on the upward stroke, less energy is used because water can pass through easily. This conserves your energy with each kick, making it ideal for divers who want to save their strength and not tire their leg muscles.

 Split dive fins are 60% more efficient, leading to a 30% improvement in air consumption and bottom time. So split fins are the way to go if you want to conserve air.

Ease of Use

Blade fins require more effort to use than split fins. That's because blade fins are wider and longer than split fins, which creates more drag. This extra drag means you must work harder to move through the water, which can be tiring over time.

Split fins are so efficient that the first time many divers use them, they are so light on the leg that the divers do not think they are doing anything. Split fins are just as efficient in strong currents, but again, many divers who have not used a split fin in strong currents do not feel they are working.

So split fins are the way to go if you're looking for a fin that is easy to use and won't tire you out.

Kicking style

Not only does your choice of finning or kicking underwater affect your movement, but it also determines how much air you use on each dive. There are many different kicking styles, but the primary 3 are the flutter kick, the frog kick and the scissor kick.

Flutter kick is the most common type of kick and is used with both split fins and blade fins. To do a flutter kick, you quickly move your legs up and down, with a downward and upward stroke in an alternating motion.

The frog kick is used mainly with blade fins and is almost impossible to use with split fins. When frog kicking, you bring your knees up to your chest and then push your legs out to the sides. This type of kick is often used when maneuvering in tight spaces.

Scissor kick is used mainly with blade fins and is problematic with split fins. To do a scissor kick, you move your legs up and down coordinated, as if you were swimming the breaststroke. This type of kick is often used when maneuvering in tight spaces.

paddle fins allow a variety of kicking styles

If you want a versatile fin that can be used with different types of kicks, blade fins (paddle fins) are the way to go. However, flutter kick is best for general diving purposes, and split fins offer very significant efficiency gains in the finning experience.


Both blade and split fins can be used for various scuba diving activities. However, the blade fin is more versatile since it can be used for technical and recreational diving. On the other hand, split fins are better suited for recreational diving since they offer more propulsion power and better air consumption.

Recreational Diving: If you're looking to dive for leisure and don't need the extra manoeuvrability that blade fins provide, then split fins are a great option, giving you longer bottom times and less stress on your legs.

Technical Diving: If you're looking to do more technical dives or dives that require extra manoeuvrability, then blade fins are the way to go. That's because the blade fin offers more control and less propulsive power, which is ideal for tight spaces. Split fins also become an issue with line entanglement in this split regarding wreck and cave diving.

Photography: If you're a macro photographer, rather than swimming long distances, your goal is to get the perfect photograph. In this case, extra manoeuvrability provided by blade fins will help you succeed; thus, blade fins are the way to go.

 Technica divers use blade fins

So, which type of fin is right for you? It depends on your diving goals. If you want to swim faster, the split fin is the way to go. But the blade fin might be a better option if you're more interested in conserving air. But ultimately, the best way to figure out which type of fin is right for you is to try both types and see which one you prefer.

Is there a definitive answer to the great dive fin debate?

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. I've tried both types and prefer split fins for general diving and a blade fine if I am wreck diving. Split fins are more efficient and provide more power than paddle fins, making them ideal for longer dives or travelling with a lot of gear. So if you're starting diving, I recommend using split fins, as they will help you with your air consumption and leg fatigue.

 If you progress into technical diving or serious photography, you must invest in a second pair of fins for those occasions. The important thing is to be comfortable and confident in the water and to have fun!


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