Which States Have Banned Felt Sole Wading Boots?

Which States Have Banned Felt Sole Wading Boots

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Staying on top of the ever-changing regulations in fishing gear can save you from potential disappointment on your long-awaited fishing trip. Imagine planning the fishing trip of your dreams for months, only to find out upon arrival that your state has banned the use of felt sole wading boots. Sounds disastrous, doesn’t it?

Let’s dive in and see which states have implemented this ban and why they’ve done so.

States That Have Banned Felt Sole Wading Boots

So, which states have banned felt sole wading boots? Here’s a list:

Maryland – An administrative ban on the use of felt in all Maryland waters, adopted in 2011.

Alaska – An administrative statewide ban on the use of felt, adopted in 2012.

Missouri – An administrative rule banning the use of porous soled shoes, adopted in 2012.

Nebraska – Administrative ban on the use of felt, adopted in 2013.

Rhode Island – An administrative statewide ban on the use of felt, adopted in 2012.

South Dakota – An administrative statewide ban on the use of felt, adopted in 2013.

Yellowstone National Park – Although not a state, it’s worthy to note that Yellowstone National Park has implemented a felt sole ban since 2018.

Minnesota deserves special mention as well. It’s illegal to transport prohibited species such as New Zealand mud snails and Zebra Muscles there. However, trout fishing in Minnesota is still a go, provided you adhere to their regulations.

Several other states are also considering banning felt sole wading boots. So, it’s crucial to stay informed to avoid any disappointments on your fishing trips.

Reasons Behind the Ban on Felt Sole Wading Boots

Research over the years has shown that felt sole wading boots and other fibrous materials can harbor invasive bacteria and aquatic species. The capacity of felt soles to trap and transport invasive species has made them a subject of concern. These boots take longer to dry compared to their rubber sole counterparts, providing the perfect environment for unwanted organisms to multiply.

Infestations caused by felt-soled boots are a recent phenomenon in North America, and the long-term ecological impacts on larger waters or streams remain uncertain. However, the fishing economy has started to feel the impact on tourism, prompting the recent passage of restrictions on felt sole wading boots.

Some of the most invasive species include:

  • Whirling Disease (Myoxbolus cerebralis) – A disease that affects trout and salmon species, causing skeletal and neurological damage, especially in young trout. Infected fish often swim in a corkscrew pattern, hence the name.
  • Rock Snot or Didymo – Appears slimy but is not. Usually brown or tan, it can blanket a river bottom and alter the basic food base for fish.
  • Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD) – A parasite that affects salmonid fish. This bug can cause up to 90% of death in infected fish populations and is one of the main drivers for the pending Yellowstone Felt Ban.
  • New Zealand Mud Snails – Tiny snails measuring 4-6 millimeters. These critters can blanket the bottom of a river and affect the food chain. Studies have shown mud snails can live up to 50 hours on a damp surface (properly dry those felt boots!)

For more in-depth knowledge on this issue, refer to the following resources:

Alaska’s Ban on Felt Sole Wading Footwear -FAQ

Felt Waders Didymo Whirling

To combat the spread of these species, several states have started implementing Boot Cleaning Stations, organized by organizations like Trout Unlimited and other environmentally conscious companies. They provide fresh water and scrubbing brushes to clean your boots and other gear, significantly reducing the risk of spreading unwanted organisms.

banned felt sole wading boots

The Impact of Banning Felt Sole Wading Boots

Since 2000, several studies have revealed that felt sole wading boots were major contributors to the spread of invasive species in native waters. Conservation organizations like Trout Unlimited called on states and manufacturers to ban felt altogether.

By 2009, Simms, a leading manufacturer of fishing gear, offered six different rubber sole wading boots. However, by 2014, they reintroduced felt soles in some of their shoes, acknowledging that felt provides better traction on slippery rocks.

So, Which Type of Wading Boot Should You Choose?

The choice between felt and rubber sole wading boots depends on where you fish and the regulations of that area. Both have their pros and cons.


consequences of banning felt sole wading boots

Why are felt soled waders banned?

Felt soled waders are banned because they can transfer aquatic invasive species from one body of water to another, causing a significant impact on the local environment.

Are felt boots allowed in Colorado?

No, felt boots are not allowed in Colorado. The Colorado Wildlife Commission has banned the use of felt-soled waders and boots.

Where are felt waders banned?

Felt waders are banned in many states and countries, including Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

Why do fly fishing boots have felt soles?

Fly fishing boots with felt soles are traditionally used because they provide superior traction on slippery surfaces and are less abrasive, making them more comfortable.

Final Thoughts

banned felt sole wading boots final thoughts

As fly fishers, we must take responsibility for our actions and be aware of the impact of our decisions on our future fisheries. Whether you choose felt or rubber sole wading boots, remember to use them responsibly and make the recommended effort to clean and dry them properly.

I hope this article has equipped you with enough information for your next pair of wading boots. Happy fishing and tight lines.

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