Pick a Bodysurfing Handplane

December 28, 2013 0 Comments

Pick a Bodysurfing Handplane

Confused on what size or shape bodysurfing handplane to get? Does it even make a difference? As a matter of fact it does, sometimes subtly, sometimes quite obviously. The order of consideration when looking to purchasing a bodysurfing handplane: Size, Hull(bottom shape) and Tail.


Just like surfboards. It depends on your size, skill & the waves you want to ride.

  • Bigger bodysurfing handplanes are the best all rounders. They work in a wider variety of waves & provide more floatation across flat sections.  They are more work to paddle with and fiesty in larger conditions and therefore better suited to smaller, mushier waves
  • Smaller bodysurfing handplanes come alive in more powerful & hollower waves, less flotation, tighter lines & better performance in the barrel. The smaller handplane means reduced stress on the arm and an easier time punching through the wave when called for.

Generally speaking, the bigger the wave the smaller the handplane and vice a versa. More advanced riders will be able to use smaller handplanes in smaller conditions.


handplane hull

"..a handplane is like a gas pedal, the more pressure applied the faster you go.." - Ed Lewis from Enjoy Handplanes

Think the hull shape on a bodysurfing handplane doesnt matter? Think again! The hull is where the lift and drive to send you speeding down the wave comes from. The shape will also determine wether you spend that time skipping down the wave face or getting barrelled. In general - the flatter the hull, the faster it will go and the less control it will have. So a deep concave will not be as fast but will allow you to 'grip' into the wave better when its steepens. The best bodysurfing handplanes will have a balance between the two and offer the most versatility.

Tail Shapes

bodysurfing handplane tail

Just like surfboards, the combination of hull & tail shapes are to give subtle performance differences. However given you dont really pivot off a handplane like you do a surfboard this difference is so negligible that it can be ignored. In other words - this is one decision where aesthetics are your main concern! Here are some classic bodysurfing handplane tail shapes.

  • Crescent Tail
  • Diamond Tail
  • Swallow Tail
  • Swallow + Flyers
  • Whale Tail


  • Going left (left shoulder closest to the wave face) – board on your left hand.
  • Going right (right shoulder closest to the wave face) – board on your right hand.


If you are a beginner or are looking to only bodysurf in small, mushy waves, then look for a larger flatter hull bodysurfing handplane shape. If you are looking to bodysurf something a bit more challenging, such as large or hollow waves then head for something smaller with a bit of a concave.

Russel P
Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.

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