The modern surfboard comes in various sizes and shapes, and knowing which board is designed for which purpose can be confusing at times. The following section lays out some very general guidelines as far as surfboard classifications go. Please note that the size ranges are approximate, with different shapers and companies assigning their own names and categories as they see fit.
GUN (7-12 feet)
Guns have a thin, needle-nosed template, similar in shape to a shortboard but much larger. The increased length makes it easy to paddle into larger, faster waves.
LONGBOARD (9-12 feet)
Longboards are characterized by their rounded nose and long length, and they typically sport a single fin. They are wide throughout, with a slight taper at the tail.
HYBRID/ FUNBOARD (7-9 feet)
Funboards, or "mini-mals," are smaller versions of the classic longboard shape. Due to the funboard's reduced size, surfers have better mobility in the water, though they will sacrifice in stability and paddling ease. Funboards either have a single fin (like most longboards) or three fins (thruster style).
SHORTBOARD (5.5-7 feet)
Shortboards are characterized by a slender pointy nose and generally smaller dimensions. These boards allow surfers excellent mobility for tricks and sharp cuts, but they are small, so they're harder to stabilize. Usually, shortboards have 3 or 5 fins (thruster or Bonzer style), and are ridden by more experienced surfers.
EGG (6-8.5 feet)
Eggs look like stubby, rounded, hybrid longboards. Common in smaller surf, these boards about having fun, not so much about performance and tricks. Eggs are a good choice for beginning surfers, because their width makes them pretty stable (read: easier to stand up!) and they work great on small waves.
FISH (under 7 feet)
A fish, as described here, is a short, stumpy board for riding small waves. The board's name can be confusing, because "fish" also refers to a swallow tail shape that is found on other types of boards. Fish boards usually also have the swallow tail, and are often twin-finned for getting crazy on the small days.
TOW-IN (5-6 feet)
These boards are used only by the best in big-wave surfing. Tow-in boards are small and have foot straps, allowing a surfer to be dragged into a swelling wave at high speeds by a jet-ski. These are specialized, performance boards that make large, fast waves surfable.