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By the end of the spring run, I look forward to rinsing down my waders and hanging them up until the fall. The only problem is that my jetty spikes only fit on waders and work boots; once sandal weather arrives, I generally have to make a concerted effort to bring required footwear along when dedicating time on the rocks for summer blackfish and fluke. This summer, that all changes.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
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FlipRocks founder and CEO Anthony Graffeo had what he called “that light bulb moment” while fishing upstate New York along the Salmon River about three summers ago. “I’ve been fishing in spring and summer a lot while I’m wearing flip flops, and had one of those moments during an early run of salmon,” Graffeo said, describing how he watched some folks in wading boots, others in sneakers. A sandal guy himself, Graffeo returned home to the drawing board and sketched out the design concept for FlipRocks “Extreme Flip Flops.”

The Connecticut angler and outdoorsman first created the Extreme Flip Flop, a thong-toe with interchangeable gripping pads for the soles built for various outdoor activities, which keep in place using heavy-duty Velcro. Graffeo said folks were immediately fascinated by the hardcore hiking flip flop that is truly seven different shoes in one with just swap of the Gripping Pad sole inserts. “We launched back in July and it’s pretty much been like a rocket ship trajectory since,” Graffeo said, explaining how the new Ultimate Sandal with three-way ankle support buckle and four-point fastening system evolved from user input.

The standard Gripping Pad included with either the flip flop or sandal version is the Timberline, a good all-around option similar to soles of other hiking sandals on the market. For light jetty use or wading your favorite stream, the heal and toe inserts of the River Master Gripping Pad combines slime-gripping felt and high-grade stainless spikes; for maximum traction the Montauk-surfcasting inspired G-REX boasts extra tall, super tough stainless spikes. There’s also the Marine Sportsman pad with neutral color gum rubber that won’t scuff or mark your boat, while The Gopher is for times when you’re leaving the tackle at home for a day on the links with the golf buddies.

One unique feature of the FlipRocks “Ultimate Sandal” and “Extreme Flip Flops” is in the toe-guard design; anyone who’s ever kicked an onboard cleat or bloodied their toe on the rocks can appreciate that. I plan to keep a pair tucked in my jetty fluking backpack with tackle tray full of jigs and bucktails and bucket of Gulp!.

There are currently four sizes, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13, and are available at Cabela’s in Hartford, CT and through Tackle Direct online and in their New Jersey location later this month. The original FlipRocks “Extreme Flip Flops” retail for $79, the new Ultimate Sandals retail run about $89. A lightweight 3mm boot is coming this fall, and Graffeo said the separate Griptoenite Gripping Pads are interchangeable based on whichever size shoe you choose; they retail for $24 each.