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We all know that the days of felt soles on wading boots are numbered… at least in some places. Citing felt’s role in the transport of invasive species that can harm fisheries, wildlife agencies are encouraging (and in some cases mandating) the use of non-felt boots. Thing is, the jury is still out on the grip and reliability of rubber-soled boots (even studded boots). I think rubber studded boots work fine, but a lot of people think felt is unbeatable for providing traction on slippery rocks.
Well, there’s a new option now that might just blow felt out of the water. Called “Svelte,” it’s offered by Korkers (which won Field & Stream “Best of the Best” honors for its “Chrome” wading boots in the current issue of the magazine). I got a glimpse of Svelte last fall at the International Fly Tackle Dealer show, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to check this stuff out ever since. Svelte arrived yesterday (it’s just now available for sale). I ripped open the box, put on some waders, snapped the OmniTrax (interchangeable) Svelte soles ($50) into my new Chrome boots, cranked tight the wire Boa laces (another really cool feature on Korkers boots)…and dashed down to the creek by my house to start hopping around on wet stones and wading through the currents.
Svelte rocks. It’s going to be a big, big deal. The best way for me to explain the texture is to say it’s like a pot scrubber… you know, that hard, gritty texture that’s often on the back side of a dish sponge. It dries four times faster than felt, and absorbs five times less water (hence the eco-friendliness). And in my opinion, it grips as well, or better than felt. My only question now is how well the stuff will hold up as I walk miles on dusty trails to and from the river. But out of the box, it was extremely impressive. I think it’s fair to say this will shift the wading boot paradigm. It’s definitely the “A” lineup as I plan to make tracks to the river to do some real wading and fly fishing.