These Boot are Made for Walking
Okay, I have an admission to make. I’ve long had a love/hate relationship with wading apparel. In my experience, the gear that works best at keeping you upright, dry and warm when the water’s cold and the current swift isn’t necessarily the most comfortable nor convenient garb for traversing semi-serious back country. That same get-up also tends to suck when it comes to climbing down steep, loose banks, negotiating a minefield of tussock-concealed wombat burrows, doing the tiger snake two-step, or straddling the top strand of a rusty barbed wire fence that’s threatening to rip up the most important “tackle” you own! In short, great waders and wading boots aren’t always the costume of choice when attempting to reach the places where the biggest, dumbest trout actually live… which typically lie about three bends beyond the point where everyone else threw in the towel and decided to fish their way back to the vehicle.
In dirty weather, or where snakes and scratchy scrub are an issue, Starlo reaches for a pair of long pants when wet wading.
To be totally honest, I’d always rather wet wade if it’s at all possible, even when it’s cold enough to have brass monkeys reaching for their soldering irons. I love the mobility afforded by an old pair of shorts, some thick woollen socks and a set of comfortable boots that can handle getting wet without turning into leaden anchors. When the water’s chilly or the shrubbery spikey, I’ll add a pair of long johns under my shorts to complete a fly fisher’s uniform that’s regularly seen across the ditch in New Zealand, but remains less common in my Aussie homeland. The end result won’t win any awards for sartorial splendour, but it’s sure as hell practical. In that pared-down get-up, I can hike for half a day without drowning in a pool of my own sweat, while overcoming most of the obstacles encountered along the way… and it’s comfortable! If snakes or blackberries are a genuine concern, I’ll swap out the shorts and long johns for thicker pants. Dressed this way, I can concentrate on fishing, instead of wondering how little time will elapse between my next swig from the water bottle and having to unbuckle, unstrap, unroll and unzip to take another bank-side pit stop…
Landing a solid rainbow on a typically windy Tasmanian day
With all of this in mind, I’ve long been on the lookout for a form of footwear that might offer the ideal combination of hiking cred’ and wading performance. When I spotted a pair of Simms Flyweight Wading Boots in a catalogue, I figured I may have finally found that Holy Grail of footloose back country fishing.
I’ve now owned a pair of these aptly-named Flyweights for just shy of a year. I wish I could tell you they’ve eaten up hundreds of kilometres of remote terrain in that time, but I can’t. An apocalyptic quadruple whammy of droughts, fires, floods and a global pandemic have conspired to seriously curtail my fishing efforts across the past 12 months: to the point where I’m almost embarrassed at how relatively un-scuffed, unscathed and pristine those boots remain. But I have spent enough hours in them to know that my initial hopes of finding something close to the ultimate hybrid between hiking and wading footwear seem well-founded.
I deliberately chose my Flyweights a size smaller than my old Simms wading boots, because I didn’t need them to fit over the thick, neoprene booties of a set of waders. These new additions were intended to be one trick ponies: wet wading footwear for back country adventures that often lay at the end of a serious bush bash. I’m pleased to report that — to date — they’ve excelled in this role.
My old and very well-worn Simms wading boots alongside my newer Flyweights. Those old boots still get a regular run whenever waders are demanded.
These boots are so light, comfortable and flexible that it’s easy to forget you’re wearing them. But when the chips are down, those Vibram soles grip exactly as intended. With their low profile and mesh uppers, the Flyweights also shed water fast when you exit the stream and dry quicker than anything similar I’ve worn, meaning the hike back out is as comfortable as the hike in. And when you finally reach the ute at day’s end, getting them off isn’t a tedious ten minutes of Yoga-like contortion that involves leaping around on one leg like a constipated crane while wrestling with metres of knotted, recalcitrant lacing. These things are off in a flash, greatly reducing that all-important wait time before liberating something cold, brown and frothy from the cooler.
Simms Flyweight Wading Boots are exactly what it says on the box, and they work as intended. That’ll do me.
My happy place: wet-wading waist deep in a Kiwi river with a handful of dry-fly-eating wild brown.
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