The Best Wading Boots
Most fly fishers would claim their rod is the most important piece of gear. They are wrong. Finding the right pair of wading boots is vitally important. We all know an angler who wore boots that didn’t fit on that three-day trip. Time on the water is limited and not being able to suit up because you didn’t pay attention when picking boots is truly unfortunate.
The versatile Darkhorse Wading Boots from Korkers provides enough structure and support for all-day walking in the river, or trails leading to rivers. The Omnitrax interchangeable sole system allows anglers to swap outsoles to meet the needs of various fishing environments: Felt for ultimate grip on slime-slick rocks, studded rubber for good traction when repeatedly moving from shore to river and back again. And unstudded rubber for days spent on drift boats (where metal studs can be highly damaging). The Darkhorse boots provide great ankle and foot support for safe travel, and the boots withstood extensive use and abuse with less signs of wear.
The Orvis Ultralight Wading Boot provides good performance in a very lightweight package. The Vibram EVA outsoles grip slick riverbeds as well as, if not better, than any other rubber soles we’ve tested, yet that rubber also wears down quickly during treks to and from the river. The Ultralights fit comfortably without excess volume, though they are a bit snug when used with the thickest neoprene wader booties. The mid-height uppers keep weight down, but also leave ankles a bit open to twists. In short, the Orvis Ultralights sought a delicate balance between weight and performance, and in other experience, the Orvis designers found a very good balance.
The Hodgman Aesis H-Lock Wading Boots offers anglers good versatility in traction through an interchanging outsole system — the H-Lock system. The Aesis feature a stout upper that reaches well up the shin, providing exceptional ankle and lower leg protection. That protection comes at a price, however: Increased weight. These boots are heavy, topping the scales at nearly two pounds per boot (size 13). The interchangeable outsoles proved very useful, especially felt-loving anglers travel to areas were felt soles are banned. Simple twist, pivot and pull and the felt soles pop off. Reverse the process and rubber soles go on. Putting that process into play wasn’t always easy – sand and other river grime could gummy up the operation. But with a little patience and persistence, we got the soles changed repeatedly.
Best for General Trout Fishing
Redington Prowler Wading BootFishing, Men's Wading Boots & Wading Boots
The Redington Prowler Wading Boot with rubber soles earned solid grades across the board, proving itself to be a very good boot for wading anglers regardless of their needs, experience levels, or type of water fished. The Prowlers fit well, scored better than average on traction, and withstood plenty of abuse and hard use. The only serious knock on the Prowlers can from their weight: they are among the heaviest in the class. But even there, the Prowlers earn some credit by shedding water as fast as its picked up, meaning there is no added water-weight while in use in the river. All in all, the Redington Prowlers with rubber soles stand as a workhorse boot suitable for most fly fishing uses.