I’ve read a lot of promotional posts punting Patagonia’s new, ‘not yet released’ River Salt boots that were showcased at ICAST 2018 in the United States. The boots are meant to hit the shelves of retail stores early in 2019 (rumour has it that February’s the month to look forward to). However, in my internet searches I could not find any real, actual first impressions on these boots…I guess I should feel privileged then to be able to pen some of the 1st practical notes on these boots as I received a pair for product testing from The Mission magazine (fair and square from a lucky draw between about 10 okes) more than a month ago.

There have been very few fly fishing products that besides catching fish, I’ve looked forward to handle (never mind wear) on the next fishing trip; one is the discontinued SAGE XP 5 wt four piece rod, another is the discontinued Horizon TRS 9 wt produced by Frontier Fly Fishing in South Africa, and now there’s the River Salt boot made by Patagonia and Danner in a collaborative effort to produce an ‘ever-lasting’ wading boot that was made to be repaired. In short, I’ve already covered more than a marathon distance over different types of fishing terrain, from level mud to super slippery rocks covered in algae, as well as up vertical cliff faces, in them and I love my boots (note, MY boots!).

Sneaking up on fish like catfish and carp that are sensitive to vibrations in shallow water is always tricky; this was no problem in the Patagonia River Salt boot and I had one of the most comfortable sessions perching in these boots over catfish like a heron, even with my son on my back.

They are not feather light, but also not heavy and surprisingly comfortable to wear all day – at one particularly rocky destination that was fully catered I didn’t bother taking the boots off at dinner as I forgot I still had fishing boots on my feet. Besides giving ample ankle support, the high boot sits snug around the leg and very effectively prevents sand from filling the shoe. I walked several kilometres over sand banks in and out the water and very little ‘dirt’ got in, which definitely added to their post-fishing comfort level.

Hiking long distances over rough terrain in search of fairly scarce, endangered indigenous fishes, like this sawfin, in the Tankwa Karoo was a breeze in Patagonia River Salt boots.

The Vibram soles are also soft for good grip, yet still hard enough to provide durability – interestingly, after fishing fairly hard in the boots for over a month they still look brand new. The only concern from some angling companions was that the stitching on top of the leather nose was too close to the tip of the boot, an area where stitching typically takes a beating from coral. Time will tell I guess, but for now they’ve remained in good shape and I look forward to strapping them on again soon – at this point I’m holding thumbs that these will not be discontinued in the future some time as well…


  1. Chase 1 March, 2019 at 23:13 - Reply

    Great review! Quick question, if you were fishing with these on the flats, would you pick up a pair of gravel/sand guards as well or do you think the height/fit does a good enough job of preventing that?

    • Leonard Flemming 26 April, 2019 at 07:44 - Reply

      Hi Chase, apologies for this delayed response, your message got lost in spam; I recently fished these boots on a local sand flat (not tropical) for an entire day and very little sand got in – only the very fine ‘silt’ got into the boot and collected in the bottom of my socks (still annoying and I doubt that a gravel/sand guard would prevent that). I believe that one should never dare to fish flats for days on end without gravel/sand guards and you should definitely have a pair handy in case sand in your boot becomes an issue. But yes, these boots do let very little sand in and it is possible in my opinion to fish with them as they are, without a gravel/sand guard, provided you are wearing fairly high socks onto which the upper of the boot can be strapped down on, effectively sealing the opening around your leg.

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