Strong Current? No Problem!
I’ve been scuba diving with long fins for one year now and I super love it. I totally recommend it to anyone who wants to breeze through diving strong current.
I finally bought my long fins early last year (2016) for my Komodo dive trip because as we know, Komodo is all about crazy current diving. It turned out to be a timing acquisition because I dove Tubbataha and the Maldives the same year.
Long fins are the so called freediving fins or spearfishing fins, because they were designed for freedivers and spearfishermen. But more and more scuba divers are finding the long fins desirable for open water diving. Or maybe it’s just people I know who dove South of Maldives with Maldives Princess.
Last year’s diving Tubbataha with Solitude One, almost half of the 22 divers used long fins. Of course half of the boat was team Scuba Studio and they too dove South Maldives.
I don’t remember if I’ve seen anyone scuba diving with long fins before, but it never made impression like it did in the Maldives. All the dive masters of Maldives Princess used long fins and they glided through strong current with ease while we fined like we never before. As we recall, diving South Maldives channels was traumatic for many in our group.
How to Use Long Fins?
- Put on fins
- Jump into water
- Kick per normal
I know I’m mocking. I too wondered the same when I first saw the dive masters in the Maldives using them. You know it’s like your normal size fins just longer, but just because you drive a car, doesn’t necessarily mean you can easily drive a 10-wheeler truck (or can you?). Anyway, it’s normal to have questions and I will tell you that you put them on the same way, and you kick the same way, except for 1 minor difference: You’ll exert less effort for more power. Yeah!
I’ve been through many fins in my 10 years of diving. I used Force Fins for many years because it was recommended to me by Ellen (Diver’s Point) who said it minimizes muscle cramps. I used to get cramps during dives a lot, and Force Fins took care of that problem. It is also very powerful even if it looks funny and very lightweight. In fact, Zara and I used Force Fins during our Maldives “continue, continue, continue” diving and only the dive masters descended faster than we did.
The problem with Force Fins is when I do macro photo diving. The fins are so light, my legs tend to float up while I try to keep low to shoot. So in 2014, I got myself everybody’s favorite jet fins: a baby pink fins with purple strap. They weigh a ton and is good to keep trim.
When to Use Long Fins?
It’s best to use long fins diving in open water when current is strong. I used it in Komodo and it was amazingly easy to fin down to 30m at Castle Rock in extreme current. It was the same just this month in Raja Ampat at Blue Magic. There was one dive in Tubbataha, I think it was at Shark Airport when everyone was holding on to a rock and I just had to fin (not even too hard) to keep steady.
When in Hanifaru trying to swim great distances to get to the mantas, these fins proved to be awesome! I mean, look at how my fins simulate the manta’s wings. You just knew these fins were engineered right.
So when not to use long fins? You don’t want to use it during reef dives because they’re so long it’s hard to navigate around the reefs and risk damaging the corals. You neither want to use it during shallow dives on sandy bottom, you may get sand storm.
Which Long Fins to Buy? Where to Buy Long Fins in the Philippines?
I’m using HammerHead Spearguns Kaudal Fins. It’s made of polymer plastic which is the cheapest material, but gets the work done. I’m pretty happy diving with it. Squires Bingham Sports in BGC sells Hamerhead Spearguns fins. Diver’s Point in Greenhills sell Beuchat Freediving fins. Scuba Studio in San Juan conducts regular freediving course with Carlo and they also sell freediving fins. The guides in Maldives Princess used Mares Freediving Fins.
Basically the long fins are made of 3 types of materials: Polymer plastic, fibre glass, and carbon fiber. The plastic is the cheapest one and gets the job done basically. Honestly I’ve not tried the more expensive materials because I’m afraid I can’t go back to the plastic and have to buy them. It’s supposed to be more efficient and powerful. More???
Anyway, if you’re thinking about using long fins for scuba diving but have reservations because it might be difficult? Trust me, it’s not. Just go for it!
How to Travel with Long Fins?
Because these long fins usually measures between 40-45 inches (100-115cm), they’re too long for normal dive bags. I’ve seen dive bags specially for these fins (Beuchat, Cressi, Seac) but they’re the cost of the fins, so I normally just use a mesh bag and hand carry them. I’ve traveled with them locally and internationally with no problem.