Every Montana fly fisherman has spent some time on their butt after slipping along the river. Montana is famous for its lack of flat rocks. Thanks to an extensive Glacial history, most Montana rocks are round. If you want to know what walking on bowling balls is like, wade fish Montana.
Thankfully, there are some great products to help keep more anglers dry and upright when they are fishing.
I do not care how careful you are, falling, slipping, and sliding is a reality of fishing Montana! We need decent traction to stay on our feet and dry.
It is funny how some anglers are best equipped from head to ankle and rod to leader. Beyond that, they tie poor knots, buy cheapo flies, and wear cheapo boots. Their hats are and vests are in style and they look good, but…
Wading boots need to give great ankle support, comfort, and go on easily. Many anglers hike while wearing these wading boots. A padded and supportive insole is a must. Simple and secure lacing is also a priority. These qualities do come with a high price tag.
Back in the day, anglers would secure, glue, tape, or strap carpet, felt, or other traction materials to their boot soles. These materials are banned in many watersheds today due to transporting invasive species such as algae and snails. New Zealand snails arrived in the USA thanks to trout fishermen that can afford to fish in New Zealand on a Monday and Montana on a Wednesday. The microscopic snails and eggs could stay moist in their felt boot soles for over a week. Today there are boot wash stations along many rivers for this reason.
Alternatives to felt soles include chains, studs, screws, aluminum, and plastic bars. Special soles have also been designed to be softer and have traction treads. Many homemade inventions are also out there. Check regulations in your area for what is legal.
My suggestion for the best wading boot is the Simms G-3 series of boots. They are not cheap but are worth every penny. The comfort, fit, support, durability, and look are all top notch. They are easy to put on and can be worn with stocking foot waders or a neoprene sock, while wet wading. They are big like Frankenstein boots which means a big base and point of contact in the river. By adding screw in cleats, to the Vibram sole, you can tackle the slickest and roundest rocks in any Montana River.
For anyone that is still uncomfortable while wading, I suggest a collapsible walking stick that folds up and sits in a belt holster until needed.
Stay upright and enjoy walking safely!
For more Montana Grant, find him high and dry at www.montanagrantfishing.com.