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Which fishing shoes are best?

There are different kinds of fishing shoes, from those meant for wading in the water to those primarily designed for use on the shore or in a boat. Unlike regular sneakers or boots, fishing shoes are often water-resistant or waterproof. They’re also durable, comfortable and capable of protecting your feet from things such as rocks under the water. Most also have excellent traction to keep you from slipping. The best fishing shoes are the Columbia Drainmaker III Water Shoes.

What to know before you buy fishing shoes


Aside from comfort, fishing shoes primarily protect the wearer’s feet. They’re made from strong materials and have a closed design to protect the entire foot and heel from puncture wounds caused by hooks, rocks and other sharp objects. Many are made to protect the ankles, too.

Shoes for fishing are also designed to keep water from making its way inside the shoe. When feet get waterlogged, they can become cracked or form blisters. Fishing shoes can prevent these issues, especially those with vents or a built-in drainage system. Some have tall enough sides to keep water from getting inside at all.


Here are the main types of fishing shoes:

  • Mesh: These have built-in mesh along the sides that lets water drain out of them. They’re breathable, flexible and often lightweight.
  • Deck: These shoes have an outer coating of oil that keeps water out. They look similar to loafers. They don’t provide much support for walking on rocky terrain, but they’re great for fishing on a boat.
  • Wader boot: Similar to traditional hiking boots, these are tall and provide maximum coverage of the foot, toes, heel and ankle. They provide excellent ankle support and are usually water-resistant.
  • Clogs: This footwear comes with many holes, similar to Crocs, so they’re breathable and can remove excess water easily. They don’t provide as much protection in the water, though.

Grip and traction

When it comes to fishing shoes, here are three main things to look for:

  • Grip: This is especially important for anyone who plans to walk in a wet environment. Many shoes for fishing have a slip-resistant grip, such as thick treads, that also protects the soles of the feet.
  • Traction: Footwear with good traction can keep the shoes from slipping or sliding on wet surfaces, such as water, mud or slime. Some shoes have a durable rubber-patterned sole that helps with this.
  • Support: Not all fishing shoes offer the same level of support. For example, mesh and deck footwear usually have better support than clogs. A supportive shoe can help prevent certain hazards, such as a twisted ankle, from occurring.

What to look for in quality fishing shoes


Shoes made for water activities and sports, such as fishing, can consist of synthetic or natural materials. The upper or outer portion of the shoe is sometimes different from the soles. Here are some common materials:

  • Synthetic fibers, such as polyester, nylon or polypropylene. These are often better at resisting water damage than natural fibers, so they’re commonly found in the main shoe’s construction. Some materials, such as polyester, are better for those who don’t plan to submerge their shoes.
  • Rubber or neoprene in certain shoes, such as wader boots. These materials are durable and often flexible. They’re also water-resistant.
  • Organic materials, such as leather. Leather can keep out some water and are often stylish. They don’t fare as well in deep water, though.
  • Rubber for the soles. Many fishing shoes have rubber soles that are thick, comfortable, puncture-resistant and offer great traction or grip.

Consider the type of fishing and the environment when choosing your footwear. That way, you can make the entire experience much more enjoyable and comfortable.


Regarding sizing, most manufacturers go by the same conventions as standard shoes. This includes:

  • Toddler shoes
  • Children shoes
  • Adult shoes

Some shoes are sized for males or females, while others are unisex.

For adults, the standard U.S. size usually starts at around 5 and goes up by .5 increments. You can determine your size by measuring the length of your foot and comparing it to a shoe chart. Some manufacturers include their own sizing chart, so check this before buying footwear. Also, see if the shoes fit true-to-size as some run small or large.

There are also some letters used with the sizing, such as:

  • W — this is for people with wider feet
  • A — this is for people with narrower feet
  • B or D — these indicate normal wides for female and male wearers, respectively


Mobility is important in footwear, especially when you’re partaking in an activity that requires quick or frequent movements. Because of this, it’s’ a good idea to get lightweight shoes that don’t weigh you down in the water. If the shoes are too heavy, they could tire out the person wearing them more easily and put unnecessary strain on the feet and ankles.

Wader boots, for example, can feel clunkier or heavier than mesh or deck shoes. The weight does depend on a few factors, such as:

  • Shoe type
  • Material type
  • Thickness
  • Overall construction
  • Breathability
  • Sole

Consider the weight of everything you need to carry for your fishing trips, such as fishing rods and other gear. If you’re concerned about the load, go with lightweight shoes.

How much you can expect to spend on fishing shoes

Fishing shoes range from as little as $20 to more than $200, depending on quality, construction and type. A standard pair costs $60-$120.

Fishing shoe FAQ

What else can you use fishing shoes for?

A. Many can be used for other activities, such as hiking, camping, swimming and jet skiing. Some are also good for walking on the beach or in town.

What types of shoes should I avoid when fishing?

A. You might be able to use hiking shoes when fishing from a boat or the shore. However, you should avoid certain footwear, such as sneakers and sandals. These shoes offer minimal protection and often don’t have enough traction to keep you from slipping. Sneakers can also easily get waterlogged.

What are the best fishing shoes to buy?

Top fishing shoes

Best Columbia Drainmaker III Water Shoe

Columbia Drainmaker III Water Shoe 

What you need to know: These mesh shoes have a rubber sole and offer excellent airflow and traction for any type of angler.

What you’ll love: These shoes are designed for performance and are incredibly comfortable, flexible and supportive. They’re designed to promote water drainage, too. Available in four colors, including green and blue, they’re also stylish.

What you should consider: They’re not meant for long hikes or walks on rocky terrain.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top fishing shoes for the money

Best Sobaso Water Shoe

Sobaso Water Shoe

What you need to know: These all-purpose shoes are perfect for casual fishing trips, hiking, boating and more.

What you’ll love: Available in 10 colors and 12 sizes, these comfortable shoes have a nonslip rubber sole and are lightweight. The open mesh design is quick-drying and breathable.

What you should consider: They run large.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Columbia Bonehead PFG Boat Shoes

Columbia Bonehead PFG Boat Shoes

What you need to know: Stylish and functional, these shoes are perfect for fishing, boating and related activities.

What you’ll love: They’re durable, stain-resistant, shock-absorbent and comfortable. Plus, they have an open mesh design for maximum breathability. The Omni-Grip technology in the soles adds superior grip and traction in slippery environments.

What you should consider: The sizing is on the narrow side.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods


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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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