SCUBA Gear: Split Fins Vs Paddle Fins

You’ve probably already heard divers everywhere debate the efficiency of Split Fins vs Paddle Fins. Some say the Splits are no good in currents but offer ease and good propulsion in calmer water whereas paddle fins offer greater propulsion and finer control and feel. While it all boils down to a matter of preference and opinion and as to which type of Fins are better, we’ve got the arguments of both side to help you make your pick and decide either way.

Split Fins Vs Paddle Fins
Featured above: (left)Tusa X-Pert Zoom Z3 Open Heel Split Fins, (right) Oceanic Viper Open Heel Fins available at

Split Fins

Split fins are designed is with an empty space down the center of the blade, splitting it into two parts.The split blades act like separate propellers, twist independently during each stroke to a precise angle of attack that creates lift and thrust and cuts the water, causing water propulsion behind the diver.

The Pro’s of Split Fins-

  • Mares Raptor Open Heel FinsSplit blades are said to have a unique flexibility that helps reduce ankle strain, fatigue and cramping often associated with the use of conventional ‘paddle’ fins.
  • Splits help move the water across or through the fin, which allow the diver to move through the water quite rapidly because they offer less surface area resistance in the water.
  • This type of fins works well for those who fin with the flutter kick method as each “leaf” or blade twists creating a propeller-like effect, great for straight-line speed.

featured above: Mares Raptor Open Heel Fins available at

The Con’s of Split Fins:

  • Divers have often complain that you can’t feel split fins when kicking which is sometimes equated with a lack of power.
  • What split fins lack the stiffness and body you need for frog-kicking, turning and backing up.
  • These are fine if you are planning on going in a single forward motion the entire time. They are not ideal for those who wish to back track and/or take photographs.

Paddle Fins

Paddle fins have been around since the late 1940’s and changed little except for the materials used. The designs of this type of fins have slowly evolved from heavy stiff black rubber to something lightweight and comfortable.

The Pro’s of Paddle Fins:

  • Mares Avanti Superchannel Full Foot FinsThey offer, better maneuverability than split fins and are your best bet for slow, deliberate movements in any direction.
  • Precise movements (pitch, angle, direction) can be felt with stiff paddle fins allowing for a better feel of them working.
  • Pivots are easy with the large cross-section of the edge of the fin.
  • Paddle fins are said to work very well in confined areas like commercial diving cave, wreck diving. Because of the high acceleration, they have also become a favorite for spearfishing.

featured above: Mares Avanti Superchannel Full Foot Fins available at

The Con’s of Paddle Fins:

  • Because of the larger surface area of the blade, some divers find it too stiff and that it causes calf cramps. It’s said that Paddle fins cause more strain to the knees while fining too because of the larger surface area of resistance.

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