Wading Boots: What’s On Your Sole?

July 20, 2009

in Gear

Our boots: still mostly felt, but cleaned well.

As awareness has built up over the past few years about aquatic invasive species and the damage they can do to our fisheries, anglers have been paying a lot more attention to the soles of their wading boots.

Felt soles on wading boots are a great way for nasty critters like the New Zealand mud snail to hitch a ride from one piece of water to another. Responsible companies like Simms have been working hard on alternatives to felt soles, and quite a few anglers have started cleaning their felt soles religiously, or switching to non-felt soles made of materials like Vibram.

Some regions have banned felt soles entirely, but in most places there’s a more gradual transition taking place.

Where do you stand on the wading boot sole topic? What’s on the bottom of your boots? Are you cleaning your felt soles when you move from one river to the next? Have you abandoned felt in favor of Vibram?

We’ll start things off! Our loaner wading boots live permanently on one river (the Kanektok or the Dean), so we’re not replacing our felt-soled loaner boots. For our personal gear, most of our boots are still felt but we clean them well when we travel, and we’re generally buying Vibram-soled boots when we get a new pair.

What’s on the bottom of your boots? Let us know – leave a comment on this page using the form below. We’ll post the results next week. Thanks for your input!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Dawson July 20, 2009 at 6:32 am

I've always used neoprene waders with a Vibram sole.
Mostly because I'm cheap and I use the same waders for duck and geese.

I have been happy with them and they are really easy to clean.

Footing has been an issue at times, especially in New England where there tends to be a lot of moss.

At least if I fall in the tank, i have 3 mil neoprene!

Deneki Outdoors July 20, 2009 at 8:02 am

@Bramano commented from Twitter:
Only vilt [felt], no studs!

Reamus July 21, 2009 at 8:29 am

Studs are sure nice to have on rivers like the Dean but they tear the stuffings out of anything else that you walk on. Non studded rubber can be slick as snot on surfaces like damp aluminium or decking. Felt gathers mud, bad critters and have you ever walked in wet snow in them? So there is no one silver bullet in my mind yet.

Chris Price July 21, 2009 at 10:05 am

I have not had the opportunity to use the vibram soles but I have seen a demo pair in action. Within a week of use the knobs on the soles began to break off little by little.
However, I am in agreement with the idea behind the vibram soles, not transferring unwanted aquatic life.
I fish in Alaska and Chile and have felt soles. I have a pair for each location which do not travel back and forth.

Rick Sisler July 21, 2009 at 1:47 pm

My favorite boot set up is felt with studs though I have found a couple situations where they did not work well or were not necessary. I have used vibram once and busted my ass on some mud, but like anything they will work well in the right circumstances.I do think that no matter what you are using it us up to us to be aware of environmental issues we may be causing with our love of fishing. If we truly care about our best fishing hole we will/should do whatever necessary to alleviate our mark on this land. Either by using vibram soled boots, excessively cleaning our felt sole boots or using separate boots for different fisheries,

bob July 23, 2009 at 10:44 am

Unfortunately I just purchased multiple pairs of wading boots (different sizes for different conditions), and they all have felt soles…………I am cleaning them and also letting them dry out before the next use or if I change river systems, where the disease has not been observed yet.

Tom November 12, 2009 at 7:42 am

I have always used felt soled boots and had no problem with them. However for my trip to the Ponoi River on the Kola Peninsula in Russia in June (best time to go :-))I purchased a pair of Simms G4's with the new vibram sole and have not, to date, fished off a better platform. I know that there are pro' and con's to felt versus vibram, but in the long run if vibram soles are going to protect our fisheries from invasive species then there can be no contest. I am fishing New Zealand in February / March and felt sole boots are banned completely there, way to go.

John Gaynor December 28, 2012 at 4:59 am

I use Vibram soled boots with Tungston screw- in studs at home in the uk as we get very slippery wading conditions.When I put the studs in (with electric drill)a drop of Super glue helps keep them from “rubbing out”..When I travel abroad the studs unscrew(with the drill) without damaging the Vibram sole.Dont press too hard on the drill when putting them in as it will strip the thread (in the Vibram).If I am going to be traveling in a boat (Alaska or BC) as a courtesy I remove the studs for these trips.One doesnt want to piss the guides off!!We also have a “belt and braces”approach to the protecting against invasive species.All equipment (waders,rods,reels,lines) MUST be treated and certified by a vet before being taken abroad.We should value the valuable resource we have in our fantastic rivers.I would like my grandchildren to be able to enjoy it to!!

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