Avoid felt soles to protect rivers like this from aquatic invasive species.
A New Life for Old Waders
by Drew YoungeDyke
I had a problem; I may have a solution. You see, I've only been fly-fishing for a few years, so by the time I bought my first pair of waders I'd already heard of how felt soles can carry aquatic invasive species (AIS) between watersheds. However, I was so broke at the time that I could only afford hip waders, which was a mistake, in retrospect. Before that, I had used my grandpa's old Cabela's chest waders, but they had felt soles. I won't get too far into whether or not felt soles should be banned; a lot of anglers a lot smarter than me have said to ditch the felt, and I don't want to be the asshole who introduces rock snot or whirling disease into my favorite river. Whether or not Michigan ever bans them like Maryland, Vermont, and Alaska have, I won't be the one to wear felt soles in Michigan waters.
The problem with hip waders, of course, is that you're bound to fish deeper waters. So I'd get wet, which isn't a problem in the middle of July but can be a chilly proposition at the end of April in northern Michigan. I'd love to be able to run out to Orvis and buy a new pair of studded-sole chest waders, but student loans, nonprofit employment, and matrimony prohibit that option.
So, what to do? The potential answer hung on my garage wall: my grandpa's old waders. If the only thing standing between me and chest-deep waters was a couple strips of felt, I decided that I would "just" remove the felt. I first tried my folding knife, but that didn't do it. Apparently, Cabelas did not intend their felt soles to be removable. It was my Wyoming saw that did the trick, which is a packable bow saw with a fine hacksaw blade and a rough blade for wood. I made few careful strokes with the hacksaw blade at the toe to separate the sole, then worked my way down. When the sole was removed, I roughed up the smooth rubber under-sole with the wood blade.
I don't yet know how well they will grip wet rocks in a moving river. I'll find out this weekend while attending a full training to collect aquatic insects for a Huron River Watershed Council survey later this Spring. If they're slick, I may try attaching shallow screws as studs. I won't recommend that you immediately run out to your garage and saw off your felt soles; I am a lawyer, after all, and don't want to be responsible for you slipping on a rock in the middle of a stream. What I'm advocating is that you think of ways that you can reduce the chance that you introduce aquatic invasive species to Michigan waters. You can find more ideas about how to do that here.
This post was originally published on the Michigan LCV blog on March 2, 2012. Re-posted with permission.
This post was originally published on the Michigan LCV blog on February 22, 2012. Re-posted with permission.
This post was originally published on the Michigan LCV blog. Re-posted with permission.
This article was originally published on the Michigan LCV blog on January 13, 2012. Re-posted with permission.
by Drew YoungeDyke