Photo: Frank Goncalves
In the surf, we rely on our feet, not a boat, to bring us to the fish, but too many fishermen skimp when it comes to their boots. I used to be one of them. Every season, I would buy a pair of bargain-barrel boots with the intention of throwing them away and buying another pair the following year. Problem was, those boots rarely lasted a full season. Inevitably, at some point during the fall run, I’d be lacing up in the parking lot when a rusted laceholder would break or a sole would tear off. Even when the boots were in good condition, they were heavy, uncomfortable and gave me blisters on long walks.
We surf-fishermen spend a lot of time on our feet. Between the long walks to our favorite shorelines and the uneven (and in some cases constantly shifting) terrain where we cast, keeping our dogs happy should be of the utmost importance. Here are a few of the best surf boots on the market today, and while they are on the pricey side for footwear, just remember, they’re a heck of a lot cheaper than a boat.
Rubber – For sandy beaches and sodbanks, rubber-soled boots are the perfect pick. They get a good grip on dry rocks, but for jetties or rocks that may be splashed or submerged, you’ll want soles with some bite.
Felt – Felt may offer some extra traction on wet, bare rocks, but on rocks with any vegetation, felt is useless. They have recently fallen out of favor with freshwater fishermen for their tendency to transport invasive aquatic species. Some states have gone so far as banning felt soles on their fresh waters, which is something to keep in mind if you are looking for boots to do double duty between surf and stream.
Carbide Spikes – These spikes bite into rocks and cut through vegetation providing the absolute best grip on slime-covered boulders. They are available in over-the-shoe sandals and as individual studs that can be screwed into a rubber-soled boot.
Aluminum – For a non-slip grip on dry or submerged rocks without vegetation, aluminum bars are tough to beat. Unlike the Carbide spike, aluminum actually conforms to the rock surface, providing a killer grip. It does, however, wear out over time, and may require one or two changes during the surf-fishing season depending on your weight and how frequently you fish.
A cushy neoprene lining keeps these boots comfortable for long walks, while closed-cell foam and full coverage rubber toe caps make them durable enough to last several seasons of hard use. A nylon speed-lacing system eliminates the threat of corrosion and the thick laces survive some serious wear and tear. The Vibram rubber sole is fine for beaches, and it can also hold screw-in Carbide studs for use over rocks.
LL Bean West Branch
Lightweight coated nubuck and non-absorbent materials make these boots fast-drying and easy to clean. Closed-cell foam padding and an Ortholite footbed provide comfort while the molded rubber toe and heel cut down on abrasion.
Korkers K-5 Bomber
A 5-ply fit system locks the foot in place for a comfortable and secure fit. A triple-layer synthetic upper, protected stitching, and 3D molded toe and heel cap translate into improved durability, while the interchangeable sole system allows you to switch from rubber to studs in a matter of seconds.