If the fish don’t come to you, you will have to go to the fish! Forget increasing your casting distance!
If you want to get closer to the fish, you can simply walk to where they are. How?
With some of the best wading boots in 2021, that’s how. Today, I will look at some quality pairs of wading boots, explain their features, and give you some idea of what is best!
Let’s head out!
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These rubber-soled fly fishing boots will offer fantastic traction, regardless of what’s on the bottom. The upper is made of synthetic leather.
This is ultra-durable and should last a good while. This is aided by a rubber toe and heel section that often sees the most wear and is the most likely area to fail.
The hook and loop laces are an expected feature. This gives you a great blend of comfort and upper ankle security, which is vital when navigating slippery rocks.
Oh, and consider this…
If you are wading, you don’t get many opportunities to sit down. Comfort is king. For this reason, Simms has included a cushioned midsole and partial neoprene lining. This makes these wading boots very comfortable to wear, even for longer periods.
A trusted boot from a trusted brand.
Really hard wearing and durable.
While I love synthetic leather for durability, it does mean that they hold a lot of water. Meaning they are heavy when you do finally step out of the stream or lake.
In truth, you aren’t going to get much better than Simms, so consider these a solid option. They are mid-priced, great value, and built to last. The standout feature here is comfort.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll already know that Orvis is the brand when it comes to excellent fly fishing gear. Their boots are no exception.
Here’s something great…
These boots are really lightweight. They are constructed from a range of synthetic materials, including Clarino microfiber. This reduces bulk and also ensures that the shoes dry exceptionally quickly.
The heel and toe areas have been coated in a special rubber spray to offer additional protection.
But here’s the question…
Are they comfy? The answer is a resounding yes. These top-quality wading boots have a Vibram EVA sole (which is similar to memory foam). This means that they won’t become a pain over time if you are on your feet all day.
The rubber sole has a unique pattern, designed to act like little suckers on wet rocks. There are also hole mounts if you want to add studs at a later date.
Another quality brand.
You can add studs if need to.
They don’t offer the greatest ankle support.
They aren’t quite as durable as I’d like.
For warm summer conditions and fairly flat bottoms, these wading boots could be a good fit. They aren’t quite as heavy-duty as others on my list, but they are brilliant in the right conditions.
If you are looking for a real review, I actually own a pair of these. While they aren’t the most expensive out there, I can tell you from personal experience that they work really well.
Here’s why I chose them…
The Redington boots offer a nice compromise between weight and durability. Consider them the ‘goldilocks’ of wading boots, if you will. They are neither too heavy nor too light. Redington achieves this by featuring cut-out sections on the upper that allow the boots to flex and drain simultaneously.
Redington has actually added quite a few nice extras. I really like the finger loop at the top of the ankle. If you’ve ever tried to pull wet boots off after a hard days fishing, you’ll know what a blessing this can be.
And there’s more…
The loop and eye system are made from an alloy designed to avoid corrosion. Corrosion leads to rust, which leads to frayed laces. With these wading boots, not a problem!
The rubber soles are flexible, durable, and offer a superb grip too!
They are a good blend of durable and lightweight.
Alright, they are a little wide.
They are true to size, so you’ll need to order a size bigger to fit your socks and waders in.
These are really great boots that offer pretty much the same as some of the big-name players for the money. I’ve got no real complaints! Get a pair of these, and you won’t be disappointed!
If you’ve seen the rods, you’ll know that Orvis’s clearwater range focuses on affordability without sacrificing quality. These boots are an excellent case study for that philosophy.
If you liked the look of the Redington boots above but want to go for something just a little more premium, these could be the wading boots for you. These things are really heavy-duty, but they aren’t heavy.
The upper is entirely made of synthetic leather, and Orvis has been kind enough to include drain holes (but these could be a little more prominent if I’m critical).
When it comes to being durable, these are second to none. The toe section has a reinforced thick rubber toe cap. This protects the boot, but it also protects your toes from sharp rocks.
Oh, and there’s more
The stone color is really eye-catching and looks super smart.
But, Bob, are they comfortable?
You bet your sweet soles they are! The entire footpad is lined with thick EVA foam. It’s like walking on a cushion!
Really grippy sole with strategic reinforcement where you need it most.
Orvis… Stick some more drain holes in, please! I hate walking around with a boot full of water.
Aside from minor gripes, these are some of the best fly fishing wading boots on my list. With excellent aesthetics and extreme comfort, I think they are just about worth every penny.
If you’ve seen my article on wading jackets, you’ll already know the name Frogg Toggs. What makes their jackets great also applies to their wading boots.
First, let’s talk value. These are among the cheapest on my list.
But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t good. Oh, no!
For a lightweight, cheap and comfortable solution, they are fabulous. They feel and look more like sneakers than fishing boots! The upper is made of a blend of mesh and upper. The rubber adds durability, and the mesh provides excellent drainage.
When it comes to grip, they are superb. The sole is cleated. This means that you’ll have decent traction without struggling for balance whether you are in or out of the water.
Considering the cost, they are really comfortable too. I like the soft anatomical collar that forms to the shape of your ankle. The boot is also lined with neoprene to give a soft finish and makes taking them off or putting them on a doddle!
Oh, and because they are rubber, they work just as well if fishing in saltwater too!
A great all-rounder.
They are a little wide, so if you have narrow feet, these might not be the best choice.
While they aren’t premium wading boots, they aren’t far off. If you are looking to save a few dollars or want something for infrequent use, they are great. They are also some of the best wading boots for saltwater!
If you want to fish like a professional, it pays to get kitted out like one. These top the list in terms of price.
But is it worth it?
I’d say yes!
When it comes to grip, this is as good as you will get in a rubber-soled wading boot. Why? Because the soles are designed and built by Michelin. Turn them upside down, and the sole literally looks like a rally car tire.
And it doesn’t stop there.
I particularly like the ankle loops… Or should I say, straps? Taking these off and putting them on is a cinch. And the high ankle and thick tongue give really excellent support, as well as comfort.
Wading boots can get a little mucky. Orvis has even considered this. These boots are self-cleaning, with a special coating that sheds accumulated grime as you walk!
One nice touch that you don’t always see is the forward loop used to clip your waders down onto the boots. This is very much a premium feature. If you’ve bought the best waders for fly fishing, it’s a feature you really want to see.
Best in class for grip on all bottoms.
Exceptionally well made.
Just the price. The most expensive boots on my list.
If you want top-quality, you will pay top price. That’s just how it is. But trust me when I say these boots are well worth it. The price tag is about the only thing not to love. Consider them as an investment as it is doubtful you’ll need another pair for a while.
I’m talking felt soles. These have fallen out of favor in recent years (I explain why in my buying guide), but they give amazing underwater grip.
These boots look a little devoid of features and are perhaps a little basic, but that could be just what you are after.
The boots boast some nice features. Things like a chunky rubber toe and neoprene lining take them from good up to great. The neoprene aids comfort and makes donning them easy. The toe cap works wonders to stop you from stubbing your toe on sharp, unseen rocks (ouch).
Drainage is a bit of an issue. They tend to hold water quite well, which can be a pain if you’ve got a hike after your session.
The best wading boots for slippery rocks.
Felt is amazingly grippy.
Felt is good in the water… It is useless on land.
These boots are basic for the money.
The drainage is a bit poor.
If you are after a simple boot and don’t have to go a long way to get to the swim, these should be more than adequate. While I love felt soles, I think rubber is the much more modern way to go. They have detailed instructions for cleaning and certainly are not good for saltwater!
Here’s why that’s just fine with me… You aren’t paying for a name. These boots are really good and cost half of what their rivals tend to charge.
They are packed with features. Let’s start with the flexible and grippy rubber sole. This works really well on most surfaces. The midsole is made of EVA (just like Orvis), and just like some other premiums brands, you get a nice reinforced rubber toe.
And there’s more.
These things are comfortable. Seriously comfortable. The ankle and arch support is about as good as I’ve seen, and the removable ortholite soles keep your feet nice and cool when you are walking down to the venue.
One feature I really like (which has been missing on some of the high-end boots) is that there are breathable mesh sections designed to give your feet a good airing. It also allows water to egress easily.
As a final touch, the rubber kick logs are an excellent addition. If you haven’t heard of these before, they are a thickening section around the heel that lets you remove the boot by stepping on the section with the edge of the other foot!
Comfortable and lightweight.
All the features of premium wading boots without the cost.
In all honesty, there isn’t much to dislike.
Look, you can pay fortunes, but when you’re stood in 3 feet of water, can anyone see a brand name? These boots are every bit as good as the top-of-the-range names. If I was giving out awards, these would be the best value option!
Now, the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed I wasn’t the biggest fan of the felt-soled boots, and if you aren’t sure what to go for…
Here’s the answer.
These wading boots by Korkers give you the best of both worlds. They are felt boots, but they also come with a removable rubber sole, so you get the best of both worlds. Also known as Omnitrax. One of the criticisms of felt soles is that they spread invasive parasites between different waters. Korkers have included technology to deal with this.
A hydrophobic sole repels water and dries faster, meaning any pesky critters can’t survive. Great!
They also have a clever feature. Have you noticed I’m all about drainage? These boots have got a really clever system that takes water from the inside of the boot and deposits it through little ‘ports’ under your feet.
I also like that they use loads of mesh all over the boot to reduce the weight.
The last little extra is the inclusion of a removable flap on the heel. When you want to take them off, open the toggle, give them a pull, and you are away.
All in all, a wading boot full of clever design.
Some smart innovation. A removable rubber sole is a novel approach.
Lightweight and easy to put on and take off.
While I like the idea, I’ve got a feeling that as they get older, the attachments will work lose on the sole. Not what you want when you are waist-deep in a river.
I don’t think boots should have moving parts. It’s added complication.
The above cons might be minor… It is something that only time will tell. All that said, I like having the flexibility to get the best of both a felt and rubber-soled wading boot. For the money, this could be a wise investment.
What to Look for in Wading Boots?
Like any good foot cover, such as shoes or sneakers, you really do want to find the perfect wading boot.
Before you begin your search, it is well worth considering the ‘bigger picture’.
The key features I look for when first deciding are things such as:
Sizing and Fit
Laces and Securing
Ease of Donning and Removing
Let’s explore each of these in turn.
Sizing and Fit
So you are going to go ahead and buy the size of the wading boot that is the same as what you wear in sneakers, right?
Remember you will be stood in cold water all day. That at least warrants a thick pair of socks. On top of that, if you’ve bought a good pair of waders, you’ll also have to account for the room the neoprene socks will take up.
Here’s what I always say.
You are better having a bit of room. Tight boots are torture… Literally.
I’d advise that you go at least one size bigger than what you normally wear. Be sure to check size guides and reviews to see whether the wading boots fit true to size. Some manufacturers actually account for you wearing thick socks. Others don’t’.
Comfortable wading boots might be a little subjective. We all have different-sized trotters, after all. You can normally make a good assessment just by looking at them.
Here are some things that tell me a boot will be comfortable:
Thick padded ankle sections
Here’s where it gets interesting. Ask any old-school fisherman, and he’ll tell you that good wading boots for slippery rocks must have felt soles.
This might be true. But here’s the thing.
Felt soles aren’t always your best choice. This is true for the following reasons:
Felt soles tend to degrade much quicker than rubber soles. They are softer and tend to wear easily
Felt soles are good on underwater rocks but are practically useless when navigating terrain on dry land. Anything sharp, like twigs or spikes, is going to go straight through those soles. They are super slippery on terra firma too.
Felt soles are prime for carrying underwater parasites from one lake to another. If you fish in the same venue, they might be worth it, but if you travel, you’ll find some local authorities ban them completely!
Here’s what I suggest:
For all of the reasons above, go for a high-quality rubber sole. The difference in modern materials is negligible, making it so much easier to walk to and from your truck! If you are worried about getting enough purchase on the bottom, look for boots that you can add studs to.
Laces and Securing
Ever lost a boot while wading?
Trust me. It. Is. A. Complete. Nightmare.
How did this happen? The laces simply didn’t support the entirety of my foot. They worked loose, and next thing I took a step, and the boot was gone!
Here’s how to stop it.
Make sure you get boots that have a hook and eye system. Now I always check how many eyes the boot has and how far up they go. The general rule I follow is – the more eyes and hooks, the better!
Suppose you’ve ever gone for a paddle. In that case, you’ll already be aware of how many sharp rocks and underwater obstructions lurk beneath the surface. Let me tell you. Stubbing your toe in freezing cold water is something you’ll only ever want to do once.
It’s important to protect your feet. At best, it might be slightly painful. At worst, you are looking at a serious injury or laceration.
When looking at boots, always choose those with chunky soles. In particular, look at the toe area for extra protection, like toe caps and reinforced sections.
While I’m talking protection, it is well worth mentioning ankle support. The higher up your ankle that boot goes, the better! Remember, the chances of you slipping are greatly increased when you are stood in the water, especially if it is fast flowing! Turning your ankle while trying to stand upright to prevent drowning is no laughing matter.
Choose something supportive.
Ease of Donning and Removing
Nothing puts me in a bad mood more than trying to start my day fishing, only to get all hot and bothered trying to jam a damp boot onto my hoof!
Likewise, at the end of the day, getting those wet boots off can be a challenge.
I want to make it easier in both circumstances.
Look for features that let you get the boot on and off quickly and easily (when you want to). These are things like:
Heel loops and straps
The snag you have with some wading boots is that, while they are bound to let water in, they don’t always let it out.
Look for wading boots with good drainage. Side mesh panels, holes towards the sole, and channel systems all have their merits. If you neglect this, you are going to have a bad time. When you consider a liter of water weighs exactly 1 kg, that’s a lot of weight to be lugging around if you have a long walk once you exit the water!
The final thing I want to talk about is weight.
I’ll keep it as simple as I can. If you’ve got the option, be sure to go for a lightweight boot. Mesh panels can be nice, but remember, they can be a little absorbent. This could be an area where artificial leather is actually beneficial.
This twinned with drainage is key to ensuring that you don’t get fatigued with a long day of fishing.
My list of the best wading boots in 2021 fits most of the above criteria. There are choices to suit all budgets.
Pick something comfortable, lightweight, and grippy, and you won’t go wrong.
Have you come across a pair of excellent wading boots that you want to tell me about? What do you look for in the best fishing boots? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add them to my list!
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