Fishing Boot Bar Crampons




The absolutely best crampon design for fly fishing boots. Bar crampons have superior gripping compared to studs, felt or rubber lug soles. Work extremely well on dry rocks, slimy rocks and algae/moss covered rocks. Cannot believe how well they work. Also, very stable in the river or on land. Pictures show crampons for size 14 boot.

Parts list:


Aluminum bar stock (available at stores like Home Depot)

One 4' length of 1/4" x 1"

One 4' length of 1/8" x 1"

Aluminum rivets

Heavy Duty Velcro


Rivet tool (under $10.00)

Vise, ball peen hammers, hacksaw, metal drill bits, file or bench grinder


1. Start by measuring length of boot and allowing an extra 4 inches for each "frame" (defined as the longitudinal pieces...two per boot). Note, we'll refer to the cross bars as "bars")

2. Use the vise and hammer to bend and shape each frame piece, which varies by brand of boot. NOTE: Avoid sharp angles in the bends, as you can break the frame pieces. Grind or file sharp corners.

3. Note that there needs to be a lip on each frame piece at the toe end to keep the boot from sliding forward.

4. Similarly, at the heel, each frame piece needs to rise behind the heel. Also, at the heel, add a center frame piece that connects to both of the heel area bars and rises behind the heel. Create a lip (about 1/4") that bends toward the boot. Drill a series of holes across the back of the heel (about 1-1/4" long), making a trench. Don't make the trench too big, as it should take a lot of hand pressure to push the lip into the heel. The lip will fit into this trench and keep the crampon heel area from separating from the bottom of the boot. Alternative is to have this lip grip on the heel, and not use a trench, but this is not as secure a fit as using the trench.

5. Turn boot upside down and decide on where the bars will be located. It's best to allow 1" or at least 3/4" space between each bar. Measure the width of the boot at each bar location (measured to the edge of the boot or slightly beyond. Don't make it so long that it will catch on rocks or debris and prevent lifting your boot). Best to use 5 bars if your boot size will permit, although four would work (if using 4, use two on heel, if possible, and two on sole).

6. On the frame pieces, mark the locations of the bars. Cut the bar into appropriate lengths and grind or file the ends and corners.

7. Drill holes in each of the bars such that the holes will be in the center of both the bars and each frame piece. Countersink the holes in the bars, such that the rivet heads will NOT protrude from the surface of the bar...I prefer them to be 1/16" below the surface. This reduces the risk that rocks will grind down the rivets after a lot of use.

8. Place the bars back on the frame and boot. Use permanent marker and stick through each hole of the bars, making a mark on the frame, where corresponding holes should be drilled.

9. Drill holes in frame.

10. Using rivet tool, insert rivets (from bottom of bars) into bars and frame. Attached with rivet tool. Best to do these one at a time, placing on boot and ensuring a good fit after each riveting.

11. Complete all rivets.

12. Flatten top end of rivets (the end that is next to the sole of the boot). DO THESE ONE AT A TIME AND FIT TO BOOT. This not only flattens the rivet, it makes it tight; so if you do them all at once, you may have difficulty fitting it to the boot. Best way to flatten the rivets is to put a ball peen hammer in a vise, ball end facing upwards. Then place each crampon bar on it, with the rivet head (recessed in the countersink hole) on the ball in the vise. Then, using another ball peen hammer, make multiple strikes to the top side rivet end, shaping it slightly with each strike, until the rivet is fairly flat (looks like a rounded mound when finished).

13. Put the finished crampon on the boot and measure & cut velcro straps. Experiment with the best layout for the straps for your brand of boot. I prefer one strap across the toe and another that wraps from the ball of the boot, around the ankle and is held in place across the laces. In my design, I used my sons old roller hockey boot straps...very heavy duty and they work great. Might pick up a pair very cheap at Play it Again Sports. NOTE: the obvious goal is to create a tight fit of the crampon to the boot that doesn't slide or separate from the sole.


GO FISHING!!! Tight Lines.

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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Aluminum is very "grabby" so it is a great material for bar crampons. Just a curiosity point, why did you choose such thick aluminum?

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    As you know, aluminum is soft. For the first pair I made, I used 1/8" thick frame parts and one of them broke when I was using it in a rocky river. So, I removed all the bars and made new frames and all works well. As for the thickness of the bars, 1/4" is very rigid, should last years of use, and allows for creating a rivet hole with deep enough countersink while still providing the necessary strength required to support this 230' fisherman. You can see from the photos that the bars get significantly scarred in use, which is why they grip so well. I found it interesting that the use of studs in typical crampons are an attempt to cut into the rock to create grip, whereas the aluminum bars allow for the rocks to cut into the bars to create grip. Also, the long edges of the bars are very useful in gripping the rocks, especially on the curved and irregular rock surfaces. Thanks for your comment/question.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I went back and checked my thicknesses. My first post was incorrect on the thickness of the aluminum frame. the FIRST set I made were 1/16" thick and the final version are 1/8" thick. Your question makes more sense to me, now, as I think about how thick 3/16" would be as a frame...not necessary, as 1/8" works great. I'm correcting the typo in the instructions.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Ooh, very nice! These look like a great homemade alternative to the way over-priced commercial versions of bar crampons!

    I haven't fly fished in years, but your two instructables today have gotten me thinking I need to get back out.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your two very nice comments. I thoroughly enjoyed making both of them, and they're very functional. I won't use the file winder very often, because I tend not to change lines frequently, but it was a great project. I have used the crampons in mountain streams in East Tennessee and Freestone rivers in Montana. They worked extremely well in both settings. This is my first post to Instructables. Thanks again for your comments.