Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Felt v. Rubber abd Invasive species

There has been growing concern lately about invasive species making their way into trout streams all across the country.  I am sad to say that New Mexico is not immune.  Though we dodged the bullet on whirling disease, other non-native troublemakers have worked their way into many of our local waters. 
            While there has been plenty of damage done, we can still stop the spread of non-native species like Didymo(rock snot) into un-affected waters.  Studies have shown that Didymo in particular hitchhikes it’s way from river to river on the felt soles of fisherman’s boots.   Because of this it is our responsibility as anglers to help prevent the spread of invasive species.
            The most obvious solution to the problem- stop using felt soled boots.  Many fishermen have made the switch to specialized rubber soled wading boots already.  Some manufactures have stopped making felt soled boots all together and some states and countries have banned felt. Seems like an easy solution right? Wrong.
            The vast majority of fisherman already own felt boots and felt still offers superior traction on mossy rocks.  This leaves anglers with a tuff decision.  Are you willing to protect the stream and rivers you love even if it means more slips and falls?
            If you prefer to not fall on your hiney and help protect the rivers, the solution is a solution.  A solution to clean your boots in that is.  A saltwater solution or a small amount of bleach in a tub of water will kill any spores of Didymo trapped in your boots.  Start by spraying down your boots and scrub off any visible mud or moss.  Dunk your boots in the solution and dry your boots after cleaning. 
            Personally, I have made the switch to rubber soles and, for the most part, I have enjoyed them.  The Rubber soles are much better on wet grass, mud, snow and boulders.  Given the pros and cons of the different soles, anglers can learn to use whatever they are wearing.  For instance, if I’m wearing felt I will avoid stepping on a steep grassy bank but will feel more comfortable stepping on a moss-covered rock in the river.  Conversely, I will choose my steps a little more carefully in the water with rubber, but wont hesitate to jump on a big basalt boulder on the Rio Grande.  Spikes add traction to both felt and rubber.
            Our top selling boot here at the Taos Fly shop is made by a company called Korkers.  They make boots with interchangeable soles so that anglers can choose what soles they use depending on the fishing conditions.  This is a great option for people who are interested in rubber, but are not completely ready to give up felt.
            Whatever boots you choose to wear, it is each angler’s responsibility to clean their wading equipment to ensure we keep our waters safe.

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