Bonefishing gear has to be both versatile and specific to the type of terrain you’ll be covering. This is especially true when it comes to wading boots and shoes.
You may have a comfortable, durable pair of wading shoes already picked out and packed for your trip. Determining whether or not these are sufficient for the environment you’ll be fishing in, however, is essential. You may find that the perfect shoes for your last bonefishing trip are hardly appropriate for your next one.
Understand The Surface Conditions
Spending time on the outside of the boat will give you a greater appreciation for factors that you never considered while fishing from within the boat. For instance, you’ll notice that certain flat bottoms are comprised almost entirely of soft, white sand, while others are covered in sharp coral, urchins and shells. There are even times when you’ll find yourself wading through dense turtle grass and on slick, slippery surfaces. In each instance, you want to have the most appropriate shoes for safely and stealthily negotiating the flat bottom, and without having to forgo comfort. Durable, heavier boots or wading sneakers are generally best for rugged flats, while simple, lightweight watershoes with slip-on or zip-up designs are sufficient for soft, sandy bottoms.
Choose Shoes That Are Easy To Get On And Off
There’s always the concern of making a ton of noise in the boat while changing from your sandals to your wading shoes. More importantly, the ability to change footwear fast can mean the difference between being able to take advantage of a rare opportunity, and not. Be sure to consider how easy different shoes are to get on and off before packing them. Options that have lots of eyelets, laces and other closures might provide more protection and support, but the additional work could be a real time-waster when you’re in a clinch. Don’t bring along heavy wading shoes with labor-intensive closures, if you’ll be fishing flats that are all soft-sand with light patches of turtle grass.
For Longer Trips, Make Support A Top Priority
Depending upon the nature of your trip and the amount of time you intend to spend on the flats, support may need to be a top priority. Certain jaunts could have you standing for hours in the water, and covering all types of terrain. On trips like these, you’ll want plenty of support for your ankles, knees, and the mid-portion of your feet. This is not something that a simple pair of slip-on booties can provide. In these instances, go ahead and bring a more durable pair of wading sneakers, even if this means having to spend a bit more time putting them on.
Get The Right Socks
In addition to a surface-appropriate pair of shoes, you’ll also need to invest in some decent wading socks for your next bonefishing trip. Neoprene socks will keep your feet protected, comfortable and relatively dry as you cover all types of terrain. If you prefer the feel of a more traditional sock, however, you can also look for options in nylon/cotton, spandex, polyester, or polypropylene.