Choosing The Right Boat Shoes

By Steve Chaconas

Good shoes double as safety gear. Here are brands built for fishing.

Sport-specific shoes exist for all ball sports, but few are forged for fishing. Fishing is a stand-up sport played on a boat deck with unpredictable movement demanding balance and traction under a wide range of weather conditions. Couple that with the pounding your feet take on deck in rough water and you'll start to see why any old pair won't do the job. Mainstream shoe manufacturers are creating footwear with technology that crosses over to boating and fishing. Many are breathable, waterproof, and even prevent foot odor. Here are a few styles preferred by the pros and some additional models perfect for boaters.

The Old Standby

Legendary bass angler Rick Clunn discovered his perfect fit nearly 30 years ago. During a Colorado River raft trip, he observed his guide wearing an odd-looking shoe. Noting the stability and the wet/dry use, Clunn purchased his first pair of Teva sandals. He still wears the basic sandal with its often-copied strap system that provides comfort, stability, and security for both men and women. The design has been updated with an antimicrobial treatment to keep the funk away, but Tevas still sport a non-marking sole, and some models feature toe bumpers to keep the piggies happy.

New Kid On The Block

Today's most popular angler, Michael Iaconelli, has taken many steps to arrive at his current footwear. Putting in 12- to 14-hour practice days and eight hours on deck during tournaments, he counts on his feet to enable him to cast, land fish, and stand on a trolling-motor pedal all day. Until about four years ago, he relied on skateboard shoes for support. But recently, the New Jersey pro brought aboard Under Armour cross-training shoes. UA's Charged Ultimate Trainers have lightweight cushioning and padding for all-day comfort, and its innovative lacing system provides a lockdown fit. During the hottest conditions, Iaconelli sports UA's Micro G Speed Swift running shoes with breathable mesh.

Chaco's Lightweight Outcross Free

Amphibious shoes bridge land and sea. Polyester jacquard webbing combined with open sidewall construction provide ventilation, while a synthetic-leather heel and toecap offer durability and protection for women's feet. The quick-cord lock makes lacing a breeze, and an antimicrobial application prevents odor. The non-marking, rubber-compound sole with 3-millimeter lugs provides traction.

The Amphib From Eddie Bauer

Truly built for dirt or deck. Lightweight EVA provides support and fit for both men and women, and the perforated footbed drains keep feet comfortable in stormy weather. The quick-lace system secures a good fit, and the non-marking outsole provides multisurface traction.

The Megavent Dorado From Columbia

Like its fishy namesake, changes color using UV-sensitive materials in the midsole and logo to pull off this neat trick. But theatrics aside, it's built for angler comfort, using EVA foam in the sole, breathable mesh uppers, and drains in the midsole to keep men's feet dry and happy. They're also water-and stain-resistant thanks to Columbia's Blood 'n Guts technology, with a non-marking tread designed for wet decks to keep you aboard.

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2

A supportive fit with a seamless closed air-mesh upper that protects feet from errant hooks. Ortholite insoles cushion and customize fit. The oversize EVA midsole provides lightweight cushioning, and the sole's 4-millimeter lugs provide stable traction with agility for both men and women. 

— Published: October/November 2016

All-Weather Accessory

Hanz Waterproof sock

Don't toss fishing shoes overboard in wet or cold weather. Waterproof and breathable Hanz socks keep feet dry and warm. ChillBlocker versions keep out extreme cold.


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