Late spring and summer fishing gives anglers the opportunity to shed their heavy waders and cool off while fishing. Most breathe a sigh of relief when they can stop doubling up on thermal layers beneath heavy waders, and enjoy getting wet in their favorite creeks and rivers. But to do so, one must have at least some of the right gear. For most anglers, this means a pair of wading boots―often the same that they pair with their stocking-foot waders during the earlier spring and fall months. Get rid of the waders in favor of some neoprene booties and you're good to go.
While most anglers want to be properly geared up for their favorite hobby, not all are blessed with an unlimited budget. Field and Stream magazine recently did a review of studded, rubber-soled wading boots, giving readers some insight into boots that ranged in price from $100 to $200. While even $100 may seem a bit steep for some, effective wading boots can be one of the most important pieces of gear for fun summer fishing. Before talking about the various options out there, it is important to note that there is currently a big change coming in wading boots.
While those who have long been wading in their favorite fishing hotspots are well aware of felt-soled boots as a great option to improve footing on rocks and other submerged items, recent environmental concerns are increasingly turning anglers away from felt. It turns out that the felt (and polypropylene) bottom waders soak up and then transport invasive species that are invisible to the naked eye. The result is that harmful microorganisms that live in one body of water can be then moved to another body of water, causing potentially devastating consequences.
Already, Alaska has banned felt soles on wading boots, and Vermont, Maryland, and other states are considering a similar ban. Trout Unlimited is taking the issue so seriously that the organization has asked that manufacturers stop making boots with felt and polypro soles. Because of this movement, Field and Stream's recent reviews included only studded, rubber soled boots. The boots reviewed included Cabela's Guidewear Pro Rubber Soles, Chota Caney Forks, Korkers Guides, Orvis River Guard Ultralight, and Simms Guide. As with most fishing gear made by Simms, their boots were the most expensive of the group, at $200. For those worried that you really don't get much extra for the money, the Simms boots were the highest-rated in the group, though all performed well.
For those who have little choice, however, than to spend less than $100 or to keep using their old felt-soled boots until they fall apart, there are other, less expensive options. Going lower in price may mean a bit less traction and a bit less comfort, but when there are no other options―and, let's face it, we all need to fish―spending a bit less will be the way to go. Cabela's, though providing the least expensive pair of boots in the F&S review at $100, actually makes studded boots in their 'Ultralight' line for just $59.99. Speaking from experience, Cabela's generally produces very good equipment, even in the lower price ranges, and I would generally not hesitate to recommend their products. Otherwise, checking out end-of-summer sales at your favorite outdoor store, whether Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, or any other of the larger stores, is a sure way to be able to get a good pair of boots for less. As long as you can find footwear in your size, late summer prices on boots that will be discontinued for the coming fall season could land you a deal.