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Wading Boot Soles: Which Is Best For You?

Fishing is a popular pastime among both the young and old in the United States; more than 60% of hobbyists were under the age of 45 as 2017. Though the sport may seem basic enough, there are a lot of details that go into securing your catch. From purchasing the right rod to finding the best equipment (wading shoes vs. wading boots vs. hip waders), the success of your first trip out on the water -- or in the water -- is dependent on more than just skill. Let's take a look at a few of the options available for wader shoes and why they matter.


    • Felt: Felt soles are considered to be the standard in the fly fishing industry. The material grabs rocky bottomed rivers and dry rocks on the bank, ensuring that any chance of slipping (and become injured) is greatly reduced. Felt sole waders are also an excellent choice if you're interested in quiet wading. However, they offer no advantage on saltwater flats, muddy or soft bottomed streams or lakes, and grass.


    • Rubber: Rubber soles have become more popular in recent years, particularly because many states outlawed felt soles in an attempt to stop the spread of invasive species. Though it ultimately failed (there are a number of other factors involved), they've now become a good choice for all-around angling. The tread patterns of rubber soles are conducive to hiking and wading over a wide range of terrains, including rock, gravel, grass, and even mud.


  • Studded: For situations where solid footing is an absolute must, studded soles are ideal. If you're going to be wading in deep, fast rivers, their superior grip can be a genuine lifesaver. That being said, studded soles can be unstable and bulky; they resemble ice skates, which means that traversing dry ground or round rocks is quite difficult. The metal also tends to grind against rocks under the water, making quiet wading utterly impossible.

Fly fishing requires you to get up close and personal with your intended target's environment. If you're unprepared for the experience (i.e., you don't have the right waders with you), the whole day may end up being a wash. Do your research ahead of time and find the right wading boot soles for your needs; your feet will be thanking you when you finally get out in the water.