Agent Mulder, of X-Files fame, had a poster in his office that said, “I WANT TO BELIEVE.” Well, I wanted to believe too. Unfortunately, belief only gets you so far when pitted against truth and hard facts.
Last year, I replaced my felt-bottom Simms wading boots with their new and improved rubber-soled boots, not because of a burning desire to be politically/environmentally correct, but because after several years of heavy use, my felt-bottom boots had simply worn out and I was in need of a new pair. Leading up to my purchase, rubber-soled boots had really come into their own. Glowing reviews touting rubber’s superiority to felt graced the pages of every fly fishing magazine, website and catalog I came across. Throw in the environmental benefits, and I had to wonder how I could go wrong. Sure, there were occasional complaints from frustrated anglers, but clearly these complainers were unpatriotic, anti- environmental Americans, that would slip no matter what footware they were wearing. In the end, the glowing reviews, combined with the fact that most manufactures didn’t even offer felt-bottom boots anymore, got the best of me. I bought the rubber-soled boots.
My boots arrived and looked great. I wondered aloud to a friend how anyone could complain about them. I mean, it’s not like felt was the greatest thing in the world. I’d slipped in my old boots countless times, especially when scrambling down damp, grass covered hills. And felt's horrible performance in the snow; bring on the rubber! I couldn’t wait to wear my new boots and see what the new world of wading technology had to offer me.
Unfortunately, the new technology didn’t live up to the hype. I quickly realized the negative comments WERE justified. In my new boots, I might as well been walking on polished ice; slipping and sliding along in the streams and rivers I used to wade with ease. Wading in these boots gave me all the consequences of heavy whiskey drinking without any of the fun. To put it bluntly, my rubber-soled boots were horrible!
And things haven’t changed. The soles haven’t softened or broken in and made wading easier. I still slip and stumble along the river bottom. Word seems to be getting out and the industry has responded, recommending that carbon-tipped studs be put in the rubber-soles. They claim that with such improvements, the boots work great. Now, it seems to me that if you have to implant metal spikes into your boots (boots that cost good money) to make them functional, then your boots are no good. I could make a lot of footwear appropriate for wading if all that is required is putting metal spikes through their soles!
In the end, I don’t want to put metal spikes into my boots. I don’t want to walk around with carbon-tips tearing into the ground, my car and my boat! I just want my felt back. Surely in this day in age, someone can make a fishing boot that works slightly better than any pair of worn out, grass stained sneakers!
I wanted to believe, but I don’t