What should you wear kayaking? Many new kayak fishing enthusiasts do not understand the benefits of investing in a good pair of kayak fishing shoes. However, experienced kayak anglers understand too well that a good pair of kayaking shoes go beyond providing protection and comfort to improve your accuracy and chances of making a good catch.
But before we delve deeper, a kayaking shoe helps to protect your feet from the myriad of elements you will find in aquatic environments. Rivers, lakes, oceans, and seas are awash with rocks, razorfish, barnacles, and corals that you will still encounter irrespective of how much you try to avoid them.
Without protection, these potentially penetrative elements will rip your feet during your short trip from your car to the water and back. And there are insects, too, that you will need to protect your feet from.
Apart from protection, a good shoe gives you the desired warmth and comfort. Life outdoors can be harsh with insufficient preparation, and suitable footwear is one way to guard yourself against extreme cold or direct sunlight.
Interestingly, the market is now awash with several options that you can choose for kayak fishing. While this is an advantage, it also comes with serious challenges. Your choice will undoubtedly depend on several factors. There is also a myriad of natural conditions that will determine how you go about choosing your ideal shoe for kayak fishing.
Natural Conditions That Determine How You Choose a Kayak Fishing Shoes
Ladies and gentlemen, before you look at the type of shoes that will work for you, it is crucial to consider the condition of your kayaking environment. Among the aspects you will need to consider include;
A. Type of Surface
The condition of the surface leading to your kayaking waters is your first and most vital consideration when looking for footwear. Plain hard surfaces should not be a big problem. But if you are going to fish on rivers or oceans preceded by muddy or rocky banks and shores, you will need to choose your shoe based on the surface.
Firstly, if you are going to fish in waters preceded by swampy or muddy entryways and banks, you need to understand that the stickiness could probably end up getting the shoes off your feet. So, choose footwear with a perfect fit.
Still, go beyond the fit and consider options with shoelaces or sturdy and reliable straps to secure the footwear. Muddy and swampy areas will quickly suck a strapless pair of shoes, and you may lose your priced apparel forever. You may also find them but after hours of serious excavation.
Rocks and Sharps
Rocky surfaces or surfaces with hard or sharp objects such as corals, barnacles, and other marine life are challenging to maneuver. Such areas are dangerous, too. Without the correct footwear, you will most likely end up with bleeding feet. Choose kayak fishing shoes with sturdy soles. Any sole that will get broken on rocks or over any sharp object is a no.
Also, ensure that the footwear has sufficient padding to cushion your feet from the hard surfaces. A suitable insole should do. Footwear devised for rocky or rugged surfaces should also feature extra cushioning for the toes to protect you in case of impact.
The distance between where you park your car and the water can always make or break your fishing expedition. If you intend to fish as a team, you could help yourself carry your vessels to the water. But it is an arduous task to transport your kayak into and out of the water from your parking. And it will get worse in the wrong shoe on a slippery surface.
Choose footwear that has strong soles and proper finishing on the outsole. No one is ready for any injuries. Thus, the sole must have adequate traction to prevent you from falling or slipping. Look for options that have soles closer to those of running shoes.
By far, sandy surfaces are the least challenging options to navigate. They have fewer risks and may not require footwear with extraordinary qualities. Still, if you plan a kayak fishing expedition on water bodies with sandy beaches during this summer, have any lightweight footwear. Besides, consider options from which you can remove stray sand with ease.
B. Type of Water Bodies
Ideally, kayak fishing is an activity for any water bodies. And since every type of water body has unique characteristics, your choice will vary depending on where you expect to go.
Will you be kayak fishing in the shallow mountainous rivers? Characteristically, these creeks are awash with obstacles. The implication of this is that you will carry or push your kayak to maneuver past the obstacles.
The type of shoe for these terrains should have a variety of characteristics. There is a need for tractions since the ground could be slippery. Also, the sole should be hard enough to protect you from sharp objects. Drainage and breathability will equally play a significant role. Light running style shoes are perfectly ideal, mainly due to their lightweight nature.
Ideally, urban subways are prone to sharp objects. Thus, the first thing that should come into your mind when shopping for footwear for such expeditions is to protect your feet from penetration. Many urban and semi-urban waterways are polluted despite having some fish. You will probably find metallic objects, broken glasses, tins, and other sharp refuse.
Consider kayak fishing shoes that have sturdy soles and thicker uppers. You will need maximum protection both at your underfoot and over your feet.
Broken Rivers or Course Ways
Notably, there are rivers or streams on which it is always impossible to stay in your kayak. They are either full of rocks, and branches or they have constrictions at given points. Such course ways demand that you carry or drag your vessel from one fishing spot to the next one. So, it is common for river kayakers to prepare for frequent or occasional in and out movements from their kayaks.
If you anticipate such, you need footwear that does not hold water. Your typical type of kayak fishing shoes should also have puncture-resistant soles to ensure that you do not damage your feet.
Many kayak anglers do not look at deep waters as tricky spots when it comes to choosing footwear. Of course, that is generally correct. But if you are going to venture into deep waters, you will need to take care of any unexpected occurrence.
For example, you will need to swim in case of a capsize. Which type of shoe is ideal for swimming? You do not want to risk your life fishing in the middle of nowhere in shoes that will only be baggage when the inevitable occurs.
Opt for closed shoes that are lightweight. Do not go for flip-flops that will fall off while you jump in the waters. And if they are sandals, ensure that they have a back strap. Besides, put on footwear made from materials that do not soak in water. That extra weight could work against you.
C. Weather Conditions
The last factor that should determine your choice of footwear is the weather conditions. While it is often advisable to dress for the water, the weather is equally something that you will need to consider.
If you intend to go fishing in your kayak when it is cold, consider shoes that will guarantee warmth. You do not want to stay out for an entire day or weekend as your feet freeze. You can also consider adding non-cotton socks underneath the shoes. However, you will need to balance warmth and the ability of the footwear to lose water. The trick is to consider models that are fast drying as well.
Many people dread cold. That is perfectly understandable. But too much heat will also make you uncomfortable and impact your angling accuracy and overall fishing success. In warm and hot conditions, consider footwear that is breathable and has a snug fit.
A Detailed Shopping Guide for Kayak Fishing Shoes
We have evaluated the environment. It is now time to look into the options available in the market. While at that, we find it ideal to consider some of the factors to consider when shopping for kayak fishing footwear.
These factors include;
I. Type of Shoes
Indeed, do not go fishing in your kayak barefoot. But which type of shoes is great for kayak fishing? Although this is a very pertinent question, it does not have a direct answer. The type of footwear for your kayak fishing trip will vary depending on the conditions you intend to explore. Some of the appropriate types include;
Water shoes are common among avid water sports enthusiasts. They are low-cut models and highly popular due to their remarkable flexibility and comfort. They are also lightweight and perfectly breathable, making them ideal for warm weather, warm water fishing.
However, their breathable nature may expose you to the cold in freezing environments. They are also not hard enough to protect you against rocks and sharp objects.
Boots are cut above the ankle and are the kind of kayaking footwear you want to use in cold weather. They are water-resistant and will reliably keep your feet dry. They are perfect for nearly all tricky fishing environments, including sand, rocks, sharp objects, and mud.
Besides, the best ice fishing boots will protect your feet from frigid grounds. But do not use them in hot environments lest you sustain burns and blisters.
These fall in between water shoes and boots. So, they are ankle-high. While they will come as a savior for kayakers who hop on and out of their vessels often, they are very versatile. Just like boots, these models have thick soles for maximum protection and support. They will quickly lose water and comfortable both in water and on land.
Sandals are viable options for warm, calm environments. When you decide to go for sandals, consider models with back straps. They do not hold water and will leave your feet comfortable. However, they offer no protection against natural elements such as rocks, sharp objects, and twigs. Besides, they can remain in mud.
The types of materials used in your ideal kayak fishing footwear will determine your comfort and protection. The right kind of kayaking shoe material should guarantee durability unless you want to be on the market for the same product soon.
Neoprene materials are the most preferable. They feature remarkable flexibility, unbeatable lightness, and impeccable non-slip properties. While neoprene is not waterproof, it allows for reliable drainage.
Other kayak fishing footwear consists of neoprene alongside other reinforcing material. For breathability, you will often find a piece of synthetic mesh on the sides or at the top of the shoe. Stay off shoes with cotton fabrics on their uppers as they hold tons of water and take too long to dry.
Consider soles made from thick rubber materials. Rubber does not break. At the same time, they are not prone to wear and will protect you against sharp objects.
Avoid heavy shoes if you want to enjoy your days out on the water. It is hectic to move around carrying your kayak and dragging heavy shoes. Consider options that are lightweight and do not hold any water. Kindly note models that do not soak in water since they will add to the overall weight.
Your kayak fishing shoe should neither be too tight nor too loose. Choosing a well-fitting pair of shoes guarantees comfort and accuracy as you cast your reel. Choose footwear that fits snugly to enable convenience during walking, paddling, and angling. Also, ensure that you consider the size of your kayak’s footrests when making your choice.
Kayak fishing is adventurous and fun. But without the right kayak fishing shoes, the expedition will be tormenting and less fruitful. Of course, the choice of kayak fishing footwear goes beyond the weather and shoe characteristics. Instead, the type of fishing environment will equally be a crucial consideration.
We have highlighted everything that you need to consider when shopping for the appropriate footwear. Hopefully, you will find your next trip enjoyable and fruitful.
Anthony has been an angler for the past 15 years. His experience makes him an invaluable asset to FISHING GEN and writes on fishing expeditions as well as fishing gear.