Felt Sole Brother

The synthetic felt sole has long been the standard for wader traction and grip on slippery river rocks, but its days may be numbered: Montana State Senate Bill 230 proposes an amendment to fishing regulations that will effectively ban felt soles.

“We know felt isn’t the only way to spread invasive species, but it is surely part of the problem,” notes Simms Fishing Products president K. C. Walsh. Indeed, studies find that felt's porous nature can harbor parasites and non-native species. For example, recent MSU research found that the average pair of wading boots carries 22 grams of sediment, which, given the proper conditions, can harbor aquatic microorganisms that wreak havoc on streams and other cold-water habitats. Whirling disease, New Zealand zebra mud snail, Eurasian water milfoil, and didymo are just a few of the “usual suspects” thought to hitch rides on felt.

Newfangled rubber soles may be slippery, but anglers might get some time to get a grip: the new law wouldn't take effect until October 1, 2012. Alaska, Vermont, and Oregon already have such laws on the books.