02/01/12
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Midges


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 our 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 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.