Similar to other split fins, the Coda from Northern Diver is based on the patented design by Nature's Wing. Now, split fins are nothing new; indeed, a few years ago, we were inundated with various manufacturers' offerings. But I'm a huge fan of them. They give plenty of thrust when required, contrary to what you might read elsewhere; and if you use them correctly, they are extremely efficient. They do require a bit of getting used to, and if you try to fin from the hips as you would with conventional single-blade fins, they won't work that well. But the overriding factor is that they very rarely give you calf cramp, even after many hours in the water. Also, fo any kind of diving where your hands are restricted - for example, when holding a camera - split fins allow you to quickly manoeuvre sideways and even backwards by leg movement alone.
Following our almost monthly split-fin tests a few years ago, we found the Tusa Xpert Zoom fins to be best for value and performance. So, the only way to see how the new Coda fin performs was to do a sideby-side test - and I mean this literally: one foot fitted with the Xpert Zoom and the other wearing the Coda.
After several dives in a range of differing conditions, they were indistinguishable from each other - the Coda fins are just as good as the previous best split fins on the market. Also, they are £23 cheaper - that's about 25 per cent less expensive.
But does the Coda compete on quality? Well, after three months' use, they stil I look and feel fairly new. On closer examination, the polymer that they're made from appears to be up to the job. The fins still have a soft feel with a good, springy action, and still retain their shape even after some fairly aggressive use.
They could be improved, though. The heel straps at the back are, as with the majority of buckles on the market, just bog standard: while there's r nothing wrong with them, it's not easy to squeeze those on the Coda fins to release them particularly at the end of the dive with numb fingers under 5mm gloves. However, Northern Diver has a much better solution in the shape of its spring straps. These are brilliant, and it's a shame they're not supplied as standard. You can order these separately if you wish. There's one other feature the Xpert Zooms have over the Coda fins - the option of different colours, with the Coda it's black only.
In conclusion, these are excellent fins at great price. In terms of performance they are up there with the very best, but go for the spring straps.
Split Fins have a way of splitting opinion. Half of Dive staffers prefer the traditional fin design, arguing that they don't want to have to change their finning techniques. The other faction holds that once you've got the knack of using split fins, you'll never look back.
These fins are based on the patented design by Nature's Wing: we found that they performed as well as any other fin on the market, including the highly-rated TUSA Xpert zoom. After being continually used for several months, the polymer they are made from showed no serious signs of wear, and they retained the springy action required for speedy, responsive finning.
A great fin at a reasonable price.