With all the gear, sunscreen, and supplies a fisherman needs to keep track of, it is understandable that he might give short shrift to his footwear. This is a mistake though, as the proper footwear is important not only for one’s comfort, but also for safety. There are a number of safety hazards inherent in fishing and the right pair of shoes or boots can reduce this danger.
When choosing footwear to wear while fishing, there are a number of considerations to take into account. Many of these are safety considerations, while others are practical matters such as weather and material. Not every shoe or boot is the right choice for every fishing environment, so it is important to think about the specific kind of fishing you are going to do before choosing your footwear. If you do many different kinds of fishing, you may need many different pairs of fishing shoes and boots.
Safety and Comfort Concerns
Though many amateurs do not give a second thought to safety, it is actually a big concern for fishermen. Even when standing on the shore, there are safety issues you need to be aware of that need to be factored into your choice of footwear.
Similarly, it is important to consider comfort when choosing your fishing footwear, as you’ll likely be standing for long periods of time.
- Arch Support – Without good arch support, standing can make your feet grow tired. The lack of shock absorption and support is felt throughout the body with every step, or with every moment standing still, and can lead to pain in the feet, legs, hips, and back. When you choose your fishing shoes or boots, it is important to pick a pair with proper arch support. Your legs and back will last longer and you’ll have a far more pleasant day.
- Stepping on Hooks and Other Equipment – There are all kinds of objects waiting to puncture the soles of your feet while fishing. If you are standing on the shore, there are rocks and some of them can be sharp. There may be cans and other equipment that someone did not properly dispose of, too. And in a boat you have gear that can hurt your feet, especially the hooks and lures meant to snag fish. Even the fish themselves can have some sharp fins that you don’t want to cut your skin on. Make sure you wear shoes or boots, not sandals, and find something with a hard sole to protect from puncture wounds.
- Soaked Skin – If your feet get wet or damp and stay that way, the integrity of the skin can degrade over the course of the day. This will make your feet more likely to sustain an injury. Blisters and outer layers of skin rubbed away can be a real concern with your footwear, and soaked skin will be more vulnerable to these problems. You’ll want to have shoes that will drain and dry quickly once you get out of the water so you don’t remain waterlogged throughout the day and after you’re done fishing.
- Slippery Surfaces – Choosing a shoe with a good grip on the sole can be very important. Fishing areas are replete with slippery surfaces. The water can make boat decks and wooden piers slick. Fish produce their own excretions that can make any surface slippery, and if you or your companions gut the fish in the same area you are fishing in, this will contribute to the slipperiness of the surfaces. The right sole can reduce the severity of this problem.
- Underwater Hazards – If you will be wading into a body of water to fish, many of the same concerns increase. Under water tripping hazards can damage your toes and rocks, tree branches, and garbage can cut your soles. If you wade with shoes or regular boots, your feet will be soaked, and the skin can soften and blister if it remains wet for too long. You should have footwear that drains and dries, easily and quickly.
All of these hazards should affect your choice of footwear. That’s why it’s best to know what sort of fishing you are going to be doing so you can be aware of what hazards are going to be more prominent.
Shoes and Boots
When you have identified your main comfort and safety concerns, it is time to think about the features of your shoe or boot. There are a few main considerations:
- Material – This is the most important consideration. Given the nature of fishing, waterproof material is your best option. There are three materials that experts consider the best: synthetic mesh, canvas, and leather. Canvas and leather are stiff materials that protect your feet while synthetic mesh will keep your feet dry. Thick rubber will be the best for the soles, as it protects against puncture wounds and can provide a good grip while you walk or stand.
- Price – As with most things, when it comes to fishing shoes, you get what you pay for. Specialty items like fishing shoes usually cost more in general, so consider how often you are going to use them before you buy. If you intend to use them frequently, you will be better off with a higher quality shoe. It may cost more initially, but you won’t have to replace it as often, and you’ll be safer and more comfortable in the long run.
- Flexibility – Though fishing shoes are designed with one activity in mind, they can work in other contexts as well. Will you be using the shoes for anything else other than fishing? How often will you use them in non-fishing contexts? Considerations like this might affect the type of material and the price that is ideal for you.
If you are going to be wading into a body of water while fishing, opt for fishing boots with a self-draining system and non-slip sole.
The Right Footwear Makes All the Difference
There are many factors to consider when choosing your footwear. You need to consider what you are going to be stepping on, what sort of weather you’ll encounter, and even what kind of water you’ll be fishing in, salt or fresh. When you have picked the right materials for your shoe or boot, you’ll also need to make sure you find footwear that fits your budget.
It may be a lot to consider, especially when so much planning goes into all of the other aspects of fishing, but you’ll find it worth the effort. With the right footwear you can avoid accidents and fish in greater comfort. The right footwear can be the difference between a lousy outing and a fun, successful day with your bait and gear.