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Old 03-02-2015, 01:40 PM   #1
Glen
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Wading boots

I'm hoping to do more river/stream fishing this year. I used to do quite a bit but got into the pond fishing and didn't have enough time for both. After several "rough" bushwack trips, and having some more time going forward, I hope to convince Vtflyfish that we don't always need to kill ourselves. Anyway, the only thing I need are new wading boots. I always used felt and am aware of the controversy. Not sure if they are still legal in NY. I have read mixed reviews (mostly poor) about the various rubber lug sole boots and mostly positive reviews on those boots with aluminum bars/lugs on the bottom. Any reviews on these systems from personal experience would be appreciated. Aside from the main concern about gripping on slippery rocks, the ideal boots would also be reasonably comfortable for walking the banks in. Thanks.
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Old 03-02-2015, 05:35 PM   #2
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I've had several different wading boots over the last couple years. Starting with a pair of Cabelas felt soles, Simms Guides with their AquaTread that was factory studded, a pair of G3 guides with Simms starbite and alumabite studs, and finally the Patagonia Tractor bar boot.

The Simms fit more like shoes/sneakers; more form fitting. They did ok on river bottoms, but would still slide and help me twist my ankles. They were both very comfortable and worked pretty well on trails. The original guides were ok. The G3's were a lot better. Downside to the Simms is you have to buy their proprietary studs that are expensive. $20-40 a box. They do provide better ankle support than the Patagonias due to the more like a hiking boot shape.

My latest pair, the Patagonia Tractor bar, are very tacky on river bottoms. The large surface area of the bars lets you stick to just about any rock. They have enough grip that I have to remind myself to lift my feet more. The are fantastic wading boots. Walking on trail is easy enough; just remember to lift your feet. The bars come with the Patagonias and they are replaceable. The bars need to be broken in for maximum grip They're relatively polished from the factory. Walking around a parking lot before entering the water would speed the process along. Took me about a half a day to get them roughed up.

I'm not sure I'd shell out retail MSRP of $280 for the Patagonias, but for 50% off they were a solid buy. Same with the G3's. I got them half off at the end of season a couple years ago.

If I rated them on a 1-10 scale for overall; Patagonia Tractor bars would be a 8-9. If they were more hiking boot shaped they'ed be a 9-10. The G3's are a 6-7 and if the had a solid bar instead of the pricey alumabite cleats they would be a 9-10 overall. I might try to attach some bars to the G3's as they're now my backup boots...
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Old 03-02-2015, 05:39 PM   #3
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Prometheus,

Thanks for the review. I was reading up on the Patagonia Tractor Bars and have heard no negatives (other than price). They do seem to be everywhere for $279. Not sure if I will find a sale for this season but my birthday is in May and my wife will buy whatever I send a link to her for. How much larger did you size up from your regular shoe?

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Old 03-03-2015, 12:22 AM   #4
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I wear an 11 1/2 so went with a 12 in both Patagonia and Simms. The wading boot manufacturers size them so they're equal to street shoes. Order your regular size; half sizes order up to the next whole size. I'm not sure I would order a whole size larger; might have too much slop and a greater chance for injury. They have some room for socks built in.

The Tractor bars do have a nice wide sole and replacement bars are around 40 for the set. They also have inserts for the screws that hold the bars making the connection more secure. Patagonia also has a great lifetime guarantee.

If you do go with Simms, you can get Kold Kutter studs on eBay. Something like 100 for $20-30. I went with the 3/8's inch. If you want to do it right, drill a small pilot hole, dampen it with some water, add a touch of gorilla glue to the studs before screwing them into the sole. There are some factory screw holes in there too; but I've had several studs pull out because I didn't use the glue. I've had nothing but excellent customer service from Simms too.

Go to Patagonia's website and sign up for their emails. They send emails for promotions and deals occasionally.
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Old 03-03-2015, 10:18 AM   #5
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I bought a pair of Chota STL Plus last fall. They were Fly Rod and Reel mag award winners a couple years back. They have felt with studs and I really like the no tie system. They were about $160.
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Old 03-04-2015, 11:56 AM   #6
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I run an older (2011) pair of Korker's OmniTrax. I have put some miles on them up and down the salmon river and generally have only used the rubber studded soles. The felts I don't think I've used at all. They're comfortable to walk in and I've been through some pretty hairy situations with them.

I usually wear a size 11 shoe and bought a size 13(I think, definitely larger) boot, and they fit like a glove with the wader bootie and a wool sock.
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Old 03-04-2015, 02:33 PM   #7
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Glen im with Gman on the Chota STL Plus. The Chotas are im my opinion, more comfortable than the Patagonia Rock Grip Aluminum Bar. I wore out the Chotas so I went with a pair of the Patagonias last year. It may sound strange, but I feel the aluminum bars are a little to grippy. I will try to explain why. While fishing the Esopus Creek last Spring, I felt at times that I was a little to firmly planted on the rocks. This may sound like a good thing, but with the pressure of the current against my upper thigh, and one foot firmly planted, It seemed that my ACL could tear at any moment. This only occurred while walking. Once both feet are down you have less of a chance of rotating your knees.
In any case I switched the aluminium bar out for the studded version of the Rock Grip and have not had the same issue. It may seem counterintuitive not having as much grip as possible. Some swear by the Aluminum Bar Tech. I love Patagonia products from their waders to jackets, but the bars are not my thing. The bars I used are the original rectangular version. The new 2015 Foot Tractor boots use a new multi direction or zigzag bar design.

Last edited by mar71; 03-04-2015 at 03:16 PM..
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Old 03-04-2015, 03:21 PM   #8
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There is the issue of felt. Not good if steelheading in snow but. No worries there for me. I bought an inexpensive pair of rubber sole canvas for float tube, walking and fishing up here where it's mostly fine gravel. The Chotas are a little heavy but they super comfortable. They grip well without being too grippy and you're right you can be too grippy
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Old 03-04-2015, 06:57 PM   #9
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Those are interesting insights about "too grippy". Never thought that could happen but you have me thinking twice now about the Patagonias. I know the Patagonia changed the design but the grip issue would probably be the same. I'll check out the Chota's but I am concerned about the felt issue. It does appear the Chota's still use felt even with the studs.

Thanks.
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Old 03-04-2015, 08:33 PM   #10
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I haven't run into the "too grippy" problem (yet), but I also haven't used the bars yet. When I replaced five Kold Kutters on each boot (Simms Vibram soles) with the Alumibite Star Cleats, I felt a marked improvement. I may finish the winter with 8 or 9 Alumibites in each boot, along with the Kold Kutters.

The nice thing about the Simms is you can tweek it to your liking and to particular conditions. You can also add Carbide Star Cleats as well, to modulate the grip. The Star Cleats seem to be really well designed.

When the aluminum wears out, I plan to make my own bars from scratch;
and see what happens...

I'm sure you'll be pretty happy with the suggestions further above as well.
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Old 03-04-2015, 08:35 PM   #11
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Ross had a pair of rubber soled Chota's. They were grippier than his new studded Patagonia's.
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Old 03-04-2015, 08:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serotonin View Post
I haven't run into the "too grippy" problem (yet), but I also haven't used the bars yet. When I replaced five Kold Kutters on each boot (Simms Vibram soles) with the Alumibite Star Cleats, I felt a marked improvement. I may finish the winter with 8 or 9 Alumibites in each boot, along with the Kold Kutters.

The nice thing about the Simms is you can tweek it to your liking and to particular conditions. You can also add Carbide Star Cleats as well, to modulate the grip. The Star Cleats seem to be really well designed.

When the aluminum wears out, I plan to make my own bars from scratch;
and see what happens...

I'm sure you'll be pretty happy with the suggestions further above as well.

Sero,

I actually understood everything in your post. My reading comprehension must be improving.
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Old 03-04-2015, 08:51 PM   #13
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If so... I am happy for you.

(English is my fifth or sixth language).
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Old 03-04-2015, 11:01 PM   #14
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Speaking of wading, whose got a recommendation on a good pair of waders? My current pair leak like a sieve.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:34 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by BigRange View Post
Speaking of wading, whose got a recommendation on a good pair of waders? My current pair leak like a sieve.
Can't go wrong with Simms. Pricey though.
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Old 03-05-2015, 01:47 PM   #16
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I could never find a pair of Simms or Patagonia to fit me. I had 2 pairs of Orvis which I thought were good. Last year I would run into guys ATVing up here and they all wore these Frogg Togg suits. I asked about them and they loved them and said they were super durable and the warranty was good

So I saw there waders and bought a pair. Like them way better than the Orvis and a lot less money plus I like the colour. Some waders I tried on were almost white and glowed. My Frogg Toggs are brownish green, the colour waders should be. Same with the Chota boots. Some boots I tried on looked like boots for a mission to Mars. The Chotas look like wading boots should.

Get the top of the line ones as they make different levels. The top of the line is not very expensive.
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Old 03-05-2015, 07:15 PM   #17
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FWIW, I know of no wader manufacturer with a better warranty than LL Bean. After wearing Simms for the past 13 years or so, I made the switch to Bean last year. Am rather happy.

The Simms were super easy to fix pinholes, and even punctures or tears. But the seams will eventually go and then you're pretty much SOoL. Of course, nearly nothing lasts forever, yet I feel that I can get far more mileage out of these Beans without abusing the generous warranty. I actually forgot what it's like to fish in waders that don't leak. I like the fit better too, as well as the much better shoulder straps.

The price is also far more reasonable; made even more palatable by picking up a pair on clearance. It was a no-brainer determination for me, and I'm pleased that I didn't waste any more brain cells making some sort of agonizing decision. The waders I have were discontinued and I believe replaced by the Kennebec model: http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/81314...-stocking-foot

Just last night a friend called to ask the size of my waders which he had tried on last year. No, not the red ones. He's getting the Emerger II's: http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/72816?feat=81314-pprrtop I'm certain he will be happy with them (and the warranty!). Again, it was a no-brainer, and he didn't hesitate.

But now he has to agonize over which boots to get, which brings us full-circle to Glen's original question.
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Old 03-06-2015, 09:16 AM   #18
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I like the patagonia ones with the bars, i have the older o es with ghe straight bar. First rubber boots after being a felt guy, i have no complaints about them at all... I did have to order a size down though, i usually wear size 12 boots, but the 12's were comically big, the 11's are perfect.
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:12 AM   #19
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I have ll bean as well but I have found that the quality has plummeted IMO, I'm on my 4th pair thank god for the warranty
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:23 AM   #20
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I got the neoprene/nylon Pro Line Waders (made in China) at Dick's Sporting Goods three years ago when they were on sale for $79.99. Got one size larger than foot size, as those waders made in China seem to be much smaller. I spiked the soles with 3/8" Carbide Star Clusters using Gorilla Glue on each Cluster I inserted. Also inserted Dr. Scholl's Cushion Flex Lined Inner Soles for better comfort/insulation during ice fishing season.

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