The Difference Between Cleated and Felt Waders

The Difference Between Cleated and Felt Waders

Optimizing your fishing equipment is critical before stepping in the water. You want to enjoy the experience by bringing in as many fish as possible, and choosing the correct wader helps achieve that goal. Learn the difference between cleated and felt waders to ensure you pick the right one for your needs.


Felt soles have traditionally been the industry standard and are still popular among anglers.  Felt grips work well on rocky terrain, giving you stability when in the water.  Anglers often feel concerned about slipping when wading, which is why felt-soled boots are ideal for walking in freestone streams with pebbles and gravel.

Stealth wading is also an option for sneaking up on a trout surfacing in shallow water. Sandy, murky, and squishy streams or lakes reduce felt waders' effectiveness, though.  Winter fishers should avoid felt waders since snow and ice will accumulate on the bottom of the boots.


It's possible to have securer footing with cleated soles on your fly fishing waders, especially if you feel worried about sliding or falling in the water. When used in conjunction with a wading rod, cleated soles work well. They’re a popular choice for anglers venturing into swift and deep rivers.

Dry, round, and large stones on the riverbed and coast are challenging to navigate. They tend to wobble. Additionally, the metal on cleated waders will abrasively scrape against the pebbles beneath the water's surface, resulting in startled fish. Because of the dangers associated with cleated boots, most guides won’t allow you near their rafts or drift boats.

What's Your Pick?

Both felt and cleated waders are viable options for anglers, but each wader is better than the other in specific instances. For instance, cleated versions give you more traction and security, whereas felt soles don't scare fish away due to clanking sounds. So like most things in fishing, the answer depends on where you're going and what you plan on doing.

Obviously, there’s no debate if the reservoir bans your cleats. Otherwise, choose whatever makes you feel the most secure and comfortable. The reduced amount of walking and sifting through the gunk of a river or stream makes a cleated wader a viable option. But, if you need to move around and be quiet while doing so, you should opt for the felt wader.

Ed's Fly Shop has a wide selection of waders available to appease those debating the difference between cleated and felt waders. So check out our online fly shop to find the perfect pair for you before your next fishing venture

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