Is Old Felt Still Cool: Simms Freestone Wading Boot Review for Fly Anglers Who Walk the Talk | Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

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You've stomped through streams in high-end boots, budget boots, and even—admit it—that one ill-fated attempt in sneakers. But today, we're wading into the debate you've all been waiting for: Is the Simms Freestone Wading Boot with a felt sole really the Cadillac of the river, or is it just another sinking ship? Buckle up, buttercup. We're about to find out.

Funny Story: I can recall accidentally leaving my boots behind and wading in tennis shoes.  It’s not ideal; you slip and slide, but hey, I was fishing.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

First off, let's not fish around. In this unfiltered review, we're serving the Simms Freestone Wading Boots: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Spoiler alert: it's mostly good for the waders…conservation may think otherwise.  I’ve been wearing them for a while, and they do not leave you fishin' and wishin' for better boots.

Felt Sole vs. Rubber Sole: The Ultimate Showdown

Ah, the age-old debate. Are felt soles really better? Will you grip or will you slip? To all the fly anglers out there wondering, let's settle this: Felt soles are like that grip-tape on skateboards—only for river stones. So, if you've been a die-hard rubber-sole advocate, maybe it's time to feel the felt. The slip resistance can be unparalleled.  Add in studs and man, you have a wicked pair of boats.

Conservation, Invasive Species, etc.

Look, I’ll review the boots, and you can decide on the environmental issues.  Here is my perspective.  If you wear felt boats, then wash them.  We need our waterways around in the future.  Don’t be lazy!  Frankly, wash all boots and waders between different waterways. Want to hear a podcast on this issue go to the Halloween show on October 31st, 2023 - Fishing Opportunities in the Great Lakes Areas and Invasive Species

Durability Test: Are Simms Boots Up to the Challenge?

Who wants to buy a boot that falls apart faster than a wet sandwich? No one, that's who. In the river-ready challenge, these Freestone boots are more rock than roll, holding up like a champ against rocky terrains and occasional fishing boot fails (we all have them, don't lie). I like to look for solid stitching and common wear areas around the toe box.  What I will do is hold a manufacturer up to their warranty policy.  If a boot fails from construction then I’ll challenge the warranty. 

Walk on Water: Simms Freestone Wading Boot Magic

Okay, you can't actually walk on water. But you can feel like you are. These boots make you nimble, agile, and basically a river ninja. In the world of trout fishing foot gear, consider these boots your magical stilts.
Second, the advantage of felt boots is wearing them on a boat.  DO NOT GET IN A BOAT WITH STUDDED BOOTS! I REPEAT…DO NOT…GET IN…A BOAT…WITH STUDDED BOOTS! Boats are expensive, and boots aren’t. Instead, bring a pair of felt boots, and it won’t harm the boat. If you forgot them…pull your boots off, and you’ll have to put up with the neoprene feet of your waders.  Common courtesy for the boat angler. 

Fishing Boot Fails (and How Simms Avoid Them)

You've seen 'em. Those fly-angling folks who step into a stream and—SPLASH—take a nose-dive. Most of the time, it's because they're wearing boots built for, well, not fishing. Enter Simms Freestone, Wading Boot. If boots could laugh, these would be chuckling at all the others. They're designed to help you avoid being the subject of the next viral fishing fail video. The grip of felt on rocks and substrate is typically better than rubber.  Even non-slip rubber can’t hold a candle to it so if you want stable boots, then felt is the way to go.

The Simms Debate: Worth the Hype?

So, is the Simms Freestone Wading Boot worth the hype? Should you toss your old boots into the "garage sale" pile and run (not wade) to get these? 

In a word: Yes.

In other words: Yes, what are you waiting for? Get felt boots.  Because I travel, I feel a pair of felts needs to be in your boot collection.  Mainly because I want to be sure that I have a pair of boots on the boat.  Secondly, the last thing I want is a fall on a trip. 

Final Verdict: Fishin' and Wishin' No More

If you've been on the fence, or more likely, on a slippery rock somewhere, it's time to make the jump. Not only are these boots high quality, but they're also a game-changer in the world of fly angling footwear. Keeping you stable, allowing you to use them in various situations and easy to rinse/wash. 

So there you have it, folks. The Simms Freestone Wading Boot: the Good, the Bad (what bad?), and the Fishy. Next time someone asks you about the ultimate guide to fly fishing comfort, just chuckle and show them your feet.

Get ready to wade like a pro, because with these boots, you're not just walking the talk; you're stomping it.

Who Are They For: 
If you are an anglers who wants sure feet at an affordable rate then these are a fantastic option. These are great all-around boots for fly fishing and without waders an excellent option for travel and in the boat.  Winter conditions can get tough in the snow as it may tend to freeze to the boots but once in the water the ice melts off and the sticky factor comes back. Installing studs is easy but it does negate the ability to get in and out of a boat and not damage the floor. 

Competitors to Consider:
Wading Boots: Boots are critical and will help you keep your footing so you don’t get the dreaded water over and in your waters. My favorite is Korkers, but there are options from Simms and Patagonia that people love. Personally, the convenience of Korkers is far better than anyone else.  

Considering new boots then I suggest looking at these too.  

  1. Medical Supplies/Kit: You should always consider putting a medical kit in your car.  My Medic offers a ton of options and the consideration put into the kits is better than what I've seen elsewhere.   I prefer the smaller kits so I can keep one in the truck, and when I show up for a river trip, I can grab it and toss it into the boat or backpack.  Lastly, they have a one stop shop for the kits, refills, etc.
  2. Good Socks: Socks can make a difference on a cold day. Believe it or not, it is best to go with a light to medium sock so you create space around your feet and maintain circulation.  I’ve used these two brands, and they last forever - Simms Socks, Howler Bro Socks
  3. Studs: Simms offers a variety of studs for their boots.  It is key to get the “Felt” studs as the screw length is different.  With the incorrect stud, the tip of the screw can protrude through the boot into the insole and puncture your wader and or foot.  They are easy to identify on their sight but worth mentioning just to be sure. 
  4. Wader Bag: I use a Taco Bag by Simms.  However, any bag that will allow you to store wet waders and have them get airflow, along with allowing you to stand on it while you get in your waders, is suitable.  The latter is most important.  Avoiding pinholes in your wader socks will lengthen the time on your investment tenfold! - Simms
  5. Pocket Knife: You never know when you need to cur an old dry rotted lace, shave some fire starter, or cut your camp steak.  My recent favorite pocket knife has been a Gerber Gear knife. I like the quality of their out-of-the-box knives, but love the unique custom options they have. 

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FFIP does receive a small commission from affiliate sales links. However, not all links are directed towards affiliate programs as I stay neutral and base recommendations more so on my own experiences. These commissions are used to support the FFIP expenses related to maintaining and hosting the show, blog, etc. Thank you for your support and by purchasing through the links within my articles when applicable!

 Christian Bacasa, Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

By Christian Bacasa
Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast
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