I’ve reported on the major push by conservation groups like Trout Unlimited and many fly fishing companies to encourage anglers to move away from felt-soled boots. In certain states, like Vermont, felt has actually been legislated out of lakes and rivers for good. The rationale is straightforward… felt is known to transport aquatic invasive species, like didymo and mud snails and other nasty things that ultimately play havoc with rivers where trout and salmon live.
That all makes perfect sense to me. I’m on record saying I’ve given up my felt. My wife, however, does keep a pair of her favorite old felt boots for the home river. They’re grounded… not allowed to travel. She does this mostly because she’s cheap. I don’t blame her.
And she’s not the only one. I know a number of fishing pals who went out and bought extra felt boots at the fly shop fire sales, mostly because they feel more comfortable and less likely to slip in felt.
Moreover, a major proponent of felt bans recently confided to me that he/she worried about a “backfire environmental effect” of felt bans… namely, that anglers will buy rubber-soled boots and think their obligation to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species ends right there. Never mind the fact that nasty organisms also hide in fabrics, laces and the like, which should be inspected and cleaned. What’s worse,an angler with a conscience in felt, who cleans or freezes boots… or the guy who thinks he has a free pass with rubber soles?
We haven’t even started to talk about liability… slips and falls, and broken bones that some lawyer will surely someday suggest might not have snapped above felt…
And then again, there are the conspiracy theorists who think the felt ban is a ploy to sell rubber soles. I don’t think so, but I’ve heard it, often.
Six months ago, I thought felt was dead. A relic. Never to return again.
Now, however, I’m not so sure.