How do you feel about giving up felt-soled waders?


Photo courtesy of L.L.Bean

By now you probably know that invasive species like New Zealand mudsnails, didymo and whirling disease spread from stream to stream by clinging to the felt soles on your wading boots. Because these invasive species – especially whirling disease – have devastated native trout populations in many watersheds, TU called on gear manufacturers to stop producing felt-soled waders by 2011. Several manufacturers, including Simms, Patagonia and L.L.Bean have already debuted new wading boot technologies that are more resistant to invasive species. But how are anglers going to let go of felt when it has been the safest wading option for so long?

We at Trout want to know how you feel about this issue. Please take this poll, and let us know what you think by leaving a comment on this post. We’d also love to hear from those of you who may have tried some of the new boot technologies.

Check out the comments after the poll to see what other members think about this issue, and let us know what you think by commenting below.  Once we get ample participation, we plan to publish the results of the poll here and in Trout magazine.

We’ll do our best to answer your questions with the help of Dave Kumlien from the Whirling Disease Foundation. To start, read these directions on how to clean and disinfect your waders to stem the spread of whirling disease and other deadly invasive species.

In the meantime, let us and your fellow TUers know what you think. Here’s a letter from a life member we received over the holidays to get you thinking about the issue.


I wanted to comment on the issue of eliminating felt soled waders. Although I cannot know if the boots coming into the market will be an improvement, it has been my experience that rubber soled boots are both slippery and dangerous on our typical Sierra Nevada streams. Unlike the waters east of the Rocky Mountains, our streams are, for the most part, not gravel bottomed. Rather they contain granite rocks anywhere from football sized to SUV sized. Stability in gravel and penetrating algae and mosses are not the most pressing concern; not slipping on a smooth, wet granite surface substantially larger than one’s boot size is. The “powers that be” in fly-fishing, again, seem to think that what works for the east works everywhere and that western streams mean Rocky Mountain streams.
In my opinion, the answer to not transporting invasives, such as the NZ Mudsnail, is not eliminating felt soles. Rather it is proper treatment of gear after fishing infested waters, or, ideally, separate gear for these waters. The latter is my personal choice.

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