The discussion gets more intense the closer we get to the unbelievable Salmon Fly Hatch on the Deschutes River. Do you wear felt on the bottom of your boots or have you made the switch? We stopped wearing felt about 3 years ago, and started recommending to those that travel outside of the state to do the same.
In a recent interview, the west coast rep for Simms (John Sherman), announced “Simms last year had 75% of the boots we sold were felt soles, and this year 75% of the boots we’ve sold are StreamTread. Given the recent ban on felt by states and countries (several streams in New England area, New Zealand, and SW Alaska by 2011, and many more to follow) Simms is no longer making “Felt Soled wading boots.” The fly fishing sportsman is going to need to make a change.
In an article written by Bob Wiltshire, “The Science of Felt” he gives the total layout on the theory of the felt bottom boot. His post is well worth the time to read. Here is a “quick grab” from his article.
A New Zealand mud snail was discovered in the sediment recovered from one boot which shows that invasive species are definitely being transported in the sediment carried on waders.
Thus, we know that anglers can transport didymo in this fashion. But, is it being transported this way? Canadian researcher Max Bothwell and his collaborators have examined the spread of didymo on Vancouver Island to try and determine how the species is spread. Although they do not have actual observations of anglers causing new introductions, they concluded that “the pattern of didymo spread among rivers on Vancouver Island correlates with the activity of fishermen and the commercial introduction and widespread use of felt-soled waders in the late 1980s”
They present the complete results of their work in a scholarly article published in Fisheries http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wat/wq/studies/didymo-blooms.pdf. In the course of their research they noted a significant relationship between the presence of didymo and the presence of anglers. They particularly note rivers in which didymo is not found upstream of angler access points and rivers that are closed to fishing that are surrounded by didymo but remain free of it. They reference a number of other well documented examples from around the world that illustrate the connection between wading anglers and the spread of didymo.
For those of you that have not experienced the bottom of the Deschutes River, let me tell you it is one slick son of gun. For those who have waded this river, you know that by the time you are done wading it on a three day trip you feel fortunate to have survived. On a recent trip a buddy and I were fishing across river from one another. My buddy hit the end of one of the infamous Deschutes River Ledges and all I saw was a hat floating down river. I had just hooked up, so needless to say he was on his own until I landed the fish. The Deschutes is brutal, and yes the rocks are slick, but the first time you land a Deschutes River Redside all the slick rocks are forgotten (or at least pushed to the back of your mind until the next step). StreamTread is a proprietary rubber compound from Vibram® that Simms has been testing and using for over three years and the company feels that in most wading situations the traction and performance is on par with felt. John Sherman used this new technology on the Deschutes and reported…
I just returned from a trip to the lower Deschutes where you have big ledge rock and smooth slime covered boulders and I felt that the traction of StreamTread with our new star cleats was phenomenal in one of the most challenging wading environments on the planet.
There it is, our report on Felt or Not Felt. I guess bottom line is if you can prevent even the remote possibility of spreading a disease in our water way why not take the steps to do so.
The Deschutes River in Eastern Oregon is very special. If you have not had the chance to Fly Fish this river you’re missing out. A few seats are left for 2010 Deschutes Flyfishing. Grab your new boots, give us call and Let’s go Fishing! 🙂