Biological fish can create high forward swimming speed due to change of thrust/drag area of pectoral fins between power stroke and recovery stroke in rowing mode. In this paper, we proposed a novel type of folding pectoral fins for the fish robot, which provides a simple approach in generating effective thrust only through one degree of freedom of fin actuator. Its structure consists of two elemental fin panels for each pectoral fin that connects to a hinge base through the flexible joints. The Morison force model is adopted to discover the relationship of the dynamic interaction between fin panels and surrounding fluid. An experimental platform for the robot motion using the pectoral fin with different flexible joints was built to validate the proposed design. The results express that the performance of swimming velocity and turning radius of the robot are enhanced effectively. The forward swimming velocity can reach 0.231 m/s (0.58 BL/s) at the frequency near 0.75 Hz. By comparison, we found an accord between the proposed dynamic model and the experimental behavior of the robot. The attained results can be used to design controllers and optimize performances of the robot propelled by the folding pectoral fins.