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generally = my experience with Chota Rocklok soles. I've noticed that it gets pretty snotty in water above 50 F, but below that traction is actually pretty good. Above 50 deg I'd say the studs are mandatory and I got myself some sturdy BD Flicklock Trekking poles to use while wading
 

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Joe Streamer
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The article fairly describes my early experience with a new 2010 pair of Simms G4 boots I scored on a bro' deal: rubber is not nearly as grippy and safe as felt. I fished them once so far -- on the Yakima -- and I hated them.

At the end of the day I was standing in nearly still water about 3' deep with rocks no larger than fist sized. I was standing still flipping a nymph rig upstream over and over again and my feet just slid out from under me so fast that I was instantly horizontal and my waders filled with water. It was unlike anything that had ever happened to me before in 30+ years of flyfishing, and I hope will never happen again.

I'm a confident wader with strong legs, and these things had me dancing all day to keep my balance in ways that I'd never experienced with felt boots (plain or studded).

I suspect they may actually work OK on very sterile stream bottoms that lack slime. They may also be fine on extremely fertile streams that lack bumpy rock beds. But on slimy free-stone streams they are flat-out hazardous. I'll be trying the studs next. Maybe that will help, though in my experience studs are bad on sterile streams because studs on granite = two hard surfaces that just want to slide off each other. I know for sure that I am keeping my felt boots, and heaven forbid all felt boots become unavailable by the time those wear out.

As a side note, I guess it's fine to be environmentally conscious and adopt rubber boots, but it's not a silver bullet b/c there are a lot of other surfaces that microbes and critters can cling to. I don't think eliminating felt on its own does a lick of good.
 

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-dirty equipment transmits vectors; not felt
-it is actually harder to get dirt (and vectors) out of felt, than off of rubber (especially dirty rubber).
-rubber slips on moss and algae.
-slipping on moss and algae (or for that matter, glass-like basalt or granite), is dangerous
-rubber only is ridiculous; wearing titanium studs on watercraft puts marks on aluminum and wood, and pokes holes through inflatables.

I can get equipment looking very clean with a high pressure wash. I don't think my cleaned felts are going to carry more vectors than someone's dirty rubber soles.
 

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AKA Joe Willauer
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i just got a pair early this month (Thank you simms for finally making a 16!) and wore them a couple days on the bighole, which i would classify as a very slippery river, and the Salmon, which i would classify as moderate. On the Big Hole they were slick, do-able, but i would not have wanted to wade fish all day with them on. On the salmon i wade fished two days straight, and they were fine in baseball size rocks, but when i got into bowling balls they were sketchy. Never swam, but came close a couple of times. That said, i just studded the shit out of them with the hard bit studs in both star and normal shapes, and will report back tomorrow from a little wading on the bighole, as long as the weather forecast is accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I just bought a pair of Simms Guides with felt after debating for months rubber vs felt. Figured studs would help, but then that presents a whole new problem as far as drift boat interiors. I will just continue to use a bleach solution when I've been in waters suspect for bad microbes. Most comfortable boots ever- didn't feel like I was going to lose some toenails at the end of the day.
 

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-dirty equipment transmits vectors; not felt

I can get equipment looking very clean with a high pressure wash. I don't think my cleaned felts are going to carry more vectors than someone's dirty rubber soles.
Microbiologically speaking, a vector is what carries a pathogen from one host to another. Any highly porous or fiberous material (ie. neoprene or felt) would serve well as a vector for didymo and other organisms. If you're concerned about serving as a vector for invasive species or pathogens, wash your gear in hot soapy water after each use. The surfactant action of soap and a light scrub are usually sufficient to dislodge most micro-organisms.

Back on topic- I had some wal-mart quality felt-bottomed boots and they had a hell of a lot of grip for the price. Will definitely be sticking to felt, although I worry about the longevity of felt bottoms with all of the walking I do to get access to water.
 

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Piscatorial predilection
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There is a good article on the new non-felt boots, by Preston Singletary, in the new Flyfishing & Tying Journal. He gave 'em all a fair try and on local rivers too. Give it a read before buying.

I'm 64 and don't relish doing the dance of death on any of the rivers or streams I frequent so I'm sticking (no pun intended) with felt. I'm buying extra felt soles in advance so I won't run out. There are some places around here where I use studded felt!

If every river I fish suddenly has a ban on felt, well I guess I'm screwed.

I will wait to see if the mfg's come up with a product that is "as good as" felt, if you have to stud the heck out of these new compounds to make them even close to felt, then an old standard pair of hiking boots would do just as well.

LB
President of FFFC, the Forever Felt Fan Club
meetings held between flooding on a river near you.
 

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I went on a trip to New Zealand last March and had to get some rubber soled boots. The Chotas I got (with studs installed) worked fine of some rock-snot infested rivers although the boots themselves proved to be uncomfortable on our typical day of 5+ miles of walking. The guide had some Simms boots I switched to which were very comfortable and worked well with studs. It was the opinion of the guides that the rubber sole rule was like closing the barn door after the cows were already gone. They also said that deer, and all sorts of waterfowl went between drainages and so the spread of dydimo was inevitable anyway. I was really glad to put my Simms felt boots on when I got back home. Rick
 
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I'm damn glad I read your reviews...there is an industry rag out for flyfishing that did an article where they had 3 people try one felt and one rubber...simms, mostly..I came away from the article thinking the rubber soles weren't bad at all...according to the article, only the largest, fastest, snot covered rock rivers would need studs and rubber...

I have the simms wading sandles and once wore them down to the shore of my fav. river...The second they got wet I nearly went down on the rocks..what B.S. I almost drank the Kool aid after reading that article..but now am glad I still got my felt AND studs...

Only wish those dan bailey cleats fit my boots...
 

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Where's the Bucket?
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Try wading the N. Umpqua in the summer with Vibram or Aquastealth. I pity the poor bastard who attempts it. I don't give a shit what the articles say---it's felt or studs or a comb. of both or I stay home. Rubber is downright dangerous.

C
 

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AKA Joe Willauer
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i just walked in from spending the last two hours on the lower big hole with the studded vibram soles. Overall i was impressed, and although a short sample time, i would say as good as felt. as good as felt with studs? i don't know. I put the studs in a similar pattern to the "extreme" setup in this link. http://www.flyfishusa.com/apparel/stud-service.html
 
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i just walked in from spending the last two hours on the lower big hole with the studded vibram soles. Overall i was impressed, and although a short sample time, i would say as good as felt. as good as felt with studs? i don't know. I put the studs in a similar pattern to the "extreme" setup in this link. http://www.flyfishusa.com/apparel/stud-service.html
I used their extreme model before that pic on my felts...still can only wade some spots on the T. others it's shoreline only for the most part...cleats don't fit...wading staff would help but I don't dig them...
 

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Below 50 deg the large Chota cleats get wedged in small stone/gravel bottoms and stick pretty well.
http://chotooutdoorgear.net/shop/images/WW500 TU Web Pic.jpg
They are awesome on approaches and along the shore

The Chota's studs are 1/4" stainless hex/slotted head screws that seat into the concave cleats; 14 in all per boot.
http://chotooutdoorgear.net/shop/images/CL350.jpg
If the water is warm and it gets snotty the studs work well. They can slide a bit on dry rocks when moving around in pocket water but so do my Bailey Stream Cleats. I lost three or four studs over the course of the summer and paid $7 for a full replacement set of 28. The Leatherman with a 1/4" nutdriver I keep on my wading belt makes it easy to quickly install or remove the studs, and one set ought to keep me well supplied with spares.

Not as good as studded felt though and I keep a collapsible BD trekking pole clipped to my belt.
 

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I'm a late bloomer to fly fishing. My first boots were Aquastealth, and now I just got the Simms Riversheds with Vibram rubber. I think both boots are great for Washington and Alaska, so far....but I never owned felt, and plan to stick with rubber.

Maybe I just never knew the advantages of felt...I've certainly never felt "in danger"...so maybe learning with rubber soles allows one to get used to their limitations, and thereby I don't recognize performance weaknesses. I feel totally safe in them. I think its just a new learning curve for folks that switch from felt to rubber.
 

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that's His Lordship, to you.....
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When I was in my 20's, a long time ago, I couldn't afford real wading shoes, so just took a pair of high top tennies and glued some carpet to the soles. Worked fine! I'm not concerned about running out of felt, since there's always carpet around, but a good cleaning and bleach, along with drying in the sun, should eliminate any transfer problems, don't you think?

I worry more about not being able to find a pair of narrow boots once my Borgers wear out. Does anybody make a narrow-lasted wading shoe?
 

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When I was in my 20's, a long time ago, I couldn't afford real wading shoes, so just took a pair of high top tennies and glued some carpet to the soles. Worked fine! I'm not concerned about running out of felt, since there's always carpet around, but a good cleaning and bleach, along with drying in the sun, should eliminate any transfer problems, don't you think?

I worry more about not being able to find a pair of narrow boots once my Borgers wear out. Does anybody make a narrow-lasted wading shoe?
Simms L2 wading boots are narrower than the rest of their boots. These boots were discontinued several years ago yet I still see unused pairs these boots regularly offered on ebay at some very attractive prices. I owed a pair once and they served me well.
 

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there are two types of studs: hardened steel/stainless and aluminum. with the first, you have to grab the rock, with the second the rock grabs you. i replaced the stainless sheet metal screws on my chotas with aluminum sheet metal screws, all the difference in the world in terms of grip. i would imagine same would hold true if you were to use aluminum on composite soles. the down side to studs for me is they conduct the cold right into your feet.
 
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