April 13—Slippery When Wet (rubbers-felts-studs—you be the judge)

Brewing on the front burner the past year and a half has been much concern regarding the transport of undesirable foreign species and vegetations from one resource to another. (Refer ad: www.calflyfisher.com bottom page 56 April 2010 issue). .

These undesirable hitch hikers have negatively impacted specific resource habitats that in some lakes and rivers have ultimately impacted fish populations and resulting in declining fisheries. There are many ways undesirables can be transported including waders, boots, nets, float tubes, boats, trailers, skies/wakeboards etc…Lately there has been heavy controversy about felt soled wading boots, their future and roll as fly fishing gear and most importantly their impacts in helping spread the unwanted.

Wading boots
Sure footing—key to staying out
of the Drink.

2010 leading wading boot manufactures have launched a major campaign to help minimize evasive species by producing new lines of rubber soled/studded, non studded variety wading boots. Many eliminating the use of felt altogether, at least for the time being. A major pitch from manufactures are felt compositions absorb more and maintain nooks and crannies, allowing easy transport for unwanted hitch hikers while rubber soled boots do not.…Seems rational and reason to believe. If true than right on! Every little bit helps. Especially when something new is developed to benefit resources and possibly aid anglers. But can’t undesirables still be transported by boot tongues, laces, seams, cracks, stitching and the boot design itself, regardless of sole compositions? Factor in wader designs, breathable (most supporting neo booties), old style rubber and neoprene to compliment your wading boots and you compound the opportunity for transporting evasive species. And what about rubber sole boots and their performance, safety and maintenance? How much more user friendly are rubber soles?

Wading the Trinity River
Ahhh…where did I put
my flats booties?

Up the down side and for what its worth. What we have experienced after considerable time in the water is rubber soles have come a long way. Even with stud designs they just haven’t come up with bottom gripping performance when compared to felt…No just yet. It appears they are on the right track as new designs shed light on specific waters. However felts, especially when incorporating studs, still provide a far superior performance, providing a more safe no-slip, positive footing, at least when targeting west coast steelhead rivers. Consistent feedback we receive in the shop from serious steelheading friends/customers, sporting various new rubber sole boots styles with/with out studs and targeting NW fisheries reinforce and insulate our field experiences.(DeanDeschutesUmpquaKlamath river bottoms will test and challenge the best, leaving little room to falter). Our number one priority and concern that trumps all—we value the safety features felt delivers to ensure our guided friends, customers and even ourselves remain upright and out of the drink. No more serious way to get hurt or involved in a bad situation than unstable footing/wading. Reliable sure footing/wading gear is vital for your safety, attitude out on the water and success. Anglers targeting stillwaters, springcreeks and those who sport the wear and never step out of a drift boat may reflect other opinions. You could probably nit-pick for days and weeks the pros and cons.

Advice for those baffled and not wanting to get tangled up. In a perfect world, anglers purchasing wading boots might consider two pair. One for non sensitive and aggressive waters. The other, possibly a less expensive set, devoted to sensitive infected waters only. Keeping sure footing where it needs to be and compromising for the resources—the best for both waters and yourself. It could happen! In any case call us old school, stubborn mules and/or just plain sensible. Until manufactures come up with rubber sole compositions comparable to felt performance we are not jumping on the band wagon or discounting felt inventories just yet. Trinity Fly Shop is your on the spot,”Local Source” maintaining a complete inventory of Chota/Bare Wading Boots/Waders sure to pacify all level anglers. (Custom sizing and special orders always available)! As for the rubber-felt crunch—Get Out There & You Be Da Judge!!!