Best Saltwater Wading Boots For Inshore Flats Fishing

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Saltwater is a different beast, and if you think your trout-wading boots will cut it in the salt without falling apart a few months later, you’re in for a surprise. Between the hot tropical sunshine, salty water, sand, rocks, oysters, and more, any boots that hit the flats are in for a beating and must be designed to survive. 

Having a good pair of saltwater flats boots is key to enjoying saltwater fishing as they guarantee comfort and foot protection, and without your feet in good condition, your fishing trip is over. 

My Best 3 Picks For Saltwater Wading Boots 

  • Simms Flats Sneakers – My Best Overall Pick!
  • Simms ZipIt II Flats Booties – My Best Budget Pick!
  • Patagonia River Salt Wading Boots – My Most Versatile Pick!

I have been a flats guide for many years, and believe me, you cannot fish properly without a good pair of boots. Below, I run through three picks I use personally and highly recommend.  

Simms Flats Sneakers – My Best Overall Pick!

Having fished and guided on the flats for years and done a lot of wading during it, I can easily say that the Simms Flats Sneakers are some of the footwear you will ever find. These boots are designed to be comfortable, look good, and survive thousands of miles of surf walks doing it. 

The Simms Flats Sneakers are extremely well built, using the best synthetic materials and rubber to create a boot that will protect your feet whether you’re walking on sharp rocks or across the sand. I have actually had to kick a shark or two that rushed my clients in the face with these boots, and I came out on top! 

The sole is incredibly thick and grippy to ensure that nothing breaks through the sole into your feet and that the sole provides you with plenty of grip. You’ll be stable in these boots no matter what wet surface you are walking on. They aren’t the best on algae, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue as there is generally less algae on the flats. 

These sneakers are also built with drainage in mind and quickly release any internal water when you hop off the flat and onto the skiff. They also pair excellently with the Simms’ neoprene wading socks and the Simms gravel guards.


  • Super comfortable even on long walks 
  • Easy to integrate with a neoprene sock and gravel guards 
  • Grippy sole that works well on the flats 
  • Thick sole and outer layers that ensure your feet stay protected 
  • Durably built to ensure they last for years 
  • Excellent drainage and features a non-absorbing foam lining
  • Removable Right Angle® footbed for extra comfort 


  • Not so grippy on algae 


Type: Boots 

Environment: Saltwater 

Sizes: 7 to 14 

Material: Synthetic 

Sole: Non-Marking Rubber 

Check out my article on the seven tips for becoming a professional fishing guide, which includes an in-depth review of everything you need to know about starting a career as a fishing guide!

Simms ZipIt II Flats Booties – My Best Budget Pick!

The Simms ZipIt II Flats Booties are my second favorite fishing flats boots on the planet, and this is for two reasons – they are super comfy and really convenient. 

By being a zip-up neoprene boot, you can slip the ZipIt II on and off in less than thirty seconds and wear them with wading socks or bare feet. This takes the tedious moments away of constantly un-lacing and lacing up a big pair of boots every time you get in and out of the water, which can get a bit annoying. 

Their build quality is beyond deniable as these booties come with a combination of YKK zippers, perforated neoprene uppers, vulcanized rubber overlays, and a puncture-proof sole. These booties will handle rough surf walks, sand, oyster beds, and other bottom surfaces the flats want to throw at them. 

The ZipIt II flats booties are very comfortable to wear and very supportive at the same time. The sole is super thick to protect your feet and is designed to grip anything you stand on, whether an algae-covered rock or hard crunching shells. 

While this style of flats boot doesn’t come with all the same ankle support and protection as full boots, they are extremely lightweight, affordable, and much easier to travel with – important when the flats are miles away from most of our homes. 


  • Incredibly easy to slip on and off quickly 
  • Excellent and comfortable fit 
  • It can be worn with bare feet or with a wading sock 
  • Super tough and durable build 
  • It comes with YKK zippers that last 
  • A thick sole protects your feet from everything 
  • A grippy sole keeps you on your feet 
  • It has good sole support for comfy long walks on the flats 
  • Very affordable for the quality 
  • Lightweight and easy to travel with 


  • Not much ankle support or protection 


Type: Slip-on 

Environment: Saltwater 

Sizes: 7 – 14 

Material: Neoprene & vulcanized rubber 

Sole: Non-Marking Rubber 

Patagonia River Salt Wading Boots – My Most Versatile Pick!

Patagonia Wading Boots 2
Patagonia River Salt-Wading Boots – My Most Versatile Pick!

The Patagonia River Salt wading boots are unique as they are made to be the one pair of wading boots you need to own for all fishing situations. You can wear these boots wet wading with waders in rivers or wading socks on the flats, meaning you only need to own one pair of boots. 

The River Salt is also built to be both light and incredibly durable, and it will survive a lifetime in any water, salt or fresh. The combination of waterproof full-grain leather with 1000-denier nylon paneling creates a boot that comes into play and will protect your feet from any slips on sharp rocks and stones. 

Patagonia designed and built these to be dry by incorporating special drains on both sides of the uppers that help water escape the boots quickly and ensure they dry fast. The sole featured on these boots is a Vibram® Megagrip compound sole, which provides excellent traction on dry and wet surfaces. Plus, you can add studs to it if you need to. 

To top it all off, these boots are super comfortable and incredibly supportive. There is nowhere you won’t be able to wade with these Patagonia River boots by your side. 

The one catch to these salt wading boots is their price; they are very expensive. But they come with Patagonia’s ironclad lifetime warranty, meaning you will have this pair of boots for life. 


  • Boots are great for both fresh and saltwater wading 
  • Lightweight for wet wading and traveling 
  • Built to be indestructible and survive all environments  
  • It comes with a lifetime repair guarantee 
  • Excellent drainage increases drying time 
  • The sole is incredibly grippy on all surfaces 
  • Comfortable to wear and works well with wading socks 
  • Provide extra protection from abrasion on your ankles 
  • Thick sole that lasts and provides great foot protection 
  • You can add studs to the sole 


  • They are on the expensive side 


Type: Boots 

Environment: Fresh & Saltwater 

Sizes: 5 to 14 

Material: Leather & 1000D Nylon 

Sole: Vibram® Megagrip Compound

What To Consider In Choosing Flats Boots 

They Need To Be Built For Saltwater and Harsh Terrain Use

Whatever flats boots you choose, ensure they feature excellent materials that are put together in the most indestructible way possible. Between the sand, rocks, oysters, coral, saltwater, and the long walks you do when looking for flats species, they will fall apart if the boots aren’t built to play.  

Drainage Is Important 

All the boots featured come with an in-built drainage system, which is a very useful feature. When you’re flats fishing, you will go from the flats to the skiff and to another flat around five times a day, and it’s very handy if the boots don’t hold water as they get heavy. 

Drainage is also critical for getting your boots to dry out fast, which is very useful when you need to put them in a suitcase for a flight after a morning wade on the Bahamas flats. 

Check out my in-depth article on learning how to fly fish on a skiff, with tips on line management, casting, and sight fishing.

A Thick, Grippy Sole Is Crucial 

The main reason to even wear boots on the flats is to protect your feet and keep you from slipping; most of this comes from the sole. All the boots featured come with a thick grippy sole that keeps your feet safe and upright on the flats. 

These boots also come with non-marking soles, so you won’t scuff the skiff’s hull with marks when you wear them on a boat. 

Fit & Comfort 

If your flats boots aren’t comfortable or don’t fit well, they will be a hindrance. When you’re flats fishing, you might wade for 4 to 5 hours in a single session, and if the boots aren’t comfy, your feet will be covered in blisters very quickly. 

If this happens, chances are you won’t want to wade again for the rest of your trip because your feet will have been rubbed raw. Make sure that whatever boots you choose fit well and are comfortable.

Always ensure that you break them in first, too, and do some walking in them several times at home before you use them for a fishing session. 

Booting Up

Thanks for reading my article; I hope you enjoyed it and found the right flats boots. In summary, here are the ones I personally recommend and the main reasons for selecting each type. 

I would suggest going for the Simms ZipIt II Flats Booties if you travel to fish and don’t fish the flats more than a few times a year or are on a tight budget. They are light, comfortable, durable, and affordable. 

If you often fish on the flats, then getting the Simms Flats Sneakers is a better plan. These are made to survive longer than the others and provide far more protection than the booties.

The Patagonia River Salt wading boots are also worth considering, but only if you have a higher budget! 

Lastly, take a look at some more in-depth articles on inshore fishing apparel, including my picks for guide shirts for use on the flats.

Jamie Melvin