A while ago I ran a “Short Cast” story about New Zealand’s new law banning the use of felt-soled wading boots (a hedge against the spread of invasive species).

New Zealand mud snail posterIt turns out the legislation wasn’t signed by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, so felt is still allowed, though showing up in a dirty pair of felt-soled boots might earn you a less-than-welcoming reception from New Zealand’s guides and other fly fishermen.

As Bill Klyn of Patagonia points out in this comment to the story (on the Angler’s Passport blog), felt sols are hardly the whole problem, though doing away with them is probably a good idea:

In reading multiple stories about banning felt sole wading shoes and adopting newer generation rubber soles to prevent the spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species, it should be noted that this is a good first step. But it is still not the solution. Didymo, NZ Mud Snails, Whirling disease can still attach themselves to laces, shoe materials and even in between insoles and foot bed of wading shoes. Clean, INspect and Dry had been the adopted procedure by USFWS and other groups working to stopping the spread of these species is a good one

When California’s Fish & Game folks tested the hitchiking capabilities of the New Zealand Mudsnail (currently infesting Putah Creek), they sent volunteer anglers on a short wade, discovering that mudsnails adhered to laces, gravel guards, boot tongues… pretty much everywhere.

In other words, putting on a pair of Aqua-Stealths doesn’t rid anyone of responsibility. It’s just a good first step.

According to California Fish & Game, cleaning and freezing gear remains the best way to prevent the spread of species like Mud Snails, Zebra mussels, Didymo, etc (click here for more information).

I posted a pair of reviews about my switch to rubber-soled wading boots, and figure the die is cast.

As the economic impacts from invasives are felt in tourist economies, it’s likely the felt sole will fade from the scene – by legislation or simple peer pressure.

See you on the river, Tom Chandler.

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