Tip: Stop Grossly Overpaying for Wading Boot Studs

These studs may be the best deal in stream traction
Photo: Chad Shmukler

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 large sums for something that seems to have absolutely no justification whatsoever for its lofty 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.

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". They sell in bulk for around 8 or 9 cents 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 roughly $1.60 for the same number of studs from Kold Kutter. If ordering a 250-pack is more than you're interested in, you can also get a 100-pack from Malinda's (call them at 315-298-2993) for $15. Still roughly, what, a 90% savings?

It's also certainly worth mentioning that, if you're willing to cough up $40-50 or more, aluminum-based solutions (stud, disc or bar products) offer a distinct advantage at gripping rocks when compared to steel. That said, at around 8 cents a piece for Kold Kutter's studs, there's a good chance are you couldn't care less.


This. Is. Stupid. Awesome.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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,

Anyone ever tried adding an adhesive to the threads when installing studs ?

Congratulations! You said " I couldn't care less." which means it is impossible to care less, which makes sense, instead of "I COULD care less" which means you must care an unspecified amount and therefore it IS possible to care less.

Malinda's - best fly shop in NY, perhaps the east coast.

These work great, thank you! Just did 5 sets of boots and tested them out, wife and kids love them too. I use these on my snowmobiles as well, I just never thought to

Kold Kutter studs are excellent and work just fine. Get a big bag of 'em and you can install them in your boots with a standard fitting and your electric drill.

I've tried these studs on a 3 day trip to the adirondacks, They worked great unitl the last day of the trip where I noticed that they were completely worn down or missing. I do have to mention that I've probably done more river hiking on this trip than normal. If I could reuse the holes where the studs were I'd recommend them. The problem I see is that you can only replace these a couple times before you have to get new boots.

I've tried Kold Kutter for 3 years now.
+ after installing fresh ones, the grip is fantastic
- they tend to wear out quickly.
- they tend to fall out

So if you're OK with doing periodic replacement (many of us like fussing over our gear if we admit it) then these are a great, temporary solution.

But don't think these things last a season. Maybe 4 river-days, more like.