I love grabbing rail and pulling into tubes on my backhand. I think there’s a massive advantage with grabbing your rail - you can get yourself in a really tight little ball and push through and fit in the tiniest of sections and also lock into your board and maintain control and composure throughout tight parts of the wave.
Probably the biggest difference between getting barrelled surfing opposed to kiting is that surfing barrels you’re not restricted by the kite at all, so you can stay in the barrels longer and have more control. Whereas kite-assisted barrels tend to be shorter and basically ‘get in and get out’ before you’ve really stuck the kite.
I like to ride in the barrel hooked-in pretty much all the time. I have played with getting barreled unhooked, but I really find riding hooked-in gives you an added advantage of being able to sheet in and out the kite while you’re in the barrel. When you’re riding unhooked you’re really limited to just the one speed and just doing self-adjustments. I’ve definitely had some fun barrels over the years unhooked, but the best ones I’ve had and the longest ones I’ve had have definitely been hooked in.
Here are some tips to help make the most of backhand barrels.