.......................  ......Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park

02/01/11

You Ask For My Thoughts About Fly Fishing Boots, Time and Time
Again, So Here They Are

"If non-felt soles on wading boots helps prevent the spread of Didymo,
then condoms that are full of holes will help prevent the spread of aids."

I think far more of how my readers value what I have to say than fly fishing
manufacturers and politicians. For that reason, here's my honest thoughts
about the wading boot mess.

The fly fishing felt boot sole thing, as it's labeled, is just another example of
government getting involved with something they don't have enough facts about
to get involved with.
There's absolutely no hard science on Didymo, New
Zealand Mud Snails or Zebra Mussels
. Even so, various states are jumping
to the demands of someone to force anglers to wear certain types of shoes or
boots when wading. Lately, there hasn't been a week that has passed that I
haven't noticed another headline about another state proposing legislation to
ban felt soles on wading boots. It started with Vermont.
On April 1, 2011, it will
become illegal to use felt sole wading boots in Vermont.
It was first
introduced to become illegal to manufacturer or sell felt soled wading boots and
later amended to include using them. Everyone seemed to think Alaska was the
first state to do that but not really. Their band becomes effective Jan 1, 2012.

You may wonder as I did, why Vermont went first. Actually, I didn't have to
wonder but about a split second to realize why. I'm just tossing that question out
for you to wonder about. Vermont and Alaska were followed by several more
states and just yesterday I noticed Maryland had also been suckered in.

This study I read said that the cells of these invasive species are able to survive
and remain viable in cool, damp, dark conditions for at least forty days. If you will
notice, this study says that anglers, canoeist, kayakers, and boaters can  
unknowingly spread this microscopic algae which can cling to fishing gear,
waders, boots and boats. Only one cell is needed for it to spread. Fishing
equipment, boot tops, neoprene waders, and felt soles all provide a site where
cells remain viable, at least during short term studies. This conclusion was not a
true scientific study. Keep in mind it beats any other study that has been done
by scientist regarding this simply because there aren't any other studies that
have be done regarding the spread these invasive species by fly anglers to the
best of my knowledge. If you go by the study I quoted above, then
why are they
not baning the upper parts of the wading boots such as the strings,
lace holes layered tongues, that fold together providing lots more damp
nooks and crannies than felt soles? If wading boots are the problem,
why not solve the problem?

Anyone that has ever waded a stream with Didymo, like Tennessee's South
Holston, knows very well rock snot isn't just neatly covering a level bottom.
There are rocks as much as a foot or two above the bottom covered solid with
the stuff, including all the layered shoals you often rub up against. Getting the
stuff on the upper part of the boot is just as likely as getting it on the soles of the
shoes. What about the point at which the waders go down into the shoes. Gosh,
taking about a place for something to hide. Not all guys change out of their
waders when changing streams. What if they drive over to the nearby Doe River
or Laurel Fork to fish? The facts are much of the wading boot provides a perfect
place for a hitch hiker. What about the cushioned boot foot itself? The limited
research that is available suggests the upper lace area is just as bad as the felt
sole is insofar as its ability to capture and retain small organisms.

No one has been able to rule out waterfowl and animal dispersal of these
organisms. What about the bears. Can they spread it. Look at a bear's foot.
Looks like there's plenty of places for anything to hide to me. What about
raccoons, deer hoofs and otters which move long distances across dry land to
other streams. Maybe they can legislate shoes requirements for them. What
about deer and bear hounds. I guess their feet are made of rubber.

Didymo isn't new in America. Its been around since the late 1800s. Its single cell,
which in layman's terms is all of it, is invisible to us. It can be transmitted and
remain alive on a wet shirt, landing net, socks, canvass shoes, your flies and
even your skin. Make sure you empty and wash out your kids sand buckets with
bleach along with all the other gear that gets in a stream before heading to
another stream. What about boaters? Especially those with bilges and live wells.
All the connecting piping between live wells are perfect - like in bass boats. I
have found live shrimp in my live well piping many times. What about boat
trailers? The carpet on the runners of the trailers? I could go on and on. Don't
think just in terms of the tailwaters. Guess what? They get their water through
dams from lakes and reservoirs. What's in the lake, can get in the stream. And
last on my list but by all means not the least is waterfoul. They can transport all
kind of things both internally and externally.  

I'm not saying the new rubber soles will not reduce the amount of
spread contamination. They will.
The problem is, it is so insignificant and so
unimportant of a factor in preventing the spread of Didymo, it is useless to enact
such laws at this point. That said, I have had anglers say that if it helps any, it
should be done.
The problem with that theory is that change alone will
not within itself stop Didymo from spreading to one single stream in the
United States
. It isn't much different than enacting laws requiring that condoms
with holes in them be worn in order to prevent the spread of aids.
In my
opinion, all of these laws will do absolutely nothing to prevent the
spread of the subject invasive species. It's also my opinion that the
main underlying reason the new regulations are being introduced is to
sell product.

Women don't get a little pregnant. They are either pregnant or they are not
pregnant. Streams don't get a little infected. They are either infected or they are
not infected. According to the above study, once a single cell of Didymo is
transmitted it can spread. It has been proven over and over that one tiny,
minute amount of Didymo will spread rapidly throughout a given amount of
water. It doesn't take a billion dollar scientific study to determine that.

It's even possible the laws could have a reverse effect. If one stupid idiot
gets aggravated enough about the new requirements, meaning he goes fishing
only to find out he has to buy a new pair of wading boots, he may consider
transferring a rock or two covered with Didymo from one stream to another.

I haven't read all of the actual descriptions and/or content of the proposed laws.
I don't know if it affects the shoes your children will have to wear if they wade a
little while in the South Holston River and then move on down to wade in the
streams of the Smokies, just for example. I don't know how they describe "felt" or
if they even mention the word felt and otherwise describe the construction of the
soles on the wading boots. I don't know if some states are requiring rubber as
such or if they are just spelling out some highly technical garbage that someone
in the FLY FISHING BOOT BUSINESS (irrespective of the round about, under
the table method they used) came up with.
All I do know about the new laws
is that they are not going to have any effect whatsoever on the spread
of Didymo
. That's because I know of hundreds of other ways, some even more
effective in spreading the dreaded crap than felt shoe soles are.

Another problem I have with it, is that I also know these states couldn't wait for
the industry to develop soles for fly fishing boots that were safe enough to keep
anglers from slipping and breaking a body part. The wading boot manufacturers
didn't get any farther than the second or third redesign of their introductory
failures before they apparently pressed their local state legislatures for a way to
profit from the sale of poorly designed boots. Most states will have the law long
before these companies have the solution to spreading the disease or the
slipping and falling problem.
So far, the solutions for alternative wading
boot soles are so primitive and crude they should win the WWDOAA
or
the World's worst design of anything award. I mean, if you slip, drive a nail or a
screw in it and try that.

The cold hard facts are, there's far too little known about it for any legislation to
help at this point in time.
All emphasis should be put on researching the
problem.
I don't mean research done by the fly fishing industry. The wading
apparatus manufacturers haven't yet figured out how to make waders that last
very long without leaking, or maybe they have and don't want anyone to know it.
They haven't been able to make rubber soled shoes that don't easily slip on
rocks.

I'm not really trying to pick on any one company. I've used Simms for the last
thirteen years. I purchased seven new pairs of waders and boots for myself and
six pairs of each for Angie - all top of their line product. That is over $5,000.00
I've contributed to Simms for wading gear. Simms is just a small fly fishing
company in Montana. The best I can determine, all fly fishing companies are
small. They don't employ scientist or at least any that have the necessary
financial resources to solve the Didymo problem. Remember, this isn't just a fly
fishing problem. It's a big problem for all waterways - a problem for nature.

Get ready, the surge of state legislation isn't going to stop. It doesn't matter
where you fish, unless you have already made the move,
you are going to
have to buy a new pair of wading boots
. I wouldn't doubt the Feds getting
involved at some point. All it will take is for someone to see they have a political
advantage in making it a top issue and it will be done.