Felt Sole Bans

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Bill Aubrey, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. Nooksack Mac Active Member

    Posts: 1,961
    Bellingham, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +120 / 0
    Shag carpeting and indoor/outdoor carpeting have been practical substitutes for felt for decades; I've used them both. But while they may fit through a legal loophole, they're probably just just as much parasite vectors as felt is.

    For several years, the Nature Conservancy property on Silver Creek has had metal tubs, disinfectant water and brushes at each of the several trailheads. Perhaps it's time for plastic bins with lockable lids to contain chlorinated water; something new for the fishing industry to market. Easy enough to carry and use in vehicles. (Would make for a helluva overcharge as checked airline luggage, though!):confused:
  2. Olive bugger Active Member

    Posts: 2,489
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +438 / 0
    Well, there is a way around the felt sole ban. Fish from the bank
    I think that was the idea in England.
  3. Codioos Active Member

    Posts: 471
    Ratings: +105 / 0
    So in the event that WA, ID and MT decide to go with the ban; what is a good feltless boot to use around here given how slick some of our streams and river rocks are...
  4. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,785
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,722 / 0
    When I fish in the summer time I wet wade. My tennies work fine. Two years ago I had some ripple sole tennies. They never slipped at all.
    Dan Nelson likes this.
  5. Dan Nelson Hiker, Fisher, Writer, Bum

    Posts: 820
    Puyallup, WA
    Ratings: +347 / 5
    The Patagonia River Crampons do work well -- better than screw-in studs. I've used them when wet-wading on hike-in sites (mostly backpacking) along with a pair of lightweight trail shoes (see thread in the Camping/Hiking section). But, after using 5 or 6 different makes/models of rubber-soled boot with and without studs, I have to say nothing comes close to felt -- those felt, with those Patagonia crampons can be a GREAT combination in really slick situations, especially on rocky salt beaches.

    Best bet to curbing invasives transport is disinfecting and drying of gear. During our extended road trip last September, we kept a well-sealed Rubbermaid tub of bleach water on hand all the time. After stripping off boots and waders, the boots would get dipped in the solution, and we'd rub a rag soaked in the solution around the gravel gaiters on our waders. Then we'd dry them as much as possible but hanging the waders under cover overnight and setting the boots out in the last of the sunlight or near the fire in the evening.
  6. apistomaster Member

    Posts: 89
    Clarkston, WA
    Ratings: +11 / 0
    I don't believe there is anything which could prevent wading fisherman using any type of traction improvement method from possibly transmitting dydimo. One alternative to bleaching is a strong solution of potassium permanganate but no chemical dip is ever going to be 100% effective. Beware of it's incredible purple staining power. Perhaps even banning fishing of any kind would not stop the spread of this slimy algae and that is the logical extension of this trend.
    The reductio absurdum solution of this issue.
  7. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,249
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +1,033 / 1
    If a state bans felt for wading would that state open itself up to a lawsuit if a person injured themself because the safer felt soles weren't available?
  8. Bill Aubrey Active Member

    Posts: 939
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +165 / 0
    I just learned that New Jersey may also have a ban on felt.
  9. apistomaster Member

    Posts: 89
    Clarkston, WA
    Ratings: +11 / 0
    I'm no lawyer but I do not see how one would have any grounds for such an action.
    Streams are not constructed as public walk ways and to choose to wade is always at one's own risk.
    No one sues the state because someone drowns while swimming outside supervised swimming areas in public waters.
  10. isaacfab Member

    Posts: 182
    West Point, NY
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I do research as part of my day job, so technical journals are common on my reading list. This thread got me wondering what was actually published in peer-reviewed reputable journals. I found two publications of significance:


    A paper that explores the effect of the didymo on 'macrobenithic' life in affected rivers in Canada. Basically it says that there is a statistically significant negative effect on the rivers aquatic eco system. This is obvious I think to everyone but this publication provides a legitimate proof of the claim.


    A paper on the spread and growth of didymo. Basically because the spread and growth of the algae was so closely correlated with the advent and subsequent popularity of felt that link has been explored and verified here. Yes the bacteria can be transferred through animals but nothing like the perfect breading, preserving, and transitioning abilities that felt provides (which incidentally is not provided by other wader materials). It is interesting to note that didymo is natural to North America but did not spread until felt became popular in the 80's and 90's. It makes intuitive sense as the felt is in direct prolonged contact with the algae, essentially being ground into the sole of a boot and then transmitted in the same way. Waterfowl do not have anything like this material in or on their bodies and they do not typically contact the algae covered bottom of a river.

    Unfortunately you need a technical education and permission access to read the entire papers (such is the way with scientific journals) but the abstracts should satisfy those who are curious. This little research binge has me thinking of hanging up the felt.
  11. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 4,138
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +791 / 1
    Agree. And are we absolutely certain that rock snot trapped between the $200 metal crampons and the damn near useless non-felt tread isn't a possibility.
  12. Chuckanduck Member

    Posts: 65
    Meeker, CO
    Ratings: +8 / 0
    Actually, the ban in Missouri includes soles made of porous material!
  13. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Ratings: +112 / 0
    am I the only one who like Vibram a lot better than felt? Felt sucks ass
  14. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 4,138
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +791 / 1
    Alaska rivers aren't slick, unless your stepping on salmon carcasses. Which specific boots do you use?
  15. Chuckanduck Member

    Posts: 65
    Meeker, CO
    Ratings: +8 / 0
    Let me address the first paper noted above. Just because Didymo was never observed before does not mean it was not present. Didymo in its normal state is not visible, so unless an Algologist has thoroughly sampled a body of water in the past, it cannot be said that Didymo has "invaded" that body of water. Didymo "blooms" are a recent occurrence and the reasons are not known. It has been hypothesized that climate change is responsible or that the increased incidence of UV radiation resulting from a decrease in the ozone layer is responsible. If you remember the ozone layer began to be seriously depleted in the 70's and 80's around the same time that Didymo "blooms" started showing up.
    Didymo seems to have undergone genetic changes that allow it to produce these "blooms". It has also been noted that the "blooms" are associated with oligotrophic (few nutrients), coldwater streams below dams or lake outlets.
    I find it curious that the abstract states that the macrobenthic biomass increased, but that "Nevertheless, it is concluded that Didymo has an effect on the base of the aquatic food web......" HUH??? I agree it seems to have had an effect, but it appears to have only INCREASED the biomass of the aquatic food web! Perhaps the authors prefer to remain "politically correct"? Oh, and by the way, it actually says that the pre and post incursion data were NOT SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT! You must have misread the abstract.
    There is another paper than also indicates an increase in total benthic biomass, specifically due to an large increase in Chironomids (midges).
    Now we all know the value of midges to tailwater trout, don't we! So again, what is all the fuss?
  16. Chuckanduck Member

    Posts: 65
    Meeker, CO
    Ratings: +8 / 0
    Glad you like Vibram. The point is we should be allowed the freedom to choose unless there is a good reason to take that freedom away. If there is no safety issue, why do these laws exempt State and Federal employees? The Montana biologists objected to having to wear vibram boots because of the safety issue and so far, Montana has rejected the felt sole ban.

    No biologist I have ever talked to believes that a ban on felt soles will stop the spread of Didymo or other organisms. They only feel that it will slow the spread. In the case of Didymo, I am not even sure it isn't already in every habitat that it can successfully colonize. It just hasn't created a "bloom" yet!

    I cannot emphasis enough the fact that it only takes ONE CELL to colonize a river. That cell could come from a boot lace, neoprene waders, your favorite fly, or even the gunk you forgot to clean off your fly line. These organisms are very good at hitching rides. After all, it is a matter of life and death to them!
  17. Jim Darden Active Member

    Posts: 907
    Bellingham, Wa.
    Ratings: +222 / 0
    Wow! This sounds like a subject I shouldn't wade into......
  18. Olive bugger Active Member

    Posts: 2,489
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +438 / 0
    Well, it went way over my head, but I appreciate you fellows that are debaiting the matter. I believe that it should be discussed in a civil and honest manner. I applaud you all for you scientific approach to the issue.
  19. isaacfab Member

    Posts: 182
    West Point, NY
    Ratings: +0 / 0

    You have to read the paper....the increase is not when didymo is present but when it isn't, or after the bloom as the abstract states becaue the algae growth is seasonal. To boot, no pun intended, I believe the abstract mentioned Chironomids being affected as well. Also the second paper gives the justifcation for felt being a very likely culprit, which like I mentioned makes a lot of sense, it (felt NOT laces, or boot crevices) is an ideal habitat for this algae. Some of the studies address this idea that the algae only transmits best under specific conditions. I think several comments on this thread imply that if you just dip any material in a stream with didymo then take that material to somewhere else and then dip it again that is somehow the same as grinding felt into a rock with all your weight for several days or weeks then doing the same in an unaffect area. Its not the same.

    Here is a study of the same type in Montana. A difference of almost 40% on average when the stuff is present.


    I do have an open mind so please post the research you are refering to I'll gladly read away. I'm not sure about the climate change theory I didn't find/notice anything published about it.
  20. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Ratings: +112 / 0
    I use the Simms BOA boots, and some of our rivers are very slick. All I know is last time I put on felt soled boots I was slipping all over the place, and felt really uncomfortable.

    I'll also say that we compared scarpa climbing shells to brand new cloudveil felt soled boots in a river, my buddy could stand on steep rocks in the river I couldn't even begin to climb.

    The only complaint I have about rubber is it wears out super fast.
  21. BRsnow Member

    Posts: 114
    Denver, CO
    Ratings: +14 / 0
    It is amazing people will jump all over a person for holding a fish out of the water for picture, but scoff at the idea of keeping the environment where the fish live as natural as possible. If it helps, why not? Also if you do a bit of research you might be amazed at what you find. Saying ducks and others animals will transport it as well is similar to saying why not keep a fish, an eagle could eat it as well...BR
    rory likes this.