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Felt to Rubber: why the change is overdue

May 12, 2009
Author: Trouts Staff

The fishing industry is approaching an ethical crossroads that could have potential long term and far reaching consequences. For over half a century, manufacturers have preached the benefits and ultimate necessity of felt soled wading boots. We were told that they gripped better than anything else, and that no other sole material would work as well in the water; and for anybody who ever dared venture into a river with pair running shoes or sandals on, their claims were even more solidified.

But what was good for the industry five years ago, may not be good for the rivers today. With the introduction of whirling disease, didymo, zebra mussels and new zeland mud snails, felt soled boots are beginning to prove themselves as obsolete, and ultimately very problematic. Government agencies have done what they can to battle these invasive species by enforcing strict and diligent inspections of water crafts at lakes and reservoirs. They have also preached to the fishing public that we must wash our waders and boots in-between fishing trips. Although waders are very easy to clean and disinfect, felt soled wading boots are not. When wet, felt soles act like sponges sucking up river water and anything that might be in it. It has been proven that they are much harder to rid of all invasive species even when utilizing procedures implemented by the Division of Wildlife and Trout Unlimited.

So what is the solution to this impending problem? It’s simple, get rid of felt and move the fishing public into rubber soled boots. Just to prove to everyone how serious I am about this issue, for 2009 Trout’s Fly Fishing will carry only rubber soled boots. That’s right, just two week ago I sent back over 20 pairs of felt soled wading boots to Simms Fishing Products so that they may be replaced with boots with the New Vibram Streamtread Sole. It’s not just Simms we’re doing this with. We also have agreements with Cloudveil and Korkers to only carry their rubber soled wading boots as well.

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