Kayak river fishing places demands on our feet and requires good footwear. Unlike lake fishing, river fishing usually requires getting in and out of your kayak. Whether it’s to wade a certain area of the river or whether it’s to drag your kayak over shallow areas or whether when portaging dangerous rapids, you are going to get out of you kayak. It’s important to maintain good footing, especially when dragging your kayak over slippery, wet rocks. No one wants to end their river trip with a ride to the nearest hospital ER to get a broken ankle, wrist or arm looked at.
A lot of people wear sandals when river fishing, but I’m not one of them. I have found rocks and sand easily work their way in the sandal and under my foot when wearing sandals that have holes not covered with mesh. Not only does that hurt, but it becomes annoying to have to constantly stop and ‘clean’ the rocks from the sandal.
In the past, I used a pair of running shoes as my go-to river fishing footwear. Running shoes protected my feet, not letting rocks and sand in, and by helping with footing on slippery rocks. However, after over a year of constant river fishing they started falling apart. Holes started appearing in the mesh and the glue holding the soles started to fail. It was time to get a new pair of river fishing shoes.
Instead of picking up another pair of cheap running shoes that have served me well in the past, I decided to try out a dedicated water shoe. After seeing an ad for the Sperry SON-R Buckle in my favorite whitewater kayak magazine, I decided to give them a try. Yes, I too, am a victim of Madison Avenue mass market advertising.
So far I have worn the Sperry’s on 3 kayak river fishing trips. I’ll probably need at least 10 more trips in them before I can give my honest opinion, but so far they are working pretty good.
One advantage to the Sperry water shoe over a running shoe is that the Sperry’s hold less water and dry quicker than running shoes. This is great at the end of the day when driving back to pick up the put-in vehicle. No longer do you have to bring along an extra pair of sandals or have to put your wet running shoes in the truck bed so you don’t track water inside your buddy’s truck.
‘FEELING’ THE RIVER
Another advantage of the Sperry’s is the thin low profile outsole. The thin outsole helped when ‘feeling’ surfaces. This is great because the heavily cushioned outsole on my past running shoes sometimes prevented me from being able to feel surfaces and tell the difference between standing in my kayak and standing on a rock. That’s one reason why I don’t like to wear clunky felt sole wader boots when kayak fishing. They don’t allow me to feel what’s beneath my feet, which I think is important when fishing rivers. With the Sperry’s your feet will be able to wrap around any surface and tell the difference between standing in your kayak and standing on river rock.
One area the jury is still out for me on the Sperry’s is traction on slippery river rocks. I’ve only had the opportunity to wear these shoes on some of the most slippery river rocks I have ever stood on. No, it’s not because I was wearing these new shoes. Rocks in this particular river are just slippery and are more slippery than any other river rock in Georgia. It wouldn’t be fair to assess the Sperry’s traction based on these river rocks only, but I’ll report back after a few more trips around Georgia rivers.
The Sperry’s are surprisingly comfortable even when wearing them outside of the river environment. I regularly wear them all over town, whether to the grocery store or the local bar. The great ventilation keep my feet pretty dry and comfortable throughout a whole day of pounding the pavement.
I have so far been impressed with the Sperry SON-R, both on and off the water. Technical enough to wear during the most rigorous kayak river fishing trips and stylish enough to wear to dinner or to the corner dive bar on your hottest dates. It’s too early to tell whether I would recommend this shoe to other river fishing fanatics, but I’ll be sure to provide another update after I have had a few more kayak fishing trips under my belt in these shoes.
A great video about the Sperry SON-R by Crunch Brand Communications:
From Sperry’s website:
Sperry Top-Sider SON-R Technology™ heightens your natural sensory responses to help you feel, think and react to all heart-pounding conditions, land or water. SON-R enhances proprioception by enabling your body to gain improved awareness of what is happening beneath your feet. Our best-in-class technology stimulates performance potential at every stage of your sport. See with your feet with SON-R Technology™.