Flats Boots [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Flats Boots

02-12-2006, 07:15 AM
A few newbie questions about flats boots. Do you wear a light sock with your flats boots? Or do you just wear the boot with your flats pants tucked inside the boot? Also, what about this muck I've heard about is it really that bad? FishHawk

02-12-2006, 08:46 AM
I purchased a pair of the old style Patagonia Marl Walkers for my last trip to Belize. By purchasing a pair of the older model I was able to save over 50 percent off list. These boots performed great on the hard coral flats that Turneffe Island is known for. I even preferred these boots over the neoprene "bootie" types that one would wear when wading sandy flats. Along with the boots I purchased a pair of thin Simms neoprene "like" socks(I believe that these were designed for wet wading...they were thin, a light tan color, with small holes to allow water in and out.) to wear under them. I was a little hesitant at first thinking that it might make my feet too hot; however once on the flats they worked perfectly and I would not wear anything else. Another benefit of these is that they provide a little more cushion which your knees will appreciate whether on the deck of a flats boat or wading a hard coral packed flat. I just purchased another pair for my upcoming March trip to the Bahamas.

02-12-2006, 09:25 AM
I also purchased the 1st gen Marlwalkers for the Acklins trip last year. Excellent support and great protection against the snarly coral we had to walk over at times. I bought to size as I have a relatively narrow foot. I used thin socks that worked ok but towards the end of the week I developed some painful blisters. Finally took me out of the action the last day on the Pestell flats. I'd get one size up and some good socks if I were to buy again.

02-12-2006, 09:27 AM
Definitely wear socks Fishhawk. You will regret it if you don't.

Thin is not the key, in fact thin defeats the purpose. You want to wear a pair of socks that is made of a material that cushions and filters silt and bits of coral.

My philosophy is that the more gaps that are filled from the top opening throughout the shoe the less silt rubs against your feet. It's the silt rub that causes all those raw bleeding sores on the feet inside your shoes.

My best socks are the ones I had in the blue box after the boneclave, boy I am missing things more and more as I realize what was in that thing. They were a pair of medium weight polypro synthetic with the loop weave inside and a tight material weave on the outside so they were 100% synthetic, cushy in all the right places including the top opening, but tight weaved on the outside to reduce intrusion of debris. Perfect!

I have purchased several new pairs of performance hiking socks to see which ones will take the cake after several days of Acklins flats work. I'll post upon return.

Summary - wear socks or bring lots of bandaids.

02-12-2006, 09:37 AM
I find that the type of boots you need is dependant upon where you are fishing.

If you are fishing on hard coral flats, like in the Seychelles then proper boots like Simms Flatts boots or Patagonia Marlwalkers are essential. Simms thick wading socks are also very good. I also use gravel guards. The boots give ankle support and are sturdy and will not normally be ripped by sharp coral

When the flats are sandy like most Bahamas, Cuba, Venezuela then the neoprene wading boots are best as they do not let in a lot of sand and the ankle support is not so important.


02-12-2006, 11:22 AM
I agree with Pete up to a point. As one gets old, ankle support is important regardless of what type of flat you're fishing. I own Weinbrenner flats' boots which are similar to the original Marlwalkers yet quite a bit lighter. I never could handle the neoprene type booties. However, if one were going to spend the majority of time in the boat and just occasionally get out to cast to a fish then slipping on booties would make a lot of sense. Since I don't wade much anymore, my Weinbrenners will probably last longer than I will, but if I were going to replace them I'd choose the Simms Flats Sneakers or the new Marlwalkers. They are both light weight and those who use them claim they are comfortable all day.

02-12-2006, 12:50 PM
I'll add personal experience from two days ago, I was fishing Ascension Bay. Had a new pair of Simms flats boots, wonderful support and just a beautiful fit. First experience on the flats for bonefish, don't know how it is elsewhere but we were in a lot of coral bits and small spiral seashells. Didn't wear socks or booties, we got into a lot of fish and a lot of walking didn't notice until the final walk of the day I was in pain. Today I have many dime-sized sores in my feet and the pain is real. I'm sitting up here in Buffalo, NY though grinning all the way. Next time I'll wear the neoprene booties. Didn't realize that bonefishing could be the strongest form of addiction there is.

02-12-2006, 01:10 PM
Billy, Go bare foot...it keeps an even tan,,,Iron Man ! :hihi: :lildevl: :chuckle:

02-12-2006, 01:54 PM
Anybody with any experience with the Bean hightop flats booties? They have a one way purge valve above the heel, which is supposed to allow water out when walking. Sounds like a neat idea:devil:

02-13-2006, 07:51 AM
Being from FL I wear wading boots a lot. I prefer the lighter neoprene boots for light wading but have a pair of marlwalkers that I use when fishing over coral. Any like Juro said, always where socks!


P.S. my buds really like the Simms Flats sneaker

02-13-2006, 12:37 PM
After reading a bunch of inexperienced responses around the web to similar q's I feel compelled to revisit the topic FWIW... speaking as someone who has been through this study and regularly fishes 'up to the nuts' in water every day when I get out (i.e. no boat).

First of all those who wear boots from boats have a different perspective than those who do death marches. If you want to really know how boots perform on the flats don't bother listening to the boat crowd, they can tell you so many things worth heeding but not particularly when it comes to this topic. In the north the boots must handle a freshly piled and spongy surf berm as well as a rocky point as well as the flats. To deal with black algae on rocks I recommend staying off completely or getting a pair of aluminum cleats if you must. But back to boots..

Socks are the key as mentioned before. For me the neoprene sucked in hot weather period. They do not breathe and whatever gets in stays in, even water which combined with a lack of flushing makes the clammiest and unnatural result when you remove them. Just compare the recovery times of the skin on the feet after a good pair of socks verses being neoprene "bagged" all day.

The best thing I have used after tens maybe hundreds of thousands of steps has been a durable fabric based hiking sock that is cushioned for long walks with the thread loop design and made of synthetic or blend. The idea is to filter, breathe and fill gaps in the interior of the shoe as much as possible to prevent chafing and silt abrasion. The breathabilty is a really nice extra, the feet will look human again in a fraction of the time verses black neoprene socks for wet wading. You can get the talls and flip the top over the uppers to further block debris. They wash and dry in a jiffy for the next day out.

The neoprene booties are nice for short walks but the typical lack of arch support will wear on you and shorten your day. It's rare but there are neo upper designs with a full sneaker sole and no zipper. I have such a pair and they are the best Monomoy shoes I own but I would not wear them in any coral situation, which means anything south of Georgia.

For tropics get a pair of Patagonia or Simms boots depending on your foot width. I have a EE-EEE wide depedning on the style and the Simms took a long time to expand for me. The Pataguccis were awesome right out of the box.

Here's another thing people seemed to have missed in these other posts I have been reading - the sizing for wet wading and stocking foot waders is at least a full foot size off if not more. Those who are saying they use the shoe for both are either wearing 6 pairs of socks or have the new thin-walled foot waders which historically have been leaky crap. I would welcome the production of thin walled feet that can endure the abuse that shore waders can dish out but I have yet to see them. So expect to have two pairs, one ideal for wet wading and the other for stocking foot waders.

There is a lot to be said for boot foot waders for use in the northern flats scene since waders are needed even in July for extended wading where ocean influences exist. Where they do not exist there are less fish so it's more than likely you will need waders to have any serious consistent results in mid-summer.

However I buy the best waders money can buy and need to economize by using them for river steelhead and salmon, stream trout as well as saltwater surf and flats. The shoes cost 1/4 of the waders so if I can re-use them in different venues then I am much better off besides the stocking foot pack real small in my suitcase.


02-13-2006, 02:04 PM
So, Juro- Am I making a mistake going with my circa 1991 Orvis Flats Booties to Eleuthera next week, even with socks inside? What's the sizing like on the Marlwalkers? ( just in case) I saw some Chota ones at my shop the other day that are neoprene, but without zippers- any thoughts. Obviously, I will be walking a lot next week, but also driving as well. Input always appreciated.:whoa:

02-13-2006, 05:15 PM
Not having a lot of money and also being obsessed with other ways to spent my time in and on the water I use neoprene booties I have for diving. These Boots are made to walk on coral with full diving equipment on your back, so the sole protects very well against sharp stuff. They are boots, so the y reach up above the ankle and have a zipper on the side. They fit tight without socks around your leg, so no sand will enter them and they are soft from the inside, because imagine the friction you get when you put them inside those big diving flippers.
I use them multipurpose, put them on at the waterside, but if I shift to another spot I can keep them on driving the car. Just open up the zipper next to the car to let the water flow out. The only suggestion I do have when you have these type of "wading shoes" is to wash them out with fresh water after a good day of fishing/diving/sailing. If not they can smell particularly funny after a week or so.

02-13-2006, 08:28 PM
You can get by with just about anything but you can't get to the worry-free point until you eliminate potential problems. When I go to a remote island I prefer worry-free. But you can get by with a lot less, even a pair of cheap "water socks" from the tourist shop will last a little while until the coral does them in.

For instance the zippers will bind with sand eventually. I have pairs with the little handles busted right off trying to get them apart with pliers and others I had to duct tape around to seal the tears from coral. I guess it depends on how hard you plan to bushwack to find your fish. Tropical silt and sand does not seem to bind the zipper as bad probably because it is chalky softshell mollusk and coral based whereby the northern beaches destroy the zippers because the sand is like bits of granite.

I have no idea what a circa 1991 orvis flats bootie looks like but if it has a real sole like sneakers and the sides, toe and heel have protection - and if you are not wading a lot in sharp coral then you should be ok. I can't really answer your question but when you are on Eleuthera and determine your boots suck you have no choice but to tough it out. There are no fly shops there.

With my luck it's always the razor sharp coral that has the giant bones I want feeding on urchins, gobies and crabs. Unfortunately the crunch of a step on coral bottom is enough to send these super-smart fish in the teens away but I want my boots to endure whatever my feet need to venture into.

Neoprene when worn over boot foot waders dont fill up with water much with good gaitors - but booties worn over the feet while wet wading tend to fill up like bags of water on the feet. The new Bean boots someone mentioned have one-way valves, but I can't see them working for long with all the sand and junk we step in all day as much as I would like to think they would. I hope someone tests them and reports on them.

I don't mean to say like there is only one unilateral way to deal with it, but I will say that the more you do the more you tend to gravitate to the Simms or Patagonia shoes depending on foot width and preferences.

Good luck down there, you should be fine in Eleuthera.

02-13-2006, 11:22 PM
Fly Doc,
I am headed to Boca Paila and Ascension Bay. I just purchased Bean Flats booties, I will give you my report on how they work. Combined with a sock, the boots also have a Hard plastic lifter plate that helps to reduce surface friction w/ the neoprene. Hopefully thiswill help to reduce soggy feetsies!~


P.S. Thanks for all thegood info on subject

02-14-2006, 12:15 PM
I also am partial to the “Old Style” Patagonia Marlwalkers. I am on my second pair because they tend to run on the small size. (After going up one size, they are much more comfortable and easier to slip into.) For coral and arch support they cannot be beat. Inside I wear a pair of cushioned white socks. In the Caribbean these will dry overnight. I have never had any problems with blisters with these and they make wading very comfortable. I would also suggest that you wear Gravel Guards over the boots. Not only to keep muck and sand out of your boots, but they cover the lacings. Lacings can almost reach out and grab your unattended fly line. You won’t notice it till the fish is on and you are trying to clear the line to the reel.

02-14-2006, 01:31 PM
Fly Doc,
I am headed to Boca Paila and Ascension Bay. I just purchased Bean Flats booties, I will give you my report on how they work. Combined with a sock, the boots also have a Hard plastic lifter plate that helps to reduce surface friction w/ the neoprene. Hopefully thiswill help to reduce soggy feetsies!~


P.S. Thanks for all thegood info on subject

Thanks Aaron- looking forward to the report. The Simms flats boots and socks on the Bears Den site also look tempting. I'm heading for the Sarasota Bay area next month, so may need to invest a little beforehand in the way of footwear. Last year I got some blisters hiking down the beach in my low top Orvis booties (w/o socks).:frown:

02-14-2006, 02:45 PM

After reading your post on wading boots I realize that you must have thought my $6 pair of water shoes from Payless worn over my stocking foot waders were the most hilarious thing you've ever seen. :chuckle:

Thanks for the information.

02-14-2006, 03:07 PM
When I go to a remote island I prefer worry-free. But you can get by with a lot less, even a pair of cheap "water socks" from the tourist shop will last a little while until the coral does them in.

I speak from experience on this one... they actually did really well while they lasted! :) Probably still have them if not for the coral.

02-14-2006, 06:15 PM
I got a pair of Teva Avators a few years back and they have been excellent both wet wading in the Northeast and for a week in the bahamas. The Teva Spider rubber soles are surprisingly sticky on the rocks but that also applies to fly lines so I don't wear them on the boat anymore. Unfortunately, I believe Teva discontinued them but there may be something similar in their current lineup. I just wore standard white ankle socks with them and didn't have any issues with sand or on the sharp coral found on some of the flats we walked. Excellent arch support and water flushes through the fine mesh to keep things fresh.


02-14-2006, 10:48 PM
I have had excellent luck with the Simms flats boots, putting them to dual use - flats wading and wading the rivers in Montana (if the rocks aren't too slippery). I purchased a size that allows me to wear a high quality hiking sock and 3mm stocking foot waders on the river, or the same hiking sock and a 3 mm neopreme sock with built in gator (Cabelas) wet wading on the flats. Lots of miles and no blisters yet. I agree that good socks are essential.

02-15-2006, 08:34 AM
I just bought some marlwalkers on ebay- he's got some left

http://cgi.ebay.com/Patagonia-10-11-12-13-14-Marlwalker-Flats-Fishing-Boots_W0QQitemZ7218400144QQcategoryZ7299QQssPageNa meZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem:D