The best wading boots are built with traction, comfort, and durability in mind. The top brands like Simms have continued to innovate the design of their boots to keep up with changing trends and to meet the demands of varying types of anglers.
A good wading boot is priceless. The best options provide comfort and stable footing and allow you to be safe and make the most of your day at the water. This fly fishing wader boots review gives you the best fly fishing boots of the year and helps you make the best choice before you step into the water.
This guide will give you an overview of the best options for fly fishing boots. We will also explain the various material, sole, and fit options and help you know what else you should look for when buying a new pair of wading shoes.
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.
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. You can always upgrade later as your needs change. With that, let’s get to it!
- Comparison: Felt Soles vs. Rubber Soles
- Simms Guide Boa
- Simms G4 PRO Wading Boots
- Patagonia Danner Foot Tractor – Aluminum Bar
- Orvis Pro Wading Boots
- Simms Flyweight Access Wading Boots
- Simms Tributary Wading Boot
- Korkers Greenback Wading Boot
- Simms Freestone
- Korkers Devil’s Canyon
- Orvis Men’s Ultralight
- Chota Outdoor Gear
- Orvis Encounter Felt Sole
- Frogg Toggs Men’s Anura
- Simms FreeSalt
- Redington Pro Bowler Wading Boots
- What To Consider When Buying Fishing Boots
- Conclusion On Fly Fishing Boots
- Best Wading Boots: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Comparison: Felt Soles vs. Rubber Soles
When choosing a pair of best wading boots, there are two primary types of soles: rubber and felt. A rubber sole offers traction and durability while a felt sole is a better choice for traction on slippery surfaces.
Some brands like Korkers have made this easy for you. Korkers produces boots with a sole interchangeable system.
Generally speaking, rubber soles give you extra comfort when you do a bit of walking getting to and from your fishing location. A rubber sole can also be easily damaged by water. However, the most durable ones are the ones that can withstand the punishment that they take while wading. There are also some differences in the design of the soles.
On the other hand, felt soles are better on slippery surfaces such as river beds with rocks covered with algae. Felt soles are not as durable as rubber and should probably only be worn while actively fishing in the water.
Cleats & Studs
Whether you opt for felt soles or rubber soles, you still have the option to add cleats and studs to your boots. Cleats and studs provide extra traction and stability. Like any other cleats, limiting use out of the water is essential. This will prevent damage to your cleats and damage to other surfaces (like your local fly shop floor).
Now that you know what to pay attention to before making a purchase, we want to give you our favorite 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. We pick our top choice in terms of durability, traction, versatility, weight, and budget to make it easier for you. Here are our favorites.
American manufacturer Simms just released a brand new gear: the Guide Boa Wading Boot. It’s the brand’s new workhorse when it comes to wading boots. Priced just a little below the flagship G4 boots, the new Simms Guide Boa features many of the same characteristics.
The new Simms Guide Boa features rugged synthetic mesh and leather. This helps with durability in high abuse areas, such as the heel and the front cap. The BOA lacing systems are great for fishermen who don’t want to spend much time trying their laces but fishing.
Inside, the Simms Guide Boa are neoprene-lined for increased comfort and long days at the river. Simms’ new boots come with a rubber sole or felt sole.
Simms constantly creates high-quality gear, and nearly any Simms wading boot could be one of our top wading boots since they last so long.
Nevertheless, the newly upgraded G4 PRO Wading Boot with Vibram Soles is difficult to better.
Neoprene is used throughout these incredibly sturdy wading boots for increased warmth and comfort, and Simms alternative cleats may be added for even more traction. For abrasion resistance, the upper is vacuum-molded with stitchless TPU overlays. The new lacing method is discrete and utilizes hardware that won’t rust.
A robust rubber toe kick covers the roomy toe box. Unsurprisingly, Simms offers a felt sole variant that can also accommodate studs if you want better traction on land. For the G4 PRO to fit properly with waders, get one size larger than your normal shoe size. If you typically wear a size 11, for example, you should order a size 12 in the G4 PRO.
Patagonia revolutionized the wading boot industry by collaborating with Danner, a Portland, Oregon-based company that makes some of the most outstanding work boots in the world. The new Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots from Danner has undergone a complete makeover for improved comfort, fit, and durability.
These heavy boots guarantee all-day stability and durability, even under the worst conditions. Vibram Idrogrip rubber provides the initial traction, while Patagonia’s innovative aluminum bars increase it to a new level. The bars offer a great bite on rock and cut through slime.
This new version includes two bars divided beneath your forefoot, as opposed to the previous generation’s single bar that covered the breadth of your foot, which we really loved.
The Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots weigh roughly 86 ounces per pair, making them hefty and huge. Waterproof full-grain leather and 1,000-denier nylon paneling are used to make the boots.
A downside? Although the Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots are by far the priciest boots on this list, they are created in the United States and come with Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee.
If you intend to wear the Foot Tractor Wading Boots with standard stocking foot waders, Patagonia advises sticking with your regular street shoe size (do not size up when ordering).
The Orvis PRO Wading Boots were created in partnership with Michelin, the tire manufacturer. The rubberized sole of the Orvis PRO Wading Boot is made exclusively for fly fishing. The resulting Michelin Outdoor Extreme outsole should offer superior abrasion resistance while boosting grip on wet rubber. However, Orvis didn’t stop there. In conjunction with Ortholite, the business developed a 3D-molded X25 insole for high-impact sports.
To increase stability, the cast PU upper is formed into what Orvis describes as a zoned cage, removing seams.
For additional stability, the Orvis PRO boot has a high ankle. Along with a robust scratch rubber toe bumper, the front of the sole extends upward to provide toe protection. Lastly, we love the wide-heel pull for easy on/off.
The new version of the Simms Flyweight Access Wading Boot should be distinct from our previous year’s favorite lightweight wading boot- the Simms Flyweight Wading Boot.
The main difference between the new Flyweight Access and its predecessor is the adoption of a new, uniquely Simms Vibram Idrogrip Flex outsole. It is the most secure rubber-soled wading boot Simms has ever produced because it has been designed with a softer rubber compound.
Are there any downsides to it? The Flyweight Access Wading Boot will not last as long as the Simms G3 Guide or G4 PRO wading boots. This is because softer rubber compounds deteriorate more quickly than harder ones. However, the Flyweight Access might be the best option if you require comfortable, lightweight footwear with a rubber sole that comes close to felt’s performance. The full welded TPU overlays in high-wear areas and the rubber toe rand we loved so much in the previous Flyweight edition are still in the construction.
Our top recommended wading boot for beginners is the Simms Tributary Wading Boot. It provides an excellent balance of long-term durability at a price still within reach of people who are beginning to take their time fishing on the water more seriously. Simms has updated the Tributary with a more durable, streamlined design that includes corrosion-resistant new lacing hardware.
The front and back loops facilitate entry and exit, and the neoprene lining increases comfort. A large rubber toe cap protects against jagged pebbles. Even though the rubber sole is not made of the same Vibram Idrogrip material as those on Simms’ more expensive boots, it is stud compatible if you require more traction. Simms produces a felt version as well.
The Korkers Greenback is a fantastic value and the company’s entry-level wading boot. Get the felt and rubber sole option for the Greenback, even though you can sometimes find it at a slightly cheaper price point with only one sole included. The OmniTrax Interchangeable Sole System is just as good on Korkers‘ high-end alternatives, like the Devil’s Canyon Wading Boot listed here in the review, while being a lower-priced boot. The materials, stitching, and construction quality are all excellent.
The overall aesthetic is vintage and durable. The textile and synthetic leather uppers that are hydrophobic dry quickly. The conventional lacing system enables you to fine-tune the fit whether you desire a tighter forefoot or looser ankle—or vice versa—and works well when wet. At this price range, the adaptability is fantastic, thanks to the interchangeable OmniTrax soles.
The Simms Freestone is an excellent wading boot for the money. The American manufacturer Simms is 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 quickly 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 to always be happy with your product.
Portland-based Korkers have innovated fly fishing boots over the last years. They solve the tricky question of different soles in wading shoes. The Korkers Devil’s Canyon features their unique sole system as well.
The Korkers Devil’s Canyon comes with plain Kling-on soles and an extra pair of studded Kling-on soles for days when you need an extra bit of stability when wading.
The Devil’s Canyon features Korker’s Boa quick lacing system, making putting them on and taking them off really easy. Heavy rubber toe caps provide extra abrasion resistance. Check out the Korkers Greenback with Felt & Kling-On Soles if you are into felt soles.
An American manufacturer, Orbis has been in the fly fishing industry for decades, catering to some of the industry’s highest product demands. Orvis Ultralight is no exception.
Orvis Men’s Ultralight is our wading boot top choice in a lightweight design. The lower shaft gives ultralight fly boots the feeling of a walking shoe. You can wear it comfortably all day.
The Orvis Men’s Ultralight has a Vibram sole and is still available at 40 oz (1.14 kg) / pair. You can add studs for more strength. Orvis Ultralight is a great travel choice if you need to keep your equipment light
The Chota Outdoor Gear is our go-to boot in this wader boots review for low-cut fly fishing boots. The lower shaft reduces the boot’s weight, 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 when wading wet, for example, in summer.
Reinforced heels and toes will make the Chota Outdoor Gear last long. At around $120 these low-weight wading shoes provide excellent 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 favorite if you are looking for a wading boot to use primarily in saltwater: the Simms FreeSalt. The main difference between fresh water and saltwater is the degree of salt in the water. Salt leads to corrosion in metals. Hence, 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 step onto a boat when fishing the flats.
The Redington Pro Bowler Wading Boots is an excellent price-to-value choice and deluxe wading boot features. They come with felt or rubber soles and almost feel like a tracking boot – very light and comfortable to wear all day.
The Redington Pro Bowler Wading Boots for fishing are reinforced for increased abrasion resistance at the heel and at the toe cap. 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 a 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 1/2-inch studs for felt soles.
What To Consider When Buying Fishing Boots
This section will touch upon some of the most essential topics for picking a pair of fly fishing boots.
What Size Of Wading Boots Should I Get?
Every wading boot recommended in this guide should be worn while stockingfoot waders. Stockingfoot waders 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 pretty thick, most wading boots have to be one size more than your street shoes. Most manufacturers have unique 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. 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 exact 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 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 Fly Fishing Boots
The shape and build of your wading boots have an influence on their weight.
If you prefer a really light boot, you should go for one with a lower shaft, such as the Orvis Men’s Ultralight.
As an alternative, if increased stability and sturdiness are your primary concern, the Simms Freestone is probably the best boot to start with. They are essentially indestructible and will last you for years, if not a lifetime of fishing.
Proper Care Of Your Fly Fishing Boots
The most important thing to make your wader boots for fishing last longer is to dry them properly after every use. This means that you make sure they are completely dry before storing them.
Having dry boots is especially true if you don’t plan to use them until next season or for extended periods. If they are still wet when you store them, they will likely mold, which will waste your hard-earned money. Not to mention a potential health hazard caused by having mold around.
Conclusion On Fly Fishing Boots
Wader boots for fishing are among the most essential pieces of your gear to have fun at the water. Furthermore, they provide stability in all situations and are crucial for your safety when wading.
Like any other sport or outdoor activity, having quality gear can make a big difference. Having equipment that performs well and doesn’t get in the way will positively affect your overall enjoyment and success on the water.
It is worth the extra investment in a quality pair of wading shoes. You will be standing long while fishing, so why not be comfortable and safe? You can’t go wrong with any fishing boots we reviewed above, but here are a few things to consider when choosing your shoes for waders.
Best Wading Boots: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
To this day, felt soles are the best for wading rivers with slippery rocks. However, they have downsides, too. Many states have banned them entirely 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 if you want the utmost versatility and tend to walk a lot while fishing. Modern-day rubber soles like Vibram provide excellent grip in almost any condition. If you want a little more traction, you can add cleats to your boots. Patagonia even offers aluminum bars for an ever higher degree of traction.
No, wading boots 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.