The power’s flickering on and off like a damn pinball game today, so you’re reading a draft of what could have been another brilliant post. Damn.
Felt-soled wading boots for fly fishermen may be the sport’s latest endangered species; bans on felt soles seem to be picking up steam. What will fly fishermen be wearing five years from now?
The latest ban has appeared in Alaska’s southeast region – a ban that could easily be extended to cover the entire state (from the Juneau Empire):
A new ban on felt-soled wading shoes is set to take place next year as Juneau fishermen take to freshwater streams with fly rods in hand.
The ban is meant to keep nasty fish diseases from creeping into waters on the waders of traveling fishermen.
A proposal to expand the ban from the Southeast region statewide will be considered by the state Board of Fisheries at its March meeting in Anchorage.
Whirling disease is just one communicable fish disease of concern. Didymo, an algae also called rock snot, mud snails and zebra mussels are others that can kill all the fish in a stream.
“The waters where fly fishermen tend to fish and wade have become a map of the spread of these problems,” Vinsel said.
Ouch. Fly fishermen seem to bearing the brunt of the criticism over the spread of invasives – as are felt soles.
The extent of the blame that can be laid on felt soles isn’t really all that clear, and one of the cruel ironies of a felt sole ban is that fly fishermen – thinking their rubber-soled wading boots and waders were now “safe” – might actually become less vigilant about cleaning.
These bans are aimed traveling fly fishermen, which only makes sense; the stuff already in the river isn’t the problem.
The stuff from someone else’s river is.
You’ll Be Practicing Safe Wading Sooner Rather Than Later
Regardless of the science for or against, felt soles probably will be banned in many locations, which is one of the reasons I fired up last year’s rubber-soled wading boot test (the biggest reason was my own desire for long-lived soles, which makes me cheap as well as green).
I’m generally happy with the grip provided by rubber soles, but a lot of commentors on the Underground weren’t – and several wrote to say they were sticking with felt.
Your choice, and it’s possible you’ll enjoy the felt option for years to come. And it’s also possible you won’t.
Anglers who are fly fishing in Alaska – a popular destination – may find themselves scrambling for a felt replacement sooner than they think.
Fortunately, I’m only a pair of fishing trips away from wrapping up wading boot test, though few surprises seem to loom.
I really like the sticky rubber Patagonia Riverwalkers on small streams – and even on the Upper Sacramento River (where others have been less than enthralled).
Overall, the Simms, Korker and Patagonia rubber soles offer advantages, but seem unsuited from anything tougher than the Rouge or Upper Sac – and they’re real deathtraps on the McCloud or Pit.
My unanswered questions remain around the rubber soles with studs screwed in, which represent the unfinished part of the test.
I screwed a dozen studs into one sole of the Simms Headwater wading boots, and yes – it gripped better than the plain sole.
Better enough? More testing is needed.
Plus, Orvis has hinted at the arrival of a fabulous new pair of studded rubber soles, and we’ll take a look at those as soon as we see them.
For now, those who tend toward indecision might want to consider a pair of the Korkers Guide Boots, which offer interchangeable soles in everything from studded felt to studded rubber, and plain varieties too.
They might be just the ticket for the traveling fly fisherman – who’s in a restricted area on day, a drift boat the next, and hiking into the backcountry the next.
Baby needs a new pair of boots, Tom Chandler