With autumn approaching, the fly fishing season is about to heat up. Which means, it’s time to take inventory and evaluate your fishing gear. The one piece that seems to get overlooked are your boots.

Many times, an angler will use them for years and won’t think anything of it until they begin to fall apart.

Best Wading Boots

  1. Korkers Greenback Wading Boot
  2. Korkers Buckskin Wading Boot
  3. Hodgman H3 Wading Boot
  4. Orvis Clearwater Wading Boot
  5. Chota Outdoor Gear Wading Boots

Before your next fishing trip, you’re normally thinking about hatches and spots that hold trout. The bottoms of your boots are usually not at the top of your list, and because of this, you’re putting yourself at risk for an accident on the water.

Proper grip is key when walking across the slick bottom of a river.

In terms of enjoyment and safety on the water, your boots could be one of the most important pieces of gear you could bring.

What Are Wading Boots?

wading boots

If you’re new to wading or using wading boots, then think of them as hiking boots that are made for the water. The biggest differences are the materials used to make them, their soles, and how they drain water.

Many wading boots are sized so that you’re neoprene booties of your waders can fit inside comfortably. So your shoe size is actually a little bit smaller in a wading boot since they run large.

Take this into account when purchasing if you do not plan on wearing neoprene.

They’re made out of durable material that can stand up to the abuse of banging against rocks and won’t break down after getting wet. Primarily they’re used to help the angler keep traction while walking on wet slippery surfaces, and not hurting themselves.

Different Types of Wading Boots

Rubber Sole Boots

Rubber Sole Wading Boots

The rubber-soled boot of yesteryears  to put it nicely, a piece of junk. They were not made to last very long and if you fished enough, you’d wear out a pair before the season was even over.

The new rubber soles on the market now are like night and day. Not only do they work just as well on land as they do in water, but they’re more durable, lightweight, and provide superior traction when in the water.

These are regarded as some of the best fly fishing boots you can purchase. Also, unlike their felt clad counterparts they’re not about to get banned anytime soon from the state you fish in. More on that below.

Some boots even have a Kling-on soles which means it’s an interchangeable sole system. So you change out your old rubber soles for new ones. You can also find omnitrax soles where you can transfer out felt soles for rubber ones and vise versa.

Felt Wading Boots

Felt Wading Boots

In terms of sheer traction, you cannot beat felt wading boots. While the rubber soles have come on fast in recent years there is still no competition when it comes to stepping on slimy rocks, or wet leaves hugging the bottom of a river.

The issue comes when you begin walking outside of the water. Unlike the rubber soles, these do not have near as good a traction outside of the water as a sticky rubber sole would.

A slippery rock in the water is no big deal, but on dry land, you’ll quickly find yourself losing grip. Also, if you spend a lot of time walking outside the water, you’ll find your felt quickly falling off your wading shoe.

Many are heavy too, so if you find yourself hiking several miles to a stream then check out an ultralight wading boot option.

Another downside to felt boots is that nonnative species can hitch a ride on the felt and be brought to rivers where they could be detrimental to the river.

So, when an angler hits up two rivers on the same day, they could be exposing a harmful nonnative species to that river. Alaska, for example, has already banned felt wading soles because of this.

Water sandals for wade fishing

Rubber Sandals

While not ideal for wading in deep fast-moving water, water sandals can be a nice way to get out and wade in shallow creeks or wading through still water like a lake.

These are not made to handle faster current and cannot grip the same way a boot can. They’re nice if you’re out in a drift boat or kayaking, and feel the need to step out in the water to cool off and throw a few casts.

Also, don’t forget to get a closed-toe sandal. This can help prevent a nasty stubbed toe.

Benefits of Wading Boots

benefits of wading boots

When you’re wearing wading boots, you’ll not only keep your feet protected from getting cut up on rocks and whatever else lies beneath the water, but you’re keeping your whole body protected.

The extra grip on the bottom will help you stay upright throughout the day and avoid any harmful falls.

The extra stability will allow you to prevent sprained and rolled ankles, which can ruin and end a fishing day very quickly. Especially if your fishing alone and find yourself a few miles from your vehicle.

Considerations Before Buying

Material

Materials of Wading boots

Your boots are going to take a beating. They’ll constantly be banging against rocks, stumps, and everything else under the water. This means you’re going to need something that is strong and durable.

Anything made of synthetic leather that won’t absorb water is perfect. These lightweight boots are going to stand up to just about anything you can throw at them.

Also, look for a boot with a rubber toe cap. These help prevent scrapes and scratches on your boots.

Weight

This is all dependent on the wearer but a nice lightweight style of boot is perfect for those long days of fishing. Fishing is not known as an exhausting sport, but walking in a river with a current all day can be tiring.

That’s why you need to ensure your boots are as light as possible to help prevent fatigue.

Felt Vs Rubber Sole

Rubber vs Felt

It used to be that felt soles were the mainstay in wading boots. The extra grip it provided was the best on the market, but the new rubber-soled boots are just about as good and you can wear them out of the water and know you’ll have just as much grip. Also, you don’t have to worry about your state banning them anytime soon.

Drainage

In order to help reduce weight and waterlogged, almost all boot makers now have excellent drainage. Whether they have mesh panels or holes near the sole you’ll find that when you walk out of the water all of the water that found its way in quickly drains out.

Uppers

Rubber wade boots

When purchasing boots, an under-looked aspect are the uppers, or the upper part of the boot. These are usually made of synthetic materials, with a popular one being synthetic leather.

This will help protect your ankles from scrapes as well as your lower shins. Look for one with a padded collar for extra comfort.

Laces and Lacing System

Your wading boot laces are made of stronger and more durable material than your normal boots. Wading boot laces will experience a much larger volume of water and debris than normal boot laces, and they’re made to withstand them.

If you do find a need for a new pair, stick with some made specifically for wading. You can also purchase boots with a BOA lacing system. This system utilizes a dial to keep your boots tight throughout the day.

This allows you to quickly tighten or loosen your boots with the use of one hand. The system is also extremely easy to clean and can be done quickly.

Ankle Support

Ankle Support

Your boots need to give you solid ankle support. When you’re walking in the water with loose rocks, eventually one is going to slip out and give way. That ankle support is needed to help protect you so that you don’t seriously injure yourself in the river.

FAQ

Are Wading Boots Waterproof?

No, wading boots are not waterproof. They’re meant to protect your feet and give you traction in the water. If you are not wearing stocking foot waders in them then your feet will get wet.

Why do wading boots have felt soles?

Felt boots

Felt soles have the best grip of any wading boot. Unfortunately, thanks to Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) many states are now banning them in order to keep out invasive species.

Products

Now that we know more about what wading boots are and how they benefit you, let’s review some boots so you have a better understanding of what you’re looking for.


Korkers Greenback Wading Boot

Korkers Greenback Wading Boot with Felt Sole, Dried Herb/Black , Size 10

This wading boot has the option to either be a felt sole or a rubber one. It’s equipped with internal channels that allow water to flow in and then out of the midsole ports. This helps reduce water weight.

They’re also made of hydrophobic materials, which means there is a faster dry time and as long as you’re not using felt, can help reduce the spread of invasive species.

Buy Korkers Greenback Wading Boots Here


Korkers Buckskin Wading Boot

Korkers Buckskin Wading Boot with Felt and Kling-On Outsoles, Chocolate Chip/Black, 12

Equipped with large drainage ports and internal midsole drainage channels, these boots get water out quickly and keep the weight light as light as possible. It also has the ability to utilize a felt or rubber sole.

Being made out of the same material as the Greenback means it has a fast-dry time when out of the water. The material is also abrasion resistant giving better durability and also comes equipped with a toe cap as well.

Buy Korkers Buckskin Wading Boots Here


Hodgman H3 Wading Boot

Hodgman H3 Wading Boot (felt)This only comes in a felt sole, so keep in mind where you’ll be fishing with these. It has a quick-drying hydrophobic material and is abrasion resistant. There is also a reinforced toe pad for extra protection against rocks. It also has mesh sides to allow water to exit the boot quickly

Buy The Hodgman H3 Wading Boots Here


Orvis Clearwater Wading Boot

Orvis Clearwater Wading Boot - Rubber, 11

This comes in both a felt and rubber sole, made of a highly durable synthetic microfiber with a reinforced sidewall and heel for extra protection. This boot gives all the perks of a high-priced model in a mid-price range.

Buy The Orvis Clearwater Wading Boots Here


Chota Outdoor Gear Wading Boots

Chota Outdoor Gear Wading Boots, Hybrid High Top, Super Light, Under 1 lb. Rubber Soled For Traction, Durable

Featuring genuine leather uppers and large screen ports to allow quick and easy access to water. The cushiony midsole allows for a full day of wading through the water and hiking through the woods comfortably.

The material that it is made out of provides excellent durability. There is also an added kick-off plate which will help you remove your boots after a long day of fishing.

Buy The Chota Outdoor Gear Wading Boots Here


Conclusion

Now that we’ve gone over everything you need to know about wading boots, hopefully, it shows how important they truly are. Not only do you need to protect your feet, but also your ankles.

If you are protecting your ankle you’re protecting the rest of your body from harm.

You can find many different types of fishing waders at your local sporting goods store, fly shop, or on Amazon.

Don’t take the risk of going out in an old, worn out pair with no tread. This is not something you want to mess around with. Go and get a good solid pair of boots that allows you to continually get out on the water.