S4:E38 Our Simple Guide to Fly Fishing Wading Boots

Fly fishing wading boots are the undisputed, most important safety purchase you’ll make for the sport. There are felt soles, rubber soles, rubber soles with studs, and rubber soles with aluminum bars. In this episode, we discuss our philosophy of wading boots, given the number of days we fish each year – and make a case for one type of sole. We offer up several questions to help you determine which type of boot is best for you.


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Which fly fishing boots do you use? Do you have more than one pair of boots? How do you handle longer hikes? Do you pack a pair of wading shoes? Please post your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!


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6 Replies to “S4:E38 Our Simple Guide to Fly Fishing Wading Boots”

  1. I have pair of LL Bean wading boots that I bought in 94 . They are still in perfect condition. I only stopped wearing them because they are a bit small now . Not sure if its because Simms has thicker neoprene sock compared to my old waders. They were the first to come out with rubber soles replacing felt . I had no problem with footing here in the Black Hills . Then I bought a pair or korkers used them out in Maine I nearly drowned because I kept slipping on the slimy rocks . I now have a pair of Simms they do fine here . Never tried them out east yet. I wish they wouldn’t have banned felt here in the Dakotas. Felt is much safer for wading . Now that I wear nothing but rubber soles I use a wading staff . I might look into your Patagonia boots with the cleats

    1. Referring to the great wading boot debate, I live in Utah and fish the rivers in most Western states. Out West there is nothing that grips like felt. The NPS decision to ban felt was befuddling to me. I love to fish YNP and am glad I have a pair of Korkers and will now be wearing a rubber sole with studs while fishing in the park. Unfortunately, my wife is going to have to purchase a new pair of wading boots before our spring trip to fish the Park. Ouch!!$$$
      Otherwise, I hike with the rubber soles and change out to either felt or studs while fishing.

      An often overlooked aspect of wading boots is the protection they provide. No boot prevents one from rolling underwater rocks and having a solid, supportive boot can prevent rolled ankles and mashed up toes.
      With respect to sandals, please be careful. While wading in very cold water, you can cut a foot on a sharp rock and not feel it. This can be dangerous. My wading “sandals” are closed toe water shoes.

      Love the podcast, and the book.
      Keep up the great work!
      Tight lines,

  2. My whole problem about boots transferring evasive species is this. First off I don’t believe that this how they are transferred . If it is then what about the laces? What about the neoprene gravel guards ?. Did they ever once stop and think that wildlife could be the major carrier and transporter of evasive aquatic species ? They still to this day I believe haven’t come to a conclusive decision on the matter. All I know is that wading boots aren’t cheap. Felt are the safest material compared to other products and I was forced into buying my wife and I new wading boots as a precaution.

  3. Great podcast. I fish about 40 days per year in the West and spend most trips walking 30-60 minutes before fishing. I recently bought some aluminum discs (Rock Treads) after falling three times last year on river rocks. I put them on a pair of old rubber bottom boots that were worn smooth. I have had them in the water 8 trips so far and I’m sold. The aluminum is anti-skid on those round and flat rocks, it’s great.

    With that said, they are awful for hiking in the snow. The snow builds up on the aluminum making walking difficult. I find the discs are way better than the studs for the fishing that I do.

    If you are a handy guy, Dominick over at Troutbitten.com has information on DYI aluminum bars. Either way, aluminum discs or bars are a huge improvement over the rubber or rubber and stud configuration.

  4. I have rubber-soled boots with screw-in studs. When I go on a float trip, I remove the studs to avoid damaging the boat. Can you use the aluminum-strip boots in boats without damaging the boat deck? If not, what do you do?

    1. Great question.

      This is an issue, for sure. Steve and I both wear the Patagonia Foot Tractors .. which have the aluminum bars. We wear them in the drift boats, if we decide to do a float. We do one float a year, generally.

      We will alert the guide about our boots. We’ve never had an issue, where he/she said, “You can’t wear them in the boat.”

      I’m sure the studs can’t be good for the bottom of the boat … I guess I’d ask your guide before the float.


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