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Best Fishing Shoes: Your Top Options For All Situations

Last Updated: November 2nd, 2020
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Footwear doesn’t get much press in the angling world, but if you’ve ever suffered through a day of cold, wet feet or taken a spill when you lost your footing, you know the value of the right shoes for fishing.

Have you been looking for a new pair of fishing shoes?

We’d love to help! Wherever you fish and whatever your climate, we’ve got you covered! Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorite footwear choices for fishing:

Quick glance and the best fishing shoes:

Related: Best Fishing Hat, Best Fishing Sunglasses, Best Rain Gear For Fishing

Best Fishing Shoes Reviewed

HUK Rubber Waterproof Rogue Wave Mid Boots - Best Three-Season Ankle Boot for Fishing

HUK Men's Rubber Waterproof Rogue Wave Mid Boots, Adult, Hannibal Bank, 10

Amazon 

Fishing can be nasty business, and from fish flopping on the deck to a casting net full of shrimp, slime, blood, and unidentifiable muck is everywhere. Add to that that the weather’s not always friendly and warm, and it’s clear why you might need more than a mesh fabric sneaker to keep your feet happy.

HUK has you covered with their Rogue Wave mid-boot. With a neoprene and rubber upper coated in a proprietary DWR--essentially a water-repellant film--you can pretty much guarantee that your feet stay dry. And since these are waterproof, a few squirts of dish detergent and a hose can clean them up at the end of the day.

If you’ve ever looked down and found your feet covered in blood from a big red or tuna, you know exactly how awesome easy clean up is!

HUK makes these boots to last, and they’ll hold up to anything you throw at them short of long hikes. If you’re wearing these for fishing, expect them to last for years. They’ll take the sun and salt without a hitch.

Ideal for wet, cool conditions, HUK’s Rogue Wave boots aren’t insulated, but they’ll keep your feet warm and dry across three seasons in most climates. I wouldn’t recommend any color other than white for hot weather, and unless you’re working a shrimp or crab boat professionally, I’d skip the waterproof mid-boot in the summer!

Flat soled and grippy, you can count on traction on deck, and these boots should provide firm footing on anything but blood and slime--and nothing, no matter what the manufacturer says--will do that.

For thicker socks and wider feet, I advise you to order one size up.

Pros:

  • Waterproof!
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to clean
  • Great grip
  • Nice color options
  • Warm enough for three seasons

Cons:

  • Sizing can be tight for wide feet--order up

XTRATUF Performance Series 6" Men’s Full Rubber Ankle Deck Boots - Best Cool Weather Ankle Boot for Fishing

XTRATUF Performance Series 6' Men’s Full Rubber Ankle Deck Boots, Gray & Yellow (22735)

Amazon 

You may not be familiar with the XTRATUF brand, but if you happen to be a commercial fisherman in Alaska, chances are you’re aware of them. XTRATUF has been supplying hard-working pros with ankle-high boots for years, and they know the ins and outs of angling as well as anyone.

These pros rely on XTRATUF.

These ankle boots are rubber and neoprene, providing waterproof protection and an added boost of warmth from the neoprene. For cooler fall and spring weather, and for winter in climates that aren’t brutal, XTRATUF’s ankle boots will keep your feet plenty warm. They include a breathable liner, but that rubber exterior limits how much sweat can be wicked away.

In warm weather, these boots will roast your feet!

Super easy to clean, they’re on par with the HUKs: just wash with a hose and some detergent if necessary.

The soles on these boots are super soft and grippy. People complain that they wear quickly, but these same customers are using them as street shoes! These boots are designed for boat decks and nasty weather, and they provide excellent traction. But the sole compound is soft for a reason: hard rubber can slip.

If you keep these boots for the purpose they’re designed for, expect years of service.

If you fish in a cooler climate and need a waterproof boot that’s easy to wear and easy to clean, XTRATUF’s deck boots are an awesome choice. Just be sure to order up if you wear a half size.

Pros:

  • Waterproof!
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to clean
  • Great grip
  • Nice color options
  • Warm enough for winter

Cons:

  • Way too warm for hot weather

Sperry H2O Skiff Sneaker - Best Boat Shoes for Fishing

Sperry Men's, H2O Skiff Sneaker Gray 9 M

Amazon 

Sperry is a trusted name in boat shoes, but for fishing, I’d skip the nice leather and spiffy fabric they normally offer and pick something more like their H2O sneaker. Built for the water, they can take a beating and won’t bat an eye.

The uppers on the H2O Skiff are “water-resistant,” built with hydrophobic materials that ideally shed water like a good duck dog. But in reality, Sperry knows that Mother Nature just loves to hear those words, and they offer a perforated footbed to quickly drain the water that’s forced in by rain and waves.

They dry quickly, so sudden squalls or a quick step in the water during launching won’t leave your feet wet all day. That’s a big deal, and it’s certainly a reason to recommend these shoes.

Comfort is excellent as these are essentially lightweight sneakers, and the sizing seems to be true. In cooler weather, I’d give these shoes a pass and opt for something like the HUK, but when the sun’s out and the mercury is rising, these are going to keep your feet reasonably cool.

And as you’d expect from decades of experience, Sperry knows wet-deck traction, and these shoes have plenty of grip for steep launches and slippery surfaces.

The downside?

These aren’t the easiest shoes to clean if they get truly filthy. I’m really not sure you can machine wash them--and Sperry doesn’t give the go-ahead for this. Perhaps a soak in some soapy water and a good brush would be the better option, but all that mesh is just asking for slime, blood, and scales to stick.

Overall, if sneaker-style fishing shoes are your thing, the Sperry is a good choice, provided you take some care to avoid a real mess.

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Quick drying
  • Great grip
  • Pretty cool for summer

Cons:

  • Tough to clean thoroughly

Columbia Drainmaker 4 Water Shoe

Columbia Men's Drainmaker IV Water Shoe, Black, lux, 11.5

Amazon 

All water shoes aren’t equal, and among the ranks of fabric footwear designed to get wet, you’ll find models that are really just designed to protect your feet from underwater hazards--as well as real shoes that are more or less impervious to water damage.

Columbia’s Drainmaker 4 is in that last category, and while I wouldn’t recommend it as streetwear or for hiking, it’s top-notch as a dedicated angling shoe.

If you like sneakers, you’ll like these water shoes. Lace-up fabric uppers meet a rubberized sole that provides excellent traction on wet, pitching decks. As with the Sperrys, these shoes were made to get wet, and they dry quickly.

But like the Sperrys, they won’t be easy to clean, especially once you get them really funky. Their mesh fabric will inevitably hold on to stink, and unless you’re a fastidious angler, you might want to consider a footwear option that’s easier to make like new.

Comfort is excellent, however, and these shoes breathe well, making them a great summer option in hot climates, especially if you choose a color other than black.

Durability is good, especially if you keep in mind that these shoes are not intended for hiking, walking, or running, but rather for watersports like angling.

If the Sperrys aren’t sufficiently fashionable for you, give the Columbia Drainmaker 4 a shot--you’ll be happy you did.

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Quick drying
  • Great grip
  • Pretty cool for summer

Cons:

  • Tough to clean thoroughly

Crocs Classic Clog - Best Slip-On for Fishing

Crocs Classic Clog | Water Comfortable Slip on Shoes, Black, 12 Women/10 Men

Amazon 

I can’t count how many anglers I see wearing the classic clog from Croc, and there are good reasons to join them!

Let’s start off with the obvious: they’re lightweight, comfortable, and very easy to clean. Water’s not going to hurt them at all, and muck like slime and blood can be hosed off with a bit of detergent.

That’s 90% of what makes a good fishing shoe, right there!

Add to that the fact that they certainly won’t break the bank, and you’ve got a great option for warm weather angling.

My only concern with the classic Croc is traction. When mine have gotten worn down on the sole a bit, forming a flat spot where ridges used to be, they can sometimes slip on slick surfaces like wet tile. I doubt you’ll have the same problem on concrete boat launches or wet decks, but I’d recommend replacing them when needed.

Some people also find that once wet, their feet will shift inside the Croc. That can cause problems if you’re not paying attention.

For angling in the heat, I’d recommend a light color; dark plastic and hot sun don’t mix!

Pros:

  • Inexpensive!
  • Comfortable
  • Extremely easy to clean
  • Good grip
  • Pretty cool for summer

Cons:

  • Traction can suffer as the tread wears down or your feet get wet

Crocs Swiftwater Wave Sandal - Best Sandal for Fishing

Crocs Men's Swiftwater Wave Sandal Flat, Black/Pearl White, 9 M US

Amazon 

Don’t like the classic Croc clog, but like the idea?

Crocs has you covered with the Swiftwater Wave sandal.

Essentially a full heel-strap version of the clog with a modified sole, the Swiftwater Wave sandal is a great choice for angling, especially in the lighter color options. Just as easy to clean and wear as the standard Croc, and just as impervious to water and salt damage, these are an excellent sandal option for warm weather fishing.

The Swiftwater Wave has a flatter footbed and sole than the standard Croc, offering a “flatter” feel and foot position. Not as beefy underfoot, these sandals aren’t designed for hiking or rock-running but rather kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and fishing, and it’s when you’re up to your ankles in saltwater or fish slime that you’re really going to appreciate these sandals!

Grip is good, with the same caveats that apply to the standard clog.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive!
  • Comfortable
  • Extremely easy to clean
  • Good grip
  • Pretty cool for summer

Cons:

  • Traction can suffer as the tread wears down or your feet get wet

Grundéns Deck Boss Sandal - Best Flip Flop for Fishing

Grundéns Men's Deck-Boss Sandal, Brindle - 11 M US

Amazon 

If angling in flip flops is your thing, Grundens Deck Boss is a great option for you!

I fish with a few buddies who swear by flip flops as they can’t stand hot, clammy feet. And if they’re any judge of performance, Grundens has a top performer on its hands.

The Deck Boss comes with a high-traction rubber sole that’s designed for wet boat decks. And the footbed isn’t what you’d expect, but rather a proprietary closed-cell PE/EVA footbed--essentially soft thermo-plastic--that they say is “specifically formulated for marine applications.”

I can’t argue with that, and these flip flops are plenty comfy as long as you remember to protect your feet with some sunscreen! Seriously, don’t even try a foot burn.

Grip is acceptable for a flip flop, meaning that traction between your foot and the footbed is the most likely point of failure. And of course, flip flops aren’t going to protect your feet (or the footbed) from blood and slime, so nasty angling can be a problem.

I also wouldn’t put the Deck Boss side-by-side with the HUK or Croc options for easy cleaning, but it’s probably a touch better than the Sperry. 

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Quick drying
  • Great grip for flip flops
  • Very cool for summer

Cons:

  • Tough to clean thoroughly
  • Won’t keep your feet clean, obviously
  • You’ll want sunscreen!

What We Look For When Buying Shoes For Fishing

Durability

While fishing, your footwear is going to take a beating. Sun, water, and salt: these aren’t friendly elements to shoes of any kind!

I look for fishing shoes that are as tough as a bad steak, and I try to keep these issues in mind:

  • Seam durability - any seams need to be securely joined, whether by very stout adhesives, tough stitching, or both. It really doesn’t matter how tough the shoe: if one of the major seams fails, that’s pretty much it.
  • Sole durability - your fishing shoes need tough soles, not only to stand up to hazards like rocks, sharp hooks, and broken glass but also to stand the test of time. You want season after season of wear from your gear, and the soles are one of the first things to consider. It’s also critical that the soles be attached with durable stitching, adhesive, or both.
  • Material durability - the basic material of your footwear needs to be tough enough to shrug off salt, sun, and water. Options like leather are a bad idea; instead, look for synthetics that are purpose-built for wet wear and nasty conditions.

Washability

This may not make your list initially, but after a few days of fish flopping on your shoes and leaving a stinking mess of slime, scales, and blood, you’ll reconsider!

How nasty is this going to get your footwear?

Do yourself a favor and opt for footwear that’s easy to clean.

Traction

Solid, all-weather grip is a must.

Just imagine losing your footing in this fight!

Slipping on a rock, a boat launch, or a deck is a terrific way to end a day’s fishing before it even gets started, and trust me, you can injure yourself far worse than you imagine. 

Just consider a slip with a sharp fillet knife in hand, a fall onto a splintered piling, or a trip that sends you into a railing.

Look for shoes that grip wet surfaces and offer sure-footed traction in all conditions.

Fit and comfort

If the shoe doesn’t fit, you won’t wear it!

I reported on sizing information as well as comfort because good fishing footwear should be easy on your feet.

Final Thoughts

Good angling footwear is more important than it might seem, and the right choice can make the difference between some exciting memories and a painful trip to the ER.

We hope we’ve helped you make the right pick for your needs, and as always, we’d love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment below.

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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