I first owned a pair of the game-changing, original Simms Flyweight wading boots about four years ago and was suitably impressed with levels of comfort I had not had previously in a wading boot. You know that feeling when you’ve been tramping for days on end and you get back to the car and put on a pair of jandals or sneakers? It feels like you can float on air!
This is what the Flyweights felt like all the time, just like you are wearing standard sneakers and not heavy, waterlogged wading boots that are taxing when on the river all day, unnecessarily taxing our energy that could be better spend on fishing more.
I’ve had a few trips now to put the latest edition 2022 Simms Flyweight Access boots through their paces - one on a backcountry river in a classic New Zealand boots and shorts situation, with the other trip on another backcountry stream wearing the new Simms G3 Guide waders.
Very quickly I knew the Simms Flyweight Access boots were going to be exceptionally good.
PICKING UP WHERE FELT SOLES LEFT OFF
Cue 2007 and Didymo’s rapid spread throughout the South Island was of major concern for freshwater anglers worldwide, with some of our most beautiful rivers choked in this carpet of filthy green snot. If that wasn’t bad enough, then came the ban on felt-soled wading boots!
Felt-soled boots were incredible, they lasted well, and if you did wear them out, you’d simply grind off the old sole and glue another layer of felt down. Of course, the major benefit was grip on slippery river rocks. Felt was amazing! Even rivers like the Waipunga, Tongariro and Taruarau, which are some of the slipperiest in the country, anglers skipped happily from boulder to boulder, perching on top of the green slime without a care in the world. Felt had some serious GRIP!!!
Some 15 years, hundreds of tumbles, broken bones and smashed knees later, anglers again have a new boot to the market with grip levels almost as good as the felt soles of yesteryear.
THE NEW SIMMS FLYWEIGHT ACCESS BOOT REVIEW
I had just spent a few days in the Tararua ranges filming for an upcoming episode of Pure Fly NZ with good mate, Kyle Adams. Kyle was field-testing them before release on the NZ market. We were in some extremely challenging gorge country, full of sharp, shale rocks for at least ten hours a day and Flyweight Access boots stood up admirably.
The first thing you’ll notice about the boots is of course their feather weight – they are similar to an ultra-light hiking boot in weight at around 1300 grams.
I must confess at first eyeballing of the new Vibram Idogrip Flex soles I was a bit sceptical as to how well they would last in these types of conditions. The soles felt almost like EVA foam in hand, they are soft and conform with pressure. However, at the end of two days, Kyle’s boots exhibited not a SINGLE cut, nick or gouge in the sole anywhere, nor any abnormal wear at all. Impressive stuff.
Will the Vibram Idogrip Flex sole last as long as a traditional Vibram sole? Probably not, but this is a question for the buyer to weigh up. Do you favour longevity at the expense of possibly doing some serious damage to yourself should you slip over in the river? Or do you lean towards having the sure-footedness of the Idogrip sole, albeit with perhaps slightly less longevity. I know what I would take as my time on the water is precious, I’d much prefer to be fishing than laid up in hospital with a smashed hip, or worse!
I cannot reiterate enough how good these boots are on slippery rocks, nothing in the current market can even come close to this level of grip apart from felt soles themselves, and they aren’t going to be legal again anytime soon.
The front toe cap is more substantial and less complicated than on the previous model. It’s now one-piece, allowing for less chance of delamination down the track.
I’m a huge fan of welded technology on boots. Years of owning traditional stitched boots and having to apply a seam of Aquaseal on the stitching only a few weeks into ownership to preserve their longevity are gone. Cared for and looked after, these welded TPU abrasion panels easily outlast traditional stitching that often unravelled on first contact with rocks.
One important aspect of wading boots I have learnt over the years is to NOT leave them out in the sun to dry as this accelerated drying can lead to cracks in synthetic and leather boots, so leave them in a nice shady location with some airflow for a few days and you’ll get a much longer lifetime out of your wading boots, no matter what they’re made of.
Gone are the radial dark grey lines - the new Simms Flyweight Access Boot is clean on looks, the way a boot should be as it’s not a fashion contest out there. Colour is less grey and a more neutral tan, and the main boot fabric looks to be more substantial and coarser in texture. I never had any issues with the previous generation grey fabric, but being a coarser weave I suspect the welded TPU panels will stick a little better to the boot and last a little longer down the track.
Sizing is bang on. Simms allow extra room for either a neoprene wader sock or wader sock, so there is no need to up-size, just get your regular shoe size and you’re away laughing. I can’t understand why some anglers upsize in a wading boot when Simms already factor a neoprene sock into the equation.
Put simply, if you already wear a US10 shoe then buy a US10 Flyweight Access boot.
The laces are thinner and appear to be stronger, they feel like possibly a Dyneema blend, which is extremely strong, and as on the original Flyweight’s, running through substantial flat webbing loops.
If I had one criticism, and I remember pointing this out with the original Flyweight boots, it’s that the laces are a tad short. Even snugged up tightly, I cannot utilise the top lace eyes. Perhaps I have cankles, or simply the laces are a bit short - it’s not a huge drawback however as I usually just lace up to the 2nd to last eyes anyway in my haste to fish the river first.
THE SMALL DETAILS
- Simms retained the round metal ring for clipping wader gravel guards into, but these are not required with the new G3 Guide waders having only an elasticated cuff
- There are now two large finger loops on the rear for ease of putting the boots on and taking off, a welcome addition
- Can you run studs on these? Studs yes, cleats no, and I cannot possibly see why you would need to with the levels of wet, and dry grip the already exhibit
TAKING THE WINNING SIMMS FLYWEIGHT BOOT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
The original Simms Flyweight boots arguably became the favourite boot of NZ anglers. The longevity was well proven over many seasons and ask any of the country’s top fly fishing guides for advice on boots and what they recommend to their clients, and I will guarantee they will say the Flyweights - and I'm confident the Flyweight Access boots will carry the torch and then some.
If you have not guessed, I’m most impressed with the new Simms Flyweight Access boots, so if you’re in the market for a new wading boot this coming central North Island winter season or the new season October 1st then the Flyweight Access Boots will take a lot to beat as the best wading boot on the market right now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrew Harding is a die hard fly fisherman that spends more time on the water than most of us do at work. Check out some of his amazing fly fishing film work over on his Youtube channel.