Dec 04, 2023

Review: Simms Flyweight Access Wading Boots

by Johnny Carrol Sain - Thursday, Jul 28th, 2022

Along with the litany of ailments typical of one’s body wearing out, aging anglers also tend to accumulate fond but false memories of days gone by. The sunrises seemed brighter, the air a bit sweeter, the best fishing not far from the truck, and our reflexes so very much quicker.

Two of those four we are remembering correctly.

Good fishing is farther down the creek each summer as more and more people look to moving water and its finned inhabitants to soothe their troubled souls. Not that long ago, to me, the first few casts as soon as my feet were in the water always brought an eat or three, and from solid fish. Nowadays, I often go better than a quarter mile or more to find water not frothed by the masses.

And, in my neck of the woods, those journeys out to the yonder are fraught with potential peril. There are cottonmouths and bears and wild pigs, sure. But the scariest encounters are—yes, I’m being serious—with rocks. Rocks so thickly coated by the green slime of algae (with a hefty and sarcastic “thanks” to all those unfenced cows who shit in the water and compound the problem) that there is the very real possibility of my foot slipping and my fishing for the year coming to an abrupt and painful end with every step. This is not something I worried about even 10 years ago. I fell back then, too. I fell a lot. But the nervous system, tendons and ligaments, and bones of the young man I once was effectively nullified the threat of injury … in my mind, anyway. In reality, I was lucky.

I plan to wade fish for as long as I can walk so limiting the potential for falls is paramount. To do that, I tend to walk a bit slower and more cautiously now. And I’m always looking for grippy footwear. That search led me to Simms newest wading boots — the Flyweight Access Wading Boot with Vibram. Simms says the Access is made for long hikes to the good water and claims these boots offer billy goat traction even on rocks slicker than snot on a doorknob.

Traction With Capital “T”I’ll lead off with the big one. According to Simms, the Flyweight Access Wading Boot possesses “best-in-class wet-slip resistance.” I’ve always assumed that these types of claims are impossible to verify, that they are mostly subjective and highly dependent on context. But did you know there is an organization in the UK that does actually tests this stuff with science and numbers and such? SATRA (Shoe and Allied Trades Research Association) is its name, and they found that the Flyweight Access boot’s performance on wet surfaces was not only measurable but outstanding. According to SATRA, the “Vibram IdroGrip Grip Flex (exclusive to Simms) provides more slip resistance on wet surfaces than any other rubber wading boot sole material. VIBRAM IDROGRIP FLEX rubber is the latest evolution in outsole technology. Its blown rubber compound provides added cushion and is specifically engineered for added grip on wet surfaces, making it the ideal outsole compound for wading footwear.”

So there you have it, and who am I to argue?

Well, I’m the angler standing shin-deep in the creek with an obstacle course of slanted, slimy slate between me and the spot where I witnessed a sizable smallmouth obliterate a dragonfly, that’s who. But I waded to the action — and caught the bass — and did not fall. Was the trek made as if I was an amphibious Spiderman? No. There was slippage. The laws of physics still apply, folks. But I was damn sure impressed, and felt that the traction on these new Vibram soles notably outperformed other rubber-soled wading boots I’ve used in the past. Not being an engineer, I have no ideas on any way to quantify less slippage, so I’ll leave it with this — job supremely done, Simms.

Tough EnoughThis is a near-seamless boot with welded overlays so there aren’t many places for it to come apart. Time is the ultimate test here, but I feel confident that the body of the boot will live for years.

Comfort I was a minor shoe nerd back in the day. My favorite kicks were a pair of Nike Air Assaults, white with yellow and gray trim. They were bitchin’. With a lengthy list of other hightops on my resume, I’m often struck by how comparable modern outdoor footwear is to the high-performance athletic shoes of my youth. Back then, all boots were distinctly clunky. But when I slide into the Access boot, it takes me back to 1980-something pickup games at the park. The Access boots are incredibly comfortable. I’ve put a bevy of miles on them in the wet and the dry combined and my feet haven't complained once. They’re also easy to both put on and take off. The Access comes with double bootstraps, but the gusseted tongue allows the boot to open so wide you won’t need them. Lace ‘em up and your foot is encapsulated in what could be best described as supportive contentment.

WeightThey ain’t called “Flyweights” for nothing. My size 11s push the scale to 1.51 pounds per boot. That’s 24.16 ounces. So we’ll say a pair weighs in at 48 ounces. For comparison, my Teva sandals weigh 27 ounces as a pair. The Access is a lithe boot and that means they’re less tiresome to wear that most any other wading boot you’ll encounter.

PriceMSRP of $249.95. I say that’s a fair market price.

Mortal SoleStick-to-itevness comes at the cost of sole durability. This is a very soft compound and I have no doubt that the creek beds will chew it up in short order. How short of an order? That’s the big question. No major chunks missing from the sole so far. We’ll see. The good news? Simms plans, shortly, to introduce a resoling program for the Flyweights.

LacesLaces are the bane of wading anglers. They come untied, catch debris, and sometimes catch your other foot. Simms is getting close here. Eyes on the Access are low-profile webbing (good), laces are thin (good) and lay tight on the boot (good). They seem to want to stay tied (good). But they’re still exposed to the currents, dead branches, and rocks, and those will play havoc with them (bad). Why not slap the BOA on an otherwise nearly stellar boot, Simms?

Insole issuesNo removable insole? Really? That being said, the boots dry quickly, so maybe I’m making a big deal out of a nonissue.

With the Flyweight Access Wading Boots, Simms has given the wading world an outstanding product only a tweak or two away from becoming absolute game-changers. My minor quibbles aside, these are capable and super-comfy boots that will absolutely up your confidence in any wading conditions. Folks way more qualified than me think so as well. Simms Flyweight Access Wading boots were named the Best-Of-Show Wading Boot at the '22 International Fly Tackle Dealer show.