The Need for a Better Pair of Scuba Diving Fins
When I first became interested in scuba diving over 13 years ago I was clueless about scuba gear, and had never even seen the Apollo Bio Fin before. I was all set to start my first scuba diving class but I had not purchased a pair of fins yet, much less did any research, so I had to borrow my brother’s fins. I cannot recall exactly which fins they were, but what I do remember is how uncomfortable they were and how difficult kicking in them was. The other thing I remember is how stiff they were since they were mostly made of plastic.
I had been doing pool sessions for my scuba certification for several weeks and the fins became unbearable. I couldn’t keep up with other divers, my ankles really hurt after every class, and I noticed I would tire more quickly than others in the class. Our open water certification dive was quickly approaching in the Gulf of Mexico of the Florida panhandle. I knew there was no way I could use those fins and enjoy diving 85 feet below the surface in the gulf so I started researching.
As I began my research, I quickly became overwhelmed with all of the choices and styles. I took a step back and used my bad experience and everything I hated about the fins I was already using to pick a pair of scuba fins that were best for me. I knew I needed a much more pliable fin with a more comfortable foot pocket. More importantly, I also knew that my kick style was not well suited for stiffer fins as I would tire more quickly trying to keep pace with other divers. Being able to kick efficiently with your fins is very important as you will use less air if you are exerting less effort which will allow you to stay at depth longer.
Purchasing the Apollo Bio Fin Pro
I narrowed my choices to a short list because my open water dives were just around the corner. At this point I knew I wanted a split fin as they were well known to reduce ankle strain and fatigue, which were my main complaints of the stiffer paddle fins.
I read all the reviews of every split fin and all of the better ones were relatively expensive, considering I was a college student at the time. Ultimately, I felt that good fins were an investment and after seeing a National Geographic program in which every one of the divers, including photographers, were using the Apollo Bio Fin I quickly made up my mind. If they were good enough for underwater photographers and videographers, I was certain they would be good enough for me. I quickly ordered my pair of the Apollo Bio Fin Pro model with the regular straps and anxiously waited.
My First Impression of the Apollo Bio Fin Pro
I received my fins in time to make a few pool sessions with them before making the open water dive in the gulf. I remember thinking how simple the design was as well as how heavy they were. They were not any heavier than the large mostly plastic fins I had previously been using, but it was certainly something that stood out to me. The Bio Fin Pro is made with 100% rubber which is why they are heavier than you’d expect.
Since the Bio Fin is only available in the open back configuration, it is important to have a comfortable pair of booties. After examining them thoroughly for any defects and seeing how flexible they were, I tried them on. They fit perfectly and were very comfortable so I expected no comfort issues in the water. I did not get the stainless steel coil spring straps as I couldn’t spare the extra expense at the time but the straps it came with were very durable and comfortable and I have never had issues with them.
The next day I had my first pool session with the new fins and I was shocked at the difference with these compared to the paddle style fin I was using before. They were extremely comfortable and kicking was a breeze. It probably took me about 30 minutes or so to adjust my kick style and get comfortable in maneuvering, but once I adjusted I had no issues keeping up with others and fatigue was no longer a factor. By the end of the session I could tell I was much more maneuverable using the Bio Fin Pro and any reservations I had about my open water trip were gone.
Diving the Ocean with the Apollo Bio Fin Pro
When it came time to dive out in the Gulf we did two dives a day and a few shallow water drift dives over a three day period which amounts to several hours of diving with the Bio Fins in conditions ranging from calm high visibility to light to moderate currents. In those several hours of dive time I had no trouble keeping up with other divers, I never experienced leg cramping or ankle pain, and my air consumption was noticeably lower.
Structures and Maneuvering
One of our first dives was a shallow water natural spring dive which was certainly an easy dive but there were several man-made obstacles that were good for trying out the maneuverability of the Bio Fins. I swam in and around the structures sometimes chasing small fish and had no issues maneuvering through them. I was able to execute any change of direction without getting stuck or having to use the structure to aid in my maneuvering which gave me even more confidence in the abilities of the fin.
The next day we did a somewhat shallow dive near an entrance to the bay. This was supposed to be an easy dive as well but the current had picked up a bit which had everyone working hard. This was definitely not an extreme current but it certainly caught everyone by surprise and gave most of us our first experience fighting a current. I was able to stay with the pack during this dive and sometimes even lead with my dive buddy against current as some divers were noticeably behind.
Speed, Acceleration, and the Open Water
Our next dive later in the afternoon would be at a depth of roughly 80 feet and other than a slightly leaky mask in the earlier dive I was feeling very confident. The next three dives with the Bio Fin Pros proved to be absolutely awesome. Being at depth with 20 or so other divers I was really able to get a feel for their speed and acceleration as well as sustained paddling and in each case I was not let down.
When accelerating hard or kicking for speed I felt really confident in the acceleration I was able to achieve in relation to other divers around me who were using both paddle style fins and split fin designs by other manufacturers. There was only a few instances I felt that I could not compete and that was with one of the other dive instructors who had quite powerful legs as well as paddle fins. He was quite fast and could accelerate very quickly with his stiffer paddle fin. Other than that, I felt really good about the power to stress ratio I achieve using the Bio Fin Pros.
A Decade Strong as My Primary Dive Fin
Although I have tried out many other fins over the years the Apollo Bio Fin Pro remains my primary dive fin. It continues to suit me and the conditions I dive in very well. Whether I am doing a flutter-kick, dolphin-kick, or frog-kick this fin always performs outstandingly and suits me better than any other fin I have tried which includes every other well regarded split-fin.
There are certainly situations in which other may fins excel. Scenarios like really stronger currents where a paddle fin that is a bit stiffer may excel, or a technical dive were a compact dive fins that could maneuver confined spaces of a wreck without kicking up silt may be better. In each of those conditions I would still use my bio fin pros confidently. I would not spend extra money to purchase a better suited fin as I am rarely in those conditions and when I am in them, they are not a major concern with these fins.
As I said previously, these fins are top quality and I have maintained the same pair for roughly 13 years and they are still serving me well. Admittedly I do not dive hundreds of times a year like some but I know of a dive instructor who had logged over 8,000 dives on the same pair of Apollo Bio fin Pros with the stainless steel coil spring strap before needing a new pair.
Apollo Bio Fin Pro: Pros and Cons
Scuba Fin Pros
- Extremely Durable
- No Cramping
- Fast with great acceleration
- Reduced air consumption and energy output
- Negative Buoyancy
Scuba Fin Cons
- Less power compared to paddle fins
- Do not excel in technical dives
- Performing alternate kick methods are more difficult compared to paddle fins
- Heavy weight makes traveling with them difficult
Apollo Bio Fin Pro Technical Specs and Design
Bio Fin’s split fin technology provide lift and propulsion with less effort and more power. Unlike other fins which push water up and down, Bio Fin blades direct water flow over the leading and trailing edges to provide power, lift and forward thrust on each stroke.
- Open Heel
- Adjustable rubber strap or stainless steel spring strap
- 100% natural rubber blade and foot pocket
- Low Strain 20º angled blade works with the natural resting angles of ankle and knee
Apollo Sports designed the Bio Fins with a 20º angle to accommodate a diver’s natural tendency to bend slightly at the ankle and knee. The angle is crucial to top performance and comfort. The result is maximum propulsion with the least amount of stress on the body. Apollo’s natural rubber and design provides divers with quick acceleration, power, speed, and control.
Apollo Bio Fin Size Chart
|Fin Size||Men's Shoe Size||Women's Shoe Size||Fin Length in inches||Fin Width in inches||Fin Weight Per Pair|
As I said previously, these fins are top quality and I have maintained the same pair for roughly 13 years and they are still serving me well. Admittedly I do not dive hundreds of times a year like some but I know of a dive instructor who had logged over 8,000 dives on the same pair of Apollo Bio Fin Pros with the stainless steel coil spring strap before needing a new pair.
If I ever did feel I needed a bit more speed or acceleration to battle strong currents I would likely go with the Apollo Bio Fin XT or Yellow design. These models utilizes a stiffer rubber, the stiffest being the XT with a rigidity measurement of 75 and the Yellow being in between the two with a rigidity measurement of 70 (regular Bio Fin Pro has a rigidity of 65), which would provide the needed extra thrust.
The years I have spent with the Apollo Bio Fin Pro have only made me fonder of them. The longer I had them the better I got with my control and maneuvering. My years diving with them is the reason I am comfortable in almost any situation with them. While there are certainly some other great scuba fins that I have tried, I have yet to find myself in conditions that warrant a different pair.
If you are wondering, I usually dive in warm to cool waters with current ranging from none to moderate. I mostly dive natural and artificial reefs with the occasional wreck and I do not have very large muscular build but I certainly athletic. I hope this gives you a better idea of how the scuba fins perform in those conditions.
Still need more, here is a link to a technically detailed comparison review over at the scubadiving.com forums where a very experienced diver compares the Apollo Bio Fins in a 3 way test against ScubaPro and Aqualung fins.
Check out The Leisure Pro’s list of best scuba fins and find out what fins were good enough to join the Apollo Bio Fin Pro!