Gear Reviews

Gear Review — Grip Studs are the Real Deal

on
September 9, 2018

The most important thing to bring to the river isn’t the flies you carry; it’s not the leader, fly line, rod or reel. It’s good traction. To be effective on the stream, to be comfortable with your fishing tactics and enjoy yourself out there, you need good footing. You need the ability to stand tall and walk with confidence through the water.

A couple of years ago, my friend, Ross, turned me on to Grip Studs. And after decades of testing different traction options, these are the best studs I’ve ever used.

 

** NOTE **  Troutbitten is giving away a couple sets of Grip Studs. Scroll to the bottom of this article for details.

 

My favorite fly fishing tips are based in movement. I often urge anglers to get closer to the target — cast only as far as necessary, so you have maximum control over the fly’s path in the water. I encourage clients to cover more water — give the trout a good shot at the flies and then move on. I tell guys if the fishing is slow, focus on the water type where you are catching fish and leave the other stuff for another day. And when searching for the biggest trout in the system, hop from one prime location to the next. None of that is possible if you’re bumbling and stumbling with every step. If all you’re thinking about is not falling down, it’s tough to focus on the fishing.

I once read an author who argued that good wading is about learning to slide into place with each step. He said that everyone out there is slipping in the stream, so learn to deal with it; fish a lot, and you’ll gain confidence in slippery conditions. I couldn’t disagree more.

The wading angler needs gription! And solid, stable contact with the riverbed is the only thing to provide that confidence. There is no substitute.

 

 

My fishing buddies will tell you what a nut I’ve been about boot studs through the years. I’ve tried everything. And here’s a short list of my complaints:

  • Non-studded felt is great until it isn’t. When you encounter the wrong algae or plant life on the bottom, the creek turns into a slip-and-slide. Same with non-studded rubber.
  • Studs of various designs work for a while and are usually best when new. My main gripe is how fast they either wear out or fall out.
  • Many screw-in studs have a wide head that flattens after a couple dozen miles of walking. They round off and lose their edge for biting in.
  • Aluminum options can be wonderful. I’m a big fan of aluminum bars and Rock Treads discs. But aluminum chunks screwed into your soles are heavier than studs, they can slip on wet wood and ice, and they’re kind of a bear to install. (That said, I use aluminum bars and Rock Treads a lot. They’re a great option, especially for giving new life to boots with worn soles.)

READ: Troutbitten | DIY Bar Boots

 

Quick point and full disclosure

I’ve written just a few gear reviews on Troutbitten. Lots of companies send me stuff that I don’t write a review for. I’m hard on gear, and most of it falls apart, doesn’t live up to the promises or simply isn’t very useful. When Ross told me about Grip Studs, I got in touch with the company, and they were kind enough to send me a twenty-eight piece set. Later, they sent me slightly longer studs for deeper lug patterns, and a shorter set for my son’s felt boot soles.

Nothing is universal

While searching for the best wading boot traction, I eventually conceded that there’s no perfect solution. This country’s valleys are too varied for that. No studs bite very well into a granite river bottom. And sometimes felt really is the best option. But I do feel like I’ve finally concluded my twenty-year search for the best boot studs.

I’ve been walking on them for a year and a half now. And my skepticism is gone. Grip Studs provide excellent traction in every river that I fish. They stay in the boots and don’t fall out. And they last a very, very long time.

This stud logged hundreds of miles, but it shows very little wear. Here it sits in a second pair of boots. These are Vibram Streamtred on Simms Freestone boots.

After hundreds of miles walked, the first Grip Studs that I installed outlasted the rubber soles. A few months ago, I bought new boots and transferred the Grip Studs over to the new soles. The stud tips show almost no wear, and the studs will likely be transferred over to next year’s boots as well.

Here are two reasons these are the best studs I’ve ever used . . .

Single-Point Tungsten Carbide Tips

A decade ago, some wading boot manufacturers offered carbide tips that came permanently installed in both felt and rubber soles. I owned many of these, and the studs always outlasted the boots. In fact, the studs saved wear on the soles, and the soles often outlasted the uppers. Bottom line — the boots held up longer. And I don’t think I’m dredging the conspiracy theory basement here to believe that’s why companies no longer offer these kinds of studs as a pre-installed option.

Tungsten carbide is crazy hard stuff, and you have to walk an awfully long way to wear it down.

The single-point stud is key. I’ve installed other tungsten carbide studs in my boots that had tungsten pebbles glued into a screw head. But they wear off too quickly. I’ve also used tungsten carbide studs with screw heads that have four angular edges. They are good. But not as good as a single point. Each Grip Stud bites into the rock with every step. The single point simply bites deeper, and that’s the trick.

Here today — Still here tomorrow

I assumed the Grip Studs would fall out over time, as many other studs have. These stay in. The auger design of the screw cuts into the boot sole and stays in place. When mounted properly, with most of the head recessed, there’s no wiggle in the stud, and it doesn’t work loose. I’ve never lost a Grip Stud.

These are the #3000B Grip Studs after many months of hard use. Aside from some minor corrosion, they are as good as new. Notice the auger-style screw.

What Size?

Grip Studs offers wading boot studs in a couple different sizes. But the bulk of their business is dedicated to screw-in tire studs. (Tires cover a lot more miles than you or I ever will in our wading boots.)

The #1100 studs are what you want for felt. And I’ll make this point, from experience: Grips Studs will only install into clean felt, they twist right in and install easily into new felt. But if your felt soles are well-used and full of dirt or sand, the studs won’t screw in. If you power wash the dirty felt or use the hose at a manual car wash, the felt should be clean enough again to install the Grip Studs without trouble.

A new stud in old felt.

The #3000B studs are good for rubber boot soles with a low profile tread pattern.

Here’s the thing: all studs bite best when they protrude past the rubber lugs. That way, the stud makes contact just before the rubber. If the tips of the studs are slightly lower than the top of the lugs, then the rubber touches first with each step, and the traction is different. I strongly prefer the first way, and it saves wear on the boot soles as well.

For slightly deeper tread patterns, the #3000A are the best choice. I have these installed in Vibram Streamtread on my Simms boots, and they are the perfect length.

I should mention, the #1100 and the #3000B are offered in boot packs. But the #3000A are only offered in 100 packs right now. So go together with a friend. Spend the extra coin and you’ll get three sets of studs that last a very long time. Or, let Grip Studs know that you wish they offered the #3000A in boot packs. (They said if they see enough interest, they’ll add boot packs.)

The #3000A are found HERE.

Lastly, if you have boot soles deeper than Vibram Streamtread, check out the rest of the lineup. There surely is a Grip Stud length and depth that will suit your needs. They all have the single point carbide tip. It’s just a matter of depth into the sole and protrusion from the surface.

 

Click here to purchase Grips Studs for your wading boots

Send me pics

You may be uncertain about what size to buy. I understand that. So let’s do some crowd sourcing here. Email me pics of Grip Studs in various soles. Tell me what type of sole and what Grip Stud model you used, and I’ll post them in this article for others to see.

Giveaway Deal

The Grip Studs company was generous enough to send me a bunch of extra studs. So I’m giving away two sets of Grip Studs (with installation tools).

Share this article on any social media outlet, or subscribe to Troutbitten (if you haven’t already). Then leave a message in the comments section below, indicating that you shared the article. Next week, I’ll pick two names at random and notify you by email if you win.

Then you’ll be walking through the river like you own the place.

** UPDATE ** The giveaway entry period concluded on September 19, 2018. The two winners are Bill Ferguson and Roger Grayson. 

Fish hard, friends.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

Click here for details.

 

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Dave

You must live in a 48 hr day 365 days a year… I consider myself busy thru the day but you are on fish steroids. After following u forever I subscribed officially. I hope to win those carbide grips . .. I just purchased the Simms boot felt waders for steelhead fishing. I’m thinking I should get a set of them . You recommended the 1000s . The bottoms are pure clean and waiting for a good Steelie run and cold cold water application. Will those pa. Waters ever settle down this year…? Build an ark while you have time.… Read more »

Emmett

I find a wire brush will make felt soles as good as new. I brush mine every third time out. I can’t fish felt in winter and have been looking at a pair of Simms G4s for this year and have seen motorcycle ice racing studs that have been used with good results but nothing that has lasted as long as you say the tungsten will. I’ll have to get a couple sets to try with the felt soles and the G4s.
Thanks for the info and a chance to win a set.

John

My back and legs would benefit greatly from some actual traction. At the moment I use the cold cutters(basically a self tapping screw with the ends cutfor motorcycle ice racing). These work a few trips but then fall out and round off. I just started using studs this year after terrible traction and being tired of slipping. I have a hip issue and my back would just be destroyed at the end of the day. Anyways looking forward to trying something new. Thanks for the information

Metal on rock is good for gripping but not so much for stealth.

JJ Heranic

shared on facebook

Joe

Just subscribed. These would be great for a young kid learning how to navigate a stream. Would love to give then a try for my 9 year old. Thanks!

David

Subscribed-as I should have long ago. These studs look well, studly!

Kerry Gubits

Wow! Extremely useful info. Thanks. FYI, I illegally fished the Pyrenees in felt soled waders because I hate rubber soles and don’t trust them. These little beauties sound like they may make me trust them so I can get out of the felt I’ve been wearing for 35 years. (I really do appreciate the logic behind the anti-felt restrictions.) FYI, the regs in the Catalonian Pyrenees also require a NET!!!!

David

Subscribed. These studs look….well, studly.

Peter J Kurelja

Domenick, Thanks for sharing your blogs and this post. I have enjoyed your information and recieved a great education from all of them. I have struggled with converting over to flyfishing exclusively simply because i do not have a lot of time to fish and always felt much more production with ultralite spin fishing. Your sharing of the Mono-Rig system has changed that all for me.

Paul Kruse

DOMENICK

You made some very good points about the importance of traction but overlooked one I would like to point out. INJURY. Not just falling down injury. Pulling your Achilles tendon injury along with others. I was fishing in a very rocky spring creek and tore my Achilles tendon. I spent 6 months babying a very sore ankle. I almost went into the doctor but decided at the prices it costs to see a Dr I would tough it out! I will never compromise on footware or traction when fishing again! Isn’t worth the pain.

Stephan Vegoe

Dominick Another excellent article. I have been using Korkers boots for three years now, with felt bottoms with studs and have been happy with the results, especially with a wading staff. However, even better than Korkers with studs is the addition of STREAMtrekkers Traction Cleats. Since I bought these a year ago I do not go to Penns Creek without putting these cleats on my Korkers. Penns almost felt safe. I look forward to trying the Grip Studs you are going to send me. I’ll add them to the rubber bottoms I also sometimes use on my Korkers. As always,… Read more »

Joe Wojteczko

Domenick, I shared this article as you requested. Any thoughts if these work on Korkers with the interchgangeable soles? Your blog is great by the way. I am on my third season as a fly fisherman and have read an applied many of your suggestions with positive results. I grew up on the east coast, but have lived in Colorado since 1980. Colorado fish behave just like Pennsylvania fish.

Gregory DeAngelis

I shared this article with my TU Chapter via their Facebook page!

Jon Hicks

Shared 2x…good stuff as usual!

I’ve posted this article in several Facebook pages that I manage with this heading “Last month I fitted Snowbee’s Tungsten Wader Studs to cope with wading after dark when fishing for sea trout. This article discusses the advantage of tungsten studs over the default studs that can wear out if you do a lot of walking / wading”.

At 71 years of age wading at night is an interesting experience ! Because of postage cost to the UK don’t enter my name in the draw. Thanks for your in-depth review.

Tyler

These look like a great option for me. I’ve replaced the aluminum disks so many times now that they will barely hold replacements. Definitely looking into these.

Shared on Facebook as I know many who could benefit.

Ken Quinn

Thanks Domenick for the stud offer. Shared the info with my fishing partner as we need all the help we can get.

Zach vrabel

Subscribed, I’m tired of studs not providing traction and falling out so I’m excited to give these a try

COURTNEY HAGENAARS

I FISH FOR NATIVE BROOK TROUT AND LANDLOCKED SALMON HERE IN MAINE… THE LAND OF RIVER LINED WITH ANKLE BREAKING BOULDERS. GRIP STUDS WOULD HELP ALOT WITH PRODUCTION AND SAFETY.

I HAVE LEARNED ALOT FROM YOUR WRITINGS. THANKS!

Greg Chapman

Any advice on placement of these in the sole? It appears from the picture that you have studs in the middle of the heel part and the middle of the forefoot part. Have you tried these studs on the edges a’la the Simms Hardbite cleats?

I’d like to be included in the drawing. I’m tired of those Hardbite cleats falling out in the middle of a fishing day.

John

I changed to vibram soled boots about a month ago, always used felt, but now I have to walk in to some rivers.so I went for vibram, fitted studs straight away on advice of other vibram sole users. I did not not like the noise they made from time to time when gripping on rounded rocks, also, I have to drive between some stretches and they caused minor problems on the pedals.After 5 sessions, I took them off and now catch more fish-BUT-I should point out that my rivers are down to 8-12 inches and bright sun most days.The trick… Read more »

PLedford

Shared your post.

Tyler

I shared it! Great review. Thanks!

Hi dom
Article was great
. Shared it on Facebook

tede

Enjoyed the comments as much as your article, Dom! I’ve been sharing your tips and strategies with most friends that are open to suggestions to become a better/smarter piscatorial analyst. I use korkers w/aluminum bars as well as felt and rubber but my Patagonia’s could use help. The Simms traction sits below my Vibram, works great on rock, wet or dry, but skating on rock(dry) once the Vibram wears to cleat level is my fear! A lot of rocky banks on the west slope of Colorado.

Ethan Lawson

Subscribed! Enjoy reading your articles. Thanks.

Chadp

It may be an improvement over the sheet metal screws I installed in a hurry last week

Jeffrey Thrash

Great article. Already a subscriber and shared on various social media outlets. Currently have a pair of Redington boots that I love. Very comfortable and I have been using the goat head spikes in them. Would love to try these spikes though since your highly recommending them. Thanks for all the great articles!

Jeff
SE PA

James Slepesky

Love the article. I shared on Twitter and have heard great things about studs before. Hopefully I can have a crack at the give away. As usual thanks for putting out quality articles!

Cole

Just posted the article on my Instagram. I have never used any products to enhance the grip of my rubber sole wading boots. It might be time to change that, especially with the reviews grip studs are getting!

These would be great where isn’t allowed.

John Ciak

Shared this article with my friend Roger. We steelhead fish here in Erie, Pa. Always need a good grip but worried about studs on ice. Have a pair off Simms boots with studs, should be replaced. These might be the answer.

Steve Griffin

Shared on facebook. Love your posts!

Bill Ferguson

Intrigued. My aluminum bars are just about worn out. I may try these to compare. I also shared this post on my Instagram feed: @wsf241.

Thanks for the insight Don!

Reno

I would love to try them out Grip studs look like a sure thing .
I do want them for my ice fishing boots .
Since I live in Alaska.

Rev. Les Bouck

Shared the above with my friends. Keep up the great work, Domenick. I got into fly fishing late in life (early 40’s and I just turned 60), so I feel like I’m WAY behind the power curve compared to you and the other fortunate ones that have been fly fishing a long time. But your blog helps speed up the learning process. God bless.

Jon Reinschreiber

Posted this review to the Facebook page Central Oregon Fly Fishing.

Terry

I’ll put your info in our club newsletter and refer all to the complete article in your website.

Tom

Domenick, A great article as are your others. I’ve had aluminum studs on my Simms boots but wore out, sheet metal screws were next. Fell on ice near Lake Erie. I was looking for something better and you have now ended my search. Every one I researched praised them.
In the photo the studs are placed in between the ares where I thing they wanted them place. What is your reasoning? I never go fishing without my Wading staff, which I have attached to my Wading belt with a net magnet. It’s always there. Keep up the good work.

Ron J.

Nice Review! I shared the article on my Facebook account and with my local fly fishing buddies in Atlanta, GA.

John S.

Thanks for sharing this article and all the others on Troutbitten. I really enjoy the site. The GripStuds look like they would be a great upgrade for my dodgy wet wading boots. Just signed up and also follow you via Feedly. All the best!

Lester w Young

Yo Dom

This is the most thoughtful and comprehensive article I have ever seen on this subject. Thanks for moving the needle of progress forward.

tl
les

Ryan

Subscribed and shared. Regardless of receiving one of the free pairs, you’ve convinced me to get these studs. Thank you

Chris Harris

Just shared been looking for something to help make my felt boots last a little longer. I hike in mine to the river and then wade all day then a hike out anything has to help.

Steve M.

Looks like the very thing I need to keep the rubber side down. Felt soles are frowned upon in the Eastern Sierra

Roger Grayson

Shared on IG. Thanks for the articles!

Rod Harbon

Subscribed & posted to Facebook.
Have to agree with safety as greatest benefit from studs. Currently using Orvis Posigrip studs on Simms G3 Vibram soles. Will definitely replace with these when time comes. Really enjoying all of your Troutbitten tips & tales. I have learned a lot. With a lot of time on my hands after a brain injury, have taken up fly fishing @ 54. You really have a gift of explaining your experiences that helps us all visualize the lessons. Thank You ! Rod Harbon

Jethro

Thanks for your in-depth review. As with all your other articles and observations, it’s much appreciated. I’ve yet to find an equal to felt, but Simms Alumibite discs were the closest I’ve gotten to feeling steady in the streams of Western NY I primarily fish. Though with my newest Simms G3 boots, they don’t protrude nearly enough on the latest vibram soles. To the best of your knowledge, I’m assuming I’d probably want the 3000a for these boots? Just wanted to verify if possible since it looks like it will be a $99+ investment. Though after nearly busting my middle-aged… Read more »

Reid

Domenic, Thank you for this and all your many other great recommendations! I learned volumes from your articles. When I saw this article, I had been considering a move away from felt for a while and your review got me over the hump. Since installing my GripStuds I’ve managed to put them through the motions in a variety or rivers and water conditions, as well as some pushy storm water. Being my first venture away from felt I am quite pleased, and I must say I was a bit reluctant to start. The traction is great, and I’ve experienced no… Read more »

Domenick Swentosky
BELLEFONTE, PA

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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