A few years ago all the manufacturers changed their wading boot soles from felt to rubber. This seismic moment in the industry was not prompted by new materials or consumer demand but rather by a threat to fisheries; Didymosphenia geminata. The assumption that didymo was being carried from far off places to domestic streams via angling equipment -- felt soles were the great demon -- prompted the action. It turns out that greater forces than anglers may have had a larger effect on the increased presence of this nuisance diatom. According to recent research by Queen's University in Ontario global climate change has a hand in didymo blooms. Climate change induced changing ice cover and nutrient loads both create more favorable conditions for the blooms. I don't think this lets anglers off the hook, but it's worth considering for many reasons.
I first started using Simms wading boots when the last generation of G3s were introduced. I purchased them originally as my fair weather boot, wearing a boxier alternative during cold weather, but the fit and features of the G3 soon made it the boot that ruled my wadered foot. When that pair needed to be retired this year I didn't hesitate to pick up the newest incarnation of the G3. I've fished it about twenty times in the past few months and am pleased with the purchase.
At the end of the day wading boots are there to keep your wadered foot where you want it. Like all rubber soles some sort of grip augmentation is recommended. I use Simms' Alumibite Star Cleat. The bottom of the boot has a Star Cleat-shaped pattern which allows you to easily create a grip enhancing pattern. The cleats make this an extremely stable book along cobbled bottoms. I had the opportunity to fish these without the cleats a few weeks ago. I spent a few hours one morning wading a popular pool on the West Branch of the Delaware before a drift boat trip. The RiverTread soles provided surprisingly sure footing during those few hours though I didn't hesitate to put the cleats back in after the trip.
The fit, especially the room around the toes, is very good. Even in tailwater cold waters I can put enough sock into the boot without having to worry about my toes getting jammed up. I haven't tried them wet wading yet but have tried on the boot with a wading sock and it didn't feel too loose.
The high collar design of this boot, like its predecessor, provides excellent support for the ankle. There's also a "joint" just above the fifth set of eyelets which provides flexibility when walking stream side. They seem to have conquered the Frankenstein feeling of wading boots when using them for an extended hike. I found the sizing chart offered on Simms website to be spot on.
Whenever you encounter a word like "proprioception" in product literature you're sure there's some marketing bullshit around the next bend. I Googled the word. My brain still can't figure out what it means. In the context of the G3 boot that word means the feel that one has of the environment - the stream bed in our case - due to the construction of the boot. Simms claims to have enhanced feel by reducing materials in the sole. While this boot doesn't have the feel that an old pair of felt-soled boots had, they're clearly more lively than the previous G3s. It's hard to give a rubber soled boot high marks in this category, but the G3s do seem to have improved feel.
Well, truthfully, there's not much here.
The cost, $199 retail, is going to put some off but I found the previous incarnation of these boots to be bulletproof and I expect the same from this pair. If you're the kind of person who fishes often, then the durability may be something worth paying for.
You'll need two packs of the Alumibite cleats to really cover the sole, so that adds another $44 to the equation. There are cheaper alternatives, but I've been very happy with these and feel they're worth the cost.
This is a worthy successor to the previous G3. It's fit and grip are the things that make this an exceptional boot, in my opinion. The high collar provides ankle support that is good for both wading and hiking along unstable banks. Additionally, this boot is available in a felt soled version so for those pining for the good ole days, they’re back. Worth two hundred beans? Well, I suppose that's the question for each of us to answer but it's my go to boot from here on out.
Steve Zakur writes at sippingemergers.com. He dead drifts purple Wooley Buggers in western Connecticut. Steve is a Simms Pro.