Wading boots with rubber soles are becoming very popular and mandated in some areas.  Felt is no longer legal in New Zealand and may become so in some states or all of the United States.  Why? 

Felt takes a long time to dry and waterborn invasive species such as Didymo and Whirling Disease can be transported in a drop of water.  So if your boots are infected with Didymo, and they don’t completely dry out you could infect a stream that is free of the stuff.  That would be a terrible thing to do.

Trout Unlimited has asked wading boot manufacturers to stop making felt soled boots for this reason.  So, it is probably going to happen, felt may go away, we’ll have some good rubber soled boots to replace them, new technology will save the day again.  With rubber soled boots we won’t have to worry about the spread of Didymo anymore right?  We won’t have to inspect, clean and disinfect anymore right?  Wrong!

I believe rubber soled wading boots are probably a good idea.  However they may give anglers a false sense of security.  I’m afraid people will buy the rubber soled boots and forget about the important stuff like disinfecting. 

Here is a perfect example.  Today is Friday.  I went fishing Wednesday in a lake that is fed by a river that is infected with Didymo.  I was wade fishing in the lake.  I brought the wet rubber soled wading boots into my office and placed them on a table yesterday morning.  I just picked them up and inspected, the first step in the prevention of spreading Didymo.  The boots are dry.  Now that they are dry, I can wait 48 hours and use them in the Smokies without disinfecting them according to the prevailing theory.  I don’t plan to go fishing in the Smokies for at least 48 hours.  So maybe I’ll just skip the disinfecting part and everything will be OK.

These boots don’t have felt soles and that makes me feel better.  Man, this is going to save me a lot of time and trouble.  Well guess what?  I pulled the insole out of one of the boots and it is dripping wet underneath.  And the insole in the other boot won’t come out.  So where else in that boot is water hiding and how long before it will completely dry?

I’m not taking any chances and neither should you.  Rubber soled boots made for wading are a great idea but not a viable alternative for cleaning and disinfecting.  Don’t buy these rubber boots and think that’s all you have to do.

I like the rubber soled boots.  Our customers like them too.  Mine make it easy to climb in and out of creeks, they are great wading shoes but I still have to disinfect them.  There is going to be a drop of water hidden in there somewhere for a long time.  That drop of water is waiting for its chance to infect Little River in the Smokies.      

To learn more about Didymo read my story in the March issue of the Little River Journal by CLICKING HERE.


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