No, I’m not talking about some new one handed fly fishing technique. Vibram FiveFingers are a type of ‘shoe’ designed to be more like walking or running barefoot. The barefoot shoe, as they call it, is based on the principle that being barefoot helps your balance, your connection with the earth, and gives you the ability to move in a more natural way.
So I’m checking these out one day online, and it dawns on me that these might make great warm weather wet wading shoes for fly fishing. That being the case, what else could I do, but order a pair of the Vibram FiveFingers KSO shoes. I wasn’t sure how these would work on slippery river rocks, and that was my main concern.
My first actual experience with these, other than wearing them around the house to break them in a little, was on the Uwharrie River about a week ago. They have a fairly decent rubber sole to protect your feet from rocks, and they worked well, as I had to walk part way down a gravel road before taking the trail down to the river. I haven’t really been barefoot to speak of outdoors in a long time, so I did notice some of the larger rocks but that probably had more to do with the condition of my feet than the FiveFingers. The real test would come when I actually entered the water and got out into the rocks. My balance was actually pretty steady, however these are certainly no felt soled wading shoe. They were more comfortable than I anticipated though.
Some FiveFingers Analysis
- Comfort – I would say 4 out of 5 with 5 being the most comfortable. May have more to do with my own feet and their condition than anything else. A five would be a possibility for the experienced FiveFingers wearer.
- Stability for fly fishing – 3 out 5. Probably not for the casual user.
- Appearance – Unique
- Weight – 5 out 5. Any minimalist will enjoy the miniscule weight.
Even though I was reasonably confident in the stability, I don’t know that I would recommend the KSOs for fly fishing. One definite plus was that having each toe available to work individually did allow for improved grip on rocks. They weren’t bad, but so much depends on your own skill level that I wouldn’t actually feel right recommending these for fly fishing use in rocky streams. Fishing on flats or sandy bottomed streams I’m sure would be fine. I should point out here that fly fishing is not listed as one of their intended uses. Listed uses include running, trail running, light hiking, and for fishing the flats like I mentioned above. For those purposes, I’m sure with a little getting used to, they’re perfectly fine. From a minimalist perspective, they are awesome. You could even pack them in if you wanted, as they take up very little space in a backpack, and are very lightweight.
Vibram FiveFingers In Action
I’m thinking of trying a different pair called the Vibram FiveFingers KSO Treksport shoes which feature a more aggressive tread pattern, which may improve grip on the rocks. Perhaps I’ll try those in the future.