I'm a frequent fly-fisher, but mostly I fish from the bank of small streams that can either be jumped or stepped across. I do have a pair of boot-foot neoprene waders that I use occasionally in larger streams, but they are heavy, hot, and do not fit well. I'm aware that the modern standard for fishing waders is waterproof-breathable, with stocking-feet. These do seem attractive, and I've been tempted to buy a pair, but I've never been able to understand the thinking about wading boots.

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When I look at waders for sale, I see they typically range from $100 up to about $400 or so, with most of the difference in things like how many pockets, whether the knees are reinforced, and how many layers of material are used. What doesn't make sense is that most outlets that sell waders, even the budget variety that are below $100, also sell wading boots. These boots are typically over $100. So now my budget pair of waders, instead of costing $100, actually cost over $200 with boots considered. The cost of boots is less significant compared to the higher-end waders, but even there, the cost of boots must be considered as part of the total budget.

Here's my question: is it total heresy to just use old sneakers with a pair of waders? Will sneakers that fit my feet with just socks still work over wader booties, or will I need a bigger size? I'm aware of the safety hazard with sneakers on slippery rocks, but are expensive wading boots (that restrict lower leg motion and use hard, slippery rubber) any better? Much of the time I wade, it is wet wading in the warmer months, and my old sneakers do just fine, if I'm careful. And if I do get a pair of boots, what else are they good for, or are they a single-use item?

What do you think?