Felt vs. Vibram (rubber sole) is the debate raging in fishing circles. Felt transfers AIS, but Vibram (rubber soles) don’t work as well as felt in slippery conditions. As in most arguments, both sides have strong points. A few months ago, I posted that Dustin and I, before our Montana vacation, planned to retire the felts and hop on the rubber sole bandwagon. This was not an easy transition.
Since we backpack, we wanted some lightweight boots; this was the first challenge. The next challenge, finding our sizes. Dustin wears a 14, and I a men’s 6.5 or 7 (women’s wading shoe options are painfully lacking). Simms had a nice option, but the comfort level wasn’t quite what we wanted. A suggestion led us to Orvis, but we could not get Dustin’s size. Finally, Dustin was pointed to the Korkers line. “The Guide” style was reviewed in Field and Stream. We decided to give them a try. Winner, winner chicken dinner!
“The Guide” style was a little high on price, so we went with the “Cross Current”. Our local fly shop, Rainbow Fly Shop special ordered them in for us, and they were here in plenty of time for our CO trip. What makes these boots such a winner is the changeable soles, called the OmniTrax . This change-on-the-fly system comes with 7 different soles. The Cross Current style comes with the hiking soles, and felt wading soles. Not knowing what to expect in CO, I ordered the studded rubber soles. Let me tell you, these studded soles grip! Rushing water billowed around my legs in the CO River, Crystal River and the Roaring Fork River, and I stayed put. No slipping and sliding, just gripping. Have I mentioned comfort yet? No? Well, I hardly feel like I had boots on at all. They are super light weight and uber comfortable. Not to mention, changing the soles is a breeze. This is ideal for us backpackers; we are able to hike with the trail soles, and change to whatever sole necessary when we get to our fishing destination. What a deal!
Bennett Springs, our nearest place to trout fish, is the Mecca of slippery conditions. Every rock, crevice and flat surface is covered in aquatic plant life that wants to get your butt in the river (this has happened a time or two). The studded soles kept me perfectly upright, simply stellar. I am anxious to try them out when I head back to Colorado in September for my volunteer trip with CDOW.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, take Greg Thomas’ word for it. He’s the managing editor of Fly Rod & Reel, and the man behind Angler’s Tonic. He tried out “The Guide” style on the Dean River a few weeks ago, and reviewed them for his readers; perhaps you want to check out his professional opinion? You can do so here.