Tip: Stop Grossly Overpaying for Wading Boot Studs

I don't shy away from paying high prices for premium gear. I buy expensive rods, expensive reels, high end apparel and the like. I do this to a fault, more often than not, doing so in a financially irresponsible manner. It's an addiction. I love gear, and when I perceive that gear to be of exceptional quality or perhaps just otherwise "nice", I don't mind paying a high price to own it. However, when I find myself paying high prices for something that seems to have absolutely no justification whatsoever for its high price, it drives me crazy. This has always been the case with boot studs. You pay a ridiculous price for a fraction of the number of studs you actually need on your boots, knowing the whole time that you just got raked over the coals. With the alternative being a miserable, or potentially dangerous, day of slipping and stumbling all over the river, you pipe down and pay.

kold kutter ice racing screws
20 studs, 95% cheaper.

Most of the major fly fishing gear companies are guilty on this one. The typical boot stud setup offers 20 studs/screws at a price around $25-30. That's as high as $1.50 per piece for a screw. You tell yourself that it's okay, because these are fancy screws, but you know better. I've known for some time that there must have been an alternative to these overpriced solutions, but lazy searches for bargain varieties revealed nothing.

Until now. During a recent trip to the shining beacon that is New York's Salmon River, a stop for studs at Malinda's Fly and Tackle shop in Altmar, NY yielded a revelation. When I asked for some studs, instead of being handed a tiny plastic case with 20 screws on it and a $30 price tag, I was handed I giant tupperware container overflowing with hardened steel screws with generous V cuts for traction and basically told to go to town. And at 20 cents a pop, why not? I loaded up both boots with a generous amount of studs for a tiny fraction of what I'd have paid for "premium" wading boot studs.

So what are these little gems? Turns out there is a whole community of people that love racing their dirt bikes on ice. Who knew? Evidently, if you want to race your dirt bike on ice, you need to load up your tires with screws. Enter Kold Kutter. Since 1975, Kold Kutter has been making ice racing screws of all shapes and sizes for drilling into your dirt bike tires. As it so happens, these ice racing screws make excellent wading boot studs. The 3/8" studs turned out to be perfect for my Simms Guide Boots, if your wading boot has thicker soles, you could probably go with the 1/2". Kold Kutter sells these in bulk for $0.08 a piece.

kold kutter screws
A closeup of a single Kold Kutter screw.

The traction these provided on the stream was excellent. After 2 days of wading, they showed virtually no signs of wear. So you pick: $30 for brand name wading boot studs, or $1.60 for the same number of studs from Kold Kutter. If you're not looking to pick up 500 or more of these from Kold Kutter, you can get 100 of them from Malinda's (call them at 315-298-2993) for $15. Still roughly, what, a 90% savings?

It might be worth mentioning that some of ultra-premium aluminum stud or cleat products out there (which are usually even more expensive at $40 or higher) likely offer an advantage in gripping rocks when compared to steel. That said, at 8 cents a piece, I couldn't care less.

Comments

The_Riffler's picture

This. Is. Stupid. Awesome.

Leigh's picture

Once again, there is a common sense answer without the "flyfishing" markup. Thanks for posting.

mightyb's picture

Only problem is these studs will wear out quick. also with having only standard screw thread, they will pull out easy, or worse, dig into your foot! also when they fold over or pull out, it damages the sole of your costly boots. studs like Grip Studs have an auger style nail that holds! also tungsten tip instead of cheap steel will last longer. IMO go cheap, get cheap

Chad Shmukler's picture

I think you're confusing these with sheet metal screws. These are made to stay in motorcycle tires. I've fished them for several seasons and have lost a few, certainly no more than other studs which also occasionally pull out.

Do they wear faster? I can't say, but I can say that they last most or all of a season for me.

mightyb's picture

still just IMO. Ask any motorcycle rider that rides behind someone using kold cutters how well they hold. lol

Chad Shmukler's picture

Just back from Alaska where I had freshly studded my boots before leaving. Did some tough wading on the upper end of the Agulupak River. Lost a lot of studs.

Had some old Simms studs left and my normal Kold Kutter studs. Lost most of the studs in the front of both my boots (mind you, all the studs were placed in holes previously used multiple times by other studs). All the studs in the back of both boots stayed put, but one boot had only 2 studs left in the front half, while the other had one.

2 of the 3 studs left were Simms, one was a Kold Kutter. Does this suggest the Simms stay put a bit better? Maybe. Significantly enough to justify the vast per-stud price difference? Not even close.

Ultimately, I expect to lose studs. It doesn't hurt when they are 15 cents each. When they are $3.00 each, it really sucks.

haha funny's picture

yeah since our foot will be turning ar 40 mph, i think not sir. these things are great for the wading shoes. I should know i fish the same Altmar Pineville and oswego areas the op does. With the same studs, they are awesome.

Bill Cass's picture

Thank you. I knew that there was another economical idea. Could you suggest a practical pattern? Just got new boots and then some Simms studs for $30. But will return them.

haha funny's picture

google the korker brand boots out there and you will see the best stud pattern you can get

Al's picture

Anyone have experience/feedback putting studs in felt-bototm boots?

John Simms's picture

forty years ago i came up with a method that works very well. Simply drill 5/16" holes in the sole and install threaded tee nuts into the holes from inside the boot. You now have a 1/4-20 threaded inserts into which you can screw aluminum bolts. As they wear, simply remove them with vice grips and re-install. Works with rubber or felt soles,and they can't tear out. I've found that aluminum bolt heads provide much better grip than carbide, but you could use hardened steel bolts as well........ Tee nuts are available at any hardware store as are 1/2" or 3/8" aluminum bolts,

Grace Robinson's picture

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Chad Shmukler's picture

Grace, there are numerous options available: reCAPTCHA, Captcha, Mollom, AntiSpam.

Google any of these options and you should find lots to choose from.

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