Fishing can be a relaxing way to spend the day: a line in the water, a cold drink in your hand, and a couple of your friends nearby to cheer you on when you reel in the big one. But if you don’t have the proper footwear, instead of relaxing you may be slipping and sliding along the rocks beneath your feet.
This could cost you not only your fish, but send you to the emergency room as well if you twist your ankle or break your leg. That’s why you need the best fishing boots you can find to keep you safe and on your feet until its time to pack in it and head home.
Types of Fishing Boots
Though there are a variety of boots that could be used for fishing, including rubber rain boots, deck boots, and fishing waders, when we talk about types of boots, we are mainly referring to the soles.
There are two types – felt and rubber – both with strengths and weaknesses you should consider when choosing the right one for your trip.
- Felt Soles: This type of sole offers you the best traction on wet and slippery surfaces, such as large, flat rocks that could be covered with slime or a bunch of wet leaves.
When in the water, they are the best choice, but out of the water on drier areas, they do not work quite as well. They may even wear down more quickly when used on dry land, ruining the soles and requiring a replacement.
There is also an environmental issue with these types of soles, because of the fact that some invasive species can get stuck in the sole of the boot. These species can then be transferred to other areas that they are not native to.
There are even some states that have banned the use of these types of soles, so if you choose these, be sure to check out your state’s laws before wearing them in the water.
- Rubber Soles: Though the rubber-soled fishing boots of the past had minimal traction and were prone to coming apart, these issues are no longer a concern. These days, rubber-soled boots provide you with excellent traction, are made of quality, lightweight materials, and are super durable.
They may not have quite the grip felt-soled boots have in the water, but they are almost as good and come with either metal studs attached or the ability to do so to give you that extra traction you may need.
Rubber soles are also better on dry land, so there is little risk of injury on a stream bank or a trail leading to your favorite fishing spot. There are also no environmental risks when using a rubber sole.
Other Features to Look for in Fishing Boots
Aside from the boot’s soles, there are a few other key features you should look for when you are buying you next pair of fishing boots.
- Lightweight: You may have to do a fair bit of walking from your car to your chosen spot, down a trail to another fishing spot if they aren’t biting at the first one, and back to your car at the end of the day.
In fact, you may cover a few miles while wearing your boots, so the lighter they are, the easier this will be to do.
So, if you can find a pair of boots under a few pounds, you will save yourself the trouble of having tired legs long before you’ve caught your limit.
- Waterproof: When standing in water, you want to be sure your feet will stay dry in your boots, which is why having waterproofing is necessary. There is nothing more uncomfortable than having soaked feet throughout the day.
They must also drain well, so any water that is collected can drain out of your boots instead of weighing them down.
- Lacing Systems: There is nothing worse than having a lace snap in the middle of your trip. That’s why durable laces that will withstand the damage they could sustain from rocks or other debris washing over them, not to mention the water that could deteriorate the fabric, is necessary.
You also want to make sure the laces tie tightly and quickly, and can be locked down in some way so they don’t come loose when you’re trying to reel in your catch.
Of course, depending on the fishing boots you choose, there may not be laces at all, so this will not always be an issue.
- Ankle Support: You’re going to be walking on uneven terrain throughout your fishing trip, including trails, stream banks, and slippery gravel.
Make sure you choose boots that support your ankles, so you can spend your day with your fishing rod in your hand instead of on your back with a cast on your foot.
- Insulation: Depending on where you’re fishing, this may not be necessary, especially during the summer months. But if you plan on doing any ice fishing, or if you work on a commercial fishing boat up north, this is a definite must for your fishing boots.
You don’t want to have frozen feet before your trip gets started, so check out your selected boots insulation materials and weather rating before pulling out your wallet. This will add a bit of weight to your boots, though, but it is better to sacrifice the lighter weight than your feet.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the features of fishing boots, here are some of the products consumers are raving about.
Top Products of 2017
XTRATUF Performance Deck Boots
Weight: 1.8 lbs
Dimensions: 11.6 x 4 x 6 inches
Specific Features: Chevron outsole, XpressCool lining, front and rear pull loops, waterproofing
Best Use: Offshore fishing, deep-sea fishing, sailing, slippery conditions
Description: These lightweight ankle XTRATUF Performance Deck Boots are 100% waterproof, keeping your feet dry throughout your day of fishing.
They have slip-resistant, non-marking Chevron outsoles, which provide you with comfortable and stable walking on wet or slippery conditions, without leaving scuffs on the surfaces you may be walking on.
The XpressCool lining is breathable, and thanks to its antimicrobial protection, you won’t have to worry about any bacteria or fungus stinking up your boots. There are pull loops at both the front and the back to make it easy to pull them on and slip them off.
These boots come in three color combinations, including gray with yellow accents, chocolate with tan accents, and navy blue with red accents. Because these boots are meant to be worn with socks, some who have purchased them have needed to order a size bigger than their normal shoes.
If you prefer to go sockless, your normal size, or a half size smaller, may be a better fit for you. Keep in mind that the waterproofing keeps wetness from seeping in, but doesn’t help if the water washes over the top of these 6 inch boots. They can be easily rinsed and dried if needed.
Related: XTRATUF also has a Legacy 5 inch boot that is insulated to give its wearers the added protection and warmth needed in colder temperatures.
There is also their Legacy 6 Inch Boot that protects fishermen against a broad range of corrosives, contaminants and acids. These boots are for more specialized use, though, so for normal everyday wear, the Performance deck boots are the best choice.
Caddis Men’s Taupe Felt Sole Wading Shoe
Weight: 5 lbs
Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 5.5 inches
Specific Features: Cushioned insoles, reinforced toe and heel, one piece sole construction, speed laces, EcoSmart II sole
Best Use: Off-shore fishing, slippery conditions, could be used by roofers
Description: These ultra-comfortable Caddis Men’s Taupe Felt Sole Wading Shoe have a cushioned insole to keep your feet feeling great throughout an entire day of fishing. The reinforced toe and heel keep them safe from harm, especially when slipping around on the rocks trying to bring in a large catch.
With speed laces, there is little time wasted getting into these boots, which means more time out on the water. The felt soles keep you steady and on your feet, even when walking over mossy rocks, gravel bottomed riverbeds, and even downed logs.
The polyester outer material is high quality, ensuring your boots last for years of fishing trips. Keep in mind that these shoes are made to accommodate the neoprene booty and other insulation, so they are made a bit larger than other brands to meet these needs.
Of course, there are also some who have purchased these boots that have claimed they needed a size larger than they normally take, so they could wear stocking feet waders with them. Be sure to take these features into account when choosing your next pair of boots.
Related: Along with the felt sole, these boots also come in an EcoSmart Grip Sole wading boot, which is compatible with a few of their stud kits that give you extra traction on slipperier surfaces.
They are the same as the felt soled boots in every other way, but the extra grip of the studs are not necessary for all trips.
Korkers Ambush Wading Boots
Weight: 2 lbs 13 oz
Dimensions: 14 x 14 x 5 inches
Specific Features: OmniTrax Interchangeable sole system, enhanced midsole, scratch rubber toe cap, abrasion resistant hydrophobic upper materials, internal drainage, quick cinch laces
Best Use: Fishing, hunting
Description: These lightweight Korkers Ambush Wading Boots come with an OmniTrax Interchangeable sole system that allows you to change your sole to match any hunting or fishing condition at any given time.
The hydrophobic upper material is resistant to all abrasions and has 360 degrees of Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo to blend with your surroundings when creeping up on fish or any waterfowl you may be hunting.
The protective scratch rubber toe cap and the enhanced midsole add to the durability of these boots, so they will last for years of damp or wet adventures. Rather than flooding your feet with water, these boots have an internal drainage system that consists of channels that allow the water to flow out through the midsole ports, keeping your feet free of excess water and maintaining their lightweight feel.
The Quick Cinch laces mean you only have to tie your laces once to get them perfectly secure, with a customized fit for your feet.
Related: Though they have numerous waders for fishing, these are the only ones made by Korkers that are also specified for use as a hunting boot as well.
Helly Hansen Men’s Midsund 2 Rain Boot
Weight: 3 lbs 14.9 oz
Dimensions: 12.5 inches high, 18.75 inches in circumference
Specific Features: rubber midsole and outsole, waterproof rubber, Helly grip sole
Best Use: Off-shore fishing
Description: Since 1877, Helly Hansen has manufactured excellent protective gear for wet weather, with rubber boots at the very core of their business. The Midsund 2 rain boots are no exception.
They are made from durable waterproof rubber to keep your feet dry while fishing, working, or just walking outdoors during wet weather. The rubber outsole has the traction you need to grip wet surfaces, including boat decks, wet rocks, or slippery trails between your home and fishing spot.
These grips are also durable, so they won’t tear on sharp stones and leak water into your boots. The back pull tab makes it simple and quick to pull these boots on. The Midsund 2 boots are made a bit larger than other brands, so it is best to purchase a smaller size. This is true whether you prefer to wear your normal socks or the thicker type for colder temperatures.
They also have a wide calf width, which some have found strange, but this is necessary to accommodate your pant legs, to keep them tucked in and dry rather than dragging in the water. These boots come in four different colors to meet your particular style.
Related: There are also Women’s Midsund 2 Rain Boots available, so your lady doesn’t need to wear your boots as well. They are made of the same materials, though are a bit shorter with a smaller opening at the top. They also come in five stylish colors to meet the needs and taste of every lady.
L&M Men’s Waterproof Insulated Boots
Weight: heavy boot (actual weight unavailable)
Dimensions: 14 inches in height
Specific Features: Waterproof upper material, rubber outsole, microfiber lining, pull-loop on heel
Best Use: Ice fishing, yard work, farm work
Description: These boots are a bit heavier than some other brands, but this is no surprise since they have thick insulation to keep your feet warm during the damp cold of winter.
The upper material of these L&M Men’s Waterproof Insulated Boots are made of 100% waterproof rubber, with a PVC compound coating that resists the damage from chemicals and other nasty liquids that could otherwise ruin your boots.
They are lined with faux fur, and along with the thick insulation, they keep your feet warm and dry, even if you are the type who prefers to wear no socks with your boots.
The rubber outsole has anti-skid biting edges to give you the traction you need on slippery surfaces, adding to their safety during the winter months. The pull-loop located on the back of the boot makes slipping them on an easy task, but the boots fit snugly enough that you won’t need to worry about them slipping off your feet, even in the deepest snow.
These boots are said to match your regular shoe size, but some have mentioned that they found them to fit a bit snugly and needed to buy a larger size. This is especially true if you prefer to wear thicker socks.
Related: Though L&M has a variety of winter work boots available, these are the only ones that are designed as a rain/winter boot combo.
XTRATUF Legacy 15” Insulated Men’s Fishing Boots
Weight: 7.5 lbs
Dimensions: 16.7 x 22.6
Specific Features: Chevron outsole, triple-dipped latex neoprene, polymeric foam insulation, Breathe-O-Prene insole, toe and heel guards
Best Use: Ice fishing, fishing, farm work, outdoor work
Description: Though a bit heavy for some people, these XTRATUF Legacy 15” Insulated Men’s Fishing Boots are perfect for commercial fisherman in the wet, cold temperatures of Alaska and many other regions. They are made using a triple-dipping process that ensured the waterproofing is seamless throughout the entire boot, giving you the necessary protection when at work or play in the wettest areas.
The neoprene is soft and pliable, giving you a comfortable boot, but is also ozone-resistant, protecting your boots against cracking, as well as resisting the chemicals like fuel, cleaning products, and other damaging liquids that could potentially ruin a great set of boots.
The slip-resistant Chevron outsole provides you with the traction you need on slippery surfaces and won’t leave marks all over the floor while you walk. Inside the boots there is polymeric foam insulation, which will protect your feet in cold temperatures as low as -10 degrees F.
The moisture-wicking insoles are breathable, with an open cell structure that keep your feet dry and also speed up the boots drying time. These insoles are also shock-absorbing, so your feet will feel great all day.
The heel counters keep your feet firmly in place in your boot, and there are guards in the heels and the toes to protect you from and bumps or abrasions you could otherwise sustain.
Related: There is also a Legacy 15” Steel Toe Insulated Men’s Fishing Boot available from XTRATUF. They are made using the same waterproofing materials, insulation, and slip-resistant outsoles, but with the added protection of the steel toe feature.
This amount of protection is necessary when working in certain industries, but is not necessary for daily wear, so if you don’t need it, there is no reason to add that extra weight to your boots.
When out on the water, in rain or shine, from the warm summer months to the icy cold of winter, having the right fishing boots can make the difference between dry, comfortable feet and soaking, miserable ones.
Check out the features of each boot you look at, to be sure you have the right ones for your favorite fishing spot that will keep you steady and on your feet. We have reviewed our favorite brands, but if you feel there is another fishing boot that should be on our list, please let us know in our comments section below.