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You wouldn’t wear the same shoes for hiking trails, walking on slippery rocks, in the sand, in the mud, in a boat, standing all day in the hot sun, or in water barely above freezing.
But that’s exactly what anglers want from wading boots, and we want them to be comfortable as well.
Anglers demand a lot from wading boots. A lot more than we do other shoes.
The best wading boots will perform in a wide variety of conditions, but how can you know which pair will fit your needs and your feet?
That’s why Fly Fishing Atlas brings you our review of the best wading boots.
Which pair of wading boots will perform the best for you is going to depend on your fishing needs and conditions.
Whether you are looking for the very best wading boots for fly fishing or affordable wading boots that can perform, this review covers them all.
We are big fans of rugged fishing gear that doesn’t break the bank. We want you to find the best wading boots for your needs.
Fishing gear can be pricey, but you might be surprised that a good pair of wading boots doesn’t need to be expensive.
Korkers Greenback Wading Boots
Like other Korkers wading boots, Korkers Greenbacks provide you with the great option to swap between rubber or felt soles on the fly.
The OmniTrax 3.0 sole system boasts a number of sole options in addition to rubber and felt.
Korkers also offers studded felt, studded Vibram soles, and their Triple Threat sole can be fitted with studs, aluminum hex discs, or even full width aluminum bars.
The upper is made from durable synthetics that stand up very well to rough wading and abrasive rocks.
The synthetics also prevent water absorption which reduces weight and allows for faster drying.
Korkers also reduced weight by adding internal channels within the boot to allow faster drainage.
For the best fit Korkers recommends ordering a full shoe size larger than your normal footwear.
The online reputation of Korkers Greenbacks is quite impressive, with 94% of the reviewers giving them a 4 or 5 star rating.
Reviews are stocked with compliments like, “very good design,” “changing soles was a nice feature and easy,” and “comfort is top notch.”
That’s exactly what you are looking for in a wading boot.
The ability to swap soles is really like having multiple pairs of boots, which can save you some serious coin.
And if you want to be extra sure you aren’t carrying invasive species, the removable soles allow you to bleach the felt soles separately from the boots.
With the ingenious design and great price of Korkers Greenbacks, we don’t hesitate to recommend them.
Redington Skagit River Wading Boots
Redington’s Skagit River wading boot is a great choice if you need a rugged wading boot with a reasonable price.
The Skagit wading boot is available in both sticky rubber or felt soles.
The rubber soles are very grippy on their own, but they are also stud compatible if you want additional gripping power.
Skagit wading boots also feature a reinforced toe and heel for support and protection.
And for extra protection and rugged abrasion resistance, Redington wrapped the Skagit boots with a high-sided rubber rand.
One of the features that you usually won’t find in wading boots in this price range is good ankle support.
Thankfully Redington designed the Skagit to provide good, rigid ankle support to protect your ankles from twisting when your wading in bigger rocks.
And the ankle and collar features ample padding for additional protection and support. The upper features mesh panels to facilitate faster drainage.
And the quick-draw lacing and speed loops are made with anti-corrosive metals.
Reviewers online leave positive comments like “Very stable boot,” “Well constructed, and comfortable,” and “5 star product.”
Anglers recommend ordering a full shoe size larger than your normal footwear, particularly if you winter wade and use warm socks.
Overall, 80% of reviewers rate Redington Skagit wading boots with 4 or 5 stars.
We prefer rubber soles, and Redington recommends Goat Head Spikes if you want to add extra grip to the sticky rubber sole.
Sometimes that extra grip can really save you an headache in slippery conditions.
The Redington Skagit River Wading Boots are a durable and comfortable choice if you are in the market for affordable wading boots.
Korkers Buckskin Mary Wading Boot
Korkers Buckskin Mary wading boots offer more than just contemporary looks.
They’re also comfortable and capable for serious women anglers.
Korkers boots come standard with the OmniTrax 3.0 sole system which allows you to swap soles when needed.
In addition to rubber and felt, Korkers offers studded felt, studded Vibram soles, and their Triple Threat sole can be fitted with studs, aluminum hex discs, or full width aluminum bars.
And the rubber toe cap and side panels increase durability.
The non corrosive lacing hardware and heel lock provide a secure fit that reduces heel lift while walking.
Korkers is really smart about incorporating hydrophobic materials into their design to prevent the spread of invasive species.
Another benefit of the use of synthetic materials is faster dry times.
Korkers doesn’t insulate their boots as heavily as some other manufacturers do, which is no big deal.
You’ll just want some extra room for warm socks while cold water wading.
Since Korkers recommends sizing up one whole size larger than your normal shoe size, you may want to consider a full size and a half if you fish a lot of cold water.
Its definitely better to have a boot that fits you a little big on occasion rather than have super cold and uncomfortable feet.
We really like that Korkers boots have the ability to swap soles. That feature alone can save you some cash because it is really like having multiple pairs of boots.
And the removable soles provide the ability to really clean your felt thoroughly to fend off invasive species.
With a fashionable look, innovative design, and great price, we gladly give Korkers Buckskin Mary wading boots our stamp of approval.
Redington Willow River Wading Boot
The Willow has a sharp look and offers a huge value in a tremendously capable boot.
Redington offers the Willow in both sticky rubber or felt soles and their rubber soles are very grippy.
But they are also stud compatible if you know you are going to face particularly slippery surfaces.
Redington wrapped the Willow boots with a high-sided rubber rand for rugged abrasion resistance and additional protection.
Willow wading boots also feature a reinforced toe and heel for support and protection.
The Willow wading boots offer a lot of comfort compared to other boots in this price range.
Redington designed the Willow with a padded collar around the ankle to protect your ankles from bumps and scrapes.
The upper also has good rigidity to support your ankle reduce the chance of twisted ankles.
The lacing system features speed loops and deep-draw lacing with anti-corrosive metal hardware.
The upper panels are made from synthetic mesh to facilitate fast drainage.
Online reviewers put their stamp of approval on the Redington Willow with 94% of the comments leaving 4 or 5 star reviews.
Compliments include, “supported my feet and ankles beautifully”, “Very comfortable and amazing quality,” and “Love these boots!!”
Women also comment that they recommend purchasing a size or even a size and a half larger than your normal shoe size.
If you fish cold water for steelhead or salmon during the spring melt then you really need that extra room for warm socks.
We recommend rubber soles whenever possible, and for extra grip Redington recommends Goat Head Spikes.
That extra grip can save you from ripped waders or even a broken rod in slippery conditions.
We don’t hesitate to recommend the Redington Willow River Wading Boots as a fashionable and comfortable option that comes in at a terrific price.
Redington Crosswater Youth Wading Boots
Young anglers need to be comfortable on the water so they can enjoy themselves and hopefully reel in a lot of fish.
Redington produced the Crosswater Wading Boot specifically with the comfort of young anglers in mind.
The upper is stitched from a high denier rugged nylon to withstand the scrapes and abrasion that goes hand in hand with kids wading.
And the high coverage rubber rand wraps the boot with a layer of durability that is ready to take on the harshest conditions.
We really like that the Crosswater has a neoprene lined collar and that the interior is neoprene lined as well.
That adds a huge comfort factor to these wading boots. The deep-draw lacing also helps to hold your child’s foot securely.
The great lacing system and speed loops help to prevent heel lift and discomfort from friction or blisters.
Like all boots in the Redington line, Crosswater wading boots feature a sticky rubber sole that is also stud compatible.
Even though these boots provide excellent grip, we highly recommend the addition of studs with youth wading boots.
It is really worth while to give your kids that extra level of traction to avoid trips and falls that might cause water to accidentally enter their waders.
The beneficial and comfortable designs combined with an attractive price make the Crosswaters from Redington our choice for best youth wading boots.
What is a wading boot?
A wading boot is a boot that is specifically designed to meet the footwear needs of the wading fisherman. That means that it should be able to do the following:
- Keep your feet dry.
- Provide traction to enable the fisherman to safely negotiate their way through the rocks and pebbles at the bottom of a river.
- Drain well and dry quickly
- Provides solid and reliable ankle support
The new breed of wading boots have made use of the latest technology to provide lug patterns that deliver superior traction on the slippery surfaces that you willl encounter at the bottom of a river,creek or stream.
They also provide enhanced ankle support which is very important. Many anglers end up in hospital as a result of twisting an ankle while wading through a stream.
Good wading boots will also keep your feet dry and comfortable in the water, however, the most important reason to wear wading boots is that they will give you better balance.
What size wading boots should I get?
There is nothing worse than heading out fishing with the wrong sized wading boots.
This will be not only uncmfortable but, considering all of the obstacles that you will encounter under the water, it could be downright dangerous.
When selecting wading boots, do not get the same size as your regular street shoes. You should go up a size.
So, if you normally wear a size 10 street shoe, then you should buy a size 11 wading boot.
You will find that wading boots usually come only in full sizes. So, what do you do if you wear, let’s say, a size 10.5 street shoe.
Your best bet is to jump up a size and a half and buy a size 12 wading boot.
However, if your feet are overly wide, you could even consider going up two sizes. It is always beter to err on the side of too big rather than too small.
However, neither do you want your foot to slide around inside the boot.
Ideally, you want the boot to hold your foot securey in place with just the slightest bit of movement posible.
Are all wading boots waterproof?
No, not all wading boots are waterproof. When you are standing in a stream for hours on end, it is pretty inevitable that water is going to get into your boots.
So, rather than being water proof, it is more important for the boots to have a good drainage system.
This will ensure that the water flows out of the boot as soon as you get out of the water. This will make the boots lighter and reduce your energy demand.
Can you wear wading boots without waders?
Yes, you can wear wading boots without waders. Some people prefer to avoid the troube of putting on waders.
They may be fishing in water that doesn’t come up very high on their legs.
Or it may be an especilly hot day and they just don’t feel like the uncomfortable sweat soaked experience of wearing waders with the sun beating down on them.
What socks with wading boots?
It is best to wear neoprene wading socks along with your wading boots.
These are often worn with stocking foot waders which have built-in booties that keep your feet warm and secure.
Regular street socks are not recommended with wading boots because they will quickly get wet, which will make them sloppy and not be bulky enought to fill out your wading boots.
As a result, you will be less steady on your feet, which is definitely what you do not want when negotiating the bottom of a stream.
Neoprene socks are good because they will keep your feet dry while also being thick and crushy enough to completely fill out the insides of your wading boots.
Are wading boots waterproof?
No, most wading boots are not wateproof. This is because it is almost imposible to prevent water from getting into a boot when you are standing in water all day long.
More important than water proofing is the ability of the wading boot to be able to quickly drain water when you step out of the stream.
This will allow the water to rapidly flush out of the boot. The result is a lighter boot that is more comfortable and less labor intensive to walk around in.
Features to look for when buying wading boots
Trout fishing and cold water go hand-in-hand.
When the fish are smashing streamers or rising for dry flies the last thing you want is to have your day cut short because your feet are uncomfortable.
Keeping your feet warm in cold water is dependent on maintaining good circulation. Cold water fishing can be especially taxing if you have boots that fit too tightly.
The stocking foot on your waders will take up some space in your wading boots. But you also want some additional room for warm socks.
And even with additional socks, you’ll want to be sure your boots provide enough extra room to avoid compressing your feet.
We recommend rubber soled wading boots.
Felt soled boots provide excellent grip on really slick rocks, but they provide terrible grip on most other surfaces.
More than one angler has punctured their waders because they slipped on dry pine needles or a muddy hillside.
Most manufacturers produce stud-compatible rubber soles which gives a distinct advantage to rubber soled boots in and out of the water.
If you are doing even a little hike-in fishing, rubber soles make much more sense. Rubber soles can save you from damaging your expensive gear, or worse.
The other reason we recommend rubber soled boots is due to invasive species.
Invasive plant life like didymosphenia geminata destroys entire trout streams and hides within the tiny cavities of felt soled boots.
In fact, some states have banned felt soled boots completely in an attempt to stop the spread of invasives.
With that in mind, rubber soled boots may allow you to fish more water that might be off-limits by purchasing felt soled boots.
However, there are some wading conditions where felt soles provide unmatched traction.
Anglers who are just getting started in the sport of fly fishing need entry level gear.
Even the most experience fly anglers usually start with inexpensive fishing gear and upgrade as needed.