Rubber-soled waders could prevent spread of invasive species
If you are a fly fisherman, and you have recently tried to purchase a new pair of wading shoes, you may have noticed that the felt-sole shoes that we had been accustomed to wearing are getting scarce. Manufacturers are phasing these out in favor of rubber-soled ones.
The reason is that felt soles are contributing to the spread of invasive species in our waters. It seems that felt soles are providing rides to a number of invasive species, including aquatic invertebrates, plants and mollusks such as New Zealand mud snails.
This is a worldwide problem. In New Zealand there is now a ban on felt-soled wading shoes. It is believed that the algae known as didymo (aka, rock snot) was introduced into New Zealand waters by a North American anglerand#8217;s felt-soled wading shoes.
As a result, manufacturers have begun to discontinue making the felt-sole models for sale. These models are being designed to make them as invasive species-proof as possible.
Anglers obviously need to make sure that they clean and dry their equipment thoroughly when coming from an area that has known species that we do not want transported. Treating your waders by freezing them for 6 hours is recommended by the California Department of Fish and Game. There are also chemical options, but these are considered to be pretty hard on your equipment.
Many anglers are understandably angered by having to replace their felt-sole wading shoes. They argue that the expense and their safety is being sacrificed by not using felt.
It is not inexpensive to replace your wading shoes, but the potential of losing a favorite water to invasive species should be reason enough to warrant it.
As far as safety goes, felt does provide a pretty good grip on the slippery rocks in our streams. The rubber-soled versions can be fitted with metal wading studs to make them equally non-slip.
I replaced my felt last year with a new pair of the rubber-soled wading shoes. I have to say that I have not noticed a lack of security while wading.
We need to do whatever we can as anglers to take care of our area waters and those that we fish elsewhere in the country or the world. Take a look at your gear and see if you can change out those felt soles.
and#8212; Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.