The Best Wading Boot for Muddy Banks

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Wading boots come with different soles, all offering varying levels of traction and support.
Wading boots come with different soles, all offering varying levels of traction and support. (Image: Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Wading boots come in all kinds of styles and materials, but the best shoe is one that ensures safety. If you're fly fishing in the river, look for a boot with enough flexibility and traction in the sole to traverse a wet, rocky route. If you're doing more walking on a muddy trail, try a wading boot that will keep your ankles from twisting or rolling. Accessories and maintenance can also increase the effectiveness of your wading boot.

Felt Soles

Wading boots with felt soles form to the shape of rocks, allowing boots to grip slippery surfaces and maintain solid traction. Felt soles are not meant for walking long distances or rugged hiking; therefore, they may need to be replaced from time to time.

Although felt soles can offer traction in slippery places, if not cleaned correctly, they can also carry and spread invasive species across fields and streams. Because larvae and spores from non-indigenous can catch onto felt soles, some areas across the country have started limitations and bans on the use of such soles.

Rubber and Studded Soles

Wading boots are also available with rubber and studded soles. Rubber-soled wading boots have similar characteristics to hiking boots. They may not offer the same solid traction that felt soles provide on mud or riverbed rocks. However, they provide great support when walking through the forested areas and complex, but drier terrains.

Studded or cleated wading boots have a rubber or felt sole, but also include little metal spikes built-in around the heel and toe. These types of wading boots are best when crossing an especially rocky and muddy stream.

Accessories for Extra Support

Even the best wading boots can be paired with some type of extra support. Boot cleats and river talons are gripping accessories that are fitted around a wading boot. They have small metal spikes and provide extra traction at the bottom of feet -- a necessity when crossing or fishing in fast-moving waters.

Additionally, a wading staff can help keep bodies upright in muddy banks. Manufactured staffs are made of material such as aluminum and can be collapsed when not in use.

Maintenance

The best wading boot is one that is diligently taken care of after a day trudging through muddy trails and riverbeds. Not only will cleaning extend the life of your boots, but you will help prevent the spread of invasive species.

Before leaving a lake or stream, remove mud, sand or other natural material from the bottom and sides of your boot. If possible, use fresh water and a stiff brush to clean off the debris. Thoroughly dry the insides and outsides of your boots.

Other methods include soaking your boots in hot water with either a dishwashing detergent or salt solution. Wait for wading boots to completely dry before wearing again.

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