Ask the Pros: How to Size Wading Boots

The right pair of wading boots can make all the difference in how much you enjoy your time on the water. The traction and comfort they offer really make or break your day.

What trips a lot of folks up, though, is finding a boot that’s the perfect fit. Today, we’ll take a look at a few quick tips that can help you learn how to size wading boots, and pick the right pair for your upcoming adventures on the water.

Korkers Terror Ridge Wading Boot (12 - Felt/Kling-On)

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Check the Manufacturer

The boots pictured above are one of my favorite pairs of all-time – the Korkers Terror Ridge. These boots are bomb-proof, sturdy, and comfortable as hell.

Korkers does a lot of things right when building wading boots, but one of their brightest ideas was to build boots that run a size larger than your average street shoes. I wear a size 11 shoe, but my Korkers boots are all size 12s. This keeps things easy for me when I need to pop on a new pair.

That rule doesn’t hold true for other manufacturers, though. Orvis boots, for example, always run small on me. I order two sizes larger than I think I need when ordering from Orvis, and those fit perfectly.

So, if you’re in doubt about what size you really should be putting on, spend some time looking through the manufacturers’ recommendations. They know what they’re talking about, and most of the time, their sizing charts are pretty helpful.

Wear your Waders

While most of the wading industry has moved towards pretty standardized sizes in the neoprene boots on waders, there’s still plenty of wiggle room. The difference between 5mm and 3mm neoprene stocking feet might not seem like a big deal, but jammed into a pair of wading boots? Yeah, you’ll notice it right away.

So, when you go to your local fly shop to try on wading boots, take your waders. No one is going to give you a weird look for having your waders with you, and you’ll be able to tell pretty instantly whether or not the boots you’ve picked out fit well with your everyday fishing attire.

Double Check the Fit

When you put on your pair of boots, you’re looking for a few key things as far as fit goes.

First off, you don’t want your toes jammed up against the front of the boot. Throughout the course of a day of fishing, that’ll happen often enough. Starting out with a boot where your toes are already smashed is a recipe for disaster.

Second, you’ll want to see what the support on the boots is like. I have pretty weak ankles, so I prefer boots with strong ankle support. You might want something a bit more flexible for longer walks around high-country meadows. Pick the boot that checks all of those boxes, and not just a few of them.

Lastly, double-check the lace system. I prefer boots with the BOA cables, because they don’t loosen up throughout the day. One of the worst days of fishing I’ve ever experienced involved me losing a boot because of loose laces.

Find a lace system that’ll lock down tight, and stay that way. Walk around in the boots for a few minutes and see if they’ve loosened at all. Remember, you’re putting good money into these boots – they should perform up to your expectations.

Learning how to size wading boots isn’t a science – it’s just like sizing street shoes. You put the time in, check the fit, and make sure you’re happy with what you’ve found. Then, you go see just how many fish you can catch in ’em.

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