fishing shoes

Fishing Footwear Basics: Keeping Your Feet Neat and Safe

If you’ve ever stepped on a hook with just bare feet before, you surely understand how important the fishing footwear basics! Our feet are the foundation of our body.

They touch the ground whenever we are standing, walking, running or fishing, and are the extension of our legs, which allow us mobility and action.

Damaging or hurting our feet will not only negatively affect our fishing, but also affect our day to day activities.

Usually, footwear is the least of your worries when going out fishing, but more so when fishing on a boat.

Barefoot is usually the default option for everyone here in the tropics and is wonderful for the hot and humid climate, but terrible for foot safety from sharps and for overall comfort.

There are so many different shoes for different fishing applications. There are heavy duty deck boots for cold weather fishing that offers users insulation, grip and protection, then minimalist slip on sandals that only provide grip and sole protection.

There are boat specific shoes that are grippy and water resistant and won’t damage a boat’s gelcoat, and there are wading specific boots for long mountain hikes or wading vast ocean flats.

So many shoes and so many options, but they have all have similar goals. For anglers to be able to fish for a longer period safely and comfortably.

Like in any other sport, with the proper footwear, you’ll be able to focus more on the work and actions required to perform well rather than bother yourself with blisters, foot and knee pain among other issues that prevent you from performing at your best.

Like with any equipment that you plan to add to your arsenal, fishing footwear also has their pros and cons.

What Works

Traction – No matter what type of shoe or boot you have or plan to purchase, they will all have non-slip soles for their specific design and application.

You’ll get tractor tread type stainless steel attachments for wading boots, off-road vehicle quality rubber for hiking boots, and some type of non-slip soft rubber outsole for boat and deck shoes.

No matter where or how you fish, having a grippy hold on the platform you are standing or walking on can only improve your overall fishing experience.

Protection from sharps – Whether wading saltwater flats, mountain streams or fishing from boats, there will always be sharp objects that find their way to unprotected parts of your body.

And with your full body weight resting on your feet, expect through-skin penetration and massive discomfort when there is nothing between your foot and whatever sharp object you manage to step on.

Apart from having a thick slab of rubber for sole protection, other shoes also offer protection from the top, albeit some may provide only the minimal protection to attain lighter weights and improved airflow and comfort.

Neoprene or mesh tops are widely used for the shoes’ uppers which are both comfortable and light, but only offers minimal protection from really big and spiny hooks and fish.

They do a great job of protecting your feet from harmful UV rays though. The more robust wading boots for both saltwater and freshwater are more bullet proof and can prevent unwanted penetration from all angles.

Cushion – Any prolonged movement while standing on your feet while barefoot is bad news for your knees, back, and legs.

Unknowingly, your body will adapt to even the slightest discomfort your feet are going through, and your posture, agility, quickness and performance will eventually break down.

Shoes with ample cushioning will provide shock absorption, protecting your ankle and knee joints along with your back, avoiding unnecessary discomfort and allowing you to perform at your best.

Stability – Low profile shoes that are built only below the ankle provides minimal support but is still better than nothing.

More substantial shoes like wading boots provide superior ankle stability, preventing ankle injuries and sprains when walking on unstable surfaces like loose rock, corals, and sand.

Confidence – With all of the advantages listed above, you’ll find yourself moving around the boat, the flats or the river more confidently and comfortably, allowing your body and mind to focus on the job at hand, which is trying to get this spooky and near invisible fish to take your lure!

No matter what style of fishing or what destination you plan to fish in, wearing foot protection will make your overall fishing experience better.

What Doesn’t Work

Cleaning – any additional clothing means more stuff that needs cleaning at the end of the day’s fishing. And shoes are not the easiest and most fun to clean.

Different materials require different methods of cleaning and drying. Leather uppers, synthetic or real repel water and offer premium feel and comfort and absorb almost no water, making it the fastest to dry, but leather must be maintained well for it to last a longer time.

Mesh and neoprene uppers absorb less water and are quick drying but also prevent sand and other small particles from draining out, so they’ll still need a good rinse.

Wading boots prevent particles to get in, but still need thorough drying after a day’s fishing or else risk the unavoidable ‘wet-dog’ smell for the rest of the week.

Whatever material your shoes are made of, if not dried well, will harbor bacteria buildup and will produce a smell that will bother not just you but all of the people within a 5-meter radius.

Foot discrepancy – Different people have different foot shapes and will have very different views on style and comfort. Tall arches, flat feet, toe length, bunions and calluses, current and previous injuries, etc.

So much discrepancies among feet means that not all shoes are practical to buy off the internet. It is almost impossible to discern whether a pair is good for you just by basing your research on the descriptions and specifications placed on websites.

There will be amazing shoes for me but will suck for others due to varying body and build types as well as feet differences and personal preference.

A physical fit and feel in a store is best as always, and to others that don’t have this privilege, a gamble is in need and you’ll have to rely on the return policies for online purchases if your shoes don’t pair well with your feet and your planned fishing application.

While we’re in the discussion of footwear, let’s have a look at last year’s best footwear winners from international fishing shows and reviews held before the covid pandemic took hold.

These shoes mentioned here are not a must have or the best for everyone. These are just listed for you to have an idea on what features are best for your personal fishing needs.

Links to their websites are included in the description for you to have a better look at what other footwear they have available that may be more suited to your preference.

ICAST 2019 – Best of Category (Footwear)

Frog Toggs Skipper 

fishing footwear


  • Premium water-drainage technology featuring quick-drying air mesh breathable uppers.
  • Cushioned midsoles with water-expulsion release holes
  • Lightweight outsoles featuring slip-grip rubber inserts
  • FTX Aquaclearz drainage system bottom construction-for the ultimate drainage shoe

IFTD 2019 – Best of Show, Wading boots

Simms G4 PRO 

fishing shoes


  • Simms’ guide-quality G4 Pro wading boot provides the highest standard of fit, performance, and durability
  • TPU overlays for added durability
  • Threaded, non-corrosive receptacles for easy insertion and removal of cleats
  • Molded protective toe cap
  • Low profile lace loops to reduce line-catch
  • FABRIC TECH: Outsole- Vibram® Idrogrip rubber; Upper- highly abrasion-resistant mesh

The above shoes are award winners for the major international fishing shows but below are the honorable mentions that are worth a look.

Shimano Evair Shoe 

ocean blue fishing footware

Evair Marine/Fishing shoes featuring ultra lightweight EVA material.

After a day of fishing or any other marine activity, you will feel as if you were wearing nothing on your feet during hot summer days.

Easy to clean, durable and grippy. Minimalist, but will work for your everyday fishing purposes.

Sperry 7 Seas Boat Sneakers

fishing shoe

Sperry have been making boat shoes that perform, function and look well for decades. They need no further description and have fully established themselves as proper boat shoes.

Here is a shoe that can make those not used to the look of a classic boat shoe get into the advantages of boat specific shoes offer.

  • Superior grip on land and sea
  • Non-marking, rubber outsole with Razor-Cut Wave-Siping™ for traction on wet surfaces
  • Terrain Traction Pods for enhanced grip on land
  • Surefooted confidence in all conditions
  • 360° Lacing System™ for a secure fit
  • MocFit construction cradles your foot in a minimalist design
  • SeaBound integrated energy return system provides underfoot cushioning
  • Amphibious construction to weather any storm
  • Hydrophobic mesh upper with HydroPel technology sheds water and dries quickly
  • OmniVent construction allows your feet to breathe

The Final Word

No matter what style of fishing or what destination you plan to fish in, wearing foot protection will make your overall fishing experience better.

You may have a different opinion on footwear and you might even still opt to go barefoot, but my main point is having some sort of protection is always better than having none at all.

Protection, safety, comfort and confidence. The less distractions you have, the more focus you can give to your fishing, resulting hopefully, to a better result at the end of the day.

There are so much options to choose from out there and if we had to describe and feature each and every one of them, we’ll end up with a pretty substantial book worth of information and descriptions.

The best way to get your perfect pair is to physically try them out at the store. We hope you consider the ideas and information shared in this article and you apply them in your future fishing endeavors. Tight lines and keep on casting.

If you are looking for a true sport fishing company that offers you more than just a Vanuatu fishing adventure, look no further than Ocean Blue Fishing. Call us now at (AU) 1300 564 616 or at (INTL) +61 436 020322 or you may also contact us through our website HERE.

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Fishing Footwear Basics: Keeping Your Feet Neat and Safe

John is originally from the Philippines. John has extensive guiding experience throughout Asia and...Learn more
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