At the very minimum, fishing shoes have to keep you from sliding around on a slippery boat deck and withstand constant abuse from drenching waves. With that being said, they are an incredibly important part of an angler’s ensemble. I’ve certainly seen my fair share of fishing footwear faux pas while living in Florida. People, flip-flops aren’t meant for serious fishing. If you haven’t already had a flip-flop mishap, it will happen. After an incident involving a super slippery sea trout that sailed across the floor of our boat deck, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.
Let’s be thankful that fishing footwear manufacturers have made huge strides (yeah, pun intended) by incorporating quick-drying materials and more functional designs. I used to feel like I was always on the hunt for fishing shoes that had a practical combination of good traction, non-marking soles (of course), ventilation, and that could keep my feet somewhat shielded from all of the sharp and prickly things that can end up on a boat deck.
One thing is for certain; you have to give credit to the proactive team at Zeko Shoes for asking female anglers to provide honest feedback. I tested out a pair in a variety of fishing environments — on our saltwater flats boat, on my kayak, and while fishing from the Southwest Florida shorelines. Here’s why I think they rate high, what might be improved, and which fishing situations may require other options.
Why Zeko Fishing Shoes Rate
- I like the fact that the Zekos are drainable and have a ventilated sole, but don’t have side openings like many of the other fishing shoes on the market. I own another brand that has side openings, but I’ve had sticks, weeds, rocks… you name it… get wedged into those openings. Not to mention that hooks, pliers and flopping fish can cause injury to exposed skin on your feet. As far as I am concerned, the more coverage the better.
- They are machine washable. Just toss ’em in the washing machine and let them air dry when they need to be cleaned.
- If you are out in the Florida sun for hours while wearing shoes with slotted openings, you tend to get an interesting “farmer’s tan” on your feet. I’ve had to avoid wearing sandals and dress shoes while off the water because of the funky pattern that is left behind on the tops of your feet. I like the fact that Zekos keeps top of your dogs covered with a quick-drying microfiber-wicking mesh upper layer.
- The fact that there are no laces. As soon as I wrap up a fishing trip, I want to be able to take my fishing shoes off quickly and easily. While the Velcro straps do take me back to those elementary school days when I used to sport a pair of Kangaroos, I have no problem whatsoever with that. I’m not fond of untangling wet shoelaces or having to struggle to pull damp shoes off of my feet. Been there, done that.
- The sole support. I noticed more cushioning and support in the Zekos versus the other brands I’ve worn. When standing on a hard boat deck all day, this not only benefits your feet, but your knees and back too. Hallelujah!
- The fact that they are so lightweight. My Zekos are nearly half the weight of the Keens I used to wear. My Keens are 10.5 ounces each and my Zekos are 5.5 ounces. If I’m actively fishing a shoreline or hopping in and out of a kayak, I’m more than happy to give up that extra weight.
- The price point. Most other run at a higher price point (between $85 and $110).
What Can Be Improved
- While Zekos are great for casting to lunker bass from the deck of a Triton or while “walking the dog” aboard an inshore flats boat, realize that this shoe style doesn’t provide much in the way of ankle support. Keep in mind that Zekos aren’t intended for navigating rocky terrain. If you plan go fly fishing for brown trout in a mountain stream, invest in a pair of good wading boots that will give you the stability you need. The same goes for extreme offshore fishing situations when a pair of rubber deck boots will be your smartest option.
- Would like to see color options that are lighter and brighter. Maybe light brown/khaki with coral accents or gray with turquoise accents. Most of the available color options are basic or primary colors.
- Would be great to have an antimicrobial material used for the insoles. After a certain number of days on the water, no matter what, all fishing shoes start to emit a not-so-pleasant aroma. I don’t care who you are or how clean you are, if you fish often, you’ve experienced it.