Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Can a wading boot grip get any better than this ?

I have just bought a new pair of the outstanding Simms Rivershed wading boots to replace my original ones that are starting to look somewhat worse for wear after a few years' heavy use over all kinds of terrain. No wading boot has ever lasted me so long, and once again it reiterates to me the fact that it usually pays to buy once and pay a bit more to get a product that does the job so well. My original pair of Rivershed wading boots had a felt sole into which I had screwed some metal wading studs that again have lasted well. I had bought the wading boots out in Montana on a photo job when I needed felt soles for use on a drift boat. Aside from the perfectly useless laces that broke after a day or two (why oh why do so many brilliant products tend to have some sort of minor but annoying flaw ?), I just can not find a fault with the boots, and especially with how hard I know I wear my shoes and boots. Personally I think that saltwater anglers are often expecting too much from a wading boot that was never designed for the kind of stuff we put them through, and this is perhaps why I am so impressed with these Simms ones. But then look at the price. I still reckon the Greys Platinum wading boots offer some of the best value for money out there if you do not want to pay say Simms prices, but we need to be a bit more realistic........

So the time came to buy a new pair the other day, and it helps having a mate who owns a fly fishing shop and can let me try on a few different sizes before buying (check here, ring them about Simms stuff). My foot size is 11 (a US size 12) and when I use Hardy and Greys wading boots I just get a UK size 11 - I am guessing therefore that they have cleverly allowed for the fact that wading boots end in a relatively thick neoprene wading sock (except for these wader type things I am trialling at the moment that is). But with these new Simms boots I have ended up going for a UK size 12 (US size 13) - one size larger, so I guess that different companies size their wading boots differently. Worth bearing in mind. A few mates of mine have bought the Simms Rivershed wading boots over the last few years and are getting on with them as well as I have been. Don't ask me why or how, but they feel more like wearing a comfortable pair of hiking boots rather than out and out wading boots if that makes any sense, and for the amount of walking and scrabbling that lure fishing can involve this can only be a good thing. No, they are not remotely cheap, but the really good stuff rarely is. I stand by the fact that I believe a decent pair of waders and wading boots to be as important as your rod and reel.

But it's the grip on these new wading boots of mine that are really floating my boat big time. I have gone for the StreamTread Vibram soles, and into those I have screwed these Simms Star Cleats that you can see above. I have worn these out on the rocks only a few times so far, but the grip on them seems to be almost freakily good. Felt and studs works well, and I have extensively used the very grippy rubber/studded sole on the Greys Platinum wading boots a lot as well, but these StreamTread Vibram soles and the (not remotely cheap either) Star Cleats to me just seem to be another step up when it comes to grip and thus comfort and ease of movement. I was not sure whether to splash the extra cash on these more specialist looking Star Cleats rather than a more regular (and cheaper) packet of straight forward wading studs (like these here), but Nick and I spoke about it and I decided that they had to be worth a go. Very pleased so far, but I will report back later in the year to tell you if I think they were worth the extra dosh.

I have screwed mine in as logically as I could, and they seem to work just fine, but I might take them out over time and put them in like this pattern above that is recommended on the Simms website (check here). I like the fact that there are holes and spaces already in the bottom of the soles for easily screwing in these studs, but one thing I can't help but be bothered a little by is the fact that it says on the Simms website "the combination of removable studs/cleats and the StreamTread sole offers superior traction" - so why not just include a packet of studs or cleats with the boots and then offer some kind of price saving over buying the goods separately ? Or is that me just being picky ? Whatever the case, these new wading boots and their spaceship looking studs seem to offer the best grip I have come across so far, and I have been using breathable waders and wading boots for a long time now.

I am off to Jersey early on Friday morning for a few days - meeting up with Keith and Kevin White to go and photograph a load of lure fishing. One of the aims is to see these new Century lure rods in action and get all the photos, details, insights etc. Much as Jersey is really easy to get to on a plane, I have chosen to take the Condor ferry over from Weymouth because it means I can take all the camera gear I want to. I fly plenty for my work, but inevitably you have to compromise on what you can take with you and I thought for that this short trip I would do what I do when I go to Ireland and jump on a ferry. Believe it or not, ferries for me are always a huge thrill when you are used to flying so much in steerage/cattle class !! I always love going to the Channel Islands, so this short jaunt should be a blast. Staying at the very angler-friendly Shakespeare hotel that sits on that awesome south east coast - I have stayed here plenty before, and all you need to do is to step out of the hotel at low tide and have a look at all that ground out there that has been exposed. Inspirational ain't the word.........