Last updated on January 29th, 2024.
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Many anglers often forget that their attire while out on the water matters as much as the equipment they bring.
Most would just pull out their good old waders and head out fishing all day. But while waders already have a reputation for being the unofficial uniform of anglers for fishing journeys all year round, there is one thing that’s often overlooked: wet wading shoes.
Come to think of it, waders are uncomfortable to wear during the hottest days of the year—and wet wade shoes are just the perfect alternative for it. Some may swear by their wading boots, but wading shoes are a much more flexible and cheaper option, all while still being able to provide the comfort and security that you need while you are out and about in the water.
Not only that, they’re the perfect footwear to use on land as well, so there’s a guarantee that you would get the best of both worlds. Some anglers may shy away from wet wading because it goes at the expense of being wet, but with the right pair of wading shoes, it would be something you’re sure to go back to every time the summer heat arrives again.
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Best Wet Wade Shoes Quick Answer List
Important Features in Wet Wading Shoes
When the rays of the summer sun start to come up, and the temperature begins to rise, the last thing you would want to do is to go fishing with layers and layers of clothing. Let’s put it this way: no waders, more mobility.
Being in the clear and cool water is a whole different thing that every angler should experience at least once in their lives—because, let’s face it, nothing truly beats the feel of fishing when you are in the water itself. Wet wading is a great way to kick back from your bulky attire, but like any other fishing technique, you still have to consider wearing the proper clothing and, most importantly, footwear. Without something to protect your soles, especially when you are prone to getting “cold feet,” wet wading would undeniably be a less enjoyable experience.
That being said, it is crucial for you to choose a pair of wet wade shoes that will enable you to feel safe, comfortable, and balanced even when you are up against slippery rocks or fast currents. Here are some things to consider when choosing the best wet wading shoes:
Let’s face it, even when wet wading does involve getting wet, no one wants to go back out with footwear full of water. Choosing a pair of wading shoes that features a fast-drying time will lessen the possibility of mold growth.
One good thing to consider would be to choose a pair that features channels in the sole that will enable the flow of unwanted water. They will usually drain out as soon as you go out of the water—and they are an excellent feature to ward off the excess sand that goes in.
However, keep in mind that the drying time will also depend on the kind of environment that you are in, considering the humidity, temperature, and climate present. At the end of the day, it all boils down to how patient you would be in air-drying your shoes and rinsing them after every usage so that bacteria won’t pile up and leave you to deal with a foul odor.
It’s a given that wet wading shoes are lightweight because they are supposed to be an alternative to chunky wading boots. But it all goes down to personal preference: heavier shoes are guaranteed to last longer, but they won’t give you the mobility and comfort that you would need while wading. If you want something that won’t burden you, opt for lighter pairs.
Like your fishing equipment, your attire is also an investment. You can never go wrong with choosing a pair that’s guaranteed to last years, whether you’re an occasional angler or a serious one. The pair you choose must be able to withstand not only the test of time but also the environment you will be in while wet wading. Aside from being fast-drying, it must also be resistant to abrasion, corrosion, and, as much as possible, water-repellent.
You can never know what kind of condition you will be facing when you’re in the water, so having a handy pair of shoes that’s guaranteed to not fall apart within a matter of a few hours should be at the top of your list. The traction is also one of the most important things you should consider unless you want to slip easily or have an uncomfortable time battling the rocks and currents on the stream.
Some wet wading shoes don’t guarantee a one-size-fits-all approach, and that’s where the lacing systems come in. Here’s a short run-down of what to choose:
This system works well when you often fish on riverbanks rather than wading through the currents for an extended period of time since it would be too much of a hassle tying them up again and again while you’re already in the river. It’s best to use this if the environment you would be fishing in has little to no debris.
Hook and loop or Velcro systems
This adjustable system is a much better choice if you prefer battling fast currents. However, they can be quite high maintenance because you would have to scrub out the microorganisms caught in the strap so as to not disturb the existing ecosystem in different watersheds. If you like to switch places every now and then, try to stay away from Velcro systems—unless you are patient enough to thoroughly clean them after every use.
This one is a safe option for anglers who often change their footwear between journeys, but one disadvantage is that it easily clogs with fine sediment found in water. It’s a great choice if you want a quick and secure pair, especially when the places you fish in don’t really have much fine sediment present.
If you are willing to sacrifice optimum durability just so you can promote sustainability, then never shy away from choosing a pair that won’t leave environmental footprints wherever you go. In today’s time, sustainability is something that should always be deeply considered because we also have to respect the species and the environment we are throwing ourselves into.
Review Of The Best Wet Wading Shoes In 2024
With all those factors said, it’s up to you now to choose the right pair that you think would work best for you. Here are some of the best wading shoes on the market today for your reference:
Simms M’s Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe
Brand new for the 2024 season, Simms has reworked their go-to wet wading shoe: the Pursuit (which was previously called Flyweight) has only been slightly reworked (since it was a really good wet wading shoe before already).
The most important features of this shoe are certainly it’s rubber sole that we found to provide good traction (the sole is extended around the toe and heel cap to increase traction on slippery surfaces) and it’s quick access lacing system. I found this feature particularly handy, since in wet wading it often happens that you get some gravel or sand into your shoe and Simms found a convenient solution on the Pursuit to get in and out easily. A little loop at the heel faciliates that further. The boots are ideal for summer wet wading in river’s that don’t feature any bigger boulders (if that’s your territory you might want to consider a pair of wet wading shoes that offer some ankle protection). All in all, I think the Simms is a very solid all-around option for wet wading.
Orvis Pro Approach Shoe
Whether you’re drift boating, hiking, wading, or just walking along the shores, the Orvis Pro Approach Shoe is one thing that you should keep an eye out for. It features a seamless cage technology out of polyurethane and a drainage system that offers fast-drying time. It’s durable, breathable, abrasion resistant, and has good traction—all made with the help of Michelin. It wears even a little more like a sneaker in my eyes, for example when compared to the Simms Pursuit. Also, it features that extra bit of ankle protection that the Simms is missing.
The Orvis Pro Approach Shoe already has embedded breathable socks made of Ariaprene in it and a lace hood that keeps the lacing system out of the way. Another feature on the Orvis I really grew fond of, is its sole. Even when out wet wading for a whole day, I never felt like my legs and feet got tired. Around the toes, the Orvis sports a toe cap that increases abrasion resistance (not quite to the degree of the Simms Pursuit but still at a high level.
Patagonia River Salt Wading Boots
You can never go wrong with Patagonia—especially with their River Salt Wading Boots. The brand takes pride in its sustainable processes, so if you want to ensure minimal environmental impact, then this one is the way to go. It’s a great option if you don’t only go wet wading but hiking and flats fishing as well since these boots offer excellent protection from cuts from shells or branches for example. They also provide excellent ankle support.
Built with full-grain leather, you won’t have to doubt its durability as it can be used in both salt and fresh water and on dry and wet surfaces. With its draining system, the Patagonia River Salt Wading Boots ensure quick-drying comfort. The only downside of the Patagonia in my eyes, is their weight. Don’t get me wrong they are not heavy per se or considering what they are built for, but if you’re looking for a lightweight experience when wet wading, these are not the way to go.
FROGG TOGGS Men’s Aransas II
If you only want to dip your toes in wet wading and don’t want to spend over a hundred dollars for a pair of wet wading shoes, then consider this FROGG TOGGS Men’s Aransas II. The combination of polyester and PVC makes it a perfect choice for anglers who often explore near the coast, and it has great traction as well.
The FROGG TOGGS Men’s Aransas II features a zipper that’s heavy-duty enough to keep sand out, as well as a toe and heel cap that’s durable enough to assist you on rocky surfaces. It has a Velcro system that’s guaranteed to give you the extra support that you need while out on the water.
Simms Challenger Deck Boots
Here’s another great option that I use for wet wading although technically this boot is a deck boot/fishing boot: the Simms Challenger (read our in-depth review here). Since it’s made of neoprene I found it to dry really quickly which in return lends it to wet wading in my eyes. It has many features that I think come in handy when skipping your waders for fly fishing.
The Challenger provides good ankle support and traction. It also features toe and heel caps which are great for wet wading since it won’t hurt you when you hit a rock under water. The sole on the Challenger is very comfortable and the grip they provide (since they were originally intended to provide a solid footing on slipppery boat surfaces) is excellent, too.
Hodgman Neoprene Wade Shoe
If you are a fan of flats fishing, then the Hodgman Neoprene Wade Shoe is a great choice, especially when you also love to wet wade under the summer sun. The Hodgman come with adjustable cuffs and a Velcro system that ensures a tight and snug fit to keep debris and sand from entering.
I found the soles of the Hodgman to provide good traction on sandy bottoms. In my eyes, they are not the ideal choice for river wade fishing since their traction on rocks is not on par with the Orvis and Simms Pursuit for example and also the toe cap abrasion resistance is not the best. Since that doesn’t matter on sandy bottoms, the Hodgman definitely has its strenght in that department.
Wet wading without proper footwear can expose you to certain safety risks, so it is absolutely essential to have a pair that’s suitable for this technique. A good pair of wet wading shoes would enable you to search through the waters comfortably, even when fast currents and slippery rocks are present.
It’s up to you if you want to invest in a quality pair or if you just want to hold back for the meantime and buy a starter set, but at the end of the day, you should make your choice depending on your comfort, personal preference, and the environment you will be fishing in. After all, you can never really enjoy wet wading without a trusty pair of wading shoes!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a wet wading shoe?
A wet wading shoe is footwear designed for fishing in wet conditions, typically without the use of waders. They provide traction, protection, and quick drainage.
Do your feet get wet when wet wading?
Yes, wet wading involves getting your feet wet, but specialized wet wading shoes help drain water and provide comfort.
How do you dry wading boots fast?
Remove the insoles, loosen laces, and let them air dry. Stuffing with newspaper or using boot dryers can expedite the drying process.
Does water get inside wading boots?
Wading boots are designed to resist water entry, but some moisture may enter. Gaiters and proper sealing can minimize water intrusion.
Do you wear socks when wet wading?
Yes, wearing socks is common when wet wading for comfort, protection, and to prevent rubbing from the wet wading shoes.
How do wet wading socks work?
Wet wading socks are typically made of quick-drying materials like neoprene or synthetic fabrics. They wick moisture away from the skin, keeping the feet more comfortable during wet wading activities.