How to Select the Best Wading Boots for Surf Fishing

wading boots

How to Select the Best Wading Boots for Surf Fishing

We get asked a lot of questions about the best wading boots for fishing in the surf and wading safety in general from anglers new to the surf. Most of these customers just want to stay dry and upright. Others with some experience in the surf are interested in upgrading from traditional boot foot waders for the improved support and therefore confidence offered by wading boots. The most common reasons cited by anglers to upgrade from boot foot waders is while this may be easier to put on the fit is often poor.  So confidence, while rock hopping and comfort on long walks on soft sand, can leave a lot to be desired.

We also noticed customers rarely ask us about wetsuits. We don’t offer any as we have been unable to source them from Henderson Aquatics (the parent company of Stormr) and their lack of presence might be why they don’t come up in conversation. The advantages include a safer option in bigger surf than waders in that they can not fill up with water, and there is more protection in the event you do fall, the tighter fit reduces the fatigue of fighting the current and some buoyancy. The fact is most of the employees in the shop make regular use of their wetsuit.

Wading Boot Traction Options and Opinions

That being said regardless if you wear stocking foot waders, boot foot waders or a wetsuit one thing remains constant, and that is that the search continues for the best traction to use for wading boots for surf fishing. Opinions vary with the type of shoreline most frequently fished and the number of outings per season, but no argues the need for adequate traction as the consequences can be tragic.

What follows are the survey results and comments of customers about their opinions on wading safety, comfort and product choices.

To avoid introducing any bias, I created a few definitions. While felt and rubber tread seemed self-explanatory, It was difficult to be clear about studs versus “aggressive studs” while at the same time avoiding using brand names

wading boot traction

Various stud options available from Simms

In the survey “Rubber with Aggressive Studs” describe the Korker Studded Rubber Sole so popular in the striper surf.

wading boot traction

Korkers Studded Rubber Sole

“Grip Studs” is a brand name for tungsten carbide studs initially developed as motorcycle tire studs. Studs of this type are typically the most aggressive.

wading boot traction

Various Grip Stud options

Nonetheless, the question was not clear enough as some respondents used “Other” to describe boots with aftermarket studs

Preferred Sole for Wading Confidence and Safety


Not surprisingly, studs are considered a must in the northeast wading boots for surf fishing. More specifically,  Felt with Studs and Korkers Studded Rubber was the most popular “off the shelf” options and tied for second place. Wading Boots with Grip Studs was the first choice by a small margin as that choice was the majority of the other category.

Interesting Customer Comments:

  • Depends on the bottom, studs for large rocks felt for small stones and nothing for sand
  • Wading staff – on occasion

Saltwater Edge Comments:

The fact that “studs are a must” is no surprise, but Grip Studs scored better than we anticipated. This may be a sampling bias due to the small survey size and the fact that the folks who order most frequently would logically be more committed and therefore be on the lookout for the best solution. From discussions in the shop that frequent surf casters and wetsuiters can blow through anything less than the Korkers Buckskin in a season.

Aluminum Bars have no place on the slippery boulders. They compress but don’t cut bubble weed and slice fly line with stunning efficiency.

In the shop, we hear customers comment that they “don’t need to buy 50 Grip Studs” As a result of this feedback we are now offering Grip Studs 30 Packs to better suit your needs.

We stock Simms Headwaters Pro Felt Wading Boots as they have the best retention plate for accepting “non-Simms” studs like Grip Studs in their product line. We will take the price point felt Hodgman H4 Boots and add Grip Studs to see if that is a viable option.

wading safety

Where to you wade?

What type sole do you use? What surfaces do you wade most commonly? What are the pluses and minuses of your selection?


Not surprisingly the responses suggest the sole selection relates to the bottom at the anglers favorite common fishing spots. A good case can be made for the most popular options. The customer comments point out the “minuses” that we typically hear.

Interesting Customer Comments:

Felt with Studs

  • Rocky slick bottom. Bowling ball sized rocks. Easy to roll an ankle. The felt covers the surface well to give you support, and the spikes dig into the weeds and moss
  • I use felt/stud soles on Rhody rocks. I switch out for rubber when I’m on the sand.
  • Slimy rocks in Gloucester, MA. The felt/stud combo seems to work well, although I’m not sure if it’s overkill or not. It may be that rubber w/ studs would work just as well.
  • Currently Korkers Felt with studs. Mostly Rocky and with some vegetation. Plus comfortable, good grip initially when studs are secure. Minuses- gets heavy due to soaking up water and longer dry time.

Aggressive Studded Rubber

  • I use I use Korkers Studded Rubber for fishing the rocks in Montauk, they”re the best. The only minus is they are heavy.

Tungsten Carbide Studs

  • Moss and seaweed covered rocks most outings. Grip Studs provide great grip a bit uncomfortable walk on rocks for prolonged outings
  • Rocks with thick bubble weed and lots of barnacles. I currently have Simms Vibram soles with 35 grip studs/washers in each boot. I can climb walls. They’re slippery on flat, smooth rocks, but most studs are.
  • Wading boots with grip studs added. Rocky/boulder fields and jetties. This combo has provided the best footing but is a little pricey depending on the boot.
  • I mostly made boulders and ledges. My biggest problem with grip studs has been that they tend to dig into the sole of the boot and push through the insole.

Aluminium Bars

  • I use the Korker wading boots with the Aluma Trax soles. Throughout 2016, they were great on jetties and rocks at CCC. The rivets that hold the bars onto the sole need to be redesigned.

Wading Sandals

  • Korkers slip over style hate them they loosen up and lose studs

Saltwater Edge Take-Aways:

There is a case to be made for each of the most popular options. Like the discussions about rods and reels it get’s back to the most common question we ask customers “Where do you plan to fish?”

Here are our take-aways:

  • Create Grip Stud install video (Grip Stud, appropriate washer, and Gorilla Glue)
  • Test Hodgman H4 Felt Boots with Grip Studs installed as a “price point” alternative
  • Survey customers to determine interest in purchasing Simms, Hodgman or Orvis wading boots with Grip Studs installed before shipment. If this is of interest to you, please say so in the comments.

Do you have any other comments or suggestions? If so we would love to hear from you. Thanks in advance.

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