The options in footwear for anglers has expanded greatly in recent years, and this season brings us some of the best ever wading shoes, driftboat/rafting shoes, and multi-use boots. Here’s a quick look at some of the best new offerings.
Anglers who like to ditch their waders and get wet when pursuing fish will appreciate the new Simms’ Riprap Shoe. Though the Riprap is available with a dual-density all-rubber outsole, I found the Riprap-Felt a better option personally. Felt remains the un-matched champion in traction on slimy river rocks, and as long as the soles are disinfected between trips to different bodies of water, the risk of transporting invasive species is minimal.
The Riprap Shoe features a synthetic mesh upper that securely hugs the foot, providing a stable fit for securely wading out into fast moving water. The drawstring bungee lace system lets anglers draw the shoe tight with one hand without worrying about it coming loose no matter how rough the river walk proves.
The Riprap-Felt’s outsole features a dense felt panel through the middle of the foot with a stiff, but grippy, rubber traction strip around the perimeter of the sole. The Riprap-Felts proved effective when wading even big, swift rivers like Washington’s Upper Yakima, but they also served me well when hiking a few miles through forests into remote trout waters. Available in men’s sizes 7-14. Price: $100.
Female fly fishers lack the options men enjoy when it comes to footwear, but the Korkers Buckskin Mary wading boots offers a great boot that comes in women-specific sizing. The stiff synthetic leather uppers provide solid ankle support, while the stout rand around the boot minimize rock damage. Associate gear tester Donna Meshke reported a great fit, with strong support. “I felt safe when wading fast water,” she said. “The Buckskin’s uppers fit so securely I felt like my ankles were perfectly supported as I slid through the river rocks.”
The Buckskin Mary boots feature Korkers’ OmniTrax interchangeable outsoles, letting anglers switch from felt soles for pure wading, to soft, sticky rubber for fishing from drift boats, to stout rubber with cleats for hiking into remote waters. Available in US Women’s sizes 5-11. Price: $140.
My own favorite for general river use—whether casual angling, rafting, stand-up-paddle boarding, or fishing from a drift boat—is Astral’s Brewer.
The Brewer sports a soft rubber outsole that perfectly adheres to driftboat decks, sticks to raft tubes, and smears onto rocks for a firm grip. I’ve used the Brewers for about a year and they’ve served me exceptionally well for everything from Hawaiian vacations to wilderness rafting trips. I used them on Kauai while surf-fishing for bonefish and hiking up to remote waterfalls for example. The soles stick like glue to a wide variety of surfaces (sand, rock, wooden decks, PVC rafts, etc.) while the hydrophobic-treated canvas uppers shed water quickly and dry remarkable fast.
When rafting through the Yakima Canyon, the Brewers performed wonderfully while rafting and still looked good enough to avoid embarrassment when I walked into the swanky eatery at Suncadia Lodge at day’s end for dinner.