Pro hunters will advise that mastering the art of walking quietly minus focusing on where and how you place your foot equals more success through minimal head movements.
Most anglers love wading boots with soft and thin soles for quieter movements. They also say that they can easily feel whatever is under their feet without struggles.
These are what we call felt-soled boots in angling. Felt-soled boots give more gripping power. The wearer experiences minimal stumbles, hardly thinks about wading, and has more time to fish.
Despite the few benefits, there are numerous reasons to kick them out-something that most states have done. Topmost of all are the local bans and rampant issues of invasive species.
We met an old fishing buddy who says that they often see some anglers showing up in stud or rubber-bottomed boots and have difficulty remaining upright and balancing properly than those who are in felt soles.
Our friend owns and uses a few high-quality felt-soled boots and for a long time criticized any stud system on wading boots.
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What are Rock Treads?
If you are skeptical like the old guy, you will change your thoughts when you come across the Rock Treads.
They are manufactured by a company called Rock Treads.
The wading world has undergone a series of revolutions to what it is now and in wading boots, this is one of the latest technologies.
Their efficiency and buzz among current users are what drew us to penning this review. So far, we are impressed. They are the new traction booster that most anglers are loving and a good number shifting to.
After many have used them in various wading scenarios all year round, the majority are using them as excellent alternatives to felt-soled boots.
This is also one of the easiest and safest way to turn almost any shoe into a functional wading gear.
Key Features of Rock Treads Wading Boots Cleats
Gripping Power – The concept of Rock Treads and how it functions is one of the powerful points that has seen its rapid sales in the current market.
We know that anglers are the choosy type and take time to believe in products. But this one swept us off our feet and we aren’t turning back. Most of the metallic studs for traction are made from hard metal.
Rock Treads on the other hand are from pure aircraft-grade aluminum made in the USA. This is a softer metal-literally softer than typical rock.
When you exert pressure below 60 pounds, the Rock Treads grips rocky surfaces as you wade. It does it better than a canoe with a glue stick that can mold to a boulder or ledger.
We love that they take a round and disc shape but are very flat to make them unnoticeable to the wearer. The other outer surface exposed is what is used to maximize traction and gripping power.
Compatibility and Versatility – Being the sole producer of Rock Treads, the manufacturer has these kits in three styles. Each is used differently.
There is one you apply onto felt-soled boots, another for rubber-soled boots, and one for removable-soled boots. You can agree that they can be used on almost any type of boots in the market.
The greatest news is that they apply to most non-wading boots or shoes to convert them into reliable and functional wading gear. You can use them on your hiking boots and tennis shoes.
We have read great reviews from a guide who installed the Rock Treads on snow boots that cost $30 on Amazon and had fun wading one of his favorite rivers in summer targeting brownies.
Using these treads makes the footing extra solid. Even if you stand on bigger rocks in heavier waters-and other slippery areas-you are unshaken.
You can also revitalize your old felt-soled boots whose soles are peeling off.
We love that you can customize your patterns and install these discs in a manner that favors your footing. There are several videos on possible patterns on the Rock Treads website. A brief description is as below:
- Standard Pattern – The pattern comprises of 3 small discs, 4 medium discs, and 4 large discs
- Toe Pick Pattern – Here you will use 3 small discs, 4 medium discs, and 4 large discs
- Loaded Pattern – You will need 3 small discs, 4 medium discs, and 4 large discs
- Minimalist Pattern – 1 small disc, 2 medium discs, and 4 large discs
NOTE: All these discs are Rock Tread Discs.
It will take you roughly 20 minutes to install Rock Treads on your boots. As stated above, there are three different kits for three different types of soles.
Every kit contains 22 discs with an equivalence of 11 discs for each boot. Also, every kit comes with 22 lockdown nuts and stainless screws in five different length dimensions.
The set of discs contains three sizes for the wearer to arrange under the sole for full coverage. Usually, the coverage is virtual to ensure that you can gain extra solid traction for slippery surfaces.
If you are new to using Rock Treads, it might take you longer and the first boot might consume the most time as you will be using it to practice and learn. Installing the treads on the second boot is pretty easy.
General Steps to Follow
Hold the first boot in the hand with the sole facing you. Arrange all the discs in your preferred pattern. Doing this is sloppy because most wading shoes and boots come with blisters or dimples to insert compatible traction aids. The discs are supposed to rest atop these dimples.
Replicate your chosen pattern by transferring the tread discs to a piece of paper that you will have laid flat on the ground or a table. You will do this for every sole and it should be side by side for better accuracy.
Your package of Rock Treads will also contain a red thread locker and a ¼’’ drill bit. Dis-attach your liner from your boots. Drill through your sole and into the boot.
There are some boots with non-removable liners. This will force you to drill through its liners. Start with a slower speed, angle, and spin your bit. This will ream out the holes in felt material.
Into every hole, push one lock-down nut via the footbed and the nut’s stem will go through your sole. The most challenging holes will be the ones in the toe area because of limited space.
The two setting screws included in the package will come in handy when executing this step. Some anglers prefer to use small Allen Wrenches to insert through soles and into the boot to use as a guide.
Once all your nuts are in place, identify the right length of screws and attach the tread discs to your sole. The heel needs longer screws while the toe area requires shorter ones.
Ensure that the discs are very tight to your soles. Any screws protruding above footbeds will make the wearer feel like they are walking or standing on nails.
To save time when installing them on your second boot, arrange the screws with the tread disc pattern after finding the right ones for the first one.
Pass your screws through the discs and begin screwing gently into the nut with your drill. Apply a few drops of the thread locker to exposed threads that are between the sole and disc and sit the screws.
Return your liner and wear your boots. If you install them correctly, you mustn’t feel protrusions. If doing this on Simms Boots, you have to purchase extra liners.
You should enjoy about 200 wading trips after your first installation before your first screw wears down and the disc falls off.
The manufacturer has detailed steps on its website on how you will install these Rock Treads on removable sole boots, felt-soled boots, and rubber-soled boots.
NOTE: Ensure that your package comes with everything you need to install these treads. If some hardware is missing, the manufacturer asks you to email them and you will be sent the missing items. So thoughtful!
It is very common for other screw-in studs to fall out even in the first few days of installation. This will force you to regularly install replacements.
Most fly shop owners confirm that they receive so many clients who want to buy studs to replace the lost or worn out screws.
One of Rock Treads’ co-founders, Forrest Rogers confirms that this treading system boasts more than 600 miles of distance. When they get worn out, it is about 40% wear but they remain solidly fixed.
You can’t compare them with the studded boots that will degrade into rubber boots within two or three seasons.
There is a unique technology that improves the tremendous durability of the Rock Treas. If you have seen, tried them out, or read our installation steps keenly, their lock-down method is one of a kind.
It uses high-quality lock-down nuts inside the boots to lock the metal discs down on the bottom side to prevent falling out. When you install them correctly and tightly, your feet can’t recognize their presence inside the boot.
Are they Safe on the Boat?
Our research is based on damaging boat material. Rock Treads are safe to use on fiberglass, Hypalon, or PVC boats. They are very different from studs because of their softness.
Anglers fishing in states where felt-soled shoes have been banned have this treading technology to their advantage. You can hop in and out of your boat and wade in confidence.
Rock Treads is an American Brand but its products are made from high-quality aircraft-grade USA aluminum. The company has its roots in Bristol but has advanced to operating outside Montana.
In early 2018, Rock Treads began using the AFFTA’s Kick Plastic pack that is entirely from soy-based ink and recycled material. Aluminum discs unlike hard metals don’t transfer invasive species which is a primary concern if you often move from one fishing hole to another.
Pros – The Good about the Rock Treads Cleats
- Doesn’t transfer invasive species
- Has a longer mileage than Carbide tungsten studs and screws
- Isn’t damaging to boats
- Offers double traction compared to studs
- An excellent alternative to rubber-soled and felt boots
- Can be used to convert most boots into reliable wading boots
- Can be installed in various patterns for solid footing and stability
- Treads don’t add weight to your boots to hinder mobility
Cons – The Concerns though not Deal-breakers
- Not reliable on ice trails or when navigating icy banks
Customer Thoughts on the Rock Treads Cleats
If there is a current solid solution for traction that has proven durable and life-saving, Rock Treads takes the crown. It saves you from slipping when hiking, wading, and walking on slippery surfaces because of the powerful grip.
Boat damage is something most of us have experienced from wearing studded or screwed boots. This is a potential cause of leakages that could be dangerous.
We love that you can’t feel the discs and screws when you install these discs well. For boots with permanent inner soles like Simms, investing in a separate one will be ideal.
Definitely, such excellent products won’t go for cheap. The price isn’t as expensive but you get more than what you pay for.
FAQ’s – Questions about the Rock Treads
Q) Do they damage your boots?
A) Not as such if you properly install them. In fact, they help your boots last longer than they would have without them.
Q) Should I do anything to maintain them?
A) There is nothing you can do because the lockdown method is a guarantee of functionality. Once in a while, you can check if the thread glue band is in place.
Q) Do I need to use all the Rock Treads that come in the package?
A) Not necessarily, you are recommended to use at least four of them at the front half and three in the heel area.
The grip-ability of felt-soled shoes has been rivaled by Rock Treads and this gives so many anglers confidence in the new wading technology.
They are becoming one of fly fisher’s favorite additions for excellent traction that lasts longer than carbide tungsten studs and screws. Rock Treads boost confidence and improve safety.