2015-2016 Burton Modified Fish 156 cm
- Effective Edge: 1170 mm
- Tip Width: 307 mm
- Waist Width: 254 mm
- Sidecut Radius 8.4 m
Camber Profile: rocker / flat
Stance: Regular, 22.5”, 15° front -12° rear
Bindings / Boots: Burton Genesis (M) / Burton SLX (Size 10)
Reviewer: 6’2”, 165 lbs
Days Tested: 30+
Locations: Snowbird, Brighton, Powder Mountain, UT; Jackson Hole, WY.
If you’ve ever had the chance to ride three feet of fresh snow on a short, pin-tailed, giant-nosed, rockered board, you’ve experienced what many would call the pinnacle of snowboarding.
If you’ve ever had to ride that same board on hard-packed snow or chop, you’ll also know that it’s the opposite of fun.
A powder day at most resorts has many phases: one or two glorious, untracked runs first thing in the morning, followed by tracked powder and then hunting for stashes in the trees and less accessible areas.
Most powder-specific boards are fantastic for those first two runs, but become more and more questionable as the day goes on. Traverses, trees, and variable snow can be tough with these pow-specific boards. That cumbersome nose, limited effective edge, and overall instability that help a board shine in fresh snow do the opposite here.
The Burton Modified Fish is the first powder-specific board I’ve ridden that provides the surfy feel and float that I crave in a powder board while functioning, albeit at a somewhat limited level, in variable snow.
Shape, Camber, and Flex
The Modified Fish is flat from the tail to just past the front binding. I haven’t been a particularly big fan of flat boards in the past, as they seem to quickly lose their pop and become fairly dead and unresponsive.
But the Modified Fish has been a pleasant surprise—I found it maintained a passable amount of pop for mellow all-mountain airs.
The flat portion of the board is medium—stiff in flex, helping to accommodate the small tail. The nose is soft for flotation, but not so much that I felt it fold under me when hitting crud.
The shape’s most obvious characteristic is 30 mm of taper, and a mellow 8.6 meter sidecut radius (compared to 6.1 m for the standard Fish).
Not surprisingly, the Modified Fish excelled in powder. As the name suggests, its roots are in the timeless design of the Burton Fish, which has been around for decades. The large, rockered nose floats well, and is soft enough to allow for a relatively centered stance while riding deep snow. The tail is small, and sinks easily, allowing for back-foot pressure braking and reducing the overall strain on the back leg.
While it’s no surprise that a pow board with this shape rides well in deep snow, the big question is: How well does it hold up when things aren’t so fresh?
Hardpack / Chop
While groomed snow is obviously not the Modified Fish’s forte, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Burton lists the Modified Fish’s profile as flat underfoot with a rockered nose, but it rides like there’s a small amount of camber underfoot.
It’s surprisingly stable underfoot, and the reduced sidecut actually made long-radius carves pretty fun. Switch riding (while not something I’d do all day on the Modified Fish) is definitely possible, and allowed for switch takeoffs and landings that wouldn’t have been possible on a flat, swallow-tailed board.
In rougher snow, slarving and skidded turns were the most awkward of any turn type on this board. The large nose was (predictably) catchy, and made for a relatively unstable ride when combined with the relatively unforgiving tail. That said, it was still a better experience than I’ve ever had on a powder-specific board in those conditions.
The mellow sidecut radius on the Modified Fish makes for a really surfy ride, and turning through tight trees needs to be adjusted accordingly. I found that maintaining a low edge angle and working with the terrain was more effective than trying to make tight, edgy turns. Accepting the board for what it is, a pow-oriented machine, I’d call its tight tree performance in rougher snow “acceptable.”
This is an area where the Modified fish really stands out from many other powder-specific boards. Its comparatively snappy tail allows for ollies and small spins off natural features. Landing at high speeds in rough snow isn’t fantastic, but I could still spin 360s off cat tracks and crank methods off natural hips. Switch landings are also possible—the tail has a decent shovel to it.
The Burton Modified Fish has quickly become a favorite addition to my quiver. I pull it out on deep powder days and keep riding it for a few days after storms. It has a fun, playful, surfy ride even when the snow isn’t fresh, and I’ve found myself taking it out on spring days for slush laps.
The wide variety of conditions that this board can handle is testament to its versatility. It’s certainly not an all-mountain board, and if you can only have one snowboard, I wouldn’t recommend the Modified Fish. That said, it certainly is fun in a much wider range of conditions than the average powder board, and could certainly pair up well with a stiffer charging board like the Ride Berzerker for a 2-board quiver at a mountain like Taos, Jackson, or Snowbird. I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking for a surfy, playful powder-specific board that holds its own when the snow isn’t perfect, or when traversing or freestyle is on the menu.