A good wading boot is priceless. In this wader boots review we give you the best fly fishing boots of the year.
Wading boots literally make you stand on solid ground. No matter whether you go for a rubber sole, a felt sole or one of these choices combined with studs, a quality fly fishing boot is always a good investment.
The best ones provide you with a level of safety that is a prerequisite to enjoy your day at the water. It can prevent you from slipping and it can make you reach places a pair of bad wading shoes won’t. In this guide we’ll give you an overview of the best options. We will also explain what you should look for in general when buying a new pair of wading shoes: material, sole and fit.
Of course not every fly fisherman’s or woman’s budget is the same. Hence we included fly fishing boots from all price ranges in this guide. One thing to consider: if you are new to fly fishing or a beginner, you will be just fine with an entry level fly fishing boot. If you consider yourself a passionate fly fisher you should think about getting a premium wading boot since they will last longer and hence these fly fishing boots will even cost you less on the long run.
Table of contents:
– Korkers River Ops Boa: Best Versatility
– Simms Flyweight Access – Best new
– Patagonia Danner Foot Tractor – Aluminum Bar – Best Grip
– Simms Freestone: Best Durability
– Orvis Men’s Ultralight: Best Lightweight
– Chota Outdoor Gear: Best Low-Cut Wading Boot
– Orvis Encounter Felt Sole: Best Traction
– Frogg Toggs Men’s Anura: Best Budget
– Simms FreeSalt: Best Saltwater Wading Boot
– Redington Pro Bowler Wading Boots: Best Price to Value
Best Boots for Waders – Felt Soles vs. Rubber Soles
The general question you have to answer first is: felt sole or rubber sole. In fact you don’t have to answer that question if you go for the Korkers with their interchangeable sole system.
Generally speaking rubber soles give you extra comfort when you do a bit of walking getting to and from your fishing location. Felt soles on the other hand are the better option on slippery surfaces such as river beds with rocks covered with algae.
No matter whether you opt for felt soles or rubber soles you can always add cleats/studs to your fly fishing boots. They provide extra traction and stability. The only downside of them is that you have to be careful off the river, for example when walking into a fly store.
Best Wading Boots for Fishing in 2022
Now that you now what to pay attention to before making a purchase, we want to give you our favourite fly fishing boots out there. From years of experience we can tell you that the best fly fishing boots come from a handful of manufacturers. Of course, they produce several different models. To make it easier for you, we pick our top choice in terms of durability, traction, versatility, weight and budget. Here are our favourites.
Portland-based Korkers has innovated fly fishing boots over the last decades. They solve the tricky question of different soles in wading shoes. The brand new Korkers River Ops Boa feature their unique sole system and the highly practical BOA lacing system.
With the Korkers River Ops Boa you can choose between two sole options. Option 1 comes with a felt sole and a classic Vibram sole. This package is a the right choice if you don’t want to pass up on a felt sole which still provide supreme grip to this day if you wade river with slippery rocks. The classic vibram rubber sole that also comes with this set is a great allrounder providing solid grip on all terrain. Option 2 features two vibram soles with one of them being studded which provides even more grip than a traditional rubber sole. Be careful though with studs when entering a fly shop or restaurant since you might leave nasty traces on the floor.
The Korkers River Ops Boa feature Korker’s Boa quick lacing system which makes putting them on and taking them off really easy. Heavy rubber toe caps provide extra abrasion resistance. The Korkers River Ops Boa are the brand’s ultimate work horse. If you tend to spend fewer days at the river check our their Darkhorse and Terrorridge boots. No matter which one you end up getting, all Korkers provide premium durability and stability.
American manufacturer Simms just released a brand new piece of gear: the Flyweight Wading Boot. The new boot has all the characteristics of a great wading boot – stability, secure lacing system, vibram rubber sole – and on top of that is incredibly lightweight. This makes Simms Flyweight Access an excellent choice if you tend to walk a lot to and from the river or along it. It feels like a premium hiking boot even after a full day out.
The Simms Flyweight Access features Vibram’s new Idrogrip sole which promises even more grip on slippery rocks and is exclusive to this model. The heel and front have reinforced TPU overlays since that’s where most of the abrasion happens. The ankles are foam lined with neoprene for increased comfort.
The loops at the heel of the Simms Flyweight Access facilitate getting into and out of the boots. The lacing system is top notch and ensure a secure and tight fit no matter the conditions.
The Patagonia Danner Foot Tractor are our favorites in this wader boots review when it comes to traction. The Foot Tractor system made from Aluminum bars is just supreme when it comes to slippery river beds.
The Patagonia Danner Foot Tractor where built in cooperation with the American hiking boot specialist Danner. The comfort of these is simply amazing and you can feel the superior built quality.
Yes, the Patagonia Danner Foot Tractor are expensive but they will last you a long time and Patagonia gives you the opportunity to resole. If you think the cleats are not for you, you can get these with a rubber Vibram sole or felt sole.
The Simms Freestone is an excellent wading boot for the money. The American manufacturer Simms its well known for the durability of its products. Synthetic leather and rubber toe caps guarantee scratch resistance.
A dual-density midsole provides extra comfort for long days of wading and walking. A wide opening ensures you can put the Simms Freestone on easily and take them off without breaking your leg.
The Simms Freestone Wading Shoes come with a rubber sole. You can also get them with felt soles and cleats if you need extra stability. Simms offers a great warranty so you will always be happy with your product.
The American manufacturer Orvis has been in the fly fishing business for decades and known to make some of the best fly fishing gear in the industry. Their Orvis Men’s Ultralight is no exception to this rule.
The Orvis Men’s Ultralight is our wader boots review top choice in the lightweight category. The lower shaft gives the Ultralight Fly Fishing boots the feeling of hiking shoes. You can comfortably wear them all day.
The Orvis Men’s Ultralight feature a Vibram sole and still come in at only 40oz (1.14kg)/pair. You can add studs for extra stability. The Orvis Ultralight are a great choice for trips when you have to keep the weight of your gear low.
The Chota Outdoor Gear is our go-to boot in this wader boots review when it comes to low-cut fly fishing boots. The lower shaft reduces the weight of the boot, similar to the Orvis Ultralight.
The Chota Outdoor Gear features a quick lacing system and an innovative system with removable insoles. This means you can use the Chota fly fishing boots with sock foot waders or leave the insoles in when wading wet, for example in summer.
Reinforced heels and toes will make the Chota Outdoor Gear last a long time. At around $120 these low weight wading shoes provide great value for money.
When it comes to wading on slippery surfaces some fly fishermen would argue that nothing beats a felt sole. So if you know you’ll often face situations like that, the Orvis Encounter Felt Sole is an excellent choice for you.
Coming in at under $100 the Orvis Encounter Felt Sole has all the features you are looking for in the best fly fishing boots. A reinforced rubber toe cap and a loop on the back of the boot for easy access.
The Frogg Toggs Men’s Anura Wading Shoe is our best budget wading boot. Coming in well below $100 it has everything you are looking for in a quality pair of fly fishing boots.
With the Frogg Toggs Men’s Anura Wading Shoe you can choose between a felt sole and a rubber sole with the option of studs. A rubber toe cap provides extra abrasion resistance.
The Frogg Toggs Men’s Anura Wading Shoe also features a padded collar around your ankles for extra comfort. The combination of leather and cordura ensures the Frogg Toggs fly fishing boots dry quickly.
As a bonus we want to give you our favourite if you are looking for a wading boot to use primarily in salt water: the Simms FreeSalt. The main difference between fresh water and salt water is the degree of salt in the water. Salt leads to corrosion in metals. Hence, fly fishing boots for saltwater need to pay special attention to this detail.
For their FreeSalt Wading Boot Simms uses non-corrosive materials only. The heels and front are protected by extra strong non-scratch rubber. The soles don’t leave any marks if you are stepping onto a skiff when fishing the flats for example.
The Redington Pro Bowler Wading Boots is a great price to value choice and offers all the features of a premiere wading boot. They come with felt soles or rubber soles and almost feel like a tracking boot – very light and comfortable to wear all day.
At the heel and at the toe cap, the Redington Pro Bowler Wading Boots for fishing are reinforced for increased abrasion resistance. The lacing system high up the ankle provides ample stability. Go for the felt soles if you are wading a lot on slippery rocks. The rubber soles are a good choice if you often walk longer distance to get to the water. If you want you can add studs to the Redington Pro Bowler. Redington recommends up to 3/8-inch studs for sticky rubber soles and up to 1/2-inch studs for felt soles
What you Need to Know about Wading Boots
In this section we want to touch upon some of the most important topics when it comes to picking a pair of fly fishing boots.
What Size Wader Boots for Fishing should I Get?
Another word of advise: every wading boot recommended in this guide is to be worn with a pair of stockingfoot waders which are the gold standard in modern day breathable waders. Stockingfoot waders are fly fishing waders that have neoprene booties. Over these, you wear a pair of fly fishing boots. This often brings up the question. What size wading boot should you get? Since these neoprene booties are quite thick, most of the wading boots have to be one size more than your street shoes. Most of the manufacturers have special sizing charts for their products.
What if I want to do wet wading? That’s another good question that we often get in the summer. Wet wading means you only wear fly fishing boots. In order for you to not have to get another pair of fly fishing boots, we recommend using neoprene socks with your wading boots. This means they will have the same fit plus they will keep you warm. Because even if the temperatures are hot outside, the water temperatures are much lower and your feet will most likely get cold if you wade for hours.
What about the best fly fishing boots boots for women? Just like with women’s waders, the times when women had to pick from men’s wading boots are luckily gone. That’s why we compiled a separate guide to “The Best Women’s Wading Boots“.
Weight of Your Boots for Waders
The shape and built of your wading boots has an influence on its weight. If you prefer a really light boot you should go for one with a lower shaft such as the Orvis Men’s Ultralight. If you want increased stability and sturdiness a product such as the Simms Freestone is the way to go. They are basically indestructible and will last you for years.
Taking Care of your Wader Boots
The most important thing to make your wader boots for fishing last longer is to dry them properly after every use. Make sure they are completely dry before storing them for longer periods. If they are still wet they can mould.
Conclusion on Wading Boots for Men
Wader boots for fishing are one of the most important pieces of your gear to have fun at the water. Furthermore, they provide stability in all situations and are hence crucial for your safety when wading. It’s worth to invest a bit of money into a quality pair of wading shoes. You can’t to wrong with any of the fishing boots we reviewed above. Here are a few things to pay attention to when choosing your boots for waders.
Last update on 2022-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Wading Boots: Frequently Asked Questions
To this day felt soles are the best type of soles for wading in rivers with slippery rocks. However, they have downsides, too. Many states have banned them completely because they can increase the spread of diseases from one river to the other. They also don’t work well when you are walking on snow.
Rubber soles are the right choice in wading boots for you if you want the utmost in versatility and tend to walk a lot while fishing. Modern day rubber soles like Vibram provide excellent grip in almost any conditions. If you want a little more traction you can add cleats to your boots. Patagonia even offers aluminium bars for an ever higher degree of traction.
No, wading boots are do not keep your feet dry. However, the waders that you wear with your wading boots, do. They are equipped with integrated neoprene socks that keep the water out.
The manufacturers of the best wading boots are Simms, Patagonia, Orvis, Korkers, Redington and Frogg Toggs.
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