No Shoes? No Problem!
Guide: "HEY! Look out there at 11 o'clock......30 feet......fish is moving to the right.....put the fly in his path, QUICK!"
Angler: "Okay, I see him!..........Oh <insert cuss word here>!!!!!!"
Guide: "You're stepping on the line and it's wrapped around your shoe!"
Angler: "<insert another cuss word here>!!!!!! "
Has this ever happened to you? No matter how careful you are, it's difficult to not have an "oops" moment at least occasionally. The worst part is when a scenario like this unfolds during a critical time like the sight-fishing example given. I feel pretty deflated when I blow a shot due to a sloppy error, especially when the number of fish being encountered throughout the day is small and I want to capitalize on every possible opportunity.
Fly line can sometimes seem like it has a life of its own.
When standing on a cluttered shoreline or even the deck of a boat, it can frazzle you to no end. From wrapping around seemingly every dang thing around you, to somehow contorting itself around your legs or slithering under your feet, sometimes I have to wonder how the line is even capable of doing some of these things! It may be difficult to avoid the line interacting with certain objects (especially if the wind is blowing), but you can certainly minimize your feet causing a big problem—take your shoes off! Yes, it's such a simple concept, but the benefits truly weren't obvious to me until a guide suggested it one day long ago.
Removing my shoes allows me to feel the line on or under my feet. With shoes on, this loose line may go unnoticed and hinder my ability to cast or shoot line. However, with bare feet or just socks on, I'm able to feel the line much better and quickly adjust my foot positioning if necessary. Personally, not having shoes on gives me a more intuitive feel of where I'm standing when on a poling platform or casting platform as well. Not having the best balance in the world, it makes me feel more sure-footed and I'm able to feel out the edges of a deck or platform better which keeps me more centered and aware of my positioning. On top of this, it is much quieter when moving around a boat deck.
Of course, you can't go around without shoes everywhere and your traction may suffer somewhat depending on the surface, but if you're standing somewhere that's safe to go shoe-less, you may want to give it a try. Not only do I find it a way to avoid added frustration, but it helps me be a little more efficient and might help bring another fish or three to hand. And who doesn't want that?