Felt Sole Bans


Not to be confused with Freestone
Because the unwanted organisms can hitch a ride on boot laces and material creases as well as the fabric waders are made of, banning felt isn't likely to help. Maybe they should ban wading boots, waders, and the act of wading in rivers.

When felts are outlawed, only OUTLAWs will wear felt.

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.
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?
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!
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.

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.


Proud to Be Alaskan
Alaska rivers aren't slick, unless your stepping on salmon carcasses. Which specific boots do you use?
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.
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
Nor do they want to spend the time and money on decon procedures for their boots, waders, nets, and boats and motors. It has a major effect on the amount of research and survey work that can be accomplished.
The paper deals with a stream in S. Dakota which I have read. It is a "montane" stream, not a Montana stream.
The problem is, the researchers have used the data tomislead you into thinking the macroinvertebrates have declined. Here is an example of how to do that:
Before Didymo: 500 Ephemeroptera 50 Diptera (Chironomids)
or 90.9% Ephemeroptera and 9.1% Diptera
After Didymo: 510 Ephemeroptera 500 Diptera
or 50.5% Ephemeroptera and 49.5% Diptera
So not only did the total numbers of invertebrates increase after Didymo, but the number of Ephemeroptera actually increased also even though their percentage in the sample dropped from 90.9% to 50.5%.
By using percentages the researchers made you believe that the numbers of Ephemeroptera dropped drastically even though they actually increased!

This kind of crap occurs in fishery research all the time. I know. I was Director of a Fishery Research Laboratory for a number of years. If you don't get the data to say what the boss wants you don't last long in government.
I wonder if this paper was peer reviewed before publication?

If you dig deep enough, as I did, you will find a popular article on this S. Dakota stream which gives first hand experience of one of the politicians or employees who owns a home on the stream. He says that since Didymo got in the stream he catches fewer and smaller trout if I remember correctly. I can't help but wonder how his comments affected the "research" cited in the above publication.


Active Member
The best quote yet (maybe not word for word); "it's funny how people raise an uproar over someone holding a fish out of water but maybe doing something THAT MAY stop the spread of invasive species causes an uproar".

I bought a pair of Vibram soled wading boots recently because I found them on sale and thought it would be a good chance to test them out before bans became more widespread. My thoughts; Vibram works great, especially if studs are incorporated, you use common sense and are a competent wader. Granted, I have only used them in winter (sans snot and excessive weed growth) but I have been EXTREMELY happy with them. If you fish in the snow like we do here in CO, Vibram with studs are a great advantage when the banks start getting slippery. Have you ever tried walking on ice with felt?

It may take you 30 seconds longer to get into casting position when wearing Vibram. However, the benefits outside the water far outweigh the negatives. Thereto I don't because the risk of me is a reason why felt is not used as a sole material outside of wading boots. It stinks.

Take your time when wading and you will be fine. Seriously, it would be more convenient for me to drive 150 mph to work everyday, but I don't because the potential risk of me accidentally maiming somone is high
here is a list of the titles of papers on "invasive" organisms. I don't have time to type the complete references, but you can google the titles and get the complete info.

1.On the boots of fishermen: the history of Didymo blooms on Vancouver island, British Columbia. "Didymo blooms in the Heber and Oyster declined by 1998 and although Didymo can be found in these rivers today, blooms have not been observed since circa 2000."

2.Part 4. Felt-soled wading boots as vectors of D. geminata, and determination of effective decontamination methods. (New Zealand)

3. Increase in nuisance blooms and geographic expansion of the freshwater diatom Didymosphenia geminata: recommendations for response. ""D. geminata is able to survive on boot tops, NEOPRENE WADERS, and felt soles..."

4.Whirling disease researchers optimistic about Montana's trout, 2009. Montana State University.

5.Has Whirling disease come full circle? by Evelyn Boswell. Montana State University.

6.December 2004 Delimiting survey. Waiau Arm and Lake Manapouri Benthic Surveys. Impacts. Ecology Studies. Trout Impact Study. New Zealand Biosecurity.

7.River mystery solved: Scientists discover how "Didymo" algae bloom in pristine waters with few nutrients.

8.Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Didymo (invasive freshwater algae) in Virginia.

9.An unsightly algae extends its grip to a crucial New York stream. by Anthony De Palma, 2009. The New York Times.

10.Water Quality. Didymosphenia geminata in British Columbia Streams. Environmental Protection Division.

11. NASA- UV exposure has increased over the last 30 years, but has stabilized since the mid 1990's. (go to NASA home on the internet)

12.Rock Snot (Didymo/Cymbella) risk analysis for Arizona.

13.New Mexico Environment Department. Surface water quality bureau.
Letter to Arnold R. Atkins, MD; President of Truchas Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Dept. 10, 2008. Gives information of Didymo in New Mexico.

14.Infouniversidades. Outreach and University News. May 23, 2011. Didymo: the invasive algae which threatens Patagonian Rivers.

15.What is Didymo? Ask an expert. by Don Cosden, Assistant Director, Fisheries Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

16.Recent advances in the study of long-distance dispersal of aquatic invertebrates via birds. Andy J. Green and Jordi Figuerola. (this is good information on spread of invasives by birds!)

17.Rapid screening of multiple compounds for control of the invasive diatom D. geminata. Phillip G. Jellyman, et.al., 2010.

18.Tesky, Julie L. 1993. Anas discors. In: Fire effects information system, (online). U.S. Dept. Agriculture, Forest Service. (provides information as to how blue wing teal could have spread Didymo from N. America to patagonia and South America).

19.Simms plans about face on felt/ Angling Trade.

These are the best of the articles I found. Some others I read and discarded either because they were just basically presented information essentially just copied from other articles or because the information was obviously skewed to support the ban on felt.
if I have missed something, let me know and I will go through my files again.


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