Welcome longboarders! Today, I have the pleasure of sharing my experience with the CJ Nelson Sprout Longboard, a standout product from master shaper, CJ Nelson’s lineup. This board has been my trusted companion through various conditions, from tiny ankle biters to menacing (at least to me) head-high peelers down at my favorite breaks.
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People who don’t longboard—I’m looking at you, shortboarders—think that it will be easy. “Ha!” I laugh when my partner says, “I can nose ride,” or exclaims, “It’s easy to cross-step!” Not only do you need to invest hours of practice, but you need the right board.
The Sprout offers extreme stability, and I found myself effortlessly stepping up and down the length of the craft—much more so than on my other longboards. Now, bear in mind that I’ve only been longboarding seriously for around six years, so I’m no pro. But people say they like my style, and I like what I’m doing out there, so I assume I’m doing something right.
So I embarked on a quest to test the Sprout in a range of conditions. My first surf delivered one of my most memorable moments when I was suddenly sharing the ocean with two majestic orcas. After my heart stopped playing bongo drums, I mustered up the courage to paddle closer. The shortboarders were not so brave that day. There are benefits to being on a longboard when large animals—including the other toothy friends—are cruising the lineup!
I’m an intermediate-level longboarder, able to walk the plank and secure some time with my toes on the nose. The Firewire tech (more about this in a moment) makes this achievable without the weight of a conventional log. CJ Nelson’s fusion of old-school shapes with new materials is what I love. There’s no need to sacrifice soul for progress; in fact, the two can go hand in hand.
When pairing the CJ Nelson with my “brown lion” Abysse wetsuit, I couldn’t help but feel I was channeling some serious vintage vibes. Yet, the board is manageable in terms of weight, even when facing a long walk back to the car.
The Sprout Longboard proved to be the perfect companion for my small wave styling.
My partner decided to take a turn. He swears he will never be a longboarder, but I see a flicker of interest when I catch endless runners, and he bobs on his fish, looking sullen. He even got an electric fin to try to spice up his sessions and compete with me and my crew. So he paddled out and caught a few. He was not cross-stepping. He was stomping up and down—to my surprise—and he made it almost up to the nose without losing control. Did I see a smile before he returned the CJ Nelson Sprout to me?
I have another one in the garage—unboxed and unused—perhaps he will ask me to pop it on the roof someday. “That was kinda fun,” he said later. He’s not wrong.
Diving into the Specifications
The Thunderbolt Technology incorporated into the Sprout focuses on integrating hand-crafted precision with advanced materials to provide a classic surfing feel but with a markedly enhanced response. Say goodbye to those stiff, mass-produced craft of yesteryear.
The Sprout’s structure features a careful hand lamination process using fiberglass. This traditional technique involves layering fiberglass cloth over the foam core and resin to create a strong, durable board. However, Firewire takes this a step further by embedding a Carbon Flex Pattern Technology within the lamination. This tech involves the strategic placement of carbon fiber along stress points and flex zones of the board to optimize flex patterns. It ensures that the board can flex and recoil in a controlled manner, which is essential for turns and high-performance maneuvers.
The carbon fibers’ directional strength adds resilience and longevity to the board, while their lightness contributes to the overall agility and speed. This is complemented by a multi-component flex control system that gives surfers the “Classic Feel” of traditional surfboards combined with a significantly “Enhanced Response” during surfing, allowing for more precise control and the ability to harness wave power more efficiently.
Each board is hand-crafted, indicating a meticulous attention to detail and a dedication to quality that machine shaping cannot replicate. The result is a surfboard that offers the best of both worlds: the trusted performance of classic board design and the advanced benefits of modern technology.
I use the Sprout in any good logging conditions. It’s honestly a workhorse that brings out the best in my surfing. I always go back to it to find my equilibrium.
Unleashing the Joy of Nose Riding and Cross-stepping
For enthusiasts of nose riding, the Sprout Longboard is a dream come true. Its design and shape allow for optimal weight distribution, enabling extended nose rides with stability and control. The board’s excellent maneuverability also enhances the experience of cross-stepping, allowing for full artistic expression and opening up a world of movement.
The Sprout Longboard comes in various sizes to cater to different rider preferences and needs. It’s available in lengths from 9’2″ up to 10′, widths from 23″ to 24″, and thickness from 3″ to 3 1/8″. This variety ensures that every surfer, whether a beginner (like my partner) or an experienced rider, finds the perfect board for their style and body size.
9’2″ x 23″ x 3″ (74.5L)
9’6″ x 23 1/2″ x 3 (78 L) Width 12″ from nose: 19 1/2″
10’0″ x 24″ x 3 1/8″ (87 L) Width 12″ from nose: 19 15/16″
In terms of color options, the Sprout is offered in sage, tan, and amber. It’s a feast for the eyes as much as it is a treat for the surfer, boasting an elegant and understated aesthetic that underscores its high-quality construction.
The board uses a single fin system, and the recommended fins include the Noserider, Classic Pivot, and Cali Pivot. These recommendations are ideal for the Sprout’s design, supporting the board’s performance in diverse conditions.
I had the opportunity to test a few different fins with the Sprout. After playing around with the Alex Knost Flex Fin 10″ and the Almond Surfboards Pin Fin 10’5″, I found that the True Ames Greenough 4A 10” was the perfect match for my 9’2″ board. This modern single fin is not only iconic but also versatile and functional. It provided me with the perfect balance of stability and release when I needed it, enhancing the board’s performance and my overall surfing experience.
CJ Nelson has partnered with Flying Diamonds to develop his own line of fins. Among them, The Noserider fin stands out as a perfect match for this board. I’m excited to give it a try and see how it enhances my surfing experience.
Final Verdict for the Sprout Longboard
The Sprout is dependable, versatile, and finely tuned to provide a superb longboard surfing experience. Whether you’re into nose riding, cross-stepping, or simply want to catch a few waves, it will be a perfect companion for your surfing life.
I love it, and despite extensive use, it looks as good as new. I also love the fact that it is handcrafted rather than being a purely machine-made creation. You get performance with the flex of a traditional board, Firewire’s excellent tech, and sustainable construction with a master shaper’s vision.