Review: Korkers Women's Darkhorse Wading Boot

Korker's new offering brings Boa lacing to women anglers for the first time
korkers women's darkhorse boa wading boot
Angler Kate Taylor swaps her Korkers soles (photo: Greg Holder).

I absolutely need to be back in three hours and I’m two hours out. That gives me one more hour to fish.

We’re fishing a backwater section of the Snake’s South Fork on a calm, sunny, fall afternoon. Healthy-sized trout cruise here because the bugs are plentiful and the current is scarce. It’s easy eating for fish and easy spotting for us.

I chose this fishing hole because of its varied terrain. Dirt trail to river’s edge, clean cobble crossing the outlet, thick vegetation while wading the hole. Decent variety for testing new wading boots.

Korkers is the first in the fishing industry to create a women’s wading boot with Boa system rather than laces. The Korkers Women’s Darkhorse Boa Boot hits shelves in December 2017 for $179.99, which includes a pair of interchangeable felt and rubbers soles. You can upgrade to studded rubber for an extra $20.

I’m trying the Darkhorse paired with studded rubber soles. They take some getting used to. I trip no less than 10 times on the short walk from truck to trail. Studs grab every stone under step demonstrating how far studs are taking rubber when it comes to reducing slip. Studded soles stick. They also get on my nerves. Metal grinding on rock feels and sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. It takes a few fishing trips to warm up to that sensory invasion.

On cobble and in moss, the traction continues, but river mutes the grinding so I relax into the flow and start casting to a surface sipper. My buddies catch multiple fish in an hour. I miss multiple fish in the same hour. I have five minutes until last possible departure time so I try kneeling on a bank behind willow and cast to a cuttie holding in a moss-free, sandy hole. I snag an overhanging tree three times before my fly floats and the cuttie takes. I set the hook, marvel at its 16 inches of loveliness then let it go. It’s time to run. Literally. I’m running out I’ve time and I’m still a mile upstream of my truck.

My buddies hear my studded soles clinking down the canyon and laugh at my expense but pushing time for a quick release was worth it. I caught my biggest cutthroat trout of the year and I quickly popped out of the Boa system, which means I made it on time, wet waders and new boots in tow.

What works

Quick, Easy Adjustments
Variable ankle support is a click away. I crank the Boa dial a few more notches when wading fast water for extra ankle support. Wet or dry, cranking the dial, is much easier than cinching laces.

korkers women's darkhorse boa wading boot
Photo: Kris Millgate

Quick, Easy Exit
The pop and pull release mechanism of Boa makes exit fast and easy when you’re in a hurry.

Low profile
The Boa dial at the top of the wading boot goes unnoticed on the front of your lower shin.

What doesn’t work

I’m a trail runner so I pay attention to sole flex. Because Korkers interchangeable soles are added to the boot rather than made with the boot, there is a bit of a disconnect in flex performance. It’s not worth shelving product over, but it’s noticeable in your step and takes some gait adjustment.

korkers women's darkhorse boa wading boot
Photo: Korkers

Final Thoughts

I wear a size 6.5 in street shoes. My trail running shoes are 7.5 (more room in the toe box saves toe nails.) I ordered size 7 in Korkers Darkhorse for women. They’re roomier than I expected even with socks and neoprene bootied waders on. I really have to crank the dial for snug ankle fit. They’re fairly true to fit, so consider going with your street shoe size when ordering or—better yet—find a local fly shop that sells them and try them on.

Men started wearing Korkers with Boa in 2007. I knew I wanted to wear it before it was even made for women. The Korkers Women's Darkhorse boots have been a long time coming and they're just as impressive as I thought they would be.


Unless they come in size 13, I’ll keep wearing the men’s Korkers. I do love the BOA. The studded soles gives me great confidence in the water.

I bought a pair of Korkers about 4 years ago ... bought the alumatrax soles to go along with the "trail" soles and felt soles ... love the BOA lacing system - love the flexibility of sole choice as I use the trail soles to get TO the water, and then decide on either felts or alumatrax for wading ... I - LOVE - my Korkers and can't see myself ever wearing another boot ... on a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (perfect), Korkers w/BOA lacing are a 9.5 ...