Wading Boots for Ontario River Anglers
Every year I guide brand new anglers to river fishing and often times the guys want to go out and get themselves waders and boots before they come out on a trip with me.
Guys are often confused by so many brands, prices and types of waders and boots.
Below is an email I wrote to a guy that had lots of questions and as always this was my honest reply based on my personal experiences as a river angler and guide.
“Hi Graham, Just wondering what type of waders should I get, I see online that there is so many different kinds and I’m not sure what ones are best for here?”
My Reply “You want breathable stocking foot waders! Any waders under $200.00 should be good enough if you’re a casual angler. You can often look up reviews online. Here is a good example: Yellowstone Wader Shoot-Out.
When buying waders you need to consider how many days you’ll be fishing a year and the types of weather you will be fishing in. If you primarily fish from March to October a breathable stocking foot waders is perfect. You can layer extra socks and pants underneath during the coldest months.
If you only fish 10 to 20 days a year, a wader around $200 should be fine. If you’re like me and you guide and fish over 200 days a year and walk and hike a lot you’ll want waders that are more durable.
I wear Simms G3 stocking foot waders because they are the most durable and can hold up to my constant abuse, but they are also $500.00 or more.
If you plan to fish mostly November to march for steelhead when the water is super cold, then a good breathable boot foot wader is better at keeping your feet warm. Cold feet is the number 1 issue with waders in the winter and although some guys swear buy neoprene waders, both neoprene and breathable have stocking feet made from the same material and both can be equally cold.
Boot foots that are insulated are the warmest. Personally, I do not like neoprene waders at all. I find they produce condensation due to your warm body and the ice cold water combination leaving you damp at the end of the day. I also find them heavy and bulky so you end up both damp and tired in the winter and I think the dampness can make you even colder. If you wear neoprene’s in the summer you overheat and you sweat like crazy.
The only waders I’ve found to keep my feet really warm and my legs dry in the winter are a good breathable insulated boot foot wader.
For wading boots to go over top of your stocking foot waders, I highly recommend the Korkers brand wading boots but there are other good brands out there too. Again, depending on your budget and/or how much you fish and walk will determine if you should get a top end boot or a lower end boot.
The Korkers boots have interchangeable soles or bottoms and I recommend the soft rubber soles for normal conditions and when you need to be stealthy, and the soft rubber studded sole when you need extra grip for crossing the river a lot or if you’re on slippery muddy banks often.
Korkers sell them with 2 soles per boot, and you can buy or order extra soles if needed.
If you only fish 10 days a year an $80.00 to $130.00 dollar boot is fine. If you fish like me, I’m in $200.00 boots from Korkers, but I know they will last over 300 days on the water so they are worth if for me.
Something else to consider when buying boots is that the more expensive boots will offer better ankle support. If you’re not used to walking on rocks, slopes and rough banks, and a good ankle support is something you need, then spending an extra $80.00 is way better then being in the hospital and missing a week of work because of a sprained or broken ankle.
Boot foot waders usually have poor ankle support which is another reason I wear and recommend stocking foot waders with good separate wading boots.
Basically, the cheaper you go on boots, the less they last and the less ankle support you get. For waders and boots, it really all depends on how much you plan on fishing or what your budget will allow and how much ankle support you need.
Also, something to consider when thinking about buying really expensive waders especially if you are a guy that only fishes 5 days a year. I’ve seen waders over $300 literally break down over 5 to 10 years and leak like crazy even though they’ve only been used 20 to 50 times. I’ve seen non-leaking waders sit unused for 5 years and then the first time back out leak so bad in multiple spots, with no apparent holes, that the only conclusion is that they lost their breathability somehow and now allow water in.
Therefore, if you’re the guy that only fishes 5 times a year you may be better off buying a $150 set of waders every 5 years, then a $600 pair every 10 years. I’m not saying all waders break down, but I’ve seen it happen and experienced it my self. As far as brands go for waders there’s a bunch of good ones out there but I think Simms brand can’t be beat, and for boots I’ve had great results with Korkers boots because of their adaptability for any river condition and their durability.
Lastly, for fly fishing stuff I recommend Drift Outfitters in Toronto or Angling Sports in London Ontario. Those guys won’t push super expensive stuff on you that you don’t need and they are very knowledgeable. They may be a bit more expensive then the big box stores but you wont leave with an empty wallet and a bunch of stuff you don’t really need. The guys that own these stores where local river anglers themselves and they know their stuff.