I recently tried out a pair of Korkers wading boots on a trout fishing trip to New Zealand’s South Island in late February.
For the uninitiated, trout angling in the South Island involves a lot of wading in streams that run through gravel or shingle beds. On some of the better streams, gravel around the water is all that’s visible upstream or downstream as far as the eye can see. It’s a huge advantage if you have footwear that lets you move around easily without slipping or sliding on the moss-covered stones, and felt soled boots are great for this.
But then, there also can be some cross-country travel to negotiate obstacles along the streams, or even just to get to the stream in the first place. For example, a recent session on the Ahuriri River near Omarama in central South Island required a 1.5km slog through lumpy tussocks and some swamp. Felt soled boots – so brilliant on the river stones – are a liability in this terrain and guarantee a fall every so often. But not if you’re wearing the versatile Korkers.
American-made Korkers come with two pairs of clip-on soles, giving you the choice between a full felt or an aggressive ripple sole. These soles can be fitted in just a few seconds, and you can just keep the spares in the back of your fishing vest, net sheath or backpack.
Here’s how the system works. When you take a close look at the hard rubber base of the boot you’ll see a recess (with an outer edge slot) built into it. The recess, with its outer alignment slot, can accommodate the felt insert or ripple tread insert, both of which have a prominent outer edge lip of rigid material. To fit your chosen sole, slide it forward from the rear and into place until none of the outer lip is visible. Once fitted, the sole is held in place with a webbing strap which comes up the back of the heel and secures via a buckle and Velcro arrangement.
The Korker wading boots take seconds to set up and they perform very well. And with their multi-use capability they’re very useful when you’re crossing or moving along mixed terrain. Here in Australia, when fishing Snowy Mountain or New England streams, you’ll use the ripple sole more often because the banks are grassy. I’d see a lot of use for the ripple-soled Korkers while fishing our cod streams as well. In the stony streams of New Zealand’s South Island, however, it’s the felt sole that’s indispensable.
Korkers should be available at most stores stocking serious fly tackle. The boots are lightweight, well constructed, and look the part. Water drains from them rapidly once on land, as it should, and they’re easy to clean so you’ll have no trouble taking them through quarantine.
Korkers retail for around $250, which is good value considering you’re getting two sets of boots in one.Reads: 541