To you I bequeath my (still lively) Simms Freestones

Old Simms Freestones

In retrospect they probably had plenty of life left in them on my own feet. But last season I picked up a new pair of wading boots, and had recently begun feeling like a selfish bastard for having three pairs in the closet. So I gave this fine fly fishing footwear to a pal of mine who really needed some studded soles.

I would have tossed them on Craigslist at the $0 price, but they bring back old memories so I wanted to keep them in the family. They’ve done at least a dozen trips to the San Juan, more than twice that in Wyoming and Idaho, and literally hundreds of excursions across Colorado and Utah. They spent so much time getting wet, and then laying in riverside sun or near campfire warmth, that the uppers cracked behind the big toe. The thought of bitching at Simms never crossed my mind – these boots have to be a decade old, so I more than got my money’s worth out of them. No, at first I applied duct tape (the universal patch), and finally laid globs of Aqua-Seal across the wounds. No problems since.

They’re moving on to greener pastures, even if the guy who’s feet will be in them needs a little help with his roll cast.

Then again, don’t we all?


Old gear has a soul, and if there is life still within it should be treated with respect. I am glad that you decided to keep them close.

If anything, they have the experience held within their felt and leather and fabric to help your friends roll cast by just strapping them on.

Agreed, bodhi san Alex.

The best part, however, is that my feet never actually touched these boots without thick wool and neoprene surrounding them. I doubt anyone would have taken them otherwise!

Craig Berg says:

Speaking as the person who took the shoes, if he had not worm winter woolies and neoprene I would have had the CDC inspect them for alien toe jam.

when are you giving those badboys up for rubber soles?

Personal opinion: I think sticky rubber is a crutch for not cleaning thy gear thoroughly. Even with the rubber, you still gotta remove those laces and foot beds, and scrub. My go to footwear right now are the Korks, and the studded felt gets the boiling water treatment while in a pan. The rest of my stuff gets a thorough work over, including a hot shower.

I nix the crutch idea. Felt really is harder to clean. Some could use that excuse, but the issue is that felt stays wet for so long deep inside the base of the sole that it is difficult to kill some of the pathogens via the dessication route.

The boiling idea is great, but not everyone has access to that while they are on a road trip skipping from water body to water body. It is a lot easier to clean a rubber soled boot with confidence than a felt, even if you do it on a regular basis. My $0.02.

REVISED: Agreed on the road trip handicap, but not so much on it not being a crutch. I’ve already heard people say they don’t have to worry about washing their gear because they ‘wear sticky rubber.’

I haven’t used it myself, but I know people who have – they say it’s almost dangerous to try wading certain areas with it. I’ve posed the same argument to people before, and the answer I’ve generally gotten is ‘then don’t wade there.’

I’d like to hear what other folks have to say about studded felt vs. sticky rubber. After perusing some of the boards and blogs today (and revising this comment as a result), I see a lot of people lobbying for the latter (including a few that are intimately tied to making and selling it), and a lot of other people saying it doesn’t perform nearly as well as studded felt.

Of course, I can smell the day coming when felt is legislated out of existence, so I guess I’ll have to get some whether I like it or not.

yeah it’s coming. felt will become obsolete in the near distant future.

That sucks that people think that just because they have rubber, it precludes them from cleaning. not cool.

regarding your earlier comment that got edited out, having an alternate pair of boots is always a good idea. I know it can get spendy, but it gives you a chance to better disinfect if you rotate them, or if you have a pair that is solely used on impaired waters. That is what we have to do at work. They have separate nets for impaired waters, as well as certain gear and equipment, and an alternate set for waters not yet listed as impaired. This is in addition to the cleaning and disinfecting.

I’m not saying that rubber is the do all boot for every situation, but neither is felt. Anyone who uses felt in the winter can attest to this. Improvements in rubber sole tech has drastically gotten better with every season. The innovation will only continue as manufacturers wean off of felt in 2010.

J- I edited it thinking it was a bit misrepresentative – I actually swap my Korker soles out in specific situations, with the stock felt going only sections of the South Platte known to have NZMS. I used my felt studded almost exclusively on the Blue and other like kind areas where wading is a bitch, and the water is not known to be hostile. I cook both sets after use, regardless.

But, all points well taken – you are an MIB so I have to listen! And the fact that you are also vying to compete in the Fat Guy Fly Fishing Beer Bong Invitational forced a decision…

I called my gear masters at Discount Tackle and asked them about the situation today (literally between comments, and between re-caulking the bathroom backsplash and the tub). Knowing and trusting these guys implicitly (they’ve earned that trust big time), I put in an order for the newest Korker studded rubber, slated for delivery in the next few weeks. I’m gonna use it, and report back on my findings.

PS: I use a Measure Net – and unzip and wash the netting often too. I think we’re on the same page. Thanks!

Craig Berg says:

This thread has prompted me to research the use of felt in wading boots and their significant involvement in the spread of disease. As a relative newcomer to the sport my investment to date has been an entry level pair of felt waders with ‘felt grabbers’ if you like rather than a proper stud. As such I carry no baggage with regard to earlier technology therefore I am keen to investigate this sticky rubber. I don’t want a sport and more importantly an environment to quickly disappear after so recently discovering it.

For the record I wash my boots thoroughly in hot water after every outing … hat tip Michael for his guidance in these matters

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