I am no expert, but I would say a couple keys components to great days of fishing are not falling on your butt and not having sore feet at the end of the day. I know I have had days where both have happened for sure. This is why finding a good wading boot that suits your style of fishing is key. My goal was to find a boot that I could hike into my favorite spot whether it is down a paved road, a backcountry trail or kilometers of river bottoms and banks. I was also looking for something that was going to work for wet wading on hot summer days and days when the waders were being worn as well. I needed something lightweight, durable and that could adjust to my style of fishing on any given day. This is why I ended up choosing the Darkhorse from Korkers.
Honestly one of the biggest things I was looking for was something I could wet wade in. Previously I was just hopping around rivers in a pair of flip flops all summer. Needless to say they were useless in every aspect. I was slipping all over the place and I lacked the confidence to even consider crossing a small stream. I found other boots to be overly large on the foot box, unable to create a snug fit without waders. While I can wear these completely barefoot I prefer to wear them with a high end hiking sock for all day comfort. I am sure that isn’t the “proper” way to do it, but it works for me and keeps my feet happy. I can get a nice snug fit with just the hiking sock, but also have no issues wearing them with my waders when the water starts getting colder.
The next thing I was looking for was versatility. Sometimes I just bomb down a forest service roads in my jeep right next to the water. I keep my boots on and just stop at every pool I see. When I am doing this style of fishing I just keep the felt soles on using the OmniTrax system. I am rarely walking more than 25 meters to the water so no need for a hiking sole. Just keep me planted while in the river and I am stoked. Other times we are loading up the backpacks with all the gear we are going to need for the day getting ready for the long hike in. For these ventures I toss the felt soles in with all the other gear and strap on the Kling-On hiking soles. Just like having the confidence on the water with the felt soles, the Kling-On soles provide the same when on the trail or scrambling down a large bank to reach that perfect pool. Another note on the OmniTrax system is I actually keep one set of felt soles set aside for when I am fishing in the West Kootenays and another while I am fishing in the East. Even though I clean all my gear this is just another safety step I take to make sure not to introduce anything foreign to the systems.
The other features these boots have are just bonuses as far as I am concerned. If the boots were only what I previously spoke about I would still buy them again without a doubt. Lucky for us though Korkers didn’t stop there and included other awesome features such as the BOA lacing system. I have actually been using the BOA system for a few years now in my snowboard boots and fell in love with them. You can dial in the exact feel you are looking for when hiking and then change it at a moment’s notice when you hit the water. Then at the end of the day you are out in a flash and don’t have to deal with wet laces that don’t want to let go.
Another addition these boots have that my last Korkers did not is the 3PFS achilles stabilization. When you look in the boots you can see an orange band that wraps around the back of the boot that hugs you just above the ankle. Honestly, these things are money! When you are rolling over rocks all day at weird angles the extra support really pays off at the end of the day when you aren’t regretting that decision to make it to that last pool. Finally the customer service is amazing. I did have an issue with my former pair of Korkers and within 48hrs of sending them an email with pictures of the issue I had new boots on my desk at work. And to be clear I live in the middle of nowhere with no major centers in site.
If you are trying to make up your mind on some boots, want to wet wade and wader fish, put in those big hikes or just hop out of the truck you should seriously be thinking about the Darkhorse from Korkers. And if that doesn’t sound like it fits your needs you should be checking out the rest of the line as there is something for everyone.