The Underground Posts The Mother Of All Rubber Soled Wading Boot Reviews (And Comes to a Few Surprising Conclusions)

Category:
felt soles
fly fishing stuff
fly fishing wading boots
invasive species
korker
orvis
Review
Simms
sticky rubber wading boots
studded rubber soles
wading boots
Added Date:
Thursday, 29 Apr, 2010
Summary
The topic of felt soles and bans led to a spirited debate on the Underground, and while the necessity of anti-felt legislation is debatable, the future will likely include bans for at least some of the Undergrounders.
 
Content

Will New Studded Rubber Soles Kill Felt - Before It's Legislated Away?

Now that Alaska's announced a statewide felt sole ban - and with a Vermont ban already in the works (plus New Zealand, plus...) - one thing seems clear.

Some of you may not be wearing felt-soled wading boots much longer.

The topic of felt soles and bans led to a spirited debate on the Underground, and while the necessity of anti-felt legislation is debatable, the future will likely include bans for at least some of the Undergrounders.

And another reality intrudes; even though I'm not yet legally obligated to wear rubber soles, some of us abandoned felt long ago, and haven't looked back.

In my case, felt was fine when new, but wore quickly on the sharp-edged rocks of the Upper Sac's railroad tracks. After a few months of hiking along the rails, the grippy felt largely disappeared, the studs protruded, and I was left wearing boots with a truly distressing tendency to skate on smooth, angled rocks.

It's the kind of thing that made both the L&&T and my insurance company break out in a rash.

And dry land performance? Winter performance? Let's not go there.

In simple terms, I haven't conducted a yearlong test of rubber and studded rubber soles because I may one day be forced to wear it.

Instead, I believe it may already be a better all-around choice than felt.



In fact, I'll go a step further: It's possible felt bans may be unnecessary; the bulk of the market could simply move to rubber/studded rubber sans legislation.

That's not what you'd call a universally accepted view - and I'm wary of marketing-driven "green" campaigns against felt - but given my recent testing, it's an idea whose time may have come.

Some Background


For two years after swearing off felt, I wore studded rubber boots from Weinbrenner, which didn't offer anything near the grip of today's rubber soles.

Last year's initial tests of "sticky rubber" soles were promising, but ultimately, plain rubber soles by Simms, Patagonia, Korkers and others didn't make the cut on tough freestone rivers.

In easier wading situations - like the Bitterroot or Roque (and most of the Upper Sac), plain sticky rubber worked well enough (better for me than some others, apparently).

And on small streams - where dry grip is as important as wet grip - the soft Patagonia sticky rubber soles were superb (and light, and comfortable).

In other words, modern rubber wading boots have something to offer - but not in hard-to-tough situations.

So What About Studded Rubber Soles?


My on-the-water experience with studded rubber soles is pretty clear; compared to plain rubber, studded rubber soles offer a practical, all-around substitute for felt and studded felt.

The grip on soft surfaces - like slimy, snotty rocks - is much better than straight rubber (as you'd expect).

They also last longer and clean easier than felt (though clean soles are hardly the final solution in the invasives issue).


In my experience, studded rubber also
outperforms felt in winter, in icy situations, in mud, and in a few other situations.

And yes, the durability issue means they should offer far more bang for your buck.

But do they grip well enough? Let's see.

Our Lab Rats


I tested the
Simms, Korker and the new Orvis studded rubber boots on a notoriously slimy portion of the Upper Sacramento.

(Disclosure: I bought the Patagonia Riverwalkers, but the Simms, Korker and Orvis boots were sent for review. And I'll send 'em back if they want.)

I could have added studs to the Patagonia boots, but like them just the way they are, so I didn't. With studs, I expect they'd work as well - or as poorly - as the boots I tested.

I also tested some screw-in studs from a company called
Grip Studs. They feature an interesting design and drop-dead easy application tool, and they're worth a look, though you probably won't be able to buy them at your fly shop.



On the river, I waded through what amounted to an underwater obstacle course, and tried to grade the performance of the boots.

I toured bowling-ball sized snot rocks, climbed on dry, steeply angled bankside granite, hit what I called "the Muck Run" and tromped on a few other substrates.

Included was a distressingly effective test where I climbed up on an angled, slippery underwater rock, then tried to see how much downward "oomph" it took to slip the boots.

How's that work? Well, I'm happy to report no one was there to video the scene.

And thrilled to say I got all the boots to finally let go, though never went in over my waders (I am Catman).

Just to make it interesting, I also took the tour with a pair of studded felts (older Weinbrenners), and my old Weinbrenner studded rubber.

Added to the mix were my impressions from all the studded rubber trips taken in the fall and winter. They weren't head-to-head tests (I was fishing after all), but they provided useful information.

The Results


Prepare to not be surprised.

Basically - as you might expect - the modern studded rubber boots delivered similar experiences.

The studded Weinbrenners were exactly as I remembered - solid boots, but lacking grippy rubber, a lugged sole, or much in the way of grip from the small spikes.

In other words, they didn't measure up.

The studded felts did wonderfully on the smooth, curved snot rocks (the soles flex to fit the contour, increasing grip), yet caused me to wish I was wearing a highly absorptive undergarment on the smooth, slanted granite and the big dry rocks.

Was there an Absolute Grip Winner (barely) among the studded rubber contenders?

Barely. But yes.

The Orvis Studded Rubber EcoTraX Soles


The Orvis sole delivered grip similar to the other boots on the firm stuff (rocks, etc), but on softer surfaces (like really thick algae, mud, etc), they clearly outperformed the others (even the studded felt).

The reason for their grip? I'm guessing it's not their sole, but their aggressive, four-bladed stud design.



You can see why they'd grip - and why you'd probably only wear these on your brand-new hardwood floors once.

The Orvis soles offered limpet-like grip on the really snotty stuff, and didn't exhibit the less-desireable characteristics I expected (on smooth, dry, angled rocks, they didn't skate).

They're new, so I can't speak to the longevity of the studs.

Yet I can say with some certainty that they're not what you'd call "quiet" on pavement and rocky surfaces.

That said, grip is grip, and these have it in spades.

Notes about the Orvis Boots: Though nicely constructed, these boots ran large. I'm normally a size 11, but needed thick socks and a thick neoprene bootie to make these size 11 boots work (and just barely).

Wearing a normal sock and a thinner neoprene bootie (for wet wading) was a nonstarter - my foot positively swam inside them. Order small, or better, try them on.

The Simms Headwaters Boot


The rubber-soled Simms boots are sold without studs, which are purchased separately and installed. (Note to Simms: How about a stud placement chart?)

I tested the Simms Hard Bite Studs (see below), though they also now offer a more aggressive
Hard Bite "Star Cleat" (see below below).



The Hard Bite Studs feature "welded carbide pellets), which seem to offer good all-around performance (especially if you forget and wear them someplace you shouldn't).

The Star Bite studs received positive reviews from several Undergrounders, and their rounded, low-profile design didn't really penalize me in the grip area (I thought they might).

Instead, they were well-behaved, and clearly less damaging to things like car floors, brake pedals, wooden steps and other places you probably shouldn't be wearing them in the first place.

I don't have a set of the Star Cleats available for testing, so I won't comment on them except to say they look aggressive:



Notes About Simms Boots: The Simms Vibram soles are quite stiff (some like that aspect, though I didn't), and for a "lightweight" wading boot, they offer a very protective environment. The Simms fit relatively true to size, and are rightly famous for their all-around comfort.

The Korkers Guide Boot


The studded rubber soles of the
Korkers Guide Boots feature a more "conventional" pointed stud design, though in some ways, these boots were the most revolutionary tested.



The soles are interchangeable, so you can switch between plain rubber, studded rubber, felt, studded felt, and a wicked-looking, massively spiked "mossy rock lug" sole.

The Korker's changeable soles might ease what I'll call Felt Separation Anxiety Syndrome, though let's be clear; changing the soles is not a 30 second operation, and the extra soles aren't free.

That said, these might be the boots to own if you travel or fish wildly different varying rivers.

Or maybe if you're indecisive and prone to second-guessing (the Underground caters to all fly fishermen).

The Korker soles gripped well; the Kling-on rubber (Korkers fails the Star Trek Geek Test) might be a bit softer than the stiff Vibram soles of the Simms and Orvis, though probably not as soft as the Patagonia boots.

Notes About Korkers Guide Boots: The Korkers featured the BOA lacing system, which eschews shoelaces in favor of a steel cable and ratchet. Adjusting the tension was very easy - even while wearing gloves. That's good because they needed to be tightened a few times before reaching an equilibrium - not an unusual occurrence when dry wading boots get wet.

These boots are also very light and very protective, though they ran a little small (thin socks and thin neoprene make them workable, but you'll want to try these before buying).

A Few Conclusions


It's likely the differences in grip between the boots I tested had more to do with the design of the studs than the rubber soles.

Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis added a layer of mystery when he said via email that: "The key lies in the stud design AND the placement of the studs."

According to him, their studs (and apparently, the placement of them) was the subject of a lot of testing.

I can't swear it's true, but if I was adding studs to a pair of boots and lacked other guidance, I'd be tempted to copy their stud placement.

I'd also suggest the rapidly evolving design of metal studs was narrowing whatever gap still existed between felt and studded rubber.

In most circumstances, studded felt didn't hold much of an edge (if any), and in many ways, the new studded rubber simply outclassed the felt.

Some Good, Lightweight News

All the boots tested were far lighter than my old Weinbrenners, yet offered better protection and stability.

In fact, the Orvis and Simms boots weren't even their most-protective (or heaviest) models, and the Patagonias and Korkers are very light to begin with.

Yet my feet have never felt so sheltered.

And while heavy boots may feed some macho instinct, at the end of a long day of hiking, rock scrambling and wading, lighter is better.

Clearly, not just the soles are seeing improvement.

The Role of Wading Technique

Valuable Tip #2? Learn to wade on a flat foot.

Most people wade like they're walking down the sidewalk; heavy heel strike, feet far apart, and a constant shifting of balance along a narrow line.

That's great for covering a lot of ground in a hurry, but it's pretty much a guaranteed dunking on the river.

Wading so your foot meets the stream bottom relatively flat (the ball of your foot hits about the same time your heel does) might make more difference than any grippy sole ever will.

When wading "normally" it's easy to lose your balance; when you wade on a flat foot, your whole boot tends to squirm down into a solid footing.

The flat foot was why I avoided dunkings with my not-so-grippy Weinbrenner boots, and probably why I'm happier with the straight rubber Patagonia Riverwalkers than other folks.

Add a wading staff to a flat-footed wading technique, and you may never fall again.

The Final Load Out

I think the new studded rubber boots are ready for prime time - at least on my waters.

Over the course of the last year, those waters have included bouldered small streams, meadow streams, spring creeks, and freestone rivers like the Rogue, Bitterroot, McCloud and Upper Sac.

(Perhaps some of our Northwest readers can chime in with their experiences on the NW's hard-to-wade steelhead rivers.)

Some anecdotal evidence suggests studded rubber's also workable on even the "widowmaker" Pit River, though - just like felt soles - every rubber wading boot sole is going to have its good and bad moments


My own personal take? I'm keeping my Patagonia Riverwalkers un-studded - they're just too good to mess with, and I'd happily fish the Upper Sac with them sans studs.

Still, I also fish the McCloud, Klamath and Pit Rivers, and I think a pair of studded rubber boots is in order.

If you're waiting for me to pick one out of the scrum, get ready for a massive letdown.

I suggest choosing the pair that fit you the best.

The exception might come in the form of the Korkers, which offer a flexibility the others don't - but at a price.

Acclimating to studded rubber will require a few changes in thinking. They're better in some areas, but worse in others, and those with hardwired wading reflexes might have to adjust.

That said, they work, and work well - and should last a lot longer.

The first time you wear them, keep in mind what an industry veteran told me on the phone: "The first time someone wearing rubber soles slips, they immediately forget all the times they fell wearing felt."

See you with the rubber side down, Tom Chandler.


Other Posts in the Wading Boot Review Series Include (in chronological order):


Gear Review: Are Patagonia's Riverwalker Sticky Rubber Wading Boots Grippy or Gimpy?

The Great Rubber-Soled Wading Boot Test Continues: The Guides Weigh In

The Underground's Wading Boot Review Begins a New Chapter

Thoughts On Sticky Rubber Wading Boots, Small Streams, And Marketing

Another Step in the Underground's Ongoing Wading Boot Test

Bans on Felt Soled Wading Boots Gathering Steam: How Long Until You're Wearing Rubber (And Practicing Safe Wading)?

 
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Destinations
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Nestled in the north end of the Sacramento Valley, Shasta County and its three Cities - Redding, Anderson, and Shasta Lake - are 545 miles north of Los Angeles; 162 miles north of ... moreSacramento; 433 miles south of Portland, Oregon; and 592 miles south of Seattle, Washington.

In 2004, as an effort to increase tourism in the area, the Sundial Bridge, designed by world-renowned architectural designer Santiago Calatrava, was completed. The Sundial Bridge casts its gnomon shadow upon a dial to the north of the bridge accurately once a year during the Summer Solstice. With the objective of providing pedestrian access to the north and south of Turtle Bay Exploration Park, the Sundial Bridge has not only lived up to its purpose but has also become an icon for the City of Redding in the present day.

Redding is one of the best places to launch for Trophy Rainbow Trout & Trophy Steelhead Fishing in Northern California. A number of great rivers are within an easy drive and local guides can on any given day help you figure out where the fishing is great.

The Klamath river, Sacaramento river, Trinity River and the Feather river are all being frequented by local guides and fly fisher.
Fishing Waters
The Sacramento River is the principal river of Northern California in the United States, and is the largest river in California. Rising in the Klamath Mountains, near Mount Shasta ... more(in Siskiyou county), the river flows south for 445 miles, through the northern section (Sacramento Valley) of the Central Valley, before reaching the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay. It forms a common delta with the San Joaquin River before entering Suisun Bay, the northern arm of San Francisco Bay. The river drains about 27,500 square miles, with an average annual runoff of 22 million acre-feet, in 19 California counties, mostly within a region bounded by the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada known as the Sacramento Valley, but also extending as far as the volcanic plateaus of Northeastern California.
The McCloud River and its tributaries offer excellent fishing opportunities. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly stocks the Upper McCloud River at Lower Falls ... morewith Rainbow trout. Anglers also occasionally catch German brown trout from earlier stockings or those that traveled up from the McCloud Reservoir, and Brook trout. Remember that the Bull Trout or Dolly Varden is an endangered species and should be released if caught.

The Lower McCloud River, from McCloud Reservoir to Shasta Lake, has been designated a Wild Trout Stream by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This portion of the river is not artificially stocked and has special fishing regulations. Only artificial flies and lures with barbless hooks can be used. At the McCloud River Preserve, located one mile below Ah-Di- Na Campground, fishing is limited to catch and release only. Consult the map on the back, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Regulations for further details and restrictions.

Endangered species - The McCloud River is the only fishery in California which supports the now rare Bull Trout, also known as the Dolly Varden Trout. Actually a member of the Char family, it is found between Lower Falls and Shasta Lake. Because it is considered an endangered species by the State of California, it must be released if caught.
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Despite pressures from developers, ranchers and farmers, the Bitterroot, a Class 1 river, remains a haven for fly fishers. Flowing through the scenic Bitterroot Valley, the river is ... moreoften referred to as the “banana belt” of Montana, famous for its year round mild climate. Although the river tends to flow through populated areas and is located within the fastest growing area of the state, it’s still possible to see a wide array of animals along its banks including waterfowl, osprey, bald eagles, heron, white deer and mule deer. Wildlife is especially abundant within the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, located between Stevensville and Florence.

Like other rivers in Montana, this too has an interesting history. Bitterroot Valley was the ancestral home of the Salish Indians, more commonly known as the Flatheads. The area acquired its name from a plant (later to become Montana’s state flower) that the Salish cultivated and counted on as a major source of food. Father DeSmet, a Jesuit priest, established St. Mary’s Mission here in 1841, and a few years later sold it to John Owen. Owen opened a trading post that over time became Montana’s first permanent, European based settlement, eventually growing into the town of Stevensville. Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, trees were harvested and the river was used to carry logs downstream to Missoula as well as used to support a wide array of agricultural products. Now, aside from sub-divisions, alfalfa is nearly the riverside’s exclusive crop.

Famous for its prodigious insect hatches, the Bitterroot teems with trout. The river carries about 1000 trout per mile, twice that of most similar size rivers, including rainbows, browns and a healthy population of native west-slope, cutthroat trout. This insect rich environment is attributed to the Sapphire Range’s calcium rich, feeder streams that join the Bitterroot and give rise to a large menu of stoneflies, mayflies and caddis. For anyone that might be interested, the river also supports northern pike and largemouth bass in some of its slower moving, backwater currents. A mere 75 miles long, the river passes through several towns including Darby, Hamilton, Corvallis, Victor, Stevensville, Florence, Lolo, ending at Missoula where it combines with the Clark Fork River.
Game Fish Opportunities:
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325
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$
450
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Capacity:
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Duration:
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If you have ever driven over the Lower Sacramento River or even fished it, you know that due to its shear size and abundance of water, this makes it extremely intimidating. That's ... morewhy having a knowledgable Lower Sacramento River Fly Fishing Guide is so important. A great guide will not only put you on the fish, but will also show you the fishy spots accessable by land, the put ins and pull outs for boats, as well as the bug life, the flies to use and when you go on your own, how to put all that t ogether to be successful. The Lower Sacramento River is a big tailwater fishery and California's biggest trout river, and its rainbows are just as big and powerful as the river they live in. If you want big fish and year-round fishing, this is the river for you. With more food than your local all you can eat buffets (2,500 insects per square foot of river), the average fish grows to a healthy and hard-fighting 16-18", and pigs pushing two feet are not out of the question, so bring some big guns. The fishing season is year-round, and water temperatures remain fairly constant too, as the river comes out of the bottom of Shasta Lake.

This river consists of long, indescribable, spring creek like stretches that are broken up by islands, deep pools, long riffles, gravel bars and undulating shelf’s, many of which are more pronounced during lower flows.

If having one of the best trout fisheries in the state isn’t enough, the Lower Sac also hosts some great runs of Steelhead and Chinook salmon too. It also hosts a variety of other fish, such as, shad, squawfish, stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass, these populations of fish become higher the farther you get away from Shasta Lake. The highest flows are during the summer months, when snow melt is at its greatest, so a drift boat is highly recommended.

You can walk and wade during the higher flows if you so desire, but staying near the bank will be your safest bet. The best time to walk and wade the Lower Sac is going to be during fall, winter and early spring, there is very little snow melt, and the rain that falls goes to filling up the lake, so the river is low and great for walk and wading. This is the time to get out there and really learn the river's bottom and fish those slots that only come out in lower flows, either way “PLEASE WADE WITH CAUTION”. But due to the river’s size and the amount of private property along its banks, those that prefer to wade have two options. One is to fish from public parks and access points along the 16 miles or river between Redding and Anderson, or, from your boat, getting out at the riffles and fishy slots to make some casts.

Public access is fairly easy though on the Lower Sac, there are 6 boat launches, and many public parks and access points along the river that flows almost parallel with interstate 5.

-Brian
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500
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1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
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Day trips on the Bitterroot River in Montana include an experienced guide, boat, shuttle service to your fishing location, instruction, terminal tackle, leaders and tippet, water, ... morebeverages, and snacks. Alcolholic beverages are not included. Reel in fiesty rainbow and brown trout when you spend a day on the Bitterroot River. Our knowledgeable guides will help you find the best places to go to get them on your line.
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We are a team of friendly and knowledgeable fly fishing guides, with a combined 40 years of fly fishing experience, dedicated to making your adventure on the water with us as enjoyable ... moreand informative as possible. We want you to succeed in all of your fishy endeavors, and we will take the time with you to make sure that you have all the techniques and skills necessary to catch fish wherever you go. Float or Walk and wade with us on one of Northern California's finest rivers and streams and we will accommodate our guiding style to meet your needs and abilities. With our extensive fly fishing knowledge and experience on waters all over Northern California, we will guide you on a fly fishing trip you will not soon forget.

NCFG practices catch and release on all boats. We respect the sport of fishing and wish to give all anglers the opportunity to experience the gratification we strive to give each of our clients.
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56 comments
Joel...long time eh? sorry just saw your response today! Simms just did not work out! Bought the G4Z system with the zippers and they fit so sloppily in the inseam with the xlshort sizing not available, I returned them....I purchased the best wader I have ever used...the Orvis Sonic that sized me perfectly and has the zipper front to boot! fabulous abrasion resistance and comforting fit....the boots ... more I use are the Simms G3 Guide boot, sturdy, relatively inflexible except at the mid point of the sole but Vibram bottoms are simply great...I use 12 cleats of the Simms Alumi-Bite variety and find the footing I receive exceptional, Way better than any felted bottom could deliver on its best day! I consider the fact that the softer "bite" that the aluminum provides to be superior to the hardened cleats for my work in WNC rivers and streams and out West and Canada. I am now fully invested with Orvis Silver Sonic Waders as providing the best service, performance, fit, feel and price, all in the same boot!
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How did those new Simms work out? Also specifically which cleats did you use?Thanks
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[...] Re: Help choosing sticky soled wadding boots needed Hydro - don't know if you've seen this article but maybe worth a look ? I have vibram soled boots from Orvis with the same studs - great combination. Sure felt can be great but it is not necessarily the best option all things considered IMHO. http://troutunderground.com/2010/04/...g-conclusions/ [...]
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Very good thread Tom, I enjoyed it immensely! I am an instructor and guide and, in my younger days, from 74-87 a former CT Orvis shop owner. I reside in Pawleys Island SC and trout the Vilas and TN rivers, the Western New Jersey streams and my beloved Farmington River in CT. I also do stints on the flats here on the SC coast for reds and the like in my backyard. I have fished Orvis and Simms felted ... more boots forever, yet I am currently placing an order for a new set of Simms waders and their Guide boots opting for the rubber soled, heavily-Star cleated variety. I realize that fishing the So Ho in TN, is going to be a several time a year endeavor and hence, knowing the regs are upon us am choosing the vibram-cleated system as my primary for that area. I have decided to simply re-felt my old Simms Freestones and install cleats in them too. This is the only way I can see to get the needs satisfied for all the various conditions I know of and allow me to unravel the conditions I have yet to discover. Its usually a short trip back to the car to make any adjustment. Most anglers have an older pair of something that needs replacement, just recondition one to one modus and buy a new pair for the other. Most anglers can place a new set of boots on their Christmas lists so money should be of little consequence. The angler now has best of both worlds along with longevity to spread the investment out. Just my thinking, Hope it helps someone solving the dilema they are wrangling with!
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I was a boot tester for Weinbrenner. The test I would have liked is a test of a NEW pair of Weinbrenner felt boots with studs against the against the new rubber soled boots with studs. A test of a used felt boot against new boots is not an impartial test of felt against rubber. There are two questions that need to be answered. The first is what rubber boot performs the best. The second is how well ... more does rubber perform against felt. You helped answer the first but you fumbled the second. Finally, I suspect the Weinbrenner rubber soled boots were over made well before the newer rubber compounds. Weinbrenners are not sold anymore. I have strong opinions on how the sole of a wading boot should be constructed and and none of the rubber soled boots use the expensive method which produces the best grip.
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[...] to hear from Orvis boot owners. They bested both Korkers and Simms in a revent head to head test. The Underground Posts The Mother Of All Rubber Soled Wading Boot Reviews (And Comes to a Few Surpris... __________________ Regards, Silver "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen [...]
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[...] Underground - Fly Fishing's Fun, Independent Voice. I think this is the test you refered to: The Underground Posts The Mother Of All Rubber Soled Wading Boot Reviews (And Comes to a Few Surpris... __________________ Regards, Silver "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen [...]
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[...] Still, they probably won’t adhere like the bladed metal studs that come with the Orvis wading boots — the winners from my earlier rubber soled boot test. [...]
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[...] reading reports on rubber soled boots from the likes of Tom Chandler at the Trout Underground, I decided that not only was I [...]
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[...] later that they are banned everywhere!!! Sainty in awnser to your original question Check out this Felt v Rubber Test by the Trout undergound Best Wishes [...]
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Sorry it took me so long to reply. Not the predator studs, the mossy rock studded rubber soles: http://www.korkers.com/garage/garage-soles/studded-rubber-mossy-rock-lug-sole.html The difference being that they are not "sheet metal" type screws, but hex bolts with female threads in the soles, replacements look like this: http://www.korkers.com/catalog/product/view/id/282/s/k5010s-cleat-replacement-kit-10-cleats-10-washers/category/8/ ... more They are available in the updated sole replacement system as well. As for the lost sole issue, it was a problem when they were using velcro way back when, my anecdote attempted to dispel the holdover rumors as you put it. I cant speak to the new generation as I did buy new boots literally days before the roll out. Had to mail order from RI to get a couple pair of studded inserts they were so scarce by that point. Hopefully, itll be a while before I need another.
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You mean the new "Predator" screw-in studs? They're very similar to the new wave of studs (like those on the Orvis boots) and the much-bigger Simms studs - all of which are far more "aggressive" than the old needle-style studs. I liked the Korkers boots a lot, though the fit was problematic (they run small), so testing was confined to four stream days (about all I could take). As for the lost sole, ... more I wonder if that's simply a holdover from the earlier Korkers; I owned (foolishly) a pair of the Wetlands models, which were awful things. Flexible and unsupportive (the uppers were like thin fabric), the lasts were bendy enough to allow the sole to pop out twice...I plan on a quick followup article sometime soon about the latest developments (just product stuff - no testing).Thanks for the benefit of your experience with the Korkers - the new version of which really seems to be selling well.
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I have been wearing the korker studs (the big ones) you didnt test for almost two years now. I wade alot, well over a 100miles per year, almost all in MT and in all seasons and conditions. At this point, there is no other choice for me. They are incredibly versatile, have very few "performance" issues, and outclass all others in mud and snow/ice when scrambling bankside. Their big shortcoming, as ... more you mentioned in your article, is skating on dry, baby's bottom rocks such as one might find on the lower Boulder or the Stone up by Gardiner. A nice counterpoint about those particular soles though is the studs are easily replaced when worn down and a new carbide tip gives you much improved grip on any grit or texture to be found over a worn tip. A 3/8" socket is all that is needed to replace. Replacement studs cost $6 for ten, I believe. I will be buying more directly, along with another pair of korkers and studded soles, but I digress. Now that I have completely trashed two pairs of korkers (streamborns first and guides that are about to be retired), my biggest complaint about korkers has to be that they dont make their uppers tough enough, choosing to be lightweight over durable. Both have their upsides, but at ~$150+ a season, Id rather lug 5lbs per boot than 3 and get two seasons or more out of the uppers. What doesnt kill you makes you stronger, no? I have yet to make a dent in some Simms G4 that receive lighter mostly boat use, but have been around for close to 3 years. Before korkers, I tried felt first, which is terrible in most valley bottom locations, really only any good on clean substrate, same with unstudded rubber. Then I tried some cheaper studded felts, but destroyed the studs in two months or so and quickly found them wanting. When I replaced my older simms riverteks with those G4 boat boots, I was worried about my prospects for challenging wading adventures that winter, so I tried korkers and never looked back. On a final note on something that everyone who hasnt walked a few miles in korkers worries about: losing a sole. In all that mileage, destroying 4 pairs of soles by ripping multiple studs from their moorings and/or breaking the polyurethane last, I have only once lost a sole, or more accurately had one dislodged and left hanging from its heel strap. That was just after a long, steep, downhill trek to the river. If the soles arent moored in by tucking the last into the edges of the sole, and after enough wear and tear you will find they cant be after the last starts warping, you are well advised to be aware of possibly losing a sole on or after a steep downhill walk by pushing the tongue last out of its mooring, which leaves your sole dangling from your heel.
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The boot-foot waders are nice in the winter as long as you're not wading someplace difficult (Dave Roberts got a pair for the Holy Water in Oregon, where the footing is never treacherous - the keep his feet warmer). As for a "universal protocol" I think you're overestimating our ability to create such a thing. Didymo might respond to a dunk tank of relatively mild solution, but Mudsnails are a hell ... more of a lot tougher - responding mostly to fluids which are pretty hard on your waders and boots. Freezing seems to work best for them, but freezers are hard to come by in the backcountry. Locally appropriate controls might be the best we can do (dunk tanks for didymo back east, others for mudsnails out here, etc). As I noted in my wading boot posts, a felt sole ban won't accomplsh anything by itself, but that I was convinced that properly configured rubber soles offered a lot of advantages over felt regardless of invasive concerns.
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Oh, Lord, rubber boot foot laceless waders are fine for duck hunting or cleaning out the lagoon at Granddad's dairy, but they are by no means serious wading tools for those who intend to stay alive. No, we need the biologists to come up with some universal protocol for wader/boot sanitation. I remember having to do somehting when I went to Iceland couple of times in the 1970's, and the Nature Conservancy ... more has a dip-tank you get into before you can fish Silver Creek. It can't be that complicated. I ask guests at my place to put their stuff in an old deep-freeze overnight to kill any NZ mud-snails; no idea if this gets didymo, but that organism does not *appear* to be a problem given the chemistry of my home waters. If it turns out that banning felt soles alone won't accomplish much, the whole exercise becomes as theatrical and useless as the TSA circus at the airports.
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Before going out West for fishing vacation I completely scrubbed my felt bottom shoes. I found that where they were most dirty or had debris was on the laces, eyelets and grooves around the tongue. The felt bottoms from just walking to and from the streams were "clean" of any debris or vegetation. Of course after I scrubbed the whole thing I sprayed bleach and let them sit a day before washing them ... more off. It was clear to me that the main culprits in carrying invasive debris were not the flat felt bottoms but the shoe itself. Bring back the old rubber boot waders where there were no laces!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Gosh, fishermen who have different opinions! We embrace diversity here on the Underground, just as long as everyone realizes my opinion is the correct one. See how easy? The Patagonia Riverwalkers feature a soft rubber so they stick great when you're rock-hopping your way up a small stream (where slimy rocks are rare, and dry rocks are your real enemy). I don't know how they'd hold a screwed-in stud ... more since I haven't tried it yet. And I don't know if their softer rubber would offer much of a benefit over the Vibram rubber soles (Simms, Orvis, etc) once you add a stud to the sole. Maybe a bit. Did you try the aggressive Simms "flower" studs or the pebble-topped screws? The really agressive Orvis studs outperformed the simple studs on the Korkers and Simms boots - probably why Simms and Korkers both now offer far more aggressive designs. They seem to grip well, but don't use them in a boat without rubber mats... I'm also pretty sure that Patagonia's bringing out a new wading boot for 2011 which will change this whole conversation.
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Gosh, fishermen who have different opinions! How novel! You are always a gentleman, Tom. I'll give the Patagonia things a try. I'd hate to stop visiting Alaska, and hate even more to drown there. I want to keep my protein in the streams of the Western Slope.
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I think outfitter-supplied boots is a pretty good idea (I hate traveling with boots), though it's clearly a solution for a small subset of fishermen, and doesn't address the needs of folks who fish a wide range of waters near their homes. I've never suggested rubber was a panacea, but I have noticed felt sole bans going into effect, and my experience with rubber soles doesn't really mirror Philip's ... more - a reality I chalk up to different folks on different waters. Finally, I stand by the article; I still believe studded rubber is better than felt in a whole range of ways, and on my beloved small streams, my (very) sticky rubber Patagonia boots are way, way better than the felt I used prior. I know that not everyone agrees with my assesment, but I'm still calling it like I feel it.
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Tom, I think Philip makes valid points, and his idea of outfitters supplying wading boots is certainly intriguing. More importantly, rubber soled boots are NOT a panacea for avoiding invasive species. Hopefully, folks wearing rubber or felt will all still take the same measures sanitizing all their equipment and boots when moving from watershed to watershed, as boot laces, crevices, waders, wading ... more belts, fingerless gloves, etc., etc., can carry didymo and other horrors. A local trout farmer here in North Georgia says he holds his breath every time he sees a blue heron standing in the (now) pristeen stream that supplies his hatchery. Don't know where those feet have been. Our TU group continues to educate on this topic and we include good wading technique as described earlier in this thread. We give pros and cons for all types of soles and also continue to strongly recommend factoring safety into the selection of wading footwear.
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I'm a very experienced and fit wader...but the stupid Simms boots could barely navigate grapefruit sized cobbles at shin depth. Every Single Step was a stumbling sliding adventure. Exhausting, scary, time wasting. Studs and inflatable boats do not go together, another complication. I guess I hope there are some better rubber soles ones, but I don't want to spend a hundred bucks, and maybe my neck, ... more finding out.
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The straight rubber is pretty clearly for specific situations, and the Simms rubber is pretty damned hard, which seems to reduce the workable number of "specific" situations. The studded rubber seems to work for some but not others - probably an artifact of wading style.
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I just came back from a week in Labrador, where I took my newish Simms rubber soled boots. This was their first real test of moderately difficult wading. I suppose ski boots or roller skates would have made things more difficult, but barely. After I put studs in the rubber boots, I could kind of wade. I borrowed felt boots after day two. Frankly, I think these rubber soles are worse than a miserable ... more nuisance, they are damned dangerous. A better alternative is to develop an accepted protocol for sanitizing felt soles. Lodges and outfitters could have their own supply of boots, with a ten or fifteen buck supplement. Most travelers welcome the opportunity not to have to pack boots. One good use for them is to gift a pair to that loutish fellow who has been hanging around with your daughter. Then take him up to the Bollibocka as a friendly gesture. After a month, he'll bloat up somewhere in Shasta.
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How about applying studs directly to rubber bootfoots?
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I keep telling everyone - plain sticky rubber (the softer the better) is the best thing on small streams. And I'm willing to own a couple pairs of boots to get it...
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our testing, much of it done in New Zealand See, now you're just rubbing it in. Tom's point about skating was the most perplexing and the most dangerous phenomenon we encountered – flat angled rock above water presented the most dangerous condition and the most difficult to solve for with studs. The best advise I have for now (and a better solution is sure to come) is to avoid stepping on flat angled ... more above water rocks with studs. That may sound silly but I'm serious – it is just plain a very dangerous surface type to navigate with studs. Skating is why I go with straightforward sticky rubber on small streams, where dry-rock-hopping is the norm rather than the exception. Since we have you here, is Orvis going to implement a "Try Before You Buy" wading boot test drive program at its company stores? Anglers seem unwilling to take the plunge on rubber soles; in the past, some have oversold the performance of rubber soles, and now fly fishermen are a little gun shy. It's yet another industry-changing idea, offered free of charge on the Underground...
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I don't know that cost is a huge issue, in that I'm not advocating everyone rush out and buy a pair. I will say that cost was an issue in moving me away from felt soles (they didn't last long at all on the Upper Sac's railroad tracks), and the rubber soles seem to last a good, long time. In other words, the long-term costs should be lower.
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At my age, I'm a boot footed wader die-hard but you can't use studs or cleats directly if you remove the felt. The only rubber sole I found so far that can be glued on boot-foots is from Simms and one pattern has both HardBite studs and their Star cleats. They even have a list of boot makers to do the installation. The problem is that the soles are $44 and by the time you ship and pay the bootmaker ... more you wind up close to the price of new waders. Any better solutions?
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This exchange is providing a wealth of info for our TU chapter safety minute that we have each meeting. Perk's comment about flat rocks is right on as I found out hustling upstream to get my buddy's picture with a fish. My studded boots skated badly on a submerged, flat smooth rock in 6 inches of water, which caused a fall that was fortunately just an embarassment and minor ache rather than as serious ... more as it could have been. Also, my buddy had a bad skid and fall hurting his knee when he stepped on polished concrete at a lunch joint near the Holston River two years ago. Perk's warnings are particularly applicable here in the southern Appalachians because many of us use big rocks above water to get from point to point on our mountain streams like the Nantahahla, and someone using studs for the first time could be really badly hurt.
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our testing, much of it done in New Zealand, was done wearing alternative solutions on left and right feet so true comparisons could be made. Felt against rubber, felt against rubber with studs, rubber A against rubber B, stud placement A against stud placement B and on many different stream bottom conditions. Flexibility of the sole made quite a difference with studs where the more flexible sole ... more provided more grip as it contoured slightly to rock shape. Given the extensive testing we performed, it is gratifying to know our product performed well in Tom's test. I agree that our studded ecotrax are the best alternative but Tom's point about skating was the most perplexing and the most dangerous phenomenon we encountered - flat angled rock above water presented the most dangerous condition and the most difficult to solve for with studs. The best advise I have for now (and a better solution is sure to come) is to avoid stepping on flat angled above water rocks with studs. That may sound silly but I'm serious - it is just plain a very dangerous surface type to navigate with studs.
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Tom and Billy B, Cost is an issue for folks who don't get to try out all these different mfr efforts before they buy. That's exactly why Tom's effort is important and appreciated and welcome. The fact that different manufacturers have done better than others, and the boot rubber composition and design and and cleat design and placement can impact reported performance should tell us something. There ... more is a lot of conflicting info out there, some aspects of the opinions on this is subjective, and I have had folks candidly admit to me that some products that were touted 6 months ago aren't quite as good as they thought to begin with. If I knew there is a better performing product that is affordable and available and also is better for the river I live on, whay wouldn't I buy it? I would be happy to try out any manufacturer's product and develop a more informed opinion. Until I can do that, I am sticking with my felt studded wading shoes purchased at significant expense last year because they work for me in the conditions I fish and I became informed on how to clean them. However, I am not a felt ideologue, and I linked Tom's excellent article to our local TU FB page and will continue to send people to it as a good source of information. Meanwhile, we will continue to inform and warn folks about safe wading and about invasive species and how to properly clean their equipment, felt or rubber wading boots, nets, waders, etc. etc. If rubber becomes the panacea, I will jump on board. I am not convinced just yet.
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I have spent a lot of time in rubber outsoled wading boots, beginning with 5.10 dot material and currently with Patagonia stickies. Rubber has served me well, especially in the Northeastern saltwater situations that dominate my fishing calendar. I use rubber in almost all of the freshwater situations that I find myself in too. As you mention, wading technique is very important and I've talked with ... more many anglers who have described changes in their wading technique as they've evolved to rubber technology from felt. I still like studless felt for certain situations, like steelheading in some BC locales where the rounded rocks are firmly packed together and don't allow for the foot-squirm technique to provide stability. In this situation I'm in and out of boats or inflatables where studs are just a pain, rubber mats or not. I'm not river hopping in this situation either so transport concerns are at least minimized to one river. For me this is the kind of situation where studless felt still shines (especially new felt). No matter what outsole material you use, I think it's important to keep in mind that there is no magic on the market. No boot will instantly make you agile, fit and accident-free. I personally try to go studless as much as possible because studs cause their own impact but if I've needed studs I've had good success with over the counter hex head screws (wide surface as opposed to points and stud placement is important). Having been involved with fishing footwear development for a number of years, it's apparent that no one option meets all needs (at least so far). I still think felt has a place but also acknowledge that it has shortcomings, the big one being invasive species transport, but that's something the wearer can control and that other choices aren't completely free from either. Thanks for the review TC. Keep the conversations and reviews going.
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I am curious if anyone who maintains that felt is superior to the new rubber soles has actually tried the soles that were tested in this review? So far it appears not . . . Thanks for a great report, TC. Billy
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I kept waiting for you to send me a pair. What gives?
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Tara, Last year I urged the knuckelheads who read this blog to look into replacing their old fashioned- swell when wet, shrink when dry- laces with rubbery replacements. Chota sells them. Motivation was ease rather than diminishing the spread of invasive species, but there is a possible benefit there, too. Pretty sure that not a single person followed up on my suggestion- pearls before swine.
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Great review Tom. I think you talked me into getting a set of these...
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Great review ! Really good stuff Tom. I went with the korkers recently, Unfortenetly i have yet to use them. the Wire lace system seems awesome. Hopefully it proves to be durable and reliable, that is my concern. Studded rubber is the future. No need to resist guys.
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Tom, Very thorough job and helpful. I am going to link your article to our TU chapter Facebook page and I am going to mention it in our next discussion in our newsletter and meeting, as it continues to be an important topic. Personally I am not ready to give up on my studded felt sole Simms guide boots yet. Wading on my home river that I live on, the Toccoa Tailwater in N. Georgia is treacherous. ... more While I had not had the opportunity to try all the boots you did, rubber just did not hold up for me on the river bottom. Not even close. While I admit durability and snow and other conditions are factors for some folks, my 62 year old body that jumped out of airplanes/and played contact sports into my 40's body needs to be safe when I am wading river bottom, which is 99 % of my wading boot time on the Toccoa. (If I hike in to small streams, I have some Orvis wading shoes that do fine...) Like Fly Swinger and I think Tara, I feel the invasive species prevention aspect of the equation is minimal, as I would do the same thing to clean rubber soled boots and their insides and laces and crevices as I do my felt shoes when I travel to the South Holston (Didymo central) and return to my beloved Toccoa. One other factor: cost. Many of our members can't afford a couple pair of wading boots and even if they want to switch will wait until they need new boots. Meanwhile, education on invasive species and cleaning and thorougly drying all equipment is our focus here. Thank you for thoughtful analysis and for risking your safety to test good and bad.
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Thanks for the info. Better grip and easier walking? That's a good combo.
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I upgraded to the simms star cleats from the hard bite studs, hands down way more grippy and better walking than the protruding hard bites. I hardly noticed the studs on opening day though I probably walked 3 miles: the big bows eating drys might have altered my memory of the day. Andy Andy
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Thanks for all the data to consider. The Kern has lots of slick dry stream side rocks, on which I've had more than one unpleasant experience. So the studs are definitely an issue for me. Good review; thanks.
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Good luck. A lot of good choices, and we only skimmed the surface.
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Now Tom, can you come up with a solution to Montana's rivers looking like a Los Angeles freeway during rush hour? In some locales, they plant trout to draw anglers. A good inverse thinker would see that planting grizzlies might repel them...
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Most the guides out here have put those rubber mats down in their boats (the ones that look like swiss cheese). I've fished with Dave Roberts for more than a decade (always wearing studs), and never had a problem. It's not a big adjustment.
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Maybe I should try and old pair of golf shoes. Looks like I can make use of my old spike wrench, also. Seriously, thanks for the reviews. I am in the market for some new waders. This information will come in useful in the near future. Now Tom, can you come up with a solution to Montana's rivers looking like a Los Angeles freeway during rush hour? I wasn't aware fly fishermen today ever got out of ... more their boats.
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If indeed felt will be banned, why wouldn't laces be included? Obviously the Korkers boot lacing system is covering that... beam me up scotty.
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Plain rubber..... the studs are an issue in friends driftboats......the threat of using my Granger to start the evening campfire if I didn't take off those GD studded boots made a sound impression....haven't decided yet if I'm gonna buy a second studded set or not.....I tend to wade somewhat carefully thanks to some orthopedic issues courtesy of my misspent youth in the Marines......I also accept ... more a certain amount of falling in as its just always been that way...on one of the group trips I found some spongebob floaties in my vest one morning
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As I said before, I commend you for doing the legwork in testing and honestly reviewing these products. I think that you will find that, though you may not directly be working toward a solution here, the information you have provided in the form of a review (be it for or against) is available for manufacturers to use (as Orvis has: http://bit.ly/90z5wA) in their efforts to market a product as a solution ... more to some AIS problems. Likewise, you are promoting these manufacturers (either directly or indirectly) by mentioning their names and and displaying their products and logos. That is why I included you with them in that sentence. Like it or not, you're part of the solution. Good job. I also commend manufacturers who are working to offer these solutions to these problems. I know that they are working toward finding a solution that works for everybody. However, this technology is in its infancy, really, and 5 -10 years from now we will look back and marvel at how fast progress was made. My only point is that, until more progress is made, we shouldn't be writing laws around this technology.
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Are those the studded rubber Klingons (Beam me up, marketing department)? Or the plain rubber models?
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Have you ever tried or received any feedback on this brand? Snowfly(Quote) No, I haven't heard of them. As for soft vs hard rubber soles, my experience suggests both have their strengths. Way back at the start of this - when Dave Roberts and I actually wore the Patagonia and Simms boots on separate feet on the Rogue River - I got the impression the Simms gripped a little better - probably because ... more the sharp edges of the hard rubber sole cut through the considerable slime better than the flatter, softer Patagonia sole. On the other hand, the Simms were not fun on the big, curved dry rocks - where the Patagonias absolutely shined. I like the soft stuff - there's little better for my rough & tumble small streams - but would bet that the hard rubber soles would last a lot longer, especially if you plugged studs into them.
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Great reveiws.... one of my TN rivers the SoHo is covered with didymo...yes you still have to wash your gear but I think rubber is a good idea.... my simms felt boots died on the last mountain trip and the replacement is Korkers with the boa laces and klingon soles so far I've fished had then out about a dozen times and find them just about as good as felt..... I agree that its debatable if it will ... more help but I'm using them and still washing my gear .....one river with that rock snot is enough for me
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Tom, At the fly fishing show in Pleasanton this past March I came across the Guidelines both. I was impressed with softness of the rubber compound in their boots. The supper soft rubber soles seems it would have far more grip than a stiffer Vibram soled boot but I do not have any experience with this brand. Have you ever tried or received any feedback on this brand?
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Yo. Good review! I am currently looking for new wading boots so your review is another set of data points to consider. Righteousness prevails
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I know that these manufacturers and guys like yourself are trying to promote a solution, and you should all be commended for that. No offense, but did you actually read the post? I said that felt bans were debatable, that I was wary of "green" marketing campaigns, and that I'd steered away from felt because it was expensive, didn't last long, and performed poorly in situations I often find myself ... more in. I'm not trying to promote a solution, I'm trying to determine if rubber's good enough to do away with felt on a performance basis.
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With all due respect, based on what I've heard from other people who wear these new boots, and based on the fact that there are places other than a boot's sole for AIS's to hide, I'd almost rather wade in a pair of Converse All-Stars. These new products are cool, but I'm not convinced that they are fighting the problem. In fact, I think that these products add to the problem because they give some ... more people the false impression that simply wearing rubber soles is enough and cleaning gear is unnecessary. Replacing felt with slick rubber is one thing. But if we have to add cleats or siping to help the rubber soles grab as well as felt, aren't we just creating another product with places for AIS's to hide? How do you clean the little cracks and pockets in the star cleats? Can't some AIS's get in the threads of cleats? Won't we have still have to clean the entire boot, regardless of the sole, if we want to prevent spreading AIS's with them? Rather than creating and legislating new, unproven, and arguably unsafe technologies, I think that we should be putting more energy into education and the sale of products that facilitate the cleaning of gear we already have, regardless of the materials they contain. Why don't more fly shops carry scrub brushes and cleaning products proven effective against AIS's? Why can't Patagonia create a cleaning station designed for storing cleaning supplies and for hang-drying boots and waders while I'm on the road? I know that these manufacturers and guys like yourself are trying to promote a solution, and you should all be commended for that. But I feel the record shows that we still have a long way to go before a true solution is developed, and I think we should forgo legislating changes in how people dress in the field until we can be sure that we are on the right track. Tight lines
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