Taking the APS Mantaray fins out of the box I was first struck by their length — shorter than most fins. Comparing them to my usual and much loved Force Fin Extra Force, they were actually about the same length. Compared to my wife’s Atomic split-fins, however, they were a good six inches shorter. Does the length of the blade translate to a more effective and efficient fin? I remember when my shorter Force Fin proved to me it was fin design, not just blade length, which makes a fin efficient and powerful.

I wanted to really put the unusual APS Mantaray fins through the paces so I chose to test them on a long-swim beach dive through kelp. They performed wonderfully. On surf entry and exit, the shorter fins were easier to deal with. During the long swim out, I found I was propelled at a good pace but with only a light strain on the legs. Descending, I began to explore around reef channels and crevices. These fins were excellent in tight spots with a great ability to turn on a dime and move about with freedom. No doubt this was due in large part to the shorter blades of the fins. Moving into a tight kelp forest proved this again. I was able to turn and function in tight spaces. These fins were a true pleasure to use in tight spots. I look forward using them in wreck or in travel to coral reefs where control over the coral is critical to avoid contact with delicate reefs. The shorter blades, by the way, will make traveling with these fins easier.

The “APS” on the front end of the fins name stands for “Advanced Propulsion System.” This is what makes these fins truly unique. What make these fins work is a patented scoop (on the top of the fin) and “gill channels” (bottom of the fins) that channel water to the rear edge, focusing thrust, stabilizing the blade and propelling the diver forward. Side wings add to the fin stabilization and blade surface on the down stroke and are angled to reduce resistance on the upstroke. Frankly, when I first looked over the fins I was skeptical, but my first dive proved that these fins are gems of underwater propulsion.

Another unique feature of this fin is its strap system. The “Universal Fin Strap” has no moving parts and the highly elastic strap simply slips over the fin strap post. The design is streamlined and efficient. A large tab on the back of the strap makes donning the fins easy.

The fin is made of one solid piece of rubber, so there is no risk of separation of materials. The foot pocket is soft and comfortable while the thickness of the blade works very well with the blade’s design. The ribs on the side and down the middle give it just the right amount of rigidity.

When I look at this fin I can’t help but think of my first pair of fins, the classic Duck Feet. (Used from my father; I am not THAT old.) The Mantaray looks similar —short and efficient. They feel much the same — a greater feeling of continuous and direct contact with the water by having the footpocket one continuous piece with the blade.

The APS Mantaray fin is available in four colors: Aqua Blue, Caribbean Blue, White Lightning and Phantom Black. The strap can be purchased separately and will work with most other fins. The fins and straps are both made in the USA. For more information, visit www.apsmantaray.com online.